The Debate Over Torture, December 7, 2005 · The Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal drew attention to U.S. treatment of POWs. Recently, a Senate bill banning inhumane treatment of detainees and reports of secret CIA prisons have rekindled the debate. Here is a sampling of opinion about the efficacy and morality of torture.


A 'Tortured' Debate

The WSJ Editorial Board

The Wall Street Journal

If Osama bin Laden is alive and looking for signs of flagging U.S. will to fight the war on terror, he need look no further than our national debate about interrogating his compatriots and others who would do us harm.

Rules of War Enable Terror

by Alan Dershowitz

Originally Published in The Baltimore Sun

The Geneva Conventions are so outdated and are written so broadly that they have become a sword used by terrorists to kill civilians, rather than a shield to protect civilians from terrorists. These international laws have become part of the problem, rather than part of the

Is Torture Ever Justified?

Interview with Oren Gross

Frontline, PBS

Experience tells us that when faced with serious threats to the life of the nation, government -- any government -- will take whatever measures it deems necessary to abate the crisis. An uncompromising absolute prohibition on torture sets unrealistic standards that no one can hope to meet when faced with extremely exigent circumstances.

Terrorists Have No Geneva Rights

by John Yoo

The Wall Street Journal

The reasons to deny Geneva status to terrorists extend beyond pure legal obligation. The primary enforcer of the laws of war has been reciprocal treatment: We obey the Geneva Conventions because our opponent does the same with American POWs. That is impossible with al Qaeda.

The Torture Myth

by Anne Applebaum

The Washington Post

Given the overwhelmingly negative evidence, the really interesting question is not whether torture works but why so many people in our society want to believe that it works.

What Is Wrong With Torture?

by Jonathan Schell

The Nation

Torture is not wrong because someone else thinks it is wrong or because others, in retaliation for torture by Americans, may torture Americans. It is the torture that is wrong. Torture is wrong because it inflicts unspeakable pain upon the body of a fellow human being who is entirely at our mercy. The tortured person is bound and helpless.

Torture's Terrible Toll

by Sen. John McCain


We should not torture or treat inhumanely terrorists we have captured. The abuse of prisoners harms, not helps, our war effort. In my experience, abuse of prisoners often produces bad intelligence because under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear -- whether it is true or false -- if he believes it will relieve his suffering.

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