Imagine the following scenario:
The CIA is certain a terrorist attack will take place within the next twenty-four hours, but they can’t determine the location of the bomb. The leader of the terrorist organization responsible for the upcoming attack has just been captured, but the bomb will detonate unless the location of the bomb is uncovered. The terrorist refuses to talk, saying nothing but anti-American slurs. He knows the location of the bomb, but refuses to give up any information. Does the CIA abide by the law, or is it their responsibility to use any means necessary to find out the location of the bomb and protect innocent American lives? Would using torture tactics in such a situation be unthinkable? Do the ends justify the means?
Maybe there isn’t a right answer. There are millions of supporters of torture and perhaps even more who are against it. The question I pose to you is would Machiavelli support torture methods? Would an act as inhumane as torture be looked at as just getting your hands dirty from Machiavelli’s point of view? Does the potential information that can be obtained from torture result in a greater good? The bottom line: is torturing a necessary evil?
In my opinion, torture is a necessary evil only in certain situations. Torture as a form of punishment is unacceptable in my opinion, and since the ends would not benefit society as a whole, I think Machiavelli would be against mindless torture as well. I also believe torturing every prisoner of war or subject of interest in an attempt to get information is unjustified as well. Many of these people are not withholding any valuable information, and often share false information in attempts to end the torture. The only situation in which I believe torture is a necessary evil is when it is known the criminal is withholding critical information that is vital for the protection of others. People such as Osama Bin Laden or other heads of terrorist organizations who refuse to cooperate in matters of national security are the only instances where I believe the ends justify the means. When all is said and done, if torturing a known terrorist can result in the safety of innocent lives, then is torture a necessary evil?