Ticking Bomb Scenarios

1221 Words5 Pages
The “ticking bomb” scenario refers to a hypothetical situation in which only by torturing a terrorist who knows the location of the ticking bomb, can the bomb be located before it detonates and kills many innocent lives. Dershowitz argues if torture is morally permissible in extreme cases such as the ticking bomb case, then governments should change existing laws in order to accommodate the use of torture. Dershowitz suggests the implementation of torture warrants, similar to search warrants, in order to ensure safety and security, accountability, and respect towards peoples civil rights and liberties. Dershowitz argues that this is the only way to protect these values and allows for warranted torture in extreme cases such as the ticking bomb…show more content…
The first problem is that torturing, even in ticking bomb scenarios, legitimizes torture and brings about suboptimal consequences. The second problem is that the argument seems to suggest that there are cases in which it is okay to torture the families of terrorist, or kill innocent people by association. To torture a suspect’s family member in order to obtain information seems to be morally permissible according to Dershowitz’s proposal. Dershowitz goes on to state that in order to avoid this slippery slope situation, limits must be implemented on the use of torture. (Dershowitz 621) However openly allowing torture in any way will normalize its use. While Dershowitz’s proposal for warranted torture may seem appropriate in the case of the ticking bomb terrorist, the proposal is undermined by many moral and legal issues. It is easier for government officials to justify using torture in such extreme cases, but the reasons for not using torture outweigh its justifications. Dershowitz’s suggestion assumes that under a system of torture warrants that officials will refrain from torture if the warrant is rejected. There is no way to regulate interrogators and it is unlikely that a warrant will prevent interrogators from breaking the rules. Contrary to what Dershowitz believes, by legitimizing torture there will be more instances of torture being…show more content…
Both the Geneva Conventions and the UN establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of prisoners of war, which clearly states that torture shall not be used under any circumstances whatsoever. If a country were to decide to use torture in order to gain information, it puts them at risk of scrutiny from the international community. A country cannot expect to allow torture, even in extreme cases, without consequences to follow. Nations are obligated to search for people coming war crimes and bring them to trial regardless of where they’re from and regardless of the where the crimes took place. Even in the context of the ticking bomb scenario, these international treaties would prohibit the use of torture as means of gaining information. Furthermore, United States constitutional law would also prohibit torture in the ticking bomb scenario on the basis of the due process clause in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments prevents torturing of the ticking bomb terrorist on the premise of human dignity. These amendments provide everyone the right to life, liberty, and property. The problem with warranted torture is the fact that torture itself violates human dignity. Because torture violates human dignity, forcing judges to issue warrants directly involves them with infringing upon an individuals
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