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"Three Marines in Mahmudiya used an electric transformer, forcing a detainee to 'dance' as the electricity coursed through him."
International Committee of the Red Cross, February 2004

A former Iraqi general "died of asphyxiation after being stuffed head-first into a sleeping bag … at an American base in Al Asad."
The New York Times, October 23, 2005

"Al-Qatani was forced to perform dog tricks on a leash, was straddled by a female interrogator, forced to dance with a male interrogator, told that his mother and sister were whores, forced to wear a woman's bra and thong on his head during interrogation, and subjected to an unmuzzled dog to scare him."
Newsweek, November 21, 2005

The word "torture," tellingly, comes from the Latin torquere, to twist. Stine Amris and Julio G. Arenas, who have done extensive studies on the effects of torture, define it as "the infliction of severe pain (whether physical or psychological) by a perpetrator who acts purposefully and on behalf of the state" (italics in original).

The debate in our nation today concerns what measures can legitimately be taken to extract information from prisoners held by us in the "war on terror" and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As such, it is a debate about the proper use of government power in a liberal democracy. Can that power ever rightly extend to the use of any form of torture?

Few people disagree that a liberal democracy has the right and responsibility to take prisoners and interrogate them during a war or police action. This is part of the government's biblical mandate in Romans 13:1-7, a mandate to deter violations of peace and justice. Most would even agree that interrogators should have some flexibility in applying pressure to encourage prisoners ...

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February 2006

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