Harsh Interrogation or Torture?
Guest Post by Heidi Taylor
It was recently revealed to the American public that the waterboarding method had been used 266 times on two separate individuals at Guantanamo Bay. This is a hotly debated method of “harsh interrogation techniques” solely because it is unclear whether or not it falls into the rubric of what we consider torture to be, and whether or not we gain any useful information in the process.
Many in the government, and citizens as well for that matter, refer to many similar methods as “harsh interrogation techniques” since we as Americans are afraid to use the word torture as that is simply something that we do not do. However, according to the rules of the Geneva Convention, almost every technique used by the C.I.A. fell into the umbrella of torture; not to say that this wasn’t a good method or a suitable retaliation against many Al Qaeda members, simply that we remain afraid to call it as such. Waterboarding comes into that “iffy” category, and has emerged as a political issue recently because of the confessions of many CIA operatives over the quantity of times these two Al Qaeda inmates had been subjected to it. This in turn adds to the question of waterboarding’s effectiveness: why would the procedure have been performed so many times if it was found to work the first few times?
This method also brings into play the basic human rights which are awarded to every citizen of the world, as stated by the Geneva Convention. During times of international war, prisoners of war are to be treated with the same respect as they would have been treated otherwise. This may not always be the case for many nondemocratic, developing nations, but states such as the U.S. should be one of the forerunners of this charter. As we come out of the twentieth century, the lone superpower, other developing nations look toward us for guidance, and what message are we relaying by shunning international charters? It is true that our citizens are not treated with the same respect in other nations across the world, but by succumbing to these harsh interrogation methods, we are harming our respectability on an international level, especially when these practices do not yield positive results.
It is understandable that waterboarding is a method that always teeters on the edge of harsh interrogation and torture; it is much less invasive and painful than many other methods that have been used across the board. This has become a topic of national interest because there are limits to the amount of water to be used in waterboarding, according to C.I.A. guidelines. Additionally, the fact that these documents were released internationally has allowed our enemies to read about the methods we have used on their countrymen, probably further infuriating them. While some methods may have proven effective, it has yet to be confirmed whether or not waterboarding has yielded any positive information in relation to impending terrorist attacks.
This post was contributed by Heidi Taylor, who writes about the top online universities. She welcomes your feedback at HeidiLTaylor006 at gmail.com