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“The Torture Question” Report (Assessment)


It is believed that America before the September 11th attacks is different from the one after the 9/11. This is due to the statutory changes of how the US army was ordered to handle and treat terrorists. Also there were changes in the powers granted to the president.

He was granted more powers and his decision was final and unchallenged. Intelligence should be relied upon in policy making but in the Iraqi and Afghan war decision were solely made by the Bush’s administration directly without consulting with the military intelligence and other intelligence agencies.

This essay review and identifies the major problems in how the US government responded to the 9/11 attacks. This is according to a Frontline video which was recorded during the Afghan war. It also features on the inhumane treatment of the so called terrorists by American military police (M.P.) and Military Intelligence (M.I.) agents.

Post 9/11 America

After the 9/11 attacks every American was asking including the congress, what should we do? President Bush decided, after being convinced by his advisers, that they should retaliate and fight terrorism in which the first attacks were in Afghanistan where American troops were sent to find information about Al-Qaeda and their leader Osama Bin Laden.

Before anything productive results were realized there was one major problem. It was not clear what should be done to the prisoners of war who were captured as terrorists. This was due to the fact that they could not be tried on American local or Federal courts, they could not kill them and they couldn’t they let them go (Frontline, 2005, chapter 2).

Unlimited and Unprecedented Powers

John Yoo and several other lawyers formulated a memo that had rules that and recommendations of what should be done to resolve this problem the Frontline video clip clearly states that,

“Former White House and Justice Department legal advisers who were involved in drafting many of the administration’s boldest proposals…. The legal framework developed by lawyers like Berenson, Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo provided the impetus for unprecedented rules for interrogating detainees, rules authorized by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld – rules officials insist never condoned torture…

There was a powerful set of shared assumptions we had in the wake of 9/11, and one of the most powerful was the assumption that we would never be forgiven if we failed to do something that was within the power of our government lawfully to protect the public from a further attack.”

This was the main source of all the torture and suffering that the terrorist went through. John Yoo under the Department of Justice (DoJ) went ahead and proposed to congress yet another change which congress over whelming accepted.

This was to grant the Commander in chief of the armed forces unlimited and unprecedented powers and to use all necessary means possible to prevent and stop future attacks and to capture those responsible for previous ones (Frontline, 2005, chapter 2). This was the second mistake that they did as a result of anger from the attacks and the loss incurred from it.

The president was legally allowed to overrule any other law if it were an incident of national security and terrorists were involved. This did not consider that the president might be wrong, have a personal issue or have an ill motive and this would affect his judgment of which is final.

Withdrawal of the Geneva Conventions

The secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, asked the president to withdraw the Geneva conventions act which protected prisoners of war because in his personal view it prevented them from acquiring reliable information from the terrorists. It protected them from being tortured by the US army.

The Geneva conventions were withdrawn and a legal detention facility was established in Guantanamo bay in Cuba which held 625 Iraqi and Afghan inmates. After some time the prisoners number grew bigger and the need for a new facility emerged and this is when the US troops took over Abu Ghraib maximum prison which was Saddam’s largest and most feared prison.

In this facilities prisoners were tortured and abused in the most inhumane way for instance in Abu Ghraib an inmate Identified as Detainee-07 was forced by US agents in civilian clothes to wear a woman’s bra and a thong on his head, severally beaten to unconsciousness, jumped on by American soldiers on his back and legs, teased by dogs and lady M.Ps threw things at his genitals while taking photos.

In another instance in Guantanamo bay an inmate referred to as the 20th hijacker was referred to as a homosexual, smeared on with fake menstrual blood, bent backwards and his genitals grabbed and also teased by a dog. No one is sure for how long and how many others had been tortured like this.

All these inhumane interrogations were done to acquire some information from the prisoners but nothing reliable was obtained from them. It is suspected that most these prisoners had no reliable information due to the fact that some of them were captured at their own homes and also the interrogators were inexperienced and incompetent.

Abuse of Office

In May 7th 2004 the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld was asked to resign from office after what he had been ordering solders to do to the so called terrorists was revealed to the public. He was ready to resign but the president didn’t allow him to by not accepting his resignation letter.

Twelve investigations were conducted after all this and only seven military police and two military intelligence officers were accused of torturing the prisoners during their night shifts (Frontline, 2005, chapter 6). It is openly clear to everyone that there is no way all this was being conducted by 9 soldiers as Army Reserve discharged Gen. Janis Karpinski who was says “How can continue to blame 9 rogue soldiers on the nightshift when there is a preponderance of information right now, hard information from a variety of sources, that says otherwise” (Frontline, 2005, chapter 6).


As I quoted earlier Intelligence should influence and be relied upon in decision and policy making especially in matters of national security. This is what the post 9/11 US administration failed in practicing and it should be avoided in future.

For Intelligence to be reliable, experienced and competent personnel should be involved in its acquisition. In Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo incompetent and inexperienced army agents were the ones interrogating the prisoners. The US government should have hired some experienced interrogators and by so doing reliable information would have been extracted from the terrorists.

The president should be a powerful person but he should be granted unlimited powers and not answerable to any law. This means that the statute amendment that stated that the president can overrule any other law in incidences of terrorism should be withdrawn.


Very many people suffered in the hands of the US army agents and the one responsible deny that that they had any idea of any of this inhumane actions taking place. The people punished for this were not solely responsible for this but they were merely following orders. The people responsible for this should be justly tried and appropriately punished in accordance with the law.


Frontline. (2005). The Torture Question. (Chapter 1-6) Retrieved from

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