“Is torture ever justified”? I will be on BBC1 “The Big Question” on Sunday morning to discuss this issue and invite YOU to offer your suggestions here! I think the question itself is framed in a biased manner but broadly speaking I believe in whatever is necessary to save innocents from terrorism.  

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76 Responses to THE BIG QUESTION!

  1. Span Ows says:

    “Is torture ever justified”?

    Yes, of course. Allen West was shat out by the armed forces for slapping a twat and saving his men. Of course then there’s other ‘western’ torture, like a drop of pee accidentally falling on a Koran or someone missing prayers because their hot bath and 3 meals a day wouldn’t wait…something equally horrifying: then you have the other stuff ugly stuff, which even then could be justified.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      First, define “torture”. These days, anything less than a suite at Selfridge’s is considered torture in some circles.


      • john in cheshire says:

        David, precisely; just what I was going to offer. And to be perverse my offered question would be : when is torture of bbc journalists not justified?


      • Chop says:

        Bloody good point David, I also think that whatever “torture” is on a sliding scale…a kid nicks a mars bar from a shop, they have to do a paper round for a week, some lunatic blows up a bus load of folk, and says it is for a cause….and he’s go like minded pals…anything goes.


      • noggin says:

        miranda and strictly come dancing …. shiver!
        question time 😀 … no NO, NOOOOO! 😀
        i give in i ll tell you anything


        • Selohesra says:

          I quite like Miranda


          • uncle bup says:

            yeah I like that bit where she falls over, and that other bit where she falls over, that bit she nicked from youtube, and that other bit where she falls over.



      • Louis Robinson says:

        Define torture? Question Time. The News Quiz. The Archers. Enough?


        • chrisH says:

          My proud boast is that I can knock Eastenders off the telly by the third drumbeat, with no remote control and anywhere in the house.
          The Archers can similarly be cleared by the second line of that Godawful tune.
          Olympic Sport? Record Breakers?
          I fear many others will be doing better…more drugs please Lance!


  2. Bannerman says:

    Yes! You might want to bring up episode 3 of Ripper Street (BBC1 9pm Sunday 13th) the BBC were happy to broadcast a fictional torture scenario based on a Victorian “terrorist” being “persuaded” to reveal the location of poisoned flour.
    Hundred’s of lives were saved, so I presume the BBC secretly condone these actions?


  3. noggin says:

    what about a time frame scenario, something that could prevent, many thousands of deaths, densely populated area, the extreme circumstance … well it proves it could be then ethical under certain parameters and also still be against the law, anyway you re right dave the very frame of the question itself appeals to authority.
    suppose you ll get the old chestnut about inhumane
    ask ken bigley, or daniel pearl, about that, or 5 brits from algeria, or all the others.. or ,… or … or …
    that very ideology itself, has no qualms about murder, mass murder, and as fast as possible, instantly even.
    the time frame scenario could actually be very prudent,
    in that case.


  4. Alex says:

    If it is used against a hostile aggressor in order to save lives and eradicate the potential for mass destruction, then yes, I feel that shaving off a Talibani’s beard and locking him in a cell 24/7 with a scratched Mr Bobby LP along with stale bread and water is appropriate. To be honest, though, an ignominious death sentence is the only befitting justice for a terrorist.


  5. David Lamb says:

    I would argue that torture, understood as subjecting a prisoner to extremes of pain and psychological terror is morally wrong. But there are times when doing wrong is necessary, as in the ticking bomb scenario. The point to hold on to is that life presents us with many situations where doing wrong is the only rational choice, as in war time, or confronting a determined terrorist. We should not assume, like the Benthamite utilitarian, that we can devise a moral code that will get us through life without incurring guilt. Hence we can say: ‘Yes, I did it and wish that I had not had to do it, but would be prepared to do it again’.


    • London Calling says:

      Dresden and Hiroshima come to mind. Is there a way of conducting a “just war” without anyone getting hurt?

      The only issue as regards “enhanced interrogation” as it is better described, and not implied sadistic pleasure like “torture, is whether the information is likely correct.
      Our Human Rights lawyers love to disqualify information obtained under duress as “tainted by torture” or “rendition” They would rather the guilty go free. Thanks Gareth Pierce and friends.


  6. Pounce says:

    Well as the only person on here (And in beeb world) who has actually been tortured. (By my own fucking biological cunt of a father) I say, no. (But here’s a poser, define torture?)

    Lets see what happened to young pounce. well ever been stripped naked , having your hands and feet tied up and then find yourself hug from the ceiling of the cellar for days on end. Then add a sadistic follower of Islam who comes down almost every hour and whips you with a very thin (with the ends split) tree branch in which to show you the error of your ways for playing with your school friends instead of going to the not so local mosque.

    How about getting dragged out of bed (actually it was the sofa) first thing on a morning after Muslim cunt features arrives back from the night shift, getting dragged into the garden, getting hogged tied and then getting whipped senseless.

    Or even how becasue you are a bad muslim (Funny nobody ever asked me if I ever was one?) the not so local mullah getting two boys to hold you by stretching your arms out. (Pulling from opposite sides) and then beating you black and blue for not wanting to be a fucking muslim.

    How about getting strangled until you lose conscience then get woken up and then have the same done again.

    How about watching that Muslim twat of your father strangle your pet budgie in front of you in which to teach you a lesson. (He tried with the cat, but I had learnt well, so I rushed him and kicked down into the cellar and then ran away to Bradford. The cat came with me to the Children’s home and lived to the ripe age of 18)

    Or even when caught out by social services and told not to touch you. (Yup can’t be doing with prosecuting fucking Muslims can we) He starts to terrorise a child of 11 with how he is going to cut your throat and bury you with nobody knowing. The best was how he was going to send me away to a children’s home. Oh how much the cunt must have laughed at my terror, until I told my social worker, that I had to leave or else I was dead. Yup Allah’s fav packy was wrong footed by a child of 12.

    I still bear the physical scars of my youth on my body. Yet to the wankers at the bBC, All these fucking terrorists who upped sticks and fucked off to Afghanistan and claimed to have been tortured, haven’t a fucking mark on them. To the left and the bBC those packy cunts are the victims of torture. Really? The left have blurred the meaning of torture to include having a woman in charge of them, having a non-muslim touch a Koran, or even not been allowed to face Mecca. Sorry that isn’t torture, that is moaning Minnie’s playing the victim card with child like petty excuses.

    The irony here is that each and every one of allah’s favorite followers of kiddy fiddler Mohammed have no problem torturing anybody they feel they are better than and yet the pricks at the bBC remain stum on each and every act of terror, sorry Militancy carried out by the peaceful faith.

    So does Torture work. No, it made me into a right hard bastard, simply becasue I lost the ability to feel pain at an early age. Great for the boxing ring, Karate and Ju-jitsu mat but a bugger for picking up cuts you never knew you had picked up.


    • Teddy Bear says:

      That’s really heavy Pounce, and thank you so much for sharing with us what I can feel was painful to relive.

      If it’s any consolation the torture you suffered probably ‘saved’ you from following in the beliefs of your father and ‘set you free’. Free to really be the person you can, and not the one dictated by others.

      I wish you the best in that discovery 🙂


      • noggin says:

        a very personal issue to you indeed, which i hope on the occasion of sharing it, may give a (however small) cathartic release of some kind.
        and … give you more strength through your inner lion.
        and … goes to show that the vast majority of muslim people indeed, are the victims of torture .. sometimes very sadly at the hands of other muslims .. but, how many times through the inane, retarded stricture – practices of islam … it is the most dangerous cult/ideology on this planet


      • Pounce says:

        Teddy Bear wrote:
        If it’s any consolation the torture you suffered probably ‘saved’ you from following in the beliefs of your father and ‘set you free’.

        Actually what saved me was getting adopted and having as parents a kind white English couple who instead of abuse, used words, they talked to me, telling me where i was going wrong, (Let me tell you in my early teens i was pretty messed up about myself) and by contrasting their way of communication: talking,understanding encouragement and love with the Islamic way of life. Anger, pain,humiliation and intolerance I soon realised that everything about Islam wasn’t for me.


        • Teddy Bear says:

          I actually fell asleep last night with you and your situation on my mind Pounce.

          I wondered if you still carried the anger and resentment towards your father for what he did. I was afraid that if you did you would still be hurting yourself. I wanted to suggest that you extract yourself from his ‘energy’, and allow it to return to him – without adding or taking anything to or from yourself.

          I thought of the example of Aikido, which you’re probably familiar with in your experience of martial arts. This discipline uses the energy of the opponent coming at you and redirects it back against them.

          I only mention this in case you haven’t freed yourself from him, as I could detect there was still quite a bit of anger, which could affect your properly releasing yourself to your FULL potential.

          I trust and hope you understand what I’m getting at 🙂


          • Teddy Bear says:

            I also wanted to add that I had the impression you could be a great teacher because of what you went through.
            In the same way the 14 year old girl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out about education becomes a role model that will be followed. Or the ex Palestinian jihadist who was captured before he could blow himself and others up, and is now ‘born again’, speaking out around the world about how he was brainwashed.

            Your experiences allow you into the mindset of the millions that were brainwashed, and perhaps you can awaken and release them, knowing just how they were affected.


    • Ian Hills says:

      Very moving account of an islamic childhood, Pounce. And as you probably know (but most people don’t) those terrorists picked up in Afghanistan really were students (“Taliban” being Farsi for student).


    • Deborah says:

      A moving account of what torture really means. It makes the idea by BBC staff looking for a debate in a warm cosy studio seem lightweight and inane. I still think David should still attend but feel I cannot add anything to what Pounce has written and experienced.


    • scoobywho says:

      Surely as your father was a Muslim we are obliged to turn a blind eye to ‘that’ sort of torture.


      • Pounce says:

        Scooby do wrote:
        Surely as your father was a Muslim we are obliged to turn a blind eye to ‘that’ sort of torture.

        And that is what pains me. Islamic parents abusing their children is still ignored. Mullahs beating the shit out of their wards is covered up by the likes of the bBC. Instead we are fed a constant diet of Islam is a religion of peace. Really?


        • scoobywho says:

          There seems to be a helluva din coming from the mosques at prayer times.

          -btw you have my sympathies.


    • uncle bup says:

      Great for the boxing ring, Karate and Ju-jitsu

      Wot no judo?




  7. Richard Pinder says:

    I remember reading a book about the techniques that British Intelligence found that where superior to torture. Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the
    cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of torture is a poor
    technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection
    efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator
    wants to hear. The restoration of torture as a viable technique in western intelligence agencies is probably due to the need for the agencies to legitimise the left-wing political correct dogmas of the politics of the west, as regards, Islam. By getting the worthless Islamic inmates of Guantanamo Bay, to say what the politics of fighting terrorism needs them to say.


  8. imaynotalwaysloveyou says:

    I expect they only want you on the programme as the token right-wing islamophobe. Boo he supports Guantanamo and the eeevil US imperialists!

    To me it’s bloody obvious torture gets results but…

    I don’t think it really matters what you say, you won’t win over the (90% left-wing) bussed in audience. Maybe better to just gently point out the absurdities in the pacifist position.


  9. Teddy Bear says:

    Is torture ever justified?

    The dictionary defines it as
    The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do or say something.

    If we share the ideal that every being has the right to live in peace and follow their exploration of life that is their path, provided they are not doing anything that affects that right of another who is on their own path, then it would not be necessary. We would have harmony.

    To the degree that one is affecting the peace and justifiable freedom of another, then it might be necessary to educate that being. The punishment needed should be only that helps the ‘offender’ ‘see the light’.

    In the extreme where a being threatens the lives of others, which they see as their ‘path’, then they have to know that the others cannot tolerate their continuing in that way.

    Those who see life at base as something to be explored should realize the error of their ways and seek to harmonize from their own volition. Those who live and worship death as the meaning of life affect the freedom of all. If they cannot be educated to respect the freedoms of others, then any means, including killing them, has to be a consequence to protect our freedoms and future aspirations.

    I realize this is a complicated issue, with far reaching spin-offs. I believe it is a basis though to see where torture might be justified, but not for it’s own sake.

    To achieve a positive goal – and only the amount that is necessary – with the goal in mind. That must be in the background to allow the one that is being tortured to ‘come around’.


  10. hippiepooter says:

    DV, you were on Sunday Morning Live a year or so ago with the same question I believe.

    Good to remember that information that led to the location and killing of Bin Laden was obtained using ‘enhanced interrogation’. Torture isn’t an unfair word to use, but it has a gratuitous, sadistic quality to it. When ‘EI’ has been deployed its because its been necessary, and we’re hugely naive and disingenuous if we think it had nothing to do with the defeat of Hitler, or other conflicts.

    War’s a grisly business. Sometimes you just have to do what it takes. Right now the enemy is laughing his head of at the knots we tie ourselves in waging ‘non-war’ against him.


  11. Teddy Bear says:

    Simple question to put to the panel:

    If you knew your children were about to be tortured by a gang, and you didn’t know where they were, but you had one of that gang that did know.

    Would you feel you had a responsibility to do all that was necessary to save your children, and by any means?


    • Michael White says:

      And I suspect a well drilled answer to that would be another question:
      “Why did the gang make the kidnap, who were they and were they excluded from society, and what are we doing as a nation to stop the permeating hatred against these groups which of course leaves them often with no choice but to resort to crime. Now, is torture seriously the answer to that big question?”


      • Teddy Bear says:

        To which the answer would be:
        “That the gang seeks world domination, and do not seek to be part of society.”

        I would also add (for a dig at the BBC)
        “Anybody who has been appeasing this gang thinking it was due to our failings, has only empowered them, making more loss of life more likely”.


  12. Eric says:

    There is an essay by Sam Harrris in defence of torture. Worth reading.


  13. pedro says:

    i have seen to many videos on the net of men ,women and children being blown to bits as a result of some thick jihadi coward planting bombs or self suiciding themselfes all in the dream that they might meet 72 imaginary virgins in paradise,,, i have come to the conclusion that a bit of toenail and fingernail pulling by the uk security forces is fully justified to save innocent children,women or men having there bodys parts blasted all over the streets as a result of a terrorist attack,the trouble with are censored western media is that we always hear about terrorist attacks all around the world including 7/7 in london, but never see on the tv the resulting carnage and misery that it brings to the victms and there communitys..nothing wrong with torture if it going to save 100s of innocent people being blown to pieces by gutless cowards who if they was so brave would go on the battlefield to prove what warriors they are in afghanistan or mali.


  14. Clear Memories says:

    Speaking as an ex-pat that fled torture in the UK (having my life ruined by that one-eyed Scots bigot), I offer the thoughts of an Aussie politician when asked to comment on this subject:-

    “Put the red wire on the left knacker, the black one on the right, make sure his scrotum is wet and plug ‘im in until he tells you what you want to know”

    Muslims do not follow any western constructs, continually act contrary to the Geneva convention and have no respect for any other human life, often not even other Muslims. They cannot be trusted, their book of hate requires them to lie and mislead non-believers and to kill or enslave them where possible.

    Not torturing a Muslim to gain information to protect lives is simply a matter of personal ethics, no different to adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. I accept they’re sentient beings but they are not human in the way we in the west define humanity. As such, I believe it is reasonable to adopt any and all measures necessary to stop them.


  15. graphene fedora says:

    No sugar-coating of the Islamist death pill, here:


  16. DJ says:

    It’s all good stuff above about the Left defining down torture: terrible conditions, constant loud noises and sleep deprivation – is it Gitmo or just an NHS hospital? But the flip side of that is the left’s double standard for evidence.

    What I mean is that Abdul Al-Lunatic gets picked up in a terrorist training camp in Yemen but, hey, he says he was only there to go birdwatching so who’s to say what the truth is, really? On the other hand, Abdul claims he’s been tortured in US custody and the left and the BBC – but I repeat myself – report that as an indisputable fact. Jihadists might blow up crowded trains but they’d never stoop as low as to lie, huh?

    No fair mentioning that their training manuals tell them to do exactly that.


  17. Joshaw says:

    In my opinion, torture (the real thing) would be justified in the ticking bomb scenario mentioned by several people PROVIDED it is certain the the person being tortured is withholding information that could save lives.

    Unfortunately, I suspect it’s mostly perceived as a quick way of collecting information.

    I’d make exceptions for Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross, but that’s another story.


  18. Doublethinker says:

    I think that it is only when one is faced with a personal decision as to whether to sanction or perform the infliction of pain on someone that you can really answer this question. It is far too easy to sit in a studio and say that torture is never justified under any circumstances whilst knowing that you will never have to make such a decision.
    There are plenty of scenarios outlined above when in extremis one might be faced with no alternative other than the use of torture to obtain information to prevent the death of your own family or of those whom you have a duty to protect. Only when faced with this situation can an honest answer be given.
    On balance, I would prefer that those in charge of the security of the British people knew that we would support the use of torture, in the circumstances outlined above , to protect us, rather than, that under any circumstance we opposed it.
    Perhaps a good question to ask those who oppose the use of torture under any circumstances is how they would feel if hundreds of British lives were lost in a terrorist attack that could probably of been prevented if torture had been used to obtain information. Would they still be willing to come on the programme the day after, with an audience comprised of the victims families, and say that they didn’t support the use of torture under any circumstance? How would they justify that?


  19. Demon says:

    To put it simply: Torture for torture’s sake is never acceptable. However, if torture would help prevent atrocities then it must be used, and only then against enemies who are trying to kill you and your people.


  20. Maturecheese says:

    Torture has always happened when necessary and always will. All that will happen here is it will become even more secretive than it already is. The human rights Lawyers that pursue claims of torture for Islamic Jihadists are scum of the earth and quite frankly Traitors. I won’t be watching ‘The Big Question’ as the grovelling and appeasement will be too sickening to bear.


  21. Roland Deschain says:

    In principle, it’s never acceptable. In practice, it may sometimes be the lesser of two evils. And no amount of guidelines or tick boxes will tell you when that is the case: it will always depend on the specific circumstances.


  22. scoobywho says:

    Perhaps when an enemy consistently ignores the protocols of the Geneva convention all bets are off?


  23. Lynette says:

    If an African man was found guilty of petty theft, 30 lashings was the punishment during the apatheid regime of South Africa ( and the severity depended on the sadism of the police officer carrying out the punishment ) Many countries today ( I think we all know which ones ) routinely enforce punishments on those that break their laws that are nothing short of torture to these people but will the BBC recognise this aspect of torture.


  24. TigerOC says:

    This is a controversial one and also one I have personal experience of.

    I was involved in a civil war where armed insurrection against the State was a capital offense. If terrorists were caught they faced the death penalty on trial. Enhanced interrogation was used to a limited extent involving things like water-boarding and mental stress. Violent beatings seldom occurred.

    Then it was decided that a new Special Forces unit be formed comprising regular special force operatives mixed with converted terrorists. Captures were given an on the spot in/out option through various forms. Basically they faced the death sentence anyway so save a lot of tax payer money and get an instant result. Those that turned were integrated with others that had turned. Once they had committed actions against their former comrades they were doomed anyway on both sides of the fence.

    One particular case is a good example of this. We had a very high level capture by a pseudo group. The capture was the equivalent of a Brigadier in rank. He had been badly wounded but because of rank he was very valuable. He was given the very best medical care available to ensure he lived. I had an extended conversation with this man whilst he was awaiting transfer to the Special Forces unit. This man was very confused. Firstly he had been attacked by people he knew, then captured by an enemy he believed would torture and kill him. Instead he had been treated with extreme care and consideration. I knew some of the men that received him at the Special Forces unit and he had no hesitation in switching sides and his intell lead to one of the biggest operations of the war and the deaths of some thousands of the enemy.

    The level of intelligence held by an individual is relative and their own personal self worth decides how they are handled.


  25. 45543 says:

    A different (and perhaps a bit flippant) take on this. Human Rights lawyers have a vested financial interest in broadening what is regarded as torture. They have been successful. Now “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as sleep deprivation, white noise, nudity and stress positions are regarded as “torture” (Wikipedia article references 2,3,4 and 5) .

    All of these techniques were employed by the BBC in their game show “SAS: Are You Tough Enough?”. At least three of these are is this YouTube clip from the show. Nudity was used in another series of this game show.

    “Is torture ever justified” in a BBC game show?


    • DJ says:

      Yep, journalists love to waterboard each other while yattering about torture but you can never get them to volunteer for the full Marathon Man ‘Is It Safe?’ routine.


  26. colditz says:

    What exactly is your expertise in the field of interrogation?


    Bit like mine. So the BBC asks someone with no knowledge on a contentious subject other than bar room talk to pontificate his views!

    And Vance complains about Bias as he pockets the fee!


    • TigerOC says:

      At last, you’re seeing the light colditz.

      Standard BBC practice; lets get someone with zero knowledge on the subject to advise us.

      Lets gets a Journo graduate to advise on climate science. But don’t tell the public that.

      After a week of media pressure finally admit to Utube footage of a gang of Muslim vigilantes enforcing Sharia law on a part of London. Ooh but the local Mosque says these people are just a small radical group that misrepresent the religion. But the BBC accept this statement blindly but background;

      Suggests that the place is infested by radicals preaching hate about this country. But you won’t hear the truth from them.

      BBC – Traitors in our midst


    • Guest Who says:

      Raising the notion of those not qualified being given a pulpit to air opinions based on poor experience… on a site concerned about the output of the BBC, which is pretty much all there is from Breakfast to Newsnight… is ‘brave’.
      And while the name is newish, the obsession with appearance fees as a basis for an exclusion from having an opinion seems oddly familiar.
      Kevin Maguire & Polly T will not be happy.


      • Demon says:

        Colditz is Jim Dandy.


        • Ian Hills says:

          and Dez and Scott, as in Rev 13?

          “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy…”


          • Demon says:

            I seem to recall it was Mr Dandy who kept referring to David’s appearance money. I could be wrong, however it would fit as he was kicked off this board under his old name well before Colditz appeared.


    • scoobywho says:

      Surely the argument is philosophical and to take part requires no expertise in interrogation techniques. Given that I’ve contributed to said fee, he’s welcome to it as far as I am concerned.


    • hippiepooter says:

      Ooh Scott, put your claws away you she-devil you. What do I call you now? Scezditz?


  27. uncle bup says:

    David Preiser (USA) says:
    January 24, 2013 at 9:44 pm
    First, define “torture”. These days, anything less than a suite at Selfridge’s is considered torture in some circles.

    Hey, I’ll beat Dez to it… Selfridges is a shop.


  28. LeftyLoather says:

    “Is torture ever justified”?



  29. Colditz says:

    Just watched Vance being comprehensively creamed! So they put him on the programme as a joke. Best laugh I’ve had in ages is watching him squirm as everyone very politely shafted him!

    Maybe Vance should ask if being made such a public fool is worth it!


  30. wallygreeninker says:

    The grotesque part of the big question was Yvonne Ridley spouting about western countries morally shaming Muslim countries into abandoning the use of torture – the employment of which was something which Campbell himself said they were all up to.
    It should have been pointed out to her that the paedo prophet, – sorry, the perfect man and moral exemplar for all time whose every action should be imitated by all believers, as the Koran says on seventy occasions -practiced torture.

    (like almost all Muslim entries in wiki things have been spun: the article makes it seem that Ibn Ishaq’s account is widely rejected, which is not the case: it fails to mention the event was also recorded and accepted by Ibn Kathir, a pre-eminent Islamic scholar) As a woman and a westerner it’s probable that Ridley has been misled on this: Islam is a weird need-to-know-basis belief system and I’ve often suspected that the men even lie to their own womenfolk about what it really teaches.


  31. Trev says:

    I thought Mr Vance did his usual job of putting on a respectable public face, and masking some of his real views to protect his income.

    I did chuckle though when he tried to argue that torturing people was the Christian thing to do. ‘Jesus, get out the electrodes!’


  32. hothandsdave says:


    I saw the `show` and I think you were set up although commendably you didn’t rise to the gate.

    A hostile `mediator`, extremist protagonists, and a false agenda was designed to make you say something indefensible under provocation.

    The BBC and their co-conspirators in the Guardian would have used this against you for evermore.