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should it be allowed by the Geneva convention
under certain circumstances? also what actually denotes torture; water boarding, an electric shock to the genitals, sleep deprivation, what?
Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is:
...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.

So water-boarding and genital shocks are definitely torture.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that sleep deprivation (along with wall-standing, hooding, subjection to noise, and deprivation of food and drink) "did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture ... [but] amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment", in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

I have no problem with any of that lot.

The morality of it is somewhat subjective but I think it's trumped in any case by the simple practicality. It doesn't work reliably and, certainly when it comes to "enemy combatants," we don't want them doing it to our side, so we shouldn't do it to theirs.
do we know of instances where such practices led to the saving of lives?

isn't it like morality; subjective as to whether it works or not. i think many people would tell you what they think you want to know when being tortured but i think the odds of them telling you something you can corroborate much more likely than simply asking with a pleasant tone of voice. (unless of course they know nothing)
what are the penalties for breaking the geneva con and how can they be enforced. wouldn't a country imply state it no longer wants to be part of the organisation?

i think under certain conditions it's one way of getting info. i think that it's probably used much more than it should be.
(11-02-2010, 08:10 PM)billy Wrote: [ -> ]do we know of instances where such practices led to the saving of lives?
I don't. But I'm willing to accept that there probably have been instances. That doesn't change my view though. [I never said that it never works. I simply said that it is not reliable.]

(11-02-2010, 08:10 PM)billy Wrote: [ -> ]isn't it like morality; subjective as to whether it works or not.
I don't think so. You only need to remember when you were a kid (or had kids) and tickled them until they said whatever it was that you had told them to say if they wanted you to stop tickling them. Confessions to anything WILL be obtained when you torture someone.

(11-02-2010, 08:10 PM)billy Wrote: [ -> ]i think many people would tell you what they think you want to know when being tortured but i think the odds of them telling you something you can corroborate much more likely than simply asking with a pleasant tone of voice. (unless of course they know nothing)
I hardly think there is anything "subjective" about torturing someone who knows nothing. And how do you know they know nothing until you've exhausted your most extreme tortures--on the innocent party.

(11-02-2010, 08:10 PM)billy Wrote: [ -> ]what are the penalties for breaking the geneva con and how can they be enforced. wouldn't a country imply state it no longer wants to be part of the organisation?
I doubt there are any penalties. Theoretically there are but in practice crimes committed by a state are very rarely prosecuted. Only after military invasions and many years later.

(11-02-2010, 08:10 PM)billy Wrote: [ -> ]i think that it's probably used much more than it should be.
Oh certainly. We know the US tortures prisoners so it's reasonable to assume many other countries do so..
It's most likely true that torture occurs behind closed doors all the time, where the public can't be outraged by it. Heck, torture as a last resort is probably an ideal scenario compared to what actually goes on within military circles, where, judging by cases like Abu Ghraib, torture becomes casual and an everyday fact instead of the grave moral dilemma it should be.

I can agree on a personal level that in worst, worst case scenarios torture could be an option to save lives... but its hard if not downright impossible to put a rule like that into writing without introducing a hell of a slippery slope.
What the studies say is that at a certain point the person tortured will break and will tell you:

The truth (nope)

What they think you want to hear to make it stop (yep).

It's not reliable. In many cases, I think torture is used as a means of revenge because the enemy or the information you're searching for is elusive.

Water boarding, sleep deprivation, electric shock yeah we can pretty it up but it's all torture. I think those that torture are war criminals and I they should be prosecuted as such (regardless of reasons, regardless of political affiliations).

I also think if you torture as a matter of policy you are setting a bad precedent for when your citizens are captured by someone else. So, even from a pragmatic view I think it will bite you.

Black and White issue for me.
(11-03-2010, 01:53 AM)Todd Wrote: [ -> ]In many cases, I think torture is used as a means of revenge because the enemy or the information you're searching for is elusive.

I wouldn't say so much as a means of revenge, more out of frustration. The old "there's a ticking bomb hidden somewhere, where is it?" situation.

But the key point is that the torturers/potential torturers in such cases are in a compromised mental state. Their judgement will be impaired so restraints on their actions are especially appropriate.

Fair point
(11-03-2010, 07:28 AM)Touchstone Wrote: [ -> ]But the key point is that the torturers/potential torturers in such cases are in a compromised mental state. Their judgement will be impaired so restraints on their actions are especially appropriate.

Excellent, excellent point there Undecided
(11-03-2010, 11:21 AM)velvetfog Wrote: [ -> ]You don't actually have to physically induce pain in someone to torture them.
If you put a person in a small empty cell with no bunk and a wet floor that they can not lay down on,
and leave the light on in the ceiling for 24 hours each day, that can be enough to break a person down.
yes but break them down for what, lies? the truths you want to hear.

i'm of a mind that torture is in some cases legitimate. if you're starting from a blank page so to speak then no. but if you're starting with lets say a person you know to be part of a system or group and that system or group is set of harming you and yours (including country fellow soldiers etc) then torture away. i know i'm sounding callous but i think there are times when it pays off.

the hard part is as addy says, making sure it's the exception rather than the rule.

i thing what happens a lot of the time is a person is tortured and it's an ongoing thing. the result is like touchstone says. you have a lot of info that could mean crappola.

while i know lie detectors can be fooled. im sure that after a few electric shocks to the gonads it wouldn't be so easy to cheat one.