#TotD: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably seen some news regarding the partial release of a congressional investigation into CIA torturing. Many have argued that the ends justify the means. Others attempt to contrast the presumably minor effects of torture with the acts of beheading or dying in the World Trade Center. These arguments attempt to appeal to your emotions rather than address the issue of torture itself. I urge you, regardless of what position you may hold, to consider two simple points of fact.

First, torture is illegal.

The UN Convention against Torture has been adopted by 156 nations around the globe. The U.S. signed the treaty in 1988 and it became legally binding in 1994. It states unambiguously that “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Torture is prohibited and punishable up to death by federal law. It is defined as “an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within his custody or physical control.” The actions performed by the CIA clearly fall within this definition.

The U.S. Constitution itself prohibits torture. The Fifth Amendment states in part, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” None of the captives being tortured were allowed a defense or trial of any kind. The Eighth Amendment prohibits the practice of “cruel and unusual punishments.” The Supreme Court has determined that torture falls within this prohibition.

Second, torture is tyranny.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines tyranny as “arbitrary or despotic government.” It goes on to say that the power of an arbitrary government is only limited by the will of bureaucrats, as opposed to the rule of law. As I have clearly shown, torture is illegal in the United States or by officials of the United States government. Thus, to defend torture – for whatever ends you may feel are justified – is to justify an arbitrary and, therefore, tyrannical government.