Is torture ever justified?

The war on terror is a fight against a very different kind of enemy. Does that justify different rules of engagement?

George W Bush sparked international outrage yesterday after using his memoirs to defend the use of torture, undermining the West’s case when discussing human rights with nations such as China.

In his book, Decision Points, the former US President said it was ‘damn right’ he had authorised the use of waterboarding on three terror suspects, insisting the information gained had ‘saved lives.’

Mr Bush authorised waterboarding to get crucial information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda mastermind behind the 9/11 attack, which helped break up plots to attack 31 sites including Big Ben, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London – saving hundreds of British lives.

In waterboarding, a prisoner is strapped down or hung upside down. A cloth is pushed into his mouth and water is poured over his face. There is no doubt the procedure was severe, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did no lasting harm.

Do you think torture is justified in this situation – that procedures such as waterboarding this should be used in exceptional circumstances?

Or do you think this kind of interrogation should be condemned, and consider it morally wrong in all cases?

Do you think George Bush made the right decision? Should he be applauded for saving hundreds of lives in foiled terror attacks, even over here in the UK? Was he brave to use this technique despite knowing it would be unpopular and he would come under fire from human rights groups?

Join the debate and let us know your thoughts in the comments box below…


Reading now