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A Proposal For America: Eliminate Detainee Torture In Military Run Prisons

1376 words - 6 pages

Torture in military-run prisons captured the attention of the American people because of the disturbing pictures that emerged from Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, Iraq. As a country trying to clean up its reputation, relying on torture as a method of subjugation and interrogation, is not only unwise for our image, it is also cruel and largely unproductive. Torture is not impossible to remedy; with meticulous regulation of detention facilities, a better definition of "humane treatment" and more explicit wording in anti-torture legislation the United States can lead by example, through maintaining torture-free detention facilities.
Torture is an appalling corruption of the ...view middle of the document...

The website for Human Rights First says that the Abu Ghraib prison is comprised of "civilians picked up at check points and in military sweeps, common criminals, individuals suspected of 'crimes against coalition forces,' and...individuals who were thought to be leaders of the insurgency." (humanrightsfirst.org). All these people are protected against torture by Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, which states that "[p]ersons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely."
The Geneva Convention was conceived and enacted to protect people, military and civilian, from unnecessary cruelty; and torture is definitely unnecessary and definitely cruel. In fact, Paul Grant, a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer in Denver Colorado, who was trained as an Army interrogator, contends that "coercion, threats and terror will...often produce unreliable intelligence." He believes that, as opposed to torture, "Intelligent and more civilized interrogation techniques can elicit so much higher-quality intelligence and can do so much more to enhance your public image." ("Military Torture Yields Bad Intelligence and Harms Reputation" October 2004).
In recognition of the atrocity of torture, legislation has been created to prevent further abuses from happening. The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, proposed by Senator John McCain, prevents "'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment' of anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held," is now endorsed by the President and backed by Congress and the House of Representatives ("Bush accepts Sen. McCain's torture policy" Dec. 2005). Recently though, in light of Mohammed Bawazir's claim that he was tortured while a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, lawyers for the White House argue that Guantanamo Bay is exempt from the anti-torture legislation. In a Washington Post article, Tom Malinowski, director for Human Rights Watch, addressed the wording of the anti-torture legislation, "The law says you can't torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can't enforce that law in the courts." ("U.S. Cites Exception in Torture Ban" March 2006).
While the injustice of torture is easy to see, solutions to this problem are less clear. The Geneva Convention, which expressly forbids torture of detainees in any shape or form, is enforced by occasional, but greatly inadequate, inspections of prisons conducted by the Red Cross. Detainees who are being held "incommunicado," meaning that their relatives do not know where they are, are often hidden from the inspectors because those detainees are being held illegally and are most likely are being tortured. The first, and probably most obvious, solution to the torture epidemic is to ramp up inspections. The Red Cross could model the inspections after the "secret...

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