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The debate about whether our law enforcement officers should resort to use of torture to acquire intelligence has become increasingly partisan as people question the intentions and motives of the administration. This debate is particularly fueled by the war in Iraq as well as the war against terrorism in our own backyard. The question of torture arises from the need to acquire actionable intelligence from enemy operatives and suspects that can be used to protect our soldiers, American citizens and allies from an attack. Although this does not represent intentions guided by immoral purpose, I do not support the use of torture by the local police department as it contradicts the moral imperatives that govern the conduct of law enforcement personnel while interacting with the enemy in times of war and peace. The local police should not resort to torture or the inhumane treatment of suspects (McCain 1).
The need for intelligence to counteract crime is obvious; however, it needs to be reliable. According to McCain (2005), the abuse of prisoners usually results in the acquisition of bad intelligence. This is because when a person is subjected to torture, they will say anything they think their captors wants to hear so as to relieve their suffering: it does not matter whether it is the truth or it is false. He argues that when he was captured by enemy combatants and physically coerced to provide names of the members in his flight squadron, he had simply given the names of the offensive line players for the Green Bay Packers. Evidently, this information had little or no actionable intelligence value to the enemy and was only given to suspend the abuse. Prisoners/suspects interrogated under less humane conditions are also likely to provide deceptive answers (McCain 1).
The local police department needs to remain committed to basic humanitarian values. Mistreatment of prisoners will no doubt result in a cycle of violence that puts the police officers in danger of being met with similar or worse treatment if they were to fall into the hands of criminals/terrorists. Although such standards of sensibility do not apply to criminal elements, law enforcement is subject to standards and prohibitions. Failure to adhere to set humane standards in their operations will make them no better than the criminal elements (McCain 1).
To uphold the rule of law, ideological change is the best weapon. The citizens need to see the police as their friend, not the enemy, a perception exacerbated by abuse of suspects and prisoners. Torture takes a toll on the war of idea. This is because such acts eventually become public and undoubtedly threatens the law enforcement's moral standing. The use of torture greatly undermines the efforts of police to serve and to protect. The police are tasked with treating all people equally since we are subject to inalienable rights that are God given. Torture alienates such rights from suspects (McCain 2).
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Liberal notions of most are put to the test when it comes to determining just what torture is. Many argue that coercive interrogation tactics should not be considered as torture. However, this blurs the line between which actions are acceptable and which ones are not in the quest for answers by the police. McCain (2005) argues that the prohibition on torture and on inhumane, cruel and degrading standards of interrogation should remain intact. Relaxing such standards is likely to allow objectionable practices as something less than torture (McCain 2).
Advocates for the use of coercive interrogation by law enforcement present various valid reasons for their claim especially in a "ticking bomb" scenario. For instance, FBI officials soon after the September 11th attacks indicated that they had been unable to obtain information through use of conventional means from suspected terrorists so as to determine the information they had regarding a possible 10 Kiloton nuclear weapon attack on New York City. The law enforcement officers indicated that methods such as buying information by offering cash or leniency or trying to compel information out of suspects by use of threats of imprisonment or granting immunity had failed. They claim that such a situation might necessitate the use of unconventional means such as non-lethal torture to get the necessary information about the "ticking bomb" (Dershowitz 1).
According to Israel's security services personnel, torture at times produces truthful information. The Israeli's had used "moderate physical pressure" to obtain real time intelligence from suspects who were believed to have knowledge of impending terrorist acts and used it to stop some of the attacks. However, their information also shows that this information should never be validated unless independently confirmed. Such information is only self-proving under limited circumstances, for example, when the suspect leads the police to the actual location of the crime. However, these practices were outlawed by the Israeli Supreme Court which indicated that any security agent who resorted to such practices, even in "ticking bomb" scenario, would be prosecuted. They could however enter a plea of "necessity" to prove that they were trying to prevent multiple deaths to their defense. This is an indication of such practices illegality (Dershowitz 1).
According to Dershowitz (2002), the police might be tempted to use torture and physical force as a last resort in a "ticking bomb" scenario. It is however important for them to remember that they are sown to defend the valiant sacred ideas of the nation. Keeping the moral integrity of the police force is a big responsibility to the police force and torture of suspects does nothing but dishonors that integrity (McCain 3).
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Valid reasons have been given to justify the use of torture or physical coercion by police to acquire intelligence that might be used to prevent multiple deaths and harm to the citizen. However, this goes against the police duty and responsibility to uphold their moral integrity and that of the nation. Avoiding resorting to such measures as physical coercion and torture is the only way the police can ensure that they serve and protect the population.
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