A 2014 Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 59% of Americans said that they support the CIA's interrogation methods for uncovering valuable intelligence information (Goldman). This, of course, is after it was made widely public that the CIA had employed "torture" methodologies – such as forced sleep deprivation and waterboarding – in order to derive information that may safeguard the United States from further terrorist attacks. The CIA's publicized detention and interrogation program has since been ended in 2009 by President Obama, and a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the program's interrogation techniques had, surprisingly, concluded by stating that torture methods such as waterboarding, stress-position placing, and extreme human confinement were ineffective means of acquiring information. The same report found that nearly a dozen individuals detained and tortured as terrorists were in fact wrongly held (Priest & Smith). Such reports would seem to clash strongly with the average American's conviction that the safety of the United States is first and foremost to the pain inflicted on a handful of individuals "in the wrong place, at the wrong time." The following will attempt to justify the perspective that torture, when used exclusively for information gathering purposes vital to the well-being of a large citizenry, is justifiable, even if its moral and ethical justification isn't nearly as soundly rationalized. .
In August of 2002, the Justice Department advised the White House in a leaked memo that the torturing of al Qaeda terrorists in captivity abroad "may be justified." The memo further stated that, "international laws against torture may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations" (Priest & Smith). It claimed that those who conduct torture, whereas torture would normally be classified as a criminal offense within the confines of the states, are liable to be eliminated from wrongdoing if their efforts are focused on, "the self-defense and safeguarding of the American masses" (Priest & Smith).