Torture: Right or Wrong?

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Do the torture tactics used on terror suspects and other felons go against the constitution?

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What is torture?


Under international law torture is "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental,is intentionally inflicted by
or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person
information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating him or other person"




Why is it such a big issue?


rewrite_geneva_convention.jpgThe controversy of torture regarding terrorist under US capture is whether or not the actions taken by the CIA are lawfully just to extract information. The issue involves not only the United States but also other nations that are a part of the Geneva Convention.




Initially this became an issue during World War II and resulted to the Geneva Convention. Recently the actions of US CIA agents at Guantanamo Bay against Terror suspects have raised questions to whether or not their actions are legal according to the Constitution and the Geneva Convention and other international torture laws.








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Who And Where does this matter?


This issue involves US government officials as well as terror suspects. This also involves countries around the world as the Geneva Convention states that human conditions must be used when dealing with prisoners of war. This issue also effects those being tortures as terror suspects which originate from the Middle East Countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Due to American law, the camps that are set to torture and extract information from these suspects are not set on American soil. One example of a camp that is not located in America is at Guantanamo Bay which is located in Cuba. Other camps like Guantanamo are set up in places around Iraq, Afghanistan, and European Nations.







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What does this have to do with the Constition?


The VIII Amendment of the United States Constitution states that "Excesive bail shal not be required nor exesive fines impossed nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Even though the constitution states no cruel actions towards humans shall be committed, some argue that the actions taken are those that are in the best interest of the safety of the American People. White House officials say that these cruel punishments are only being used on high target terror suspects and that not all prisoners brought into the prisons undergo the treatment. Additionally they claim that these prisoners are not citizens and do not follow any international rule so they should not be considered when it comes to the Constitution.
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How has the issue united or divided people?

The issue of whether or not the torture towards the terror suspects has divided not only US politicians but also officials in other countries. The issue creates tension between political parties and the general public’s trust in the government. The issue gives the idea to the American public that it is okay to us torture
to extract information from suspected



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What Supreme Court decisions have been decided which affect your issue? OR, what Supreme Court cases are in the process of being argued that may affect your issue?

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Hamdan v Rumsfeld- In November of 2001, President George Bush, as part of his war on terror, issued an executive order which authorized the trial of those persons considered "enemy combatants" via military commission, meaning that terrorists could be tried at the hands of the military instead of a legal U.S. court. Bush ordered this because he felt that justice should be served swiftly without years of pretrial proceedings or post-trial appeals. Since these trials could be held away from the United States, no one could justify that the prisoners would receive a fair trial, they could be tortured for information instead. In 2004, Salim Ahmed Hamdan and four other men were brought before a military commission. Hamdan was a citizen of Yemen and was employed by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan for an agricultural project before getting captured by bounty hunters and being sold to the United States. Hamdan was charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and was advised that he would be tried under the Military Commission order. The commission claimed that Hamden was a confidante to bin Laden and as such had delivered weapons to al-Qaida. In protest, Hamden claimed he was just a normal driver and was heading home when he was captured. Hamdan's attorney, Navy Lt. Commander Charles Swift, received written notice that his "access to his client was conditioned on negotiation of a guilty plea." This meant that the military commission was basically forcing Hamdan to plead guilty and denied him his right to a fair and proper trial. During all this time, Hamdan was contained in the Guantanamo Bay facilities and reportedly suffered under horrible conditions while his fixed trial was being set by the military. Ultimately, the case reached the Supreme Court and Hamdan won his case with the Supreme Court ruling that the Bush administration had exceeded its power in establishing military commissions to try supposed military criminals.

What interesting facts did you come across in your research that is important to share?

During the researching phase, I found that in the case of supposed terrorists, America was not keeping up with human rights in the way that they denied many supposed terrorists the right to a fair and proper trial. America was known for being a pioneer in human rights, but the Bush administration violated the Geneva Conventions which were known to be the international guidelines for human rights.



Sources:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/about/funds/torture/docs/compilation_torture.pdf

http://www.cfr.org/terrorism-and-the-law/torture-united-states-laws-war/p9209

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html