Does the saving of lives due to using waterboarding make it justifiable?

Former US President George W Bush in his new book ‘Decision Points’ says that waterboarding helped get the information needed to break plots on Canary Wharf and Heathrow Airport. Waterboarding, a form of torture which involves pouring water over the face of an immobilized the subject, triggers a reflex that results in the sensation of drowning. It can cause extreme pain, damage to the lungs, brain damage, and lasting psychological damage and, if uninterrupted, death, and its use has been condemned by a host of organisations, including the UK government as cruel, inhuman and degrading. However, the use of this procedure resulted in vital intelligence information saving countless lives can it therefore be justified?


All the No points

Does the saving of lives due to using waterboarding make it justifiable?

Yes because... No because...

the harm of one to save the lives of many is a simple sum

If a mother saw her child being threatened by a maniac with a weapon and, to protect her child, stabbed the manic, it would be considered completely justifiable. No-one would object. Yet the neg seem to believe that if the Mother stood by and watched her child die, she could be comforted and justified by the knowledge that what she did was moral.

This is completely absurd! Morality does not console the families of the over 3,000 people killed on the 11th of September, they'd rather have their loved ones back! When the lives of many are threatened, their lives and safety must be placed above the neg's so called 'morality' to assure the greatest benefit for the most.

This rationale was used by the U.S. Government in justifying the atomic bombings of Japan. While the bombs caused great carnage, more suffering would have been brought about if the U.S. had held off bombing and invaded Japan. Likewise, if using waterboarding saves the lives of thousands, nay millions, of innocent people, the benefits outweigh the harms and the high sounding neg principles can go hang!

The aff needs to be clearer about where their argument is going, they are proposing the systematic erosion of civil liberties and the bolstering of power to governments in the name of liberty, which is absurd. In the opposing argument the analogy is being used to show a powerless parent driven to an extreme act when their child in threatened. In this example standing by and watching the child die would not be moral, just as standing by and watching a murder happen when you had the power to stop it is not moral or lawful. This analogy however should not be seen as a link to state sponsored torture.

State sponsored torture differs on many levels. The difference between the individual and the state for one thing, in today’s society the individual in essentially powerless against the might of the state, for this reason we established civil liberties to protect the individual. These liberties have been enshrined and protected for hundreds of years, the Magna Carta for instance clearly establishes that no one should be arbitrarily confined and exposed to unjust punishment; it is not contentious that torture and confinement will satisfy the aforementioned injustices.
Another difference is that in the analogy used by the aff that there is clear evidence that a horrific crime is being committed and the mother is acting in defence of her child, in the case of water boarding, while the state will claim they are acting in defence of their people, they have no evidence to act on, the torture is being used to extract evidence. The difference is that in the case of the mother violence is being used to stop an atrocity while it is happening, state sanctioned torture is used to see if such a crime will be happening in the future.

The Aff seems to presume that a presumed terrorist who has not committed a crime as of yet, is guilty and therefore they may exact some pre-emptive justice, when this clearly violates the administrative rights that our societies and people have fought and died to entrench. The argument they have used do not support their conclusions, indeed their example of the atomic bombing of Japan, lets just look at how much peace and security nuclear weapons have brought to the United states. This argument is flawed in a way which makes its position utterly untenable.

Does the saving of lives due to using waterboarding make it justifiable?

Yes because... No because...

The risks were not confirmed

Even the most PC of current thinkers would find it hard to swallow the ridiculous notion of the Neg that we must wait for an attack to be imminent to do something about it. If a government has reason to believe that a major terrorist attack is due, they cannot wait until the bombs are in place or the planes are flying low over the city before the do something about it!

Sometimes in life to shoot first and ask questions later is quite essential to survival. When the soldier in the field sees a man running towards him yelling, brandishing an unidentified object, he shoots. He doesn't wait until he's 8 feet in front of him to ascertain what the object is, he could be dead by then. He doesn't just let him reach him because of his morals, because by then he could be dead then and the risk to his unit is great. He shoots.

So it is in the War on Terror. The Neg complains that the attack was nipped in the bud, but at least it was nipped and these attacks, no matter how far from execution, were stopped. The fact that one person suffered discomfort is irrelevant when compared to the fact that many people were saved, as is the fact that they were just attacks in the pipeline. They were still attacks planned by terrorists, that is what we must remind ourselves!

The prevention of the attacks that G W Bush talks of is overstated. He used the waterboarding technique and claims that this prevented attacks on Canary Wharf and Heathrow. However, the information that he discovered was only that a plan was being formulated of such an attack.

G W Bush

Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States

These were not attacks that were imminent, they were mere paper etchings. How can such a painful form of torture be justified on this basis?

Also waterboarding has been used to make people admit plans or admit being involved in terrorist groups yet it has been proven again and again that this is not a efficiant way of procuring evidence as most people will admit to anything under torture. So not only is it immoral its unproductive aswell.

Does the saving of lives due to using waterboarding make it justifiable?

Yes because... No because...

The torture was carried out speculatively

Do not be mislead into thinking that this torture was carried out in order to specifically find out about specific attacks. Waterboarding was used against suspicious individuals not knowing what information could be found. By chance, some information on 31 plots were found from Khalid Mohammed [[]] but this could have not been the case. In addition, what we are not being told, is how many people have undergone this waterboarding technique without providing such information.

I'd like point out, is the actual succes/reliance and the informaition recieved is highly debatable:
If the individual has been trained to endure such torture, or has been givin the indulgance of beliveing that, if they keep that infomation secret and preserve the plot, they can go to paradise that they belive in, then they will not speak.
If, by chance, the person was innocent amd does not know any infomation, they may confess to whatever they are being accused of, just to stop the pain.

Debates > Does the saving of lives due to using waterboarding make it justifiable?