December 15, 2014

Over the years I've written a lot about how conservatives have used the television program called "24" and its central character jack Bauer to justify torturing detainees. You would think it's a silly comparison to make considering the extreme nature of torture, but as you dig deeper, you find that the Jack Bauer scenario has reached into the heart of the Supreme Court and is now tossed around as a legal basis for torture.

It's a frightening situation:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is joining the debate over the Senate's torture report by saying it's hard to rule out the use of extreme measures to extract information if millions of lives were threatened.

Scalia told a Swiss broadcast network that American and European liberals who say such tactics may never be used are being self-righteous.

The 78-year-old justice said he doesn't "think it's so clear at all," especially if interrogators were trying to find a ticking nuclear bomb. Scalia has made similar comments in the past, but he renewed his remarks on Wednesday in an interview with Radio Television Suisse, a day after the release of the Senate report detailing the CIA's harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists. RTS aired the interview on Friday.

"Listen, I think it's very facile for people to say, 'Oh, torture is terrible.' You posit the situation where a person that you know for sure knows the location of a nuclear bomb that has been planted in Los Angeles and will kill millions of people. You think it's an easy question? You think it's clear that you cannot use extreme measures to get that information out of that person?" Scalia said

OK, judge, go ahead and use torture, just be man or woman enough to face the consequences of your actions. Conservatives have been evoking the most extreme terrorism examples which come straight out of fantasy-land to justify their blood lust for torture, but it doesn't wash. If you've forgotten, this isn't the first time Scalia used the Jack Bauer justification.

A year earlier, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported that Scalia invoked fictional TV counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer using torture to get terrorism suspects to reveal information that could help authorities foil an imminent attack.

"Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so," he said. "So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes."

Torture is and has been illegal for a very long time and the U.S. has recognized that fact so coming up with a Jack Bauer scenario is misleading, cowardly and completely off point. If you feel justified in torturing somebody to stop a nuke attack on New York then break the law and stand trial for it.

We know that's all a smoke screen because the CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah for long periods of time without any ticking time bomb scenarios.

During one waterboarding session, Abu Zubaydah became “completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” The interrogations lasted for weeks, and some C.I.A. officers began sending messages to the agency’s headquarters in Virginia questioning the utility — and the legality — of what they were doing. But such questions were rejected.

What was Jose Rodriguez's response to his fellow CIA officers, who were visibly upset at the torture they were witnessing?

“Strongly urge that any speculative language as to the legality of given activities or, more precisely, judgment calls as to their legality vis-à-vis operational guidelines for this activity agreed upon and vetted at the most senior levels of the agency, be refrained from in written traffic (email or cable traffic),” wrote Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the C.I.A.'s Counterterrorism Center.

“Such language is not helpful.”

Seeing with their own eyes and responding to it was too much for Rodriguez to take because he knew what was happening was torture all the way. Keep your pie holes shut, was his message.

Here's a taste of Jack Bauer in action:

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