Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Sunday, 14 December 2014


The use of torture to extract information from terror suspects and their associates has been headline news for the past few days following an American report on the actions of the CIA. Numerous well-meaning people have supported the premise that "Torture is Wrong".

When I was younger, I would have fully agreed with this statement; However, as I’ve got older I’ve become less idealistic and less certain that the statement is true. Since the end of World War Two, there hasn't been any time when there hasn't been a significant conflict taking place somewhere in the world often with appalling atrocities being carried out by one side or the other, the most recent being ISIS who are prepared to execute someone simply to produce a propaganda video.
Sayings such as “fight fire with fire” and the biblical “eye for an eye” seem to have increasing relevance to me when we are up against such evil organisations. Should we opt out of  activities which our enemies are perfectly willing to use? I am aware of the arguments that if one uses the barbaric methods of such people that one then forfeits the moral high ground, but retaining the high ground is no use if you lose the war.

So I now hold the view that there are circumstances under which torture can be justified and blanket statements such as “Torture is Wrong” are themselves wrong. I believe that it is justified when lives are at risk or it can be shown to be for the greater good. There are times when we simply have to trust those who are in charge of protecting us, and trust them to do what is appropriate at the time.

Ideally the invention of a so-called “truth drug” would solve the problem – or would it? Would it be torture to give a captive such a drug against his wishes?

Such a question in itself shows that there is no clear definition of torture; I read today that British troops have been told that when interrogating suspects they must not shout or bang the table! To me this is total madness! The way we are going, we may be morally correct, but the enemy is going to win.

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