The term Ethics characterizes a set of normative guidelines that are aimed at solving conflicts of interest in order to improve societal well-being. Administrative ethics are responsible for emphasizing both rights and duties that persons should respect when performing actions that can affect the well-being of others and the society at large. They are also concerned with all the policies and practices that similarly affect the well-being of both the people and society. This essay discusses the official act of misconduct in using waterboarding as an ethical issue in public administration, by giving a brief summary of the issue, an explanation of why the issue is important to public administration today and a recommendation that can be used to solve the issue.
A Brief Summary of the Issue
Waterboarding is a technique used to force prisoners to confess to their crimes during an interrogation session. Over the years, there have been heated debates, by different government officials who argue that waterboarding should be categorized as a form of torture in the United States. This is because, before 2006, the method was partially used by some of the law enforcement personnel in the nation as an aggressive interrogation methodology. Numerous politicians including the current president, Barrack Obama have shunned away this method of interrogation by classifying it as an official act of misconduct (Stamos, 2015). This move was also supported by the former President Bushs administration, which supported the use of this technique as an interrogation practice.
This technique is a form of torture that creates a drowning sensation to the captive. In this case, a captive is held down, and his/her face is then covered with a thin layer of clothing. The captive is then immobilized by his/her captors and then water is poured on his/her face, over the breathing passages. This results into an immediate gag reflex, which is a remarkably uncomfortable feeling for the captives. This causes a choking sensation on the captive, and he/she is compelled to confess to his crimes. Waterboarding causes an extreme pain on the captives due to the dry drowning effect. It can also result in brain and lungs damage due to oxygen deprivation in the body.
Controversies surrounding the appropriateness of usage of waterboarding by the public administration personnel has resulted in the development of the ethical issue pertaining the usage of this method for interrogation. Former U.S. President, George Bush, banned the use of any torture including waterboarding on detainees in 2006. President Barack Obama made the same move in January 2009 where he also banned the use of aggressive interrogation techniques on captives (Schwester & Holzer, 2015). In addition, in Republican 2008 presidential candidate John McCain was against the use of this method for questioning. His opposition was based on a personal experience when he was tortured as a prisoner of war in a prison located in North Vietnam (Karaagac, 2000).
An Explanation of Why the Issue is Important to the Public Administration Today
Despite the ban created in 2009 that sort to abolish waterboarding as an interrogation methodology, there are still some public administration groupings that support the use of this methodology in interrogating suspects and captives. Some of them include the prisons systems located in different parts of the world, which still use this technique for interrogation. By addressing this issue, such groupings will understand that waterboarding, although effective in attaining confessions from the captives, can have massive negative effects on the public administration.
Historically, waterboarding was used as a Spanish inquisition technique. This is because it left no marks at all on the captives body. However, the brutality of this technique in attaining a confession can make a captive admit to perpetrating a crime despite being innocent of the charged crime. According to the CIA, waterboarding may not be a highly reliable system of interrogation as the captive is under duress. This means that the captive can confess to anything to avoid the pain attained from using this methodology. It also means that in most cases, such interrogations yield false confessions.
Goes Against the International Law
Torture in the U.S. includes both alleged and documented cases of torture in and out of the United States. Such are acts perpetrated by members of the United States government, law enforcement agencies, military, healthcare facilities services and intelligence agencies. These are provisions and descriptions that are recognized by the International Law. Waterboarding goes against the International Law practices as the captive beliefs that he/she is being killed. This technique amounts into a mock execution. It is hard for a patient to admit to anything if the torture he/she is being subjected into is bad enough. For this reason, persons or public administration entities caught using the technique should be charged. This technique is also illegal under the United States Constitution. One of the International Law affected by this system is the UN Convention Against Torture.
Results into Homicide Under Torture
There is no detailed statistical record that shows how many prisoners that have been subjected to waterboarding or how many have died. Nevertheless, some of the public administration departments have admitted in the past as having used waterboarding interrogation methodology. Among them is the C.I.A which admitted having tortured three persons who had been implicated in the September 11 attacks (Marszal & Ensor, 2014). Nevertheless, it is not clear how many people succumb to the harsh usage of the waterboarding interrogation methodology.
Although it is not certain if death occurs due to waterboarding, some cases of deaths have been linked to this method of torture. For instance, former guards and inmates of the Guantanamo prison leaked some of the deaths reported by the government as suicides at the time, to be in fact homicides as a result of torture. This means that at times, members of various public administration departments may at times overuse this methodology of interrogation and as a result, cause unwanted deaths. For this reason, members of public administration should know that waterboarding as a torture technique could result in the loss of life.
Recommendations That Can Be Used to Solve the Issue
The issue of the official use of misconduct by employing waterboarding as a torture technique can be addressed by using numerous recommendations. First, the government should enforce national and international laws against torture perpetrated by members of public administration departments. This is the primary recommendation for solving this issue. The government should enact strict penalties on persons or entities caught torturing other persons in the incarceration centers. Penalties could be in the form of long jail terms of heavy court fines.
The other secondary strategies that can be used to solve the issue include ensuring there is access to prisoners where they can report on any form of torture. There should also be the effective training of members of the public administration. This is about the best ways to handle and interrogate prisoners. In addition, there should be no secret detentions, reports of torture should be investigated and of confession statements extracted under torture should be enforceable by law. Finally, captives should be offered safeguards during the exercise of interrogation.
In conclusion, waterboarding is a torture methodology that is employed during an interrogation exercise. This method has been criticized and condemned by various top government officials in the U.S. Among them is Barrack Obama, George Bush, and John McCain. Despite the efforts made by the government to ban the use of torture in 2006 and 2009, reports of captives torture by various public administration departments have been made. To remedy this issue, the government should create and enforce strict laws against torture in the society.
Karaagac, J. (2000). John McCain: An Essay in Military and Political History. New York: Lexington Books.
Marszal, J. E. (2014, December 10). CIA torture report released: latest news. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11282617/CIA-torture-report-released-live.html
Schwester, M. H. (2015). Public Administration: An Introduction. New York: Routledge Publishers.
Stamos, D. N. (2015). Myth of Universal Human Rights: Its Origin, History, and Explanation, Along with a More Humane Way. New York: Routledge.
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