The rack, the tub, rat torture, waterboarding: all techniques designed to push or break the humane limits of a person, for personal gain. Whether it be for information or ulterior motives, torture is not humane and never will be. Torture is prohibited under international law set by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and according to Human Rights Watch, no national emergency demands the use of this practice.
However, many countries proceed with the use of torture for reasons associated with national safety. At Guantanamo Bay, a United States military base in Cuba, conspirators in the 9/11 attack continue to be tortured in numerous ways. Despite developing mental and physical disorders due to the subjection to these horrendous acts, prisoners are not given any type of medical assistance.
New Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deputy director Gina Haspel is known for being involved with methods of torture. She directed a secret CIA “black spot” in Thailand, code named “Cat’s Eye”, following the 9/11 terrorist attack. Under her supervision, Abdur Rahim al-Nashiri was subject to waterboarding three times. Upon the release of this information, the United States administration insisted that waterboarding was in fact an Enhanced Interrogation Technique, and not torture.
It is convenient that as soon as the information was released and every time any subject of the matter was spoken on, was the time that the government decided to redefine torture, such as when the United States’ practice of waterboarding was released in 2004
However, the United Nations Convention Against Torture stated that torture is any act that causes severe pain, used either to obtain information or punish a person for acts they have committed. Now, the United States claims that if it doesn’t cause severe physical impairment, organ failure, or death, then it simply is not torture.
The CIA’s use of torture is ironic, seeing as when Japanese soldiers were found guilty of waterboarding U.S. soldiers during World War II, they were hanged for war crimes by the U.S. army, which is what torture is- a war crime. Also, two British men have been marked terrorists by the U.S. for their involvement in waterboarding, mock executions, and crucifixions.
The first time the CIA officially admitted to having enacted torturous acts on people was in 2014, when the U.S. Senate released a report containing the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the supposed coordinator of the 9/11 attack, had been subject to waterboarding 183 times. The report also contained the fact that the CIA had used this method not only on Mohammed, but on 111 additional prisoners. The agency had buried the whole of this information at the time, in which Haspel has been a full-fledged supporter.
According to the New York Times, when President Trump was running his presidential campaign, he swore to resuscitate the practice of waterboarding and “much more”. This attitude regarding torture constructs a general weariness toward Haspel as Trump’s selection for the position of CIA deputy director given her history with the issue.
The background surrounding this matter brings into question whether torture genuinely works as a means of acquiring information.
According to the President, “torture works” and “only a stupid person would say it doesn’t work”. However, this is not the only viewpoint. Torture, while it does extract desired information from prisoners, does so in a way that compromises the very morality of the human race. So it would depend on how one would consider a successful acquirement of information. If one would be willing to sacrifice their ethical decency in order to secure necessary details, then torture would “work” for them. Conversely, if one were intending to assure their virtue, any means of securing information through acts of cruel and inhumane excruciating pain would merely not be considered a success, as it was not done the civilized way. The U.S. claims to not advocate the use of torture, but uses it out of the public eye. Under the new CIA deputy director, this will continue instead of working toward adopting more humane methods of evoking information from prisoners.