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Discursive Essay on Whether Torture Justified

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Is Torture Justified when used for national security and the society’s perspective on that matter?

Statement of the Problem

The thesis question is if torture is justified when used for national security and the views of society on if it is necessary. The problem of this topic stems from those who do know that if there is torture going through our government and those who are not aware of it. Currently, the ones who do know about it are those who experienced it and tried to voice their opinions and that is the problem. The problem of torture is questioned if people deserve it in the first place and in many scenarios it is based on prejudices. The article “We all need safety from violence and terrorism, but no government should sacrifice people’s human rights in the name of national security” which is about National Security and Human Rights states a case study about Shaker Aamer “who at the time of 2002 a U.K resident was sent to a U.S facility in Guantanamo Bay after the attack on September 11, 2001, and during that time he maintained his innocence and was subjected to torture for many years until October 2015 while stating that the authorities had no plans to charge or release him”(n.d). The problem of people lacking awareness of our government torturing people which does violate our human rights is that in some cases it is not justified in that scenario. The issue with this topic however is that people do not know of tortured events that have happened and are they justified for their reasons.

Background and Purpose

Is torture justified when protecting our national security? Throughout the history of our country, there have been many attacks that have threatened the safety of the citizens. That pushes the United States to take preemptive measures to make sure situations like that do not happen. However, the measures taken seem drastic for those who may not be involved or are involved because of racial stereotypes. In the article “National Security and human rights” After the attack on September 11th, 2001 many people were sent to a makeshift prison in Guantanamo Bay because it was believed to be a relation to the attack and the people there”. A U.K resident Shaker Aamer was a victim in that situation because he was held in prison and tortured for no reason. In this situation, the use of torture was unjust because Shakir had nothing to do with it because he was just a translator for the United States army for the Gulf war and then he was swept into prison in Cuba for thirteen years.

When situations like this occur normally people would know about it or it would be publicized, however, it is never repeated to make the change as well as forgotten as time moves on. “When one gets mad one should count to ten” in which was said by David Crane who was a former senior legal advisor for the special operations forces in the United States. David Crane was covered in an article called “Why torture is never justified: World-renowned torture experts speak out against the practice” and he states that “when the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, we pushed our Constitution away, and it did not work which lead the U.S down to use torture techniques in Guantanamo and other sites around the world”.(Crane 2016). David and some of the other experts believe that torture techniques are never supposed to be used for any situation. Other experts have stated that torture breeds more hatred and can cause more harm than good like creating extremist groups that want to further harm the states than was intended to do.

While true there are many problems to torture there are those who support its use of them. To many tortures is the simplest way to get answers to questions people desperately need to keep others safe. Nicole J Stanford who did a thesis paper called “Torture: A feasible Means For National Security Strategy” she states “While there are some cases of successful interrogational torture like the case of Khalid Sheikh where the use of torture has given the U.S information to find him, the overall results of the use of torture are harmful to its victims as well as social”(1995 Standford). The United States which is a strong proponent for humanitarian law was soon found itself criticized for its treatment of detainees and it is for that reason that after certain attacks or methods to prevent them that commentators and politicians have had endless debates about interrogation techniques of international law and treaties to the enemy.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to explore the reasons why torture techniques were used and are it justified to protect our national security. Another reason is to see what the majority of society thinks about the techniques being used on people who may or may not deserve it. Many results have shown that torture is wrong for many humanitarian reasons, but for national safety for the United States citizens is it worth doing?

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Operational Definitions

  • Torture: Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.
  • International Humanitarian Law/Law of War/Law of Armed Conflict: The rules which, in times of armed conflict seek to protect people who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities, and to restrict the methods and means of warfare employed.
  • Human Rights Law: Rules and treaties that protect individuals at all times. The primary goals of these laws are to protect citizens from their own government.
  • Convention Against Torture (CAT): The CAT is a treaty that bans torture under all circumstances including external threats, states of emergency or orders from a superior officer or authority.
  • International Humanitarian Law/Law of War/Law of Armed Conflict: The rules which, in times of armed conflict seek to protect people who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities, and to restrict the methods and means of warfare employed.

Literature Review

“Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them… Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence quoted” by Barack Obama. Torture is any act of severe pain and suffering on another to obtain information. If there was an immediate threat to the safety of a nation does the public know if the government is using torture techniques to find information to stop it? Is torture justified for the protection of one’s nation even if it is has beneficial results? The human rights act of 1998 allows people to defend their rights and to treat everyone equally and fairly and article three of the human rights act states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman acts”. The human rights act is very important because it protects the freedom everyone is given and to be treated equally and fairly like everyone else, however many people do not know that in some countries acts of torture still happen in the name of national security.

History of Torture in the United States

In the article, Torture in the United States(2019), it has focused on the events where torture was used throughout history, and in 2006 President Bush did state that the united states do not torture and use those acts in the future, however, three years earlier in March 2003 the bush administration had secretly tortured Khalid Mohammed at least 183 times during that single month(Tom Head 2019). Based on the history of this man who is claimed to be the head architect of 9/11, is it justified that he was tortured? Different types of people who may deserve it and many who do not deserve torture, but if it was for safety then is it justified?

During the time of President Bill Clinton, he had authorized a transfer of noncitizen prisoners to Egypt for interrogation and during that time statements that torture has been used by the intelligence agencies. A clash of regulations happened as human rights activists have argued that the point of rendition, however by doing so the U.S intelligence agencies are not breaking the U.S. anti-torture laws at that point(Tom Head 2019). Throughout the rest of the article there are different torture events that has happened and the media does not cover it. Most media outlets decided not to cover the information and some just can not because the government is trying to keep it secret. Even right now some inmates or citizens are being tortured and not everybody knows and their opinions on the matter are not being heard.

Ethical Factors

To discuss the uses of torture that is happening one must go through the ethical arguments for both the pros and cons on the use of torture. Henry Shue, an American philosopher who worked at the intersections of philosophy, human rights, and international relations was also one of the biggest people who argued against the use of torture. Shue disapproves of torture by disagreeing with the reasoning if killing is worse than torture, then some torture should be allowed. One of the statements Henry has stated is that the only reason torture can happen is after the victim has yielded and torture is not similar to war and it is worse than killing because it is an assault on the defenseless.(Shue 2004).

The defenseless can be referred to as the people who unintentionally got involved in situations that involved torture. Those who have been singled out because of the way they look which is some degree of prejudice are the ones that shouldn’t be subjected to torture. An argument that is normally used when discussing the use of torture is normally called the ticking-time-detonation scenario. Often being silenced because of how unrealistic that situation is because there are lots of variables that affect that situation. For starters, the assailant may not be talking even going through the torture and there is no confirmation that the suspect knows about the plan or is even telling the correct information before the attack happens. This type of torture also has negative consequences in the long run because if torture is allowed then it will fall down a slippery slope routine where it will be common and be used for non-emergency situations. In regards to the negatives against the use of torture those who state the pros for the use of torture in that situation that the person in charge must make the decision to avoid the worst-case scenario even if it means they go against their morals. In some arguments about the uses of torture that in most situations it is a case of the rights of the victims vs the rights of the suspect


  1. We all need safety from violence and terrorism, but no government should sacrifice people’s human rights in the name of national security. National Security and Human Rights, Retrieved 09/12/19 from
  2. We all need safety from violence and terrorism, but no government should sacrifice people’s human rights in the name of national security. National Security and Human Rights, Retrieved 09/12/19 from
  3. Nicole J. Stanford. (1995). Torture: A Feasible Means For National Security Strategy.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
  4. Why torture is never justified. (2018, March 9). Retrieved from

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Discursive Essay on Whether Torture Justified. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 10, 2023, from
“Discursive Essay on Whether Torture Justified.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Discursive Essay on Whether Torture Justified. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Jun. 2023].
Discursive Essay on Whether Torture Justified [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2023 Jun 10]. Available from:
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