Scalia Doesn’t Cite International Law; Cites Hollywood Instead

Ken AshfordConstitution, Courts/Law, Supreme Court, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

This guy is an idiot:

Senior judges from North America and Europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a Canadian judge’s passing remark – "Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra ‘What would Jack Bauer do?’ " – got the legal bulldog in Judge Scalia barking.

The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent’s rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so.

"So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes."

Unfortunately, there IS an absolute at play here, and that’s the law.  The law is the law.  And — assuming that Jack Bauer is not a fictional character on television — the real world answer is "YES, you are going to convict Jack Bauer".  He broke the law!

Carpetbagger gets deep into it:

I’ll spare you the tirade on why torture is morally indefensible, and why torture doesn’t provide useful information anyway, and why relying on fictional characters to justify real-life crimes is patently ridiculous, but will instead focus on two points.

First, Bauer-like scenarios don’t happen.

We’ve all watched ‘24′ and rooted for Jack Bauer as he breaks all the rules in a desperate attempt to save lives.

The problem with this scenario (as many others have pointed out) is that it makes a number of assumptions that are empirically dubious. First, the ticking-bomb scenario assumes not only that we have knowledge of an imminent attack, but also that we have the right guy in custody, i.e., a person with information that can prevent that attack from happening. In real life, our intelligence is never even close to that good. Intelligence, as the WMD fiasco makes clear, is far from an exact science. A significant percentage of the people we’ve detained as suspected terrorists have turned out to be people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Should someone who may or may not be a terrorist and may or may not know anything useful be tortured based solely on intelligence “chatter” about an upcoming attack? This is much closer to the type of situations that actually present themselves in real life.

Second, Bauer-like scenarios offer the wrong lessons.

The grossly graphic torture scenes in Fox’s highly rated series “24″ are encouraging abuses in Iraq, a brigadier general and three top military and FBI interrogators claim.

The four flew to Los Angeles in November to meet with the staff of the show. They said it is hurting efforts to train recruits in effective interrogation techniques and is damaging the image of the U.S. around the world, according The New Yorker.

“I’d like them to stop,” Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan, dean of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, told the magazine.

Finnegan and others told the show’s creative team that the torture depicted in “24″ never works in real life, and by airing such scenes, they’re encouraging military personnel to act illegally.

“People watch the shows, and then walk into the interrogation booths and do the same things they’ve just seen,” said Tony Lagouranis, who was a U.S. Army interrogator in Iraq and attended the meeting. “The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about ‘24′?” Finnegan said.

Apparently, it’s not just the kids — dangerous Supreme Court justices have come to the same conclusions.

It’s amazing how quickly the "rule of law" goes out the window with conservatives.  Just as it was before the 2006 elections, it is the party of lawlessness, the party of arrogance, the party where rules don’t apply to them.