Debate: Advanced Interrogation Techniques

When Gina Haspel was nominated to become the next CIA Director there was a lot of controversy regarding her time running a black site in Thailand. Part of that controversy was the use of “Advanced Interrogation Techniques” (aka torture) on Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Whenever this topic is brought up the argument for the use of these techniques is that the people carrying them out were only doing so in the interest of U.S. security and to protect the lives of all of its citizens. This part is important to remember for the purpose of this debate.

From my understanding there is more scientific research showing that these techniques do not yield great results and generally provide inaccurate information. Someone under duress will usually say anything they think someone wants to hear to make it stop. And since there is very few instances where you can fact check in real time how can you know in the moment if someone is telling the truth?

I don’t condone these techniques but I do love playing Devil’s Advocate.

There are many people who are genuinely (and rightfully so) outraged that the United States engaged in these activities. But what happens when we move it to a more personal level? If these techniques were used to protect the lives of U.S. citizens then how far would you go to protect a loved one?

If your child was abducted would you result to violence to get the answer to where they were? Or your spouse or your siblings or your parents? How far would you go to get the information that could prevent someone you loved from dying if someone had that information and wouldn’t part with it?

And why are we ok with watching this type of scenario (“Taken” amongst many others) but not someone being tortured in a movie or on television? We cheer for one and feel uncomfortable with the other.

I don’t believe that torturing someone is the correct answer and I don’t even have a good answer to the questions I’m proposing. I’ve never been (and hopefully will never be) in that kind of situation. I do think we need to look at ourselves before we judge others though. It is easy to be hypocritical when we never have to make the same choices as someone else.

About Sean White

A self-made minus-millionaire.
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