Guantanamo Bay. Brennan Linsley / AP
Guantanamo Bay. Brennan Linsley / AP

In the struggle against terrorism, torture is counter-productive and morally wrong



Winston Churchill is supposed to have joked that "you can depend upon the Americans to do the right thing, but only after they have exhausted every other possibility." It is a fine, affectionate quip and it sums up an extraordinary and extremely detailed new report by the US senate select intelligence committee. The report was into torture, one of the most unpleasant by-products of the struggle against terrorism.

Perhaps because so much else is going on in Washington with more immediate consequences, this report into what may seem ancient history received limited publicity. But senate committee staffers spent more than five years analysing about 6.3 million pages of documents, at a cost of US$40 million. They produced a secret 6,700-page review and around 500 pages have been made public.

Their conclusions are worth thinking about, especially this one: "the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation." There were dissenting voices on the committee, but this conclusion is clear. Torture or "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding generally does not work and is illegal. More sophisticated and less inhumane techniques are more likely to be effective. The "ticking bomb" scenario so familiar from Hollywood movies, where a terrorist is tortured into spilling the beans about some impending attack and therefore innocent lives are saved, does not bear any relation to reality.

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More from Gavin Esler

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The senate committee report was published as I happened to meet a torture victim, Terry Waite. He was a special envoy from the Archbishop of Canterbury, sent to Lebanon in the 1980s to try to secure the release of hostages kidnapped by Hizbollah. Despite assurances of safe conduct, Terry himself was kidnapped. He was held in terrible conditions from 1987 until 1991, a total of 1,763 days in captivity and he was tortured repeatedly. Years later Terry, a good man with a strong religious faith, was able to meet and forgive his torturers. But he spoke to me in Canterbury with particular force about those who practice or condone torture by making the argument that torture may be necessary to protect the rest of us from some great evil, most recently terrorism, particularly Islamist terrorism.

Terry Waite is not alone in concluding that while torture is unacceptable everywhere, it is particularly unacceptable in democratic countries. Torture, inevitably, undermines the very values democracies claim to uphold and protect, including the rule of law. This was recognised formally in the United States as far back as 1863 during the darkest period of the American civil war. America has faced many threats, including those from ISIL and Al Qaeda, from Nazism and the Soviet Union. But the one threat that came closest to destroying the United States came from the great rebellion of the confederate states. In 1863 things looked bleak. If the southern rebels had succeeded then the US would have ceased to exist. Faced with a bloody war for survival, Abraham Lincoln asked Franz Lieber, a German American legal scholar, to outline a code for what was permissible and what is not allowed in warfare. The Lieber Code was published on April 24, 1863. It is formally known as "Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field, General Order Number 100." The Lieber Code expressly forbids American forces from using torture to extract confessions under any circumstances.

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The 2017 Senate committee report reminds us that in Bagram airforce base, in Abu Ghraib and in Guantanamo Bay, the United States did not live up to its own best standards. Britain, in a period of great fear when dealing with IRA terrorism during the 1970s, also treated some prisoners in ways which have been described as torture. As with the senate report, these British "enhanced interrogation techniques" were largely ineffective and quite probably counter-productive. When stories of the abuse of Irish prisoners spread, some in the IRA at the time claimed it actually encouraged young men to join the terrorist organisation.

We must not make the same mistakes again. Last week the head of the British security service MI5, Andrew Parker, said there has been a "dramatic upshift in the threat" from Islamic terrorism in the United Kingdom, in part because the destruction of ISIL in Syria means these deluded criminals will be looking for other easier targets. These are dangerous times. But the institutions of Britain, America and other countries will survive terrorist attacks provided that we do not fall into the trap of pursuing the politics of the last atrocity, allowing a terrorist outrage to panic us into undermining our own values. The senate report shows that a great country can admit to mistakes, and learn from them. And the Lieber Code did not stop the US winning the civil war. Acting humanely even towards those who threaten us does not weaken us. It makes us strong. And it makes the defeat of our enemies more speedy and more assured.

Gavin Esler is a journalist, television presenter and author

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, which can lead to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.

There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E.

Hepatitis C is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This can occur through blood transfusions, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injecting drugs. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common.

People infected with hepatitis C experience few or no symptoms, meaning they can live with the virus for years without being diagnosed. This delay in treatment can increase the risk of significant liver damage.

There are an estimated 170 million carriers of Hepatitis C around the world.

The virus causes approximately 399,000 fatalities each year worldwide, according to WHO.

 

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

The specs

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WHAT IS A BLACK HOLE?

1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

Apple Mac through the years

1984 - Apple unveiled the Macintosh on January 24
1985 - Steve Jobs departed from Apple and established NeXT
1986 - Apple introduced the Macintosh Plus, featuring enhanced memory
1987 - Apple launched the Macintosh II, equipped with colour capabilities
1989 - The widely acclaimed Macintosh SE/30 made its debut
1994 - Apple presented the Power Macintosh
1996 - The Macintosh System Software OS underwent a rebranding as Mac OS
2001 - Apple introduced Mac OS X, marrying Unix stability with a user-friendly interface
2006 - Apple adopted Intel processors in MacBook Pro laptops
2008 - Apple introduced the MacBook Air, a lightweight laptop
2012 - Apple launched the MacBook Pro with a retina display
2016 - The Mac operating system underwent rebranding as macOS
2020 - Apple introduced the M1 chip for Macs, combining high performance and energy efficiency
2022 - The M2 chip was announced
2023 -The M3 line-up of chip was announced to improve performance and add new capabilities for Mac.

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

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  • Choose your nursery carefully in the first place
  • Relax – and hopefully your child will follow suit
  • Inform the staff in advance of your child’s likes and dislikes.
  • If you need some extra time to talk to the teachers, make an appointment a few days in advance, rather than attempting to chat on your child’s first day
  • The longer you stay, the more upset your child will become. As difficult as it is, walk away. Say a proper goodbye and reassure your child that you will be back
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RESULT

Argentina 0 Croatia 3
Croatia: 
Rebic (53'), Modric (80'), Rakitic (90'+1)

STAR WARS JEDI: SURVIVOR

Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Consoles: PC, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X and S
Rating: 4/5

Mountain Boy

Director: Zainab Shaheen

Starring: Naser Al Messabi

Rating: 3/5

LOVE AGAIN

Director: Jim Strouse

Stars: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan, Celine Dion

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WWE TLC results

Asuka won the SmackDown Women's title in a TLC triple threat with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair

Dean Ambrose won the Intercontinental title against Seth Rollins

Daniel Bryan retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles

Ronda Rousey retained the Raw Women's Championship against Nia Jax

Rey Mysterio beat Randy Orton in a chairs match

Finn Balor defeated Drew McIntyre

Natalya beat Ruby Riott in a tables match

Braun Strowman beat Baron Corbin in a TLC match

Sheamus and Cesaro retained the SmackDown Tag Titles against The Usos and New Day

R-Truth and Carmella won the Mixed Match Challenge by beating Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox

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