Date of Award

Spring 2019

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Political Science


Dr. Julia Maskivker

Committee Member

Dr. Joan Davison

Committee Member

Dr. Dan Chong


Can the United States government’s use of state-sponsored torture ever be justified for national security purposes? This question is a taboo subject that frequently elicits passionate responses from individuals who argue both for and against its use in upholding national security. This vigorous debate challenges moral, ethical, legal, and even pragmatic ideals in seeking to determine if state use of torture can ever be a part of America’s national security strategy. These considerations, and others, have inspired this research project and the specific research question which seeks to determine whether the United States government’s use of state-sponsored torture for national security purposes can ever be justified. This study intends to analyze existing literature on the relevant arguments, ideologies, and statistics that both proponents and opponents of torture employ to analyze their positions. In doing so, the study achieves the conclusion that state-sponsored torture should be absolutely prohibited under all circumstances for moral, ethical, legal, and pragmatic reasons as it represents a flagrant and systematic degradation of the freedoms and values that this country is based on.


Dr. Susan Libby was also a member of my committee.

Rights Holder

Matthew R. Fisher