"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 ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Apathetic Agnostic Subscriber Access Only
David Horowitz on life without God.
Current IssueOur Spiritual Gifts Have an Expiration Date
Our Spiritual Gifts Have an Expiration Date Subscriber Access Only
Let’s rejoice in them—while looking forward to a time when they’re no longer needed.
RecommendedThe Seven Levels of Lying
The Seven Levels of LyingSubscriber Access Only
We lie more than we think. And that's part of the problem.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickSasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
Ben Sasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
The Nebraska senator wants parents to get serious about shepherding kids into responsible adulthood.
Christianity Today
5 Reasons Torture Is Always Wrong
hide thisFebruary February

In the Magazine

February 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.