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Kentucky Law Journal





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Because of the dangers presented by al-Qaeda style terrorism, the United States has crafted a variety of robust anti-terrorism responses. One of the more controversial of these is the indefinite detention of suspected enemy combatants, and the associated question as to whether the United States can and does employ torture.

Many prominent voices, such as Professor Alan Dershowitz, have advocated a judicial exception allowing torture as an interrogation tool in special instances, but the United States has struggled to find an appropriate balance between civil liberties and security concerns. To succeed in the War on Terror, the U.S. cannot allow itself to slip into a mentality in which the State recognizes torture as a necessary evil.

Torture today is universally prohibited, both by fixed international law and customary practice. Despite this, the practice continues to flourish. The United States, however, should not succumb to such practices which violate the democratic principles that make up the rule of law. America’s strongest weapon in the War on Terror is its uncompromising commitment to civil freedoms and liberties. The United States can only ride the crests of the waves of history so long as it follows a rule of law rooted in human rights and democratic principles. It will drown in a sea of hypocrisy if it trades in civil liberties to further its own security.

Recommended Citation

Jeffrey F. Addicott, Into the Star Chamber: Does the United States Engage in the Use of Torture or Similar Illegal Practices in the War on Terror, 92 Kʏ. L.J. 849 (2003).

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