Dinner Table Discussion #7
When dealing with prisoners, it is imperative to keep in mind the decision made at the Geneva Conventions to forbid not only torture, but also cruel, humiliating, and degrading treatment for prisoners of war. The United States has violated these decisions time and time again with the establishment of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib post 9/11, for those who are under suspicion for having affiliations with terrorist organizations such as the Taliban or Al Qaeda, and "information on another impending attack against the United States" (Mora 7). Mora strongly believes that there should not be a difference between the way we treat US citizens and non citizens since the very foundation of our nation upholds the dignity of the individual. I agree with Mora's rhetoric, as the US's implementation of cruel and unusual punishment is contradictory to our nation's values. Furthermore, the inhumane treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib under United State's supervision has damaged our foreign policy and national security interests.
While Mora makes a strong argument, it is also impractical to not use any form of harsh treatment towards prisoners. It is ideal to have a humanitarian view, but it is also important to note that these prisoners are highly dangerous and punitive measures must be taken to retract information from them, even if it requires cruel treatment. However, these punitive measures should be within reason and not torturous. Mora describes the torturous and inhumane treatment of Qahtani, a detainee who was believed to be the twentieth hijacker in the 9/11 attacks. He had been "subjected to a 160 days of isolation, straddled by taunting female guards, placed on a leash, deprived of heat, deprived of sleep for three days" and more dehumanizing treatment. These punitive measures deprive the prisoner of his human dignity and are completely inhumane and thus should never be used. In such cases, heavy interrogation and punishment should be used, but only to an extent where it is reasonable. Treating prisoners who are accused of heinous crimes in a completely humanitarian way will not get the government the information it needs in order to sustain national security. The government should be responsible for implementing harsh, but reasonable measures when dealing with such criminals.