How to be a civilised country

It’s encouraging that the neo-conservatives, who still embrace torture, have not totally infected the American public:

Six in 10 Americans approve of having an international convention saying that “governments should never use physical torture” as a means of trying to get information, while 39 percent say such a ban is too restrictive, according to a new Networks poll.

A majority also opposes nearly all methods for coercing detainees to give information, even when it might be critical to stopping a terrorist attack against the US. Respondents were presented a scenario in which a detainee is being held who is likely to have “information about a possible terrorist attack on the US that may prove critical to stopping the attack.” They were then presented a series of methods for coercing the respondent to reveal the information.

Majorities opposed forcing the detainee to take stressful positions (56%), using threatening dogs (64%), exposing the detainee to extreme heat and cold (66%), making the detainee go naked (71%), holding the detainee’s head under water (78%), punching or kicking the detainee (80%), and applying electric shocks (81%).

One method–sleep deprivation–received modest majority support (52%). Views were divided on putting a hood over a detainee’s head for a long period of time, and bombarding the detainee with loud music. A very large majority (79%) favored offering detainees positive incentives for providing information.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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