Project Overview
Language Arts Unit 1
Language Arts Unit 2
Science Unit
Social Studies Unit 1
Social Studies Unit 2

Studies (1)

Unit Overview

1. Introduction

2. Rights Scorecard

3. Amendment Comics

4. Separation of Powers

5. Vocabulary Assessment

6. Graphic Images

7. Search and Seizure

8. A Debate on Cruel and Unusual Punishment

9. Due Process

10. Project



Lesson 8: Amendment 8
A Debate on Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Note on Lesson 8: This lesson deals with a practice that has several names. Some call it torture, while some call it “extraordinary interrogation tactics.” Nonetheless, the Constitution expressly prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. This lesson contains sensitive readings, which may offend some people. It also contains sensitive material, which requires delicate teaching and unbiased detail. As the lesson progresses, remember to let the students construct the knowledge and definitions so that they can come to their own understandings of the practice and the role the U.S. Constitution may play in that definition. On the other hand, if you feel that your students are not mature enough to handle this lesson, or if you don’t’ feel comfortable working with the material, you can omit it from the unit. If you do, be sure to adjust the points and Lesson 10 accordingly.

Class Time Required: 45 minutes

Purpose, Background and Context: Students will read an article about torture and decide if they want to continue or eliminate the torture of terror suspects. Also, the first part of this lesson will examine what students already know, and how they feel about, torture in general. This will allow you to pre-assess students for the debate at the end of this lesson.

Objectives for Student Understandings: Students should understand the principles and workings of the Constitution, the limits of executive power, our system of checks and balances, the Bill of Rights, and legal implications of the War on Terror.

Objectives for Student Skill Development: Students should be able to read for understanding, learn to make choices based on reasoned arguments, translate facts that are read into other methods of information delivery, assess contrasting theories, generalize from given facts, predict and draw conclusions based on partial information, and predict consequences of actions.

Materials, Resources and Readings:. Anticipatory worksheet, reading selections, and debate worksheet (see end of lesson for worksheets and readings).

Lesson Questions:           
What is torture?
What role does it play in the War on Terror?

Procedure 1 (5 Minutes)
Ask your students to define torture. Give them a few minutes to write their answers down, and then put their answers on the board. Try to come to a common understanding of what torture is, and that in the case of the War on Terror, it is allowed and encouraged by the current United States government. You can balance the idea of torture against the idea of “extraordinary interrogation tactics,” and ask students if these terms have different meanings.

Procedure 2 (10 Minutes)
Pass out the anticipation guide. This will give students a sense of the full extent of the Torture issue, and will give you an opportunity to test for prior student knowledge. After they have completed the worksheet, place a transparency of your own copy of the worksheet on the overhead, and make notes as you go over the list as to what questions the students are in agreement about. You can do this by taking a survey of agreement or disagreement for each question, and it will tell you what areas they need more information about. It will also help you figure out who knows what, or what opinion each student has on the issue. You may ask them for a show of hands for each question so you have clearer responses. Also, this worksheet and discussion will allow you to pre-assess how familiar your students are with U.S. interrogation practices.

Procedure 3 (20 Minutes)
Break the class into 2 groups. One group will argue for torture in the War on Terror, and the other group will argue against it. Split your high ability learners evenly among the groups. You can split them into three groups if you have more than 12 students if you feel comfortable doing so. If there are three groups, one will argue for more torture, one will argue for less, and one will argue that the amount of torture is just right. Either way, each group should have no more than 6 students. If you have an odd number of students, you can ask the most capable student to a Supreme Court Judge / Moderator for this lesson. Be sure to chose a strong willed, but fair student for this task, as they will be responsible for writing down the arguments and serving as the judge.

Now that your students are in groups, give them specific tasks as described on the Torture Debate Worksheet. This worksheet is just for their side, so be sure to remind students that they need to keep their work secret. They may want to move away from other students so that they can work in private. They can circle which side they have at the top, and then use the next two areas on the sheet to identify which arguments they might want to look for in the readings. They can then put those arguments on the page. When each group has a sufficient number of arguments and counter-arguments, the debate is ready to begin.

Procedure 4 (10 Minutes)
Alternative students may have trouble staying on task and engaging in an ordered debate, so it is up to the teacher and moderator to keep them on task. There are no winners or losers during this debate, but at the end, the judge may declare a winner. The most important thing in this lesson is the understanding of torture motivations, which will help them work towards their final project, during which time they will need to declare what they want to do about torture. For participation, they will receive 20 points.

Possible Debate Schedule:
McCain Group           3 Minutes to prove their point
Cheney Group           3 Minutes to prove their point
McCain Group           3 Minute Rebuttal
Cheney Group           3 Minute Rebuttal
Shout Down                1 Minute, everyone at once.

Lesson 8: Amendment 8
Torture Questions

What is torture?

Before you read the passage, answer the following questions:

1.            T or F            Torture always works in interrogations.

2.            T or F            Torture helps America fight the War on Terror

3.            T or F            There are some instances in which torture is justified

4.            T or F            There are no laws about the use of torture in the United States

5.            T or F            Other countries are not allowed to torture Americans

6.            T or F            Prisoner abuse is different than torture

7.            T or F            Torture happens in the United States

8.            T or F            Americans are abused in prison in the United States

9.            T or F            The CIA organizes torture in the United States

10.            T or F            All Congress people support torture.

Lesson 8: Amendment 8

Readings on Torture

Third Geneva Convention

Article 13: "Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."

Article 17: A prisoner of war is required "to give only his surname, first name and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personnel or serial number. No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever, Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."

This Convention also states: "Should any doubt arise," all fighters are covered by the Geneva Conventions until "a competent tribunal decides they are not."

UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Part 1, Article 1: "torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession."

Article 3: "No State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Article 4: "Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law. Each State Party shall make these offenses punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature."
The Convention also declares, "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 for torture."

Bybee Memo

Jay Bybee has written that "physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." To be considered torture, the harm "must cause some lasting, though not necessarily permanent, damage." (8/1/02)
After this memorandum became public in the summer of 2004, its extension of the meaning of torture created an uproar. The administration disavowed it, and in December 2004 issued a new legal opinion about torture. But it did not disclaim interrogation techniques authorized earlier or state specifically which of them the CIA continues to use. The president has said repeatedly that the U.S. does not torture prisoners, that such treatment is wrong. "Torture is wrong no matter where it occurs, and the United States will lead the fight to eliminate it everywhere." (6/24/04)

Bush Statement on Interrogations, Feb 2002

I accept the legal conclusion of the Department of Justice and determine that none of the provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with al-Qaida in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world because, among other reasons, al-Qaida is not a High Contracting Party to Geneva.

I also accept the legal conclusion of the Department of Justice and determine that common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either al-Qaida or Taliban detainees, because, among other reasons, the relevant conflicts are international in scope and common Article 3 applies only to "armed conflict not of an international character."
Based on the facts supplied by the Department of Defense and the recommendation of the Department of Justice, I determine that the Taliban detainees are unlawful combatants and, therefore, do not qualify as prisoners of war under Article 4 of Geneva. I note that, because Geneva does not apply to our conflict with al-Qaida, al-Qaida detainees also do not qualify as prisoners of war.

Of course, our values as a nation, values that we share with many nations in the world, call for us to treat detainees humanely, including those who are not legally entitled to such treatment. Our nation has been and will continue to be a strong supporter of Geneva and its principles. As a matter of policy, the United States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva.

Cheney Amendment Commentary (taken from the Washington Post)

Mr. Cheney is asking Congress to approve legal language that would allow the CIA to commit abuses against foreign prisoners it is holding abroad. The CIA is holding an unknown number of prisoners in secret detention centers abroad. In violation of the Geneva Conventions, it has refused to register those detainees with the International Red Cross or to allow visits by its inspectors. Its prisoners have "disappeared," like the victims of some dictatorships. The Justice Department and the White House are known to have approved harsh interrogation techniques for some of these people, including "waterboarding," or simulated drowning; mock execution; and the deliberate withholding of pain medication. CIA personnel have been implicated in the deaths during interrogation of at least four Afghan and Iraqi detainees.

McCain Bill (from Wikipedia)

The McCain Detainee Amendment prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and requires military interrogations to go by the book.

The amendment affected the United States Senate Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2006, commonly referred to as the Amendment on (1) the Army Field Manual and (2) Cruel, Inhumane, Degrading Treatment, amendment #1977 and also known as the McCain Amendment 1977. It became the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 as Title X of the Department of Defense Authorization bill. The amendment prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, by confining interrogations to the techniques in FM 34-52 Intelligence Interrogation. Also, section 1005, part (e) of the Act prohibits aliens detained in Guantanamo Bay from applying for a writ of habeas corpus.

Lesson 8: Amendment 8

Framing the Debate

My side is the Cheney Amendment / McCain Recommendation (circle one)

1. Our plan follows these laws and policies of the United states:

Geneva and Torture Contentions
Bybee Memo
Statements of President Bush
Our national image

2. It DOES NOT FOLLOW these laws and policies of the United States:

Geneva and Torture Conventions
Bybee Memo
Statements of President Bush
Our national image

Our Plan is good because:





The other side will argue that our plan is bad because:





Their arguments are bad and our plan is really good because:





We will win the debate because their plan is bad because:


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