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The U.S. Military Index: Is Torture Acceptable?

For many, it is the most convincing argument against the use of controversial interrogation techniques in the war on terror: If the United States tortures the suspects it captures, it’s all the more likely that U.S. soldiers will be tortured by America’s enemies. Similar logic underpinned the signing of the Geneva Conventions after World War ...

For many, it is the most convincing argument against the use of controversial interrogation techniques in the war on terror: If the United States tortures the suspects it captures, it’s all the more likely that U.S. soldiers will be tortured by America’s enemies. Similar logic underpinned the signing of the Geneva Conventions after World War II. But the index’s officers suggest the situation today may be more complex.

When the officers were asked if they agree or disagree with the statement "Torture is never acceptable," opinions were split. Fifty-three percent agreed, and 44 percent disagree. Nineteen percent, nearly 1 in 5 officers, say they "strongly disagree" with the notion that torture is never acceptable. Asked if they believe waterboarding is torture, opinions were similarly divided. About 46 percent of the officers say they agree with the statement "Waterboarding is torture," and about 43 percent say they disagree.

These results suggest that the military itself may be of two minds about the use of torture and what constitutes it. It also suggests that, in the fog of war, even the most emotional and controversial arguments are never cut and dried.

Download the complete U.S. Military Index data:

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