When is Torture Justified? | Lt. Col. Jon S. Jackson | TEDxMemphis

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well when is torture justified that is a question that we think about in the military all the time and 50% of Americans believe it or not according to a recent CBS poll believed that torture is justified by the United States if we hold a detainee and we think it is necessary so let's explore that issue today let's talk about why that is and to do that let's go on a journey together a journey that I took over the last twelve years and a journey that I want you to go on today and it's a journey that requires both physical and mental courage now you see a slide up on there and it's it's from 2003 and I put it up on the screen so you have a chance to look at it and you'll see rule 3 is on the slide when we give briefings to our soldiers we give them a briefing about the law of war before they deploy and this is the exact slide that I gave in 2003 in Mannheim Germany to a group of soldiers sitting much like you except they had to be there they didn't pay to be there and they were there because they had to learn the rules of war and how we treat detainees are targeting decisions many issues and you'll see from this slide point number 3 the basic rule that we have and that is to treat people that we in the military capture as you would want to be treated or if you don't like to be treated well as your buddy would like to be treated okay and we make that point because soldiers many times care more about their battle buddy than they care about themselves and then the fourth one is kind of a dumb issue for us as judge advocates as lawyers torture is illegal now remember this is 2003 the invasion of Iraq is about to start and these soldiers are leaving to go to combat and it included moxa amok executions and water cure now water cure is what we now refer to as waterboarding but that's what we had on the slide and I wanted you to know exactly what we talked about and we talked about leaving interrogations to the professionals to the people who can know exactly how to follow the rules of the army and get reliable information because we believed that tortured information is inherently unreliable I didn't think much about that slide until 2004 and that's when we all heard about what happened at Abu Ghraib and as a military officer I was shocked and I was saddened about what had happened and I was wondering why did these soldiers do this after we've had the training it just seemed very strange to me and my colleagues I was a professor at the Jag School in Charlottesville and we were having these philosophical discussions and our leaders told us it was a few bad apples but the truth was it was an apple tree and they were part of an apple tree that had been planted at the highest levels of our government in that apple tree spread from other government organizations like the Central Intelligence Agency that in labeled contractors to use enhanced interrogation techniques on detainees that we had captured what is torture torture is the severe infliction of emotional or physical pain or suffering and it's done in order to get compliance from an individual whether it's to get a confession admission information and President Obama recently in a press conference said somewhat inartfully we tortured some folks and he meant we did a lot of things right after 9/11 but one of the things we did wrong is torture detainees we waterboarded we did mock executions and other things that qualify as torture and the reason President Obama said it and the result of that has made this somewhat of a political debate and it's very strange to me as a military officer as a as a military officer I'm not a politician I have the advantage of looking my enemy in the eye so we do that and in the politicians they've made this a partisan political issue but why do fifty percent of people believe in this country that torture is justified in some circumstances well it goes on to say 60 percent of people believe it works and if you believe 60 percent of the American public believes something works it might save lives why not do it well the reason that 60 percent of Americans believe that torture works is because of TV and movies in my opinion it's the only place it does work and it works because it shows like 24 and homeland Jack Bauer saving the day at the last minute 75 times and five seasons and it's important to note that's fiction it's not real but we have turned what the media has made from a dramatic device to move the plot along so that things can work into the truth what we sometimes believe as human beings and so when we talk about what happened and why did we torture people we go to the next area I want to talk about on this journey and that is to Guantanamo Bay Cuba that's where I became involved in military commissions in 2008 as a defense lawyer like Jeff talked about and it was in 2008 that I started representing the detainees there and I wondered why do we have pelant on Omo Bay we've got a functioning court system that does a good job convicting people we've got a military court-martial system and the only conclusion I could draw is we have Guantanamo Bay in the Military Commission system because in those systems we could not convict someone because much of the evidence that we arrived was derived from torture and that evidence would not be admissible in another courtroom there are no US citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay the only people who are at Guantanamo Bay in detention are those who detained in the war on terror and they're non-citizens so we've set up a system of Justice that is second class for those people who are not citizens well you may think that's okay but next time you're in DC you can always stop by if you want to say hello but go to the Supreme Court the Supreme Court of the United States as you walk in has four words equal justice under law and there is no asterisk and it means what it says every person who is prosecuted in our systems should be treated equally the next stop on our journey is to the court room at Guantanamo Bay that's a former aircraft control tower that was converted to a court room and that's where I met and represented Omar Khadr Omar was a 15 year old kid who was captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan I'm not going to talk to you about Omar specifically but my representation of Omar and what happened and the flipside of the torture coin that we always talk about but we never hear about and that is I went to interview a soldier who had served as an interrogator at Bagram and he had interrogated Omar Khadr but he had agreed to meet with me and my paralegal so we went to his home it wasn't his home it was his parents home and we went inside and we started to talk and he was visibly shaking he was very anxious I could tell we sat down at the table and I looked over to the right and I noticed a lot of pill bottles prescription pill bottles and he saw me and unprompted said I take medication for PTSD for anxiety for depression and I said well things happen at Bagram and he said well no it's not because of what happened to me after 9/11 or what happened at Bagram airbase it's because of what I did I tortured Omar Khadr and I tortured other people so when you hear people talk about when is torture justified think about the person who has to do the torturing because they're a victim too when we ask our soldiers sailors airmen and Marines to go into under chartered waters and torture people and get information from them by waterboarding them or other means then they become victims in this process they could be your brother they could be your sister Raja Kahn logic Kahn's lunch tray consisting of hummus pasta with sauce nuts and raisins was pureed and rectally infused now the reason that slide is up there and it has Helen Mirren you're probably wondering why she would be up there it's because John Oliver did a special about torture in one of his segments and he's so upset that no one will look at this torture report that the Senate put out he had Helen Mirren read parts of it okay because it's an important thing for the u.s. to know about Maji it is my client and he did bad things and he has pled guilty to those bad things but all of the information that was needed to prosecute him and to get intelligence for the war on terror was gained prior to him being tortured because the evidence shows over and over again that those people who are in CIA custody and who were tortured gave false information and let me give you an idea about that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after he was waterboarded many many times talked about an a plot in Montana where he was sending someone to recruit african-american Muslims to attack the United States and the FBI I hear laughter Montana and the FBI spent thousands of hours of resources chasing down this lead and it was completely false and he said I said it so they'd stop torturing me now the next stop on our journey is back DC where I am and it's the World War Two memorial and I want to talk to you about people who've actually served in combat I'm a lawyer I've been in combat zones but I'm not although I'm a combatant under the Geneva Conventions and people can shoot at me I've never been in that role but the people who have are the veterans like in world war ii and i was at the world war ii memorial and a gentleman came up to me and he was in his 80s and he had a veteran's cap on and he came up he shook my hand and he said I understand that you represent the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and I want to thank you for doing that and I said well thank you very much tell me about you and he said well I want to tell you why I'm thanking you said okay tell me he said because I was on Iwo Jima as a Marine and when I was on Iwo Jima as a Marine it was savage fighting and about ten days before the battle ended a young Japanese soldier wearing nothing but like a loincloth and boots and he had a pamphlet in his hand that we had sent up in artillery shells to tell people that they surrender we will treat you who mainly and will feed you and this young soldier comes forward and he surrenders and what the moral that story is there was a sniper shot as the lieutenant went out to get him and that sniper shot went through the helmet of this person this lieutenant rattled around in this helmet did not harm him and went down the back of his jacket miraculously he survived and he would have been well within his right to think he was set up right because I've been set up by the Japanese but he followed his training and when he followed his training they learned that this young soldier who had surrendered was the chief code clerk on Iwo Jima for the commander and that chief code clerk gave all the remaining positions for the Japanese army on Iwo Jima and then helped on the invasion of Okinawa the next month so when you think about torture we don't know what would happen but we know it would happen if he killed him but torturing that Japanese soldier was never even a thought in the Americans minds because that's not how we operate I took this photograph at Guantanamo Bay the day after President Obama was inaugurated the first time and as a son of Memphis a graduate of Kirby high school and a graduate of the Memphis law school I ask you is that a sunrise or sunset over Guantanamo Bay thank you very much you
Channel: TEDx Talks
Views: 117,475
Rating: 4.7051706 out of 5
Keywords: TEDxTalks, English, United States, Global Issues, Criminal justice, Law, Military
Id: 3548Ac9wGN8
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Length: 14min 45sec (885 seconds)
Published: Mon Sep 14 2015
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