the truth about torture

Torture is Illegal.

Torture is a crime under both international and domestic law. There are no exceptions or justifications for the use of torture. It’s not allowed in a time of war, national emergency, or in the name of national security. Torture is explicitly banned, without exception, by the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 3 Common to the Four Geneva Conventions.

Torture is prohibited under US law as a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison or in some instances by life imprisonment or death. In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order banning waterboarding and other forms of torture and cruelty. In November 2015, led by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), an overwhelming bi-partisan majority of Congress enshrined key elements of that executive order into U.S. law, further strengthening the prohibition against torture.

There is a long-standing bi-partisan opposition to torture in the United States.

Torture is Unwise.

It has been proven that torture is far more likely to produce ambiguous and false, rather than clear and reliable, information. A key finding of the Senate Intelligence Committee Study on the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program was that the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques were not effective.” That same study also describes how the CIA itself determined from its own experience that coercive interrogations “do not produce intelligence,” “will probably result in false answers,” and had historically proven to be ineffective.

Moreover, there is absolutely no convincing evidence that torture protects us as a society or makes the American people safer. In fact the evidence indicates the opposite is far more likely. In resorting to torture of security suspects, the U.S. has strengthened the resolve of adversaries. It also alienates partners and puts the U.S. in the company of human rights violators whose actions we deplore and condemn.

Torture is Immoral.

Torture consists of acts that are intrinsically wrong due to their cruelty and abusiveness; it is an extreme exercise of power and control of one person over another. Whether psychological or physical, torture is a calculated and systematic dismantling of a person’s identity and humanity. Torture causes long term physical and psychological trauma. Torture creates such a climate of fear and insecurity that it fractures communities, silences dissent, and suppresses civic engagement.