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the torture question

» Student Handout: What is Torture?

Read the following statements regarding potential interrogation techniques that have been paraphrased from news stories, military personnel and/or public opinion on what should be allowable to obtain "actionable intelligence," i.e. important information. Then be prepared to defend your position about whether you agree or disagree that the techniques are permissible.

  • Physical force that causes severe pain is permissible when obtaining information to prevent an inevitable attack that could kill many people.

  • Suicide bombers and terrorists are not protected by the international laws against torture.

  • Countries whose military personnel commit acts of torture are not responsible as long as they do not expressly order the military personnel to commit the act.

  • Embarrassment or ridicule is not a form of torture.

  • Posing a prisoner of war in uncomfortable positions (standing on one leg, arms extended outward, or doubled in a fetal position) for extended time periods is permissible in the process of interrogation.

  • If a prisoner of war is from a country or organization that does not recognize the laws and customs of war, they are not protected against torture or abuse.

  • Altering a prisoner of war's sleep pattern from night to day, placing them in isolation, changing their diet from hot meals to MREs (meals ready to eat), or altering meal times is a form of torture.

  • To obtain important information from a prisoner of war, it is permissible to use tactics that instill fear or the threat of harm.

  • Physical force such as slapping, pushing, or poking that doesn't cause severe pain or serious injury is permissible in the quest to obtain information from a prisoner of war.

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