A lefty magazine called MOTHER JONES has a brief article online (that you can find here), written by Julian Brookes, about a new Human Rights Watch — more like Human Left Watch — report which claims that “torture and other abuses against detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were authorized and routine, even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal.” Here is more from the HRW press release:

In the 53-page report, “No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers’ Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq,” soldiers describe how detainees were routinely subjected to severe beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures. The accounts come from interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, supplemented by memoranda and sworn statements contained in declassified documents.

“Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk,” said John Sifton, the author of the report and the senior researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism at Human Rights Watch. “These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional – on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used.”

I, for one, am sick and tired of all this concern about torture. I say you have to break a few eggs to make — scrambled eggs. And I think anyone who’s watched a season of 24 knows that as well as anybody, and I’ve watched four seasons.

The “ticking bomb” scenario demonstrates that, really, almost everyone would support torture in at least that one situation. If you don’t know, the “ticking bomb” scenario was pretty much what season four of 24 was all about.

Let’s say you are Agent Jack Bauer, and you receive reliable information that a nuclear weapon will detonate somewhere in America in the next three hours. You also have followed someone working closely with a terrorist organization to a house boat. He meets with someone there whose name is Pelosi. You and your men are spotted and Pelosi kills the man you followed there, claims he was an intruder on his house boat (but you know better). You take him back to CTU, Los Angeles and there his “Amnesty Global” lawyer is waiting, smarmy — of course — and all liberally superior.

“We do things according to the letter of the law,” he emotes haughtily.

You question Pelosi with his lawyer present, but he says he knows nothing, and his lawyer won’t let you so much as pinch his nipples. You have three hours to locate this nuclear weapon. Do you knowingly break the law and find a way to covertly torture Pelosi by tricking his lawyer into leaving — and then break first Pelosi’s thumb, then his index finger, then his middle finger, all the time making a really cool angry face and saying, “Where is it, Pelosi? I’ll get the information the easy way, or –” crack! — “the hard way.”

Of course you do. Maybe not personally — I’m a little squeamish myself — but you have it done. That’s my point.

Now, sure, some people have “logical” responses to such scenarios. At the Amnesty International website there is a piece on torture, and it quotes William J. Aceves as saying:

[The ticking bomb scenario] falls apart upon careful scrutiny. It assumes that law enforcement has the right person in custody. That is, the suspect knows where the bomb is and when it is scheduled to detonate. What if there is only a 50 percent chance that the suspect knows the information? What if this number is only 10 percent? Second, it assumes that torture will be effective in gaining access to the critical information. In fact, however, torture is notoriously unreliable. What if there is only a 60 percent chance that the suspect will reveal accurate information? How about 20 percent? How low are we willing to go? How should we make the decision whether to torture? How many people must be endangered before the torture option can be considered?

Well, I have the answers. Here we go. If there is a 20% chance that he knows where the bomb is and a 20% chance he will talk, then you may torture him for 40 minutes. 20 + 20 = 40. I think that’s some math that even the liberal Dumbocrats can put together. For the sake of the math, we ignore how many people’s lives are at stake, and assume it’s “greater than nine.” Fewer than nine people, and torture is never justified — unless the guy just really has it coming.

But, one might argue, torture is illegal. According to the same Amnesty site cited above use of torture “would violate countless international agreements the United States has signed and ratified, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture.” But I think everyone knows that America doesn’t have to abide by international law. We are Agent Jack Bauer and the world is CTU, unwittingly hindering us by trying to get us to follow the “law.” We are the rogue agent who knows what really must be done.

I think that pretty well takes care of all the arguments against torture.

To sum up: Yes, innocent people are likely tortured — and sometimes permanently maimed. Yes, torture is notoriously ineffective, and has repeatedly proved to make innocent people admit to crimes they were incapable of committing, and evidentially did not. Yes, torture is illegal.

But Agent Jack Bauer is just so cool that none of that matters — sometimes it’s just the right thing to do, despite what the evidence might suggest. Despite any moral qualms having to do with innocence or guilt or fair trials.

Gosh, I wish I could meet Jack Bauer.



  1. Alfreeda says:

    Right on, Jon! I love your blog. Do you have pics you can post? I bet you’re hot!

  2. some dude says:

    Dude…”24″ is FICTION. It has no relevance in the real world. There is no CTU. There is no Jack Bauer. And in the case of Iraq…there was “ticking time bomb”. You sound like a complete jackass citing TV as your logical basis. (Can you imagine if Condoleeza Rice cited “Alias” during peace negotiations?) Try READING some history on war crimes and atrocities, and the establishment of the Geneva Convention. (I know it may suck because it’s not on the TV, but you may learn something.) The drafters weren’t “lefty” ninnies whining about trivial matters. You don’t think we have to abide by international law? Gee, someone should’ve told the government decades ago! We could have saved fifty years of actually following the Geneva Convention!

    These people were alledgedly tortured by the military, not by some secret agent trying to protect America. How do you think our soldiers will be treated when captured now? And what kind of example do we show when our government condones torture?

    You are truly an embarrasment of an American.

  3. jere7my says:

    Some dude (and I can tell from your name that you’re a fan of Brokeback Mountain, so I don’t know why I’m bothering), 24 may be “fiction,” but that only makes it more true. Truth is stranger than fiction—therefore, fiction is less strange (i.e., more likely) than truth. Anyway, in the case of 24, the producers get classified documents from the Department of Homeland Security that they use to write their scripts—that’s actually where the show’s name comes from, since the documents come from Section 23. (“That’s not 24!” the damn-o-crats holler. Well, of course not—actually using the section number would be a security leak, and make 24 no better than the New York Traitor Times.)

    Of course we don’t have to abide by international law. That’s why it’s called “inter-national”—literally, “other nations.” The US has to be free to do whatever it wants; as the phrase “Who watches the watchmen?” tells us, there always has to be at least one unwatched watchman. Just by “logic”, which you lie-berals seem to love so much.

  4. Dr. Reginald Smith, Ph.D. says:

    You’re an amazing talent! Truly, truly amazing! Keep up the good words, Jon!

  5. Bender says:

    Some points I will make:
    1. Perhaps, given the right situation, a person may condone torture or, at the very least, some kind of uncomfortable situation for a prisoner who is a criminal with valuable information. Prisons should be unpleasant so people should do everything they can to stay out – obey the law and so forth. But not to innocents.
    2. Some situations in 24 may indeed be based on some techniques the gov’t uses, but if you want to be taken seriously as someone with an opinion, don’t use it as a source to base an arguement off of. That’s like me claiming that aliens won’t have any trouble understanding us humans because in Star Trek they all speak English.
    3. Being ‘cool’ doesn’t give someone an excuse to throw the rulebook out the window to get what needs to be done done – at least, not without consequences.
    That’s all.
    Bender (watch Futurama… *hypnotizing jazz hands*)
    P.S. Jere7my, you’re an embarassment to my Republican friends and America in general. People like you make me glad I’m not American.

  6. jere7my says:

    I’ve caught you in one of your lie-beral lies, Bender—you say you’re “not American,” and yet you claim to have Republican friends. No true Republican would befriend a non-American! Exploit, yes; deport, sure; drop bombs on, absolutely; torture, for a week of Sundays; but never befriend! I think you’ve fallen in with some Republocrats, my friend. People like me make me glad you’re not an American, too! Bite my shiny metal ass!

    The trouble with opposing torture for innocents is there’s no way to tell who’s innocent until you’re done torturing them. That’s basic logic. If you have a room full of terrorists, they’re all going to SAY they’re innocent! That’s when you turn your back, and they gut you with a pair of nail clippers. Remember where you’d be if it weren’t for the US and our proud tradition of torture—a tiny province in the Ottoman Empire, buckaroo. Or does the name “Dita Von Teese” mean nothing to you?

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