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Abstract

Is it the duty of government to protect its citizens and their society at all costs? Does a government have the right to torture in the name of protecting its citizens? This paper examines the ways in which assumptions and rationalizations about torture have shaped counter-terrorism tactics in the United Kingdom. At issue are questions of epistemology; questions that become even more complicated in the violence-filled and politically charged War on Terror. How does the theoretical possibility of torture become a viable counter-terror tactic? Using official government documents, texts from non-governmental organizations, scholarly works and documents obtained through WikiLeaks, this paper analyzes how and why torture became a technique relied upon by United Kingdom Security Services. Beginning with a discussion of the various definitions of torture, this paper presents a chronology of counter-terrorism practices in the United Kingdom as a way to discover how intelligence-gathering practices and interrogation techniques have changed over time. This paper concludes that torture is not an effective method for extracting accurate information and offers an explanation for why the United Kingdom has continued to rely on this ineffective practice. Finally, this paper argues that a new method for gathering, evaluating and transmitting information related to terrorism needs to be developed in order to prevent future attacks.

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