In the aftermath of a terror attack, the government uses torture to deal with the threat
Conrad et al, 14
(Courtenay R. Conrad Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Merced, Justin Conrad is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, James, Associate Professor (with tenure), Department of Political Science, The Pennsylvania State University, “Who Tortures the Terrorists? Transnational Terrorism and Military Torture”, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fpa.12066/full, October, 13, 2014, ak.)
Terrorist attacks can have far-reaching, long-term consequences.2 Successful attacks directly and indirectly harm the target state's economy (Enders and Sandler 2006), especially as attacks often occur within the context of larger, more costly civil conflicts (Findley and Young 2011). Terrorist attacks can also lead to loss of support for incumbent leaders and influence voting patterns in democracies (Berrebi and Klor 2008). These negative consequences create strong pressures for governments to prevent attacks and minimize their repercussions when they do occur, and we argue that such pressures might lead governments to engage in higher levels of torture and physical abuse. First, although there is popular debate about the quality of intelligence produced when detainees are questioned under physical duress,3 government officials may torture terrorist suspects to generate information about future attacks (e.g., Dershowitz 2002; Ignatieff 2004). For example, Bush administration official Mark Thiessen argues that the “enhanced interrogations” of Khalid Sheik Mohammed yielded intelligence that foiled terrorist plans to fly an aircraft into a California skyscraper: “Without enhanced interrogations, there could be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York” (Thiessen 2009). Second, torture may deter future terrorist activities. Potential terrorists may be dissuaded from engaging in attacks against states that respond to terrorism with human rights violations and other forms of indiscriminate violence (Lyall 2009).4 We discuss each of these mechanisms in turn.5 Torture and Intelligence Governments often lack reliable information about terrorist groups and their activities. This is by design on the part of the terrorists themselves. Organizations that engage in transnational and domestic terrorism do so most often because they are weak, lacking the capabilities to engage in conventional military strategies, and because they lack popular support for their goals to engage in political mobilization (Crenshaw 1998; Lake 2002; Kydd and Walter 2006). Because of their relative weakness compared with the states they target, it is crucial for terrorists to keep their organization and activities clandestine, to misrepresent their capabilities and resolve (Lake 2002) and to keep secret the geographic location of their operations. Although some states have successfully negotiated with terrorists (e.g., Jones and Libicki 2008), the increased probability of bargaining failures and the higher risks of defection by terrorist actors make such negotiations fraught with difficulty, even if the state is willing to offer concessions.6 States therefore frequently seek to deal with terrorism by eliminating groups and their members through policing and military action. Due to the clandestine and opaque nature of terrorism and terrorist threats, a critical barrier to effective counterterrorism policy is a lack of intelligence about the details of terrorist organizations themselves and their plans for future terrorist attacks. During the height of the Iraq War, US government sources frequently cited lack of information about terrorist groups as a key reason for the persistence of the terrorist threat. As an example of the staggering dynamism and complexity of terrorist movements in that conflict, one journalist compiled a list of 103 groups claiming responsibility for attacks on Americans and Iraqis during a 6-month period in 2005 (Filkins 2008). As authorities become better able to gather intelligence on terrorist threats, the likelihood of successful deterrence, defence, and bargaining increases. Consequently, the occurrence of terrorist attacks is lower when states have accurate information about the capabilities and intentions of terrorist organizations that facilitates better counterterrorism efforts. Because intelligence collection is necessary for preventing terrorist attacks, governments faced with terrorist threats are incentivized to use whatever intelligence gathering techniques are available to generate counterterrorism information, including the use of physical abuse and torture of suspects and detainees. State officials have long engaged in torture both to establish the credibility of witness testimony and to aid in the determination of guilt or innocence (Rejali 2007). Proponents have argued that torture of suspected terrorists and their supporters can provide actionable intelligence (Johnson and Ryan 2012), increasing the state's ability to foil future attacks, identify members and/or destroy terrorist group cells. State agents are especially likely to engage in torture when they believe that it will generate information to eliminate a potential threat (Wantchekon and Healy 1999) and/or prevent a future attack.7 Increased intelligence is also important if the state wishes to respond to terrorism with more targeted violence. Indiscriminate repression, which is directed at the general population rather than specifically at members of terrorist and dissident groups, is unlikely to control dissent (e.g., Kalyvas and Kocher 2007; Kocher, Pepinksy, and Kalyvas 2011), eliminate insurgency (e.g., Findley and Young 2007, Sullivan 2011), or reduce terrorist attacks (e.g., Walsh and Piazza 2010; Dugan and Chenoweth 2012). Torture offers a focused method of gathering information about dissident activities, which increases the likelihood that state violence is targeted at insurgents and terrorists rather than at the population more generally. Torture and Deterrence Second, supporters of torture frequently claim it has a deterrent effect on terrorism. Torture—more broadly and indiscriminately applied—may be used to punish individual terrorists or as part of a strategy to intimidate and deter members and supporters of the terrorist organization. Physical punishment as a means of deterrence is a centuries-old legal and philosophical concept viewed as a legitimate function of sovereign governments (e.g., Hobbes 1651; Locke 1689). Sullivan (2011:6) argues that one of the “desired results” of torture is to, “create a link between disobedient behavior and pain, thereby reinforcing legal norms by associating transgression with negative sanctions.” As with punishment for criminal offenses, individuals may refrain from participating in or supporting terrorism if authorities have a reputation for torturing suspected terrorists and sympathizers. The French Army, for instance, randomly tortured Algerian citizens during the Algerian War in the 1960s (DiMarco 2006), suggesting that torture was used as a punitive and deterrent tool to prevent additional terrorist attacks.8 Supporters of this tactic argue that using torture to encourage fear (Walter 1969, Wantchekon and Healy 2005) among terrorist sympathizers and within the general populace can potentially stem the future growth of terrorist organizations.
Especially true with the increased risk of terrorism
Conrad et al, 15
(Courtenay R. Conrad Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Merced, Justin Conrad is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, James, Associate Professor (with tenure), Department of Political Science, The Pennsylvania State University, “When do countries respond to terrorism with torture?”, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/01/13/understanding-when-states-rarely-respond-to-terrorism-with-torture/, January 13, 2015, ak.)
Militaries have historically devoted most of their attention to planning for war, not counterterrorism. Torture is a practice that they can implement quickly and (seemingly) cheaply to gain intelligence about terrorist threats, making it a tempting solution to a novel policy challenge. Police and prison officials, in contrast, are less likely to view responding to transnational threats as central to their organizational missions, and thus do not respond by increasing the degree to which they torture. We assess this argument with data from the Ill-Treatment and Torture Data Collection Project, which disaggregates the agencies engaging in torture for countries around the world from 1995 through 2005. Figure 1 illustrates this relationship by depicting the predicted probability that a country’s military will engage in greater degrees of torture. The likelihood of widespread, systemic torture by military forces increases sharply with the number of transnational terrorist attacks, while the chance that the military will refrain from torturing declines. We further find that this response is most likely in established democracies. At first glance, this claim is surprising because democracies are less likely to engage in abuses of human rights, are more likely to cease torturing and long-established and stable democracies are the least likely to torture. Yet most democracies engage in torture, suggesting that they see utility in the practice or at least view the costs of stopping torture as unacceptably high. The value of torture for democratic states increases during periods of foreign threat, including as that posed by transnational terrorists. Democracies have long responded to external threats by increasing repression at home. Citizens are less likely to object to the torture of suspected terrorists who are members of “out-groups,” including foreign nationals, and their preferences carry greater weight in democratic regimes.
Public opinion condones detention and enhanced interrogation against Muslims
(James, Associate Professor (with tenure), Department of Political Science, The Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. Politics (Comparative Politics and International Relations), New York University, 1999 M.A. Middle East Studies, University of Michigan, 1994 B.A. Political Science, Loyola University Chicago, 1992, “Terrorist Suspect Religious Identity and Public Support for Harsh Interrogation and Detention Practices”, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pops.12190/full, April 1, 2014, ak.)
The study, therefore, finds some evidence that the religious identity of terrorism suspects is an important factor in the American public's approval of the use of some of the new, harsh counterterrorism techniques adopted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The religious identity of a terror suspect—measured in terms of stereotypical Muslim versus Anglo names and in terms of alleged membership in a radical Muslim versus domestic, right-wing terrorist organization—significantly affects respondent support for the application of harsh detention practices against suspects, such as detention without charge, without access to an attorney, and without access to civilian courts. No significant effects were found for subjecting suspects to harsh interrogation. These findings illustrate the utility of the outgroup-hate and ingroup-love theoretical model of individual reaction to perception of threat and desire to apply punitive measures to outgroup transgressors to understanding public opinion regarding a highly salient contemporary policy issue in the United States: detention of terror suspects. This same theoretical model might apply to other War on Terror policy issues such as the use of drones for security, NSA surveillance, or the creation of new counterterrorism laws or granting of new counterterror powers to law enforcement. Future studies could test whether or not public support for these is contingent on the religious identity of the targeted population. As previously stated, the purpose of surveying respondent support for both harsh interrogation and detention practices was to use the fullest possible complement of post-9/11 counterterrorism practices against terror suspects in measuring the public's attitudes. The a priori theoretical expectation was that the American public was more permissive of harsh treatment in general of Muslim-identified suspects. The hypotheses of the study, supported by existing theoretical work, are not clearly specified in terms of specific counterterrorism practices. However, there are a couple of possible explanations for the different findings for interrogation and detention in this study and some ideas that future research could investigate. First, the interrogation activities portrayed in the survey, such as waterboarding, have received significantly more media attention than have the more abstract and legalistic practices depicted in the detention questions. The subject of physical abuse of people detained for terrorism charges—brought to public attention through public debate over abuse scandals at Guantanamo Bay, Baghram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq—also was hotly debated in national politics, prompting public condemnation by national figures such as U.S. Senator John McCain, a Congressional legislative action to ban various torture practices in 2005 through the Detainee Treatment Act, and a veto of this act by President Bush. (Jansen, 2008). In contrast, there has been little contentious public debate about extraordinary detention of detainees. The result has been that the American public has access to a clearly articulated criticism of extraordinary interrogation and vivid images of the outcome of such interrogation practices on actual Muslims but little information at all about extraordinary detention. This asymmetry might condition respondent attitudes, making them discount the negative impact of detention on Muslim suspects and therefore more tolerant of such practices. Future research might directly test this by interacting measures of respondent familiarity with or exposure to news stories about interrogation versus detention practices with support for subjecting Muslim suspects to these practices. Second, most of the activities depicted in the 10 questions about interrogation of terror suspects have since 2009 been made illegal via President Obama's Executive Order requiring interrogation and treatment of terror suspects, held both abroad and within the United States, to conform to the U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogations (White House, 2009). In contrast, the detention practices depicted in the survey remain legal, having been interpreted as legally valid by both the Bush and Obama Justice Departments (White House, 2001). This may also condition respondent attitudes, as respondents might regard application of extraordinary interrogation, regardless of suspect identity, to be a legally questionable tactic while extraordinary detention, particularly against suspects depicted as “foreign,” is not freighted with such concerns. These are only speculations. Future research may survey respondents about their level of awareness of post-9/11 interrogation and detention techniques in order to determine why the public has different levels of toleration for these two practices. As a final discussion point, it should be noted that although the results provide evidence that both the personal religious identity and the group affiliation of the suspects are significant predictors of respondent tolerance of extreme detention, the Muslim name treatment is more frequently significant in the tests of respondent support for specific types of detention. This is a finding that could be further explored in future studies. If it were to be consistently reproduced, it might suggest that individual religious identity itself primes tolerance for harsh treatment, which would be more consistent with the identity-based theories that motivate the article. Conclusion The finding that the American public is more tolerant of subjecting individuals suspected of terrorist activity to extreme detection if the suspects are Muslim or are claimed to be members of a Muslim extremist group—if valid—has several public policy implications, potentially identifying a loophole in popular democratic constraint of executive branch counterterrorism behavior. Counterterrorism officials may recognize that currently the public is generally hesitant about authorizing enhanced interrogation and detention techniques in the War on Terror but may bank on greater public leniency in dealing with some types of terror suspects. This opens the possibility of a nuanced and gradual erosion of standards for civil liberties and human rights standards in the United States, with less risk of the type of public backlash that a general, nondiscriminatory policy of terror suspect abuse might provoke.