Friday, November 2, 2012

What is Torture?

This whole "torture" talk on both the radio and television is starting to get highly annoying. They talk all this nonsense without actually stating exactly what torture really is. This post will hopefully help you to understand the torture controversy going on right now.

The UN defines torture as:

Article 1:  "For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means 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, punishing him for an act he or a
third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or
intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on
discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at
the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or
other person acting in an official capacity.  It does not include pain or
suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions."

Article 2: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a
threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency,
may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Article 11:  "Each State Party shall keep under systematic review interrogation rules,
instructions, methods and practices as well as arrangements for the custody
and treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or
imprisonment in any territory under its jurisdiction, with a view to
preventing any cases of torture."

Article 13:  "Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been
subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to
complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its
competent authorities.  Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant
and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a
consequence of his complaint or any evidence given."

This "Convention Against Torture" Charter was ratified by the United States in 1994.  
Thus we must abide by the treaty as if it was our own law.

According to the US Constitution:

Article 6:  "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be
made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be
made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme
law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby,
anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary

Article 4:  "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities
of citizens in the several states."

8th Amendment:  "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel
and unusual punishments inflicted."

Article 1:  Congress shall have the power "To establish a uniform rule of naturalization,
and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States"

The Definition of a US citizen is: 
"Citizenship is granted at birth to persons born in the US, persons born abroad with at least
one US citizen parent, persons granted lawful permanent residence, or persons naturalized."
Thus the controversy stems over what the definition of "torture" is.  According to the UN torture
includes "severe pain and suffering."  More specifically, the controversy is in regards
to whether water boarding can be defined as "severe."  This can be left up to the reader
to decide, however, we should remember the punishments that were present throughout the Dark
Ages and the Spanish Inquisition (as well as numerous other occasions).  I would personally define
"severe" as extreme pain - such as ripping off a nail, whipping someone numerous times, and/or being
forcefully raped. 

I put all the extra stuff from the Constitution in this post in case a reader questions whether the
8th Amendment should be applied to the torture controversy.  The 8th Amendment states that "cruel
and unusual punishment" shall not be inflicted.  Remember, the Constitution and its protections only
apply to US citizens which is defined by Article 1 (and thus Congress).  A enemy combatant or anyone
captured overseas (unless originally born here) will probably not be regarded as a US citizen.  Thus
the 8th Amendment and its protections does not apply to this individual.  If they were included as a
US citizen then I could see where an argument could come up in regards to water boarding being considered
"unusual."  However, the Constitution states "cruel AND unusual."  Again, the reader can decide whether
water boarding is actually "cruel."  I would definitely not consider it cruel.  To me, "cruel" includes
the gas camps used in Nazi Germany and the horrible experiments they conducted as well.  Water boarding
does not actual harm (it is sort of a fake drowning scenario) and is far more heinous than the previously
mentioned conditions used in WWII. 

Hopefully this helps a little bit.  I personally think this whole situation is a political one used to
divert attention from other more important things going on in this nation (such as the Credit Card bill). 
I do believe torture is morally wrong - but when has the US ever been moral?  I think the detaining of 300
individuals in Guantanamo and its controversy is also ridiculous.  Again, remember these are not US citizens
and thus they should not receive the same liberties as such (even though the Supreme Court recently rule
that they do in fact have protections).  

No comments:

Post a Comment