Argument: Enhanced interrogations are cruel/immoral, even if not torture

Issue Report: Enhanced interrogation techniques


Marty Lederman, an Associate Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, observed that: “Even if some of these techniques are arguably short of legally defined “torture” in some cases, surely they are the sort of “cruel treatment” that the Geneva Conventions prohibit — particularly when one recalls that those treaties were written largely with Germany’s practices in mind. (The techniques might also, at least in many cases, violate the federal assault law and the McCain Amendment, as well.) And therefore the techniques are plainly unlawful — and a President committed to faithful execution of the law would not authorise their use by the CIA — whether or not they are subject to the criminal sanctions reserved for “torture” as such.”[1]

Philip Zelikow, a former advisor to Condoleezza Rice and the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, said in an April 2007 lecture at the Houston Journal of International Law: My point […] is not to debate the delineation of the legal frontier. That focus obscures the core of the issue. The core of the issue, for legal policy, is this: What is moral – not, what is legal? What is cost-beneficial?…

My own view is that the cool, carefully considered, methodical, prolonged, and repeated subjection of captives to physical torment, and the accompanying psychological terror, is immoral. I offer no opinion as to whether such conduct is a federal crime; merely that it is immoral.[2]