The Argument for Torture

Written by Sam Vaknin

I. Practical Considerations

The problem ofrepparttar "ticking bomb" - rediscovered after September 11 by Alan Dershowitz, a renowned criminal defense lawyer inrepparttar 119245 United States - is old hat. Should physical torture be applied - where psychological strain has failed - in order to discoverrepparttar 119246 whereabouts of a ticking bomb and thus prevent a mass slaughter ofrepparttar 119247 innocent? This apparent ethical dilemma has been confronted by ethicists and jurists from Great Britain to Israel.

Nor is Dershowitz's proposal to haverepparttar 119248 courts issue "torture warrants" (Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2001) unprecedented. In a controversial decision in 1996,repparttar 119249 Supreme Court of Israel permitted its internal security forces to apply "moderate physical pressure" duringrepparttar 119250 interrogation of suspects.

It has thus fully embracedrepparttar 119251 recommendation ofrepparttar 119252 1987 Landau Commission, presided over by a former Supreme Court judge. This blanket absolution was repealed in 1999 when widespread abuses against Palestinian detainees were unearthed by human rights organizations.

Indeed, this juridical reversal - inrepparttar 119253 face of growing suicidal terrorism - demonstrates how slipperyrepparttar 119254 ethical slope can be. What started off as permission to apply mild torture in extreme cases avalanched into an all-pervasive and pernicious practice. This lesson - that torture is habit-forming and metastasizes incontrollably throughoutrepparttar 119255 system - isrepparttar 119256 most powerful - perhapsrepparttar 119257 only - argument against it.

As Harvey Silverglate argued in his rebuttal of Dershowitz's aforementioned op-ed piece:

"Institutionalizing torture will give it society’s imprimatur, lending it a degree of respectability. It will then be virtually impossible to curb not onlyrepparttar 119258 increasing frequency with which warrants will be sought - and granted - but alsorepparttar 119259 inevitable rise in unauthorized use of torture. Unauthorized torture will increase not only to extract life-saving information, but also to obtain confessions (many of which will then prove false). It will also be used to punish real or imagined infractions, or for no reason other than human sadism. This is a genie we should not let out ofrepparttar 119260 bottle."

Alas, these are weak contentions.

That something hasrepparttar 119261 potential to be widely abused - and has been and is being widely misused - should not inevitably lead to its utter, universal, and unconditional proscription. Guns, cars, knives, and books have always been put to vile ends. Nowhere did this lead to their complete interdiction.

Moreover, torture is erroneously perceived by liberals as a kind of punishment. Suspects - innocent until proven guilty - indeed should not be subject to penalty. But torture is merely an interrogation technique. Ethically, it is no different to any other pre-trial process: shackling, detention, questioning, or bad press. Inevitably,repparttar 119262 very act of suspecting someone is traumatic and bound to inflict pain and suffering - psychological, pecuniary, and physical - onrepparttar 119263 suspect.

True, torture is bound to yield false confessions and wrong information, Seneca claimed that it "forces evenrepparttar 119264 innocent to lie". St. Augustine expounded onrepparttar 119265 moral deplorability of torture thus: “Ifrepparttar 119266 accused be innocent, he will undergo for an uncertain crime a certain punishment, and that not for having committed a crime, but because it is unknown whether he committed it."

Butrepparttar 119267 same can be said about other, less corporeal, methods of interrogation. Moreover,repparttar 119268 flip side of ill-gotten admissions is specious denials of guilt. Criminals regularly disown their misdeeds and thus evade their penal consequences. The very threat of torture is bound to limit this miscarriage of justice. Judges and juries can always decide what confessions are involuntary and were extracted under duress.

Thus, if there was a way to ensure that non-lethal torture is narrowly defined, applied solely to extract time-critical information in accordance with a strict set of rules and specifications, determined openly and revised frequently by an accountable public body; that abusers are severely punished and instantly removed; thatrepparttar 119269 tortured have recourse torepparttar 119270 judicial system and to medical attention at any time - thenrepparttar 119271 procedure would have been ethically justified in rare cases if carried out byrepparttar 119272 authorities.

In Israel,repparttar 119273 Supreme Court upheldrepparttar 119274 right ofrepparttar 119275 state to apply 'moderate physical pressure' to suspects in ticking bomb cases. It retainedrepparttar 119276 right of appeal and review. A public committee established guidelines for state-sanctioned torture and, as a result,repparttar 119277 incidence of rabid and rampant mistreatment has declined. Still, Israel's legal apparatus is flimsy, biased and inadequate. It should be augmented with a public - even international - review board and a rigorous appeal procedure.

This proviso - "if carried out byrepparttar 119278 authorities" - is crucial.

The sovereign has rights deniedrepparttar 119279 individual, or any subset of society. It can judicially kill with impunity. Its organs -repparttar 119280 police,repparttar 119281 military - can exercise violence. It is allowed to conceal information, possess illicit or dangerous substances, deploy arms, invade one's bodily integrity, or confiscate property. To permitrepparttar 119282 sovereign to torture while forbidding individuals, or organizations from doing so would, therefore, not be without precedent, or inconsistent.

Alan Dershowitz expounds:

"(Inrepparttar 119283 United States) any interrogation technique, includingrepparttar 119284 use of truth serum or even torture, is not prohibited. All that is prohibited isrepparttar 119285 introduction into evidence ofrepparttar 119286 fruits of such techniques in a criminal trial againstrepparttar 119287 person on whomrepparttar 119288 techniques were used. Butrepparttar 119289 evidence could be used against that suspect in a non-criminal case - such as a deportation hearing - or against someone else."

Whenrepparttar 119290 unspeakable horrors ofrepparttar 119291 Nazi concentration camps were revealed, C.S. Lewis wrote, in quite desperation:

"What wasrepparttar 119292 sense in sayingrepparttar 119293 enemy were inrepparttar 119294 wrong unless Right is a real thing whichrepparttar 119295 Nazis at bottom knew as well as we did and ought to have practiced? If they had no notion of what we mean by Right, then, though we might still have had to fight them, we could no more have blamed them for that than forrepparttar 119296 color of their hair." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, paperback edition, 1952).

But legal torture should never be directed at innocent civilians based on arbitrary criteria such as their race or religion. If this principle is observed, torture would not reflect onrepparttar 119297 moral standing ofrepparttar 119298 state. Identical acts are considered morally sound when carried out byrepparttar 119299 realm - and condemnable when discharged by individuals. Considerrepparttar 119300 denial of freedom. It is lawful incarceration atrepparttar 119301 hands ofrepparttar 119302 republic - but kidnapping if effected by terrorists.

Nor is torture, as "The Economist" misguidedly claims, a taboo.

According torepparttar 119303 2002 edition ofrepparttar 119304 "Encyclopedia Britannica", taboos are "the prohibition of an action orrepparttar 119305 use of an object based on ritualistic distinctions of them either as being sacred and consecrated or as being dangerous, unclean, and accursed." Evidently, none of this applies to torture. Onrepparttar 119306 contrary, torture - as opposed, for instance, to incest - is a universal, state-sanctioned behavior.

Foods and Diets Litigations

Written by Laura Ciocan

Why is that food processing and commerce are not strictly regulated by law so as to prevent health problems generated by an inadequate diet? Unhealthy products encourage an unhealthy diet, appealingrepparttar consumer by their availability within reach andrepparttar 119244 invading advertising. Ifrepparttar 119245 food producers are controlled by health officials, then it must be thatrepparttar 119246 regulations are too lax in as far as marketed foods are concerned.

Everyone knows that, for instance, hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils are highly unhealthy. Tons of studies and informative material have been published, yet there is a population segment that still falls into traps saying that margarine is a "healthier alternative for butter, full of vitamins", when in factrepparttar 119247 trans-fatty acids it contains surpassrepparttar 119248 "healthy benefits" it offers. For this particular case, all foods containing hydrogentated oils (ifrepparttar 119249 law allows their production, though it shouldn't) should have a health hazard warning (like those onrepparttar 119250 cigarette packs), saying something like "This product contains trans-fatty acids that increaserepparttar 119251 risk of heart disease". Thus, people would be constantly reminded ofrepparttar 119252 bad effects of such products on health.

Generally, when it comes to foods and dieting, people should be advised ofrepparttar 119253 potential inconvenience that might occur due to some ingredients orrepparttar 119254 wayrepparttar 119255 food is prepared.

Take for instancerepparttar 119256 case ofrepparttar 119257 release of so many diets that are not documented, not officially controlled and approved, promissing great things but not being explicit aboutrepparttar 119258 great problems they generate. Such asrepparttar 119259 very popular Atkins, for instance, which is a real danger to health.

I wondered why such anti-health practices are not forbidden? Oh, pardon me! Why should I wonder? It's obvious: in an ever growing pragmatic course of events,repparttar 119260 industrial interests have overpassedrepparttar 119261 interest forrepparttar 119262 health of people.

At this point,repparttar 119263 role ofrepparttar 119264 well-informed consumer is decisive for his own health. And if people are not fully convinced by so many scientific studies, informative articles and materials, then they surely become when finding out ofrepparttar 119265 multitude of lawsuits against food producers (such as Kraft Foods Inc,repparttar 119266 producers of Oreo cookies), fast food chains (McDonald's) or promoters of diets (such asrepparttar 119267 Atkins diet).

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