Should Torture Be Used to Extract Lifesaving Info From Suspected Terrorists — Including Americans?

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, a subject that once dominated the headlines has returned — torture. Considering the ideological battles surrounding waterboarding during and following the George W. Bush administration, contention has, again, emerged surrounding whether putting terror suspects through intense discomfort is a viable method of conducting intelligence gathering.

In the case of the Boston bombing, 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev survived, was detained and is currently in federal custody. While authorities were able to extract information from the suspected terrorist before he was read his Miranda rights, there’s likely much more that police hope to glean from his purported involvement in the attack. So, the question is: Should Tsarnaev be tortured to get the information?

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Brewster, at the Capitol on Wednesday, April 24, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Credit: AP

Last week, New York State Sen. Greg Ball got into an on-air tussle about this very subject, arguing with CNN’s Piers Morgan over the acceptability of using torture as a tactic in the war against radical extremism. While Ball argued that using enhanced tactics could save lives, Morgan was less-than-convinced — and even asked his guest to “stop being a jerk.”

Certainly, the on-air spat was entertaining, but there are very serious issues — and questions — at the center of the debate. In addition to exploring whether torture, itself, should be utilized, the Boston case presents a more specific question: Should Americans citizens who engage in terror activity be open to potential torture?

TheBlaze spoke with Ball about his views on the matter — and he was candid about his stance on torture and security.

“I count myself amongst those [that] if it would save American lives, I would certainly use all options available, including torture,” he said. “That said, there are people in this country who view leaving the lights on and blasting music as torture.”

Ball’s point here is that there are a plethora of opinions not only on whether torture should be used, but also regarding which actions constitute the practice. While some view waterboarding (defined as “a harsh interrogation technique in which water is poured onto the face and head of the immobilized victim so as to induce a fear of drowning”) as torture, others claim that it simply does not qualify.

Regardless, it can at least be described as an action that is intentionally taken to make individuals uncomfortable so that they will divulge essential information. Ball simply doesn’t see a problem with it.

“[Obama] even understands that in order to keep the U.S. safe you need to play hardball and [leave] all options open,” Ball said, continuing later, “If you can prevent an absolute atrocity from happening on American soil and save men women and children, would you use everything at your disposal to do so?”

As for whether an American citizen, like Tsarnaev, should be subject to torture (he became a citizen on Sept. 11, 2012), Ball said that any individual who is engaged in terror attacks against the U.S. should be considered “an unlawful enemy combatant” — not only those who are foreigners who lack citizenship.

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Brewster, at the Capitol on Wednesday, April 24, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Credit: AP

“Whether it be a domestic terrorst or international, if you’re killing men women and children you’re playing against a different set of rules,” he added.

What do you think? Take our poll, below, and let us know your views on torture and national security.