Torture, Truth Serum, and Ticking Bombs: Toward a Pragmatic Perspective on Coercive Interrogation

33 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2008 Last revised: 3 Apr 2009

See all articles by Kenneth Lasson

Kenneth Lasson

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Date Written: July 1, 2008

Abstract

The 'War on Terror' has prompted a great deal of discussion about the use of torture as a means of extracting information from those suspected of having perpetrated past acts of violence or planning future ones. Despite the years that have passed since the attacks of September 11, 2001, for both citizens and government officials there is still a strong tension between the competing emotions of anger, revenge, and desperation; it seems increasingly difficult to adhere to international norms governing a nation's moral and legal obligations to protect its citizens from grave danger while continuing to support individual freedoms. Among the more difficult questions to emerge from those that were far-fetched (if not unthinkable) just a few decades ago is how to handle the so-called ticking-bomb scenario. As terror organizations grow in size and complexity, uncovering terrorist plans by interrogating a group member has become critical, and the need to gather intelligence in order to save lives increasingly urgent.

Keywords: torture, interrogation, 'ticking-bomb', truth serum, national security, prisoners

JEL Classification: N40, K39, K49

Suggested Citation

Lasson, Kenneth, Torture, Truth Serum, and Ticking Bombs: Toward a Pragmatic Perspective on Coercive Interrogation (July 1, 2008). Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 39, p. 329, 2008, University of Baltimore School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1154025

Kenneth Lasson (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States

HOME PAGE: http://law.ubalt.edu/template.cfm?page=590

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