Is torture ever “justified”?

January 13th, 2009

On Twitter, generic viagra treatment Wil Wheaton, cure the guy who played Wesley on Star Trek: the Next Generation, wrote:

Look, all you people who think torture is just great and is *ever* justified? You sicken me. Go watch 24 and leave me alone.

I don’t know if torture by the state is ever justifiable; but if anyone ever kidnapped someone I loved, “torture” would be too tame a word for what I would do to them.

Entry Filed under: Personal

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nick  |  January 13th, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Simple answer… No… never justified…. for many, many reasons… which I have explained. But brief summary:

    1. In order to get “actionable intelligence”, you generally have to torture before any trial, and therefore forego presumption of innocense. Depending on the circumstance of capture, that can lead to the torture of innocent people.

    2. It simply doesn’t work. People often times lie, simply to get out of torture.

    3. There are better ways to get actionable intelligence that doesn’t involve torture, that is much more reliable.

  • 2. Rustmeister  |  January 13th, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I don’t know if it’s justified, but saying “they’ll say anything to end the torture”, while sounding like common sense, isn’t.

    I mean, the prisoner isn’t going to be released after giving up the information. “Here’s your fingers back, sorry about all that. Go have a nice day.”

    No, they are kept for however long the captors deem necessary. Most definitely until after the information is verified.

    The prisoner knows this, and most likely will give up the truth as he knows it.

    It’s a barbaric, inhumane practice, and I like to think we’re better than that.

    But, knowing what little I do about terrorists, there might be times where it’s necessary.

  • 3. Elliot  |  January 13th, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I think I feel the same way about torture that I feel about capital punishment…I’m ambivalent about the state being involved in either, but I would be willing to do either myself in certain circumstances.

  • 4. JJ  |  January 13th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    It kinda depends on your definition of torture doesn’t it?

    Inflicting permanent physical pain and/or disfigurment? burning, cutting, amputations, breaking bones, crushing skulls in a vice, meat hooks – you know everything the terrorists do.

    Yah – I’m with you here. The government has no room for these.

    Cold rooms, no mattresses, loud music, leaving the lights on, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, screwing with meal patterns. flushing a Koran, interrogation by women.

    Not really torture in my book here – these should have the green light.

    Its disappointing that Wil Wheaton has turned into a typical Hollywood idiot. I used to like him.

  • 5. Fuzz Martin  |  January 13th, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    If torture didn’t work, nobody would use it.

  • 6. folkbum  |  January 13th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Indirectly, I think you’ve hit on the problem with the pro-torture crowd: For them, the torture is not, at bottom, an intelligence technique. It is, rather, punishment.

    I for one do not want to live in a society where punishment is meted out before justice is served, by people whose reality is warped by TV fictions.

    (And, just to piss off Nick, who undoubtedly would agree with most of the above: People whose realities are warped by Ayn Rand’s fictions have no more business running a real-world economy than “24” fanboys have running intelligence operations.)

  • 7. capper  |  January 14th, 2009 at 1:47 am

    I just find it ironic that this blogsite would have a post asking about torture. That is like closing the barn door after the horse got out. We are already being tortured by reading here. ;)

    (Yes, I’m still crabby about the Mike-gets-invited-capper-doesn’t business)

  • 8. james wigderson  |  January 14th, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I think the Geneva Convention specifically bans the showing of reruns of Star Trek TNG with the Wesley Crusher character, but the torture continues. It’s inhuman.

  • 9. Nick  |  January 14th, 2009 at 2:12 pm


    While those things you mention may not be torture by the typical definition, that doesn’t mean they work either. There is significant evidence, by the people in the field right now, that those methods (while not torturous), still are not effective, in that people will lie to get out of those situations and give bad intelligence.

    There are far better ways to get at information.

    @Fuzz… that’s simply naive.

  • 10. JJ  |  January 14th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    @Nick – so tea and crumpets then?

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