"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 ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more