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the torture question


Discussion Questions
  • Student Handout: Excerpt from the Geneva Conventions
  • Student Handout: What is Torture?

  • Featured Lesson Plan
  • Getting Away with Torture?
  • Student Handout: The Facts and Issues of the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal
  • Student Handout: Tracing the History of Interrogation Policy

  • Additional Lesson Ideas
  • What Would You Do?
  • Unlawful Combatants or Prisoners of War?
  • Responding to World Opinion

  • Additional Resources

    Printable .pdf of Entire Guide
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    » Additional Lesson Ideas

    » What Would You Do?

    Students look at a hypothetical scenario where a major U.S. city has suffered an attack by a suspected terrorist organization.

    • The Scenario: A phone call was made to the local FBI office identifying the group responsible and providing details only someone close to the attack would know. The caller also told authorities that another attack by the group was inevitable within 24 hours unless the U.S. consented to pulling all troops out of the Middle East.

    • Description of the Suspect: A suspect has been arrested who was traced to the phone booth identified as the site of the warning phone call. Authorities are very sure this suspect has the information they need.

    Working in small committees, students will recommend guidelines for the questioning of this suspect, who so far has provided little information and is reluctant to talk. Students should describe the techniques and the justification (legal and strategic) for their recommendations.

    » Unlawful Combatants or Prisoners of War?

    One of the major lynchpins of the war on terror has been the meaning and use of the terms "unlawful combatants" or "enemy combatants." The establishment of this category of prisoner, defined and supported in the Administration's legal memos, has allowed the President to treat detainees in the war on terror differently than traditional prisoners of war. However, this determination has also caused confusion among members of the military, Congress, the public, and the international community, as questions are raised about the treatment of these prisoners and U.S. international treaty obligations. Students can investigate some of the fundamental questions surrounding this controversy by examining the following:

    Students can construct a presentation, report, debate or editorial examining the following question: Does the Constitution authorize the president as commander-in-chief to override international treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions, that the U.S. has signed?

    » Responding to World Opinion

    Students can review world reaction to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal at World Press Review. They can write a letter in response to the editor of the publication or the country's ambassador. The letter should acknowledge the article and its commentary and then provide an explanation from the student's perspective of what happened and why.

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