"Torture, Truth Serum, and Ticking Bombs: Toward a Pragmatic Perspective on Coercive Interrogation" (Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, 2008) Kenneth Lasson (University of Baltimore School of Law) The 'War on Terror' has prompted a great deal of discussion about the use of torture as a means of extracting information from those suspected of having perpetrated past acts of violence or planning future ones. It seems increasingly difficult to adhere to international norms governing a nation's moral and legal obligations to protect its citizens from grave danger while continuing to support individual freedoms. Among the more difficult questions to emerge from those that were far-fetched (if not unthinkable) just a few decades ago is how to handle the so-called ticking-bomb scenario. As terror organizations grow in size and complexity, uncovering terrorist plans by interrogating a group member has become critical, and the need to gather intelligence in order to save lives increasingly urgent.
"Do Norms Reduce Torture?" (Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 38) by Michael J. Gilligan (New York University, Department of Politics) and Nathaniel H. Nesbitt. This article tests the proposition that norms alter state behavior with respect to the expanding international norm against torture from 1985 through 2003. It finds no evidence that the spreading of the international norm against torture, measured by the percentage of countries in the world that have acceded to the UN Convention Against Torture, has lead to any reduction in torture according to a variety of measures. HT to National Security Advisors.
"The Jaundiced Eye of the Beholder: The Case for an Objective Definition of Torture" (Journal of Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems, Forthcoming) by Michael W. Lewis (Ohio Northern University - Pettit College of Law). After discussing current misconceptions about intelligence gathering and coercion that are common to all sides of the torture debate, this article describes the reality of intelligence collection. It then reviews the wide range of competing definitions of torture; those provided by international courts, those proposed by commentators and those implemented by governments around the world. People or governments under pressure from terrorist attacks view the definition of "severe pain and suffering" differently from those outside such a cauldron. The excesses that follow terrorism have generally later been regretted, but such regrets do little to comfort the victims of these excesses. This article proposes a solution. To prevent the definition of "severe pain and suffering" from changing between September 10 and September 12, it recommends tying the definition to pre-existing standards that are difficult to manipulate and internally self-policing. HT to National Security Advisors.