You know, one other reason why we might want to consider not torturing people is that we’ve said we wouldn’t. The US has ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, and we probably ought to live up to it. Granted, some of the countries to which we export people we’ve captured so that they can be tortured are also ratifiers, but you can probably guess that I am opposed to the US torturing by proxy as well as torturing people ourselves.
Yesterday I was reading an article about Jose Padilla, and thought he makes an interesting case for reflecting on one’s on views of torture. Here we have a man who is a US citizen, and who was raised right here in the United States. Padilla is a career criminal who ran off to Egypt in 1998 to become a terrorist and came back to America last year with $10,000 in cash and a plan to set off a dirty bomb. Despite the fact that Padilla is still being held in custody with no access to an attorney nor any hope of even being charged with a crime as an “enemy combatant,” we learned not long after his arrest that his steps to commit a terrorist act didn’t go much beyond coming up with an idea for doing so. At the time, though, people were pretty scared of Padilla, mainly because John Ashcroft appeared on TV to feed us a line about how important it was that we had captured Padilla a month earlier.
Would it have been right to torture Padilla at the time of his capture? If you’re pro-torture and your answer is no, I’d love to know why.