A Canadian justice said, “Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra ‘What would Jack Bauer do?’”
To which Scalia replied, 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."
What. The. Fuck?
First, Bauer has something going for him which people in the real world don't... the scriptwriters are on his side.
Even with that, there are some nuggets of truth which ooze out of the ridiculous plots in that paean to abuse, "You are going to tell me what I want to know, it's just a matter of how much you want it to hurt is one of the things Bauer says.
Which is true, what the torturer wants to hear will come out of the mouth of the tortured; it's just a question of how much pain has to be inflicted to teach the poor sod what the mystical phrases are.
Now, one can argue Scalia was trying to make a broader point; that the ends justify the means, and the ends of stopping someone from nuking a city justify a lot of evil in the name of good.
It's nonsense, of course, (though the apologists will trot out the reports of the self-interested, who have tortured, to justify the positions they take. But just as Dr. Behe isn't a refutation of the evidence of evolution, neither is Tenet's claim that torture works enough to outweigh the rest of the evidence; esp. as he doesn't provide any more evidence than, "We stopped plots I can't tell you about." Right).
But to make the argument that some movie plot was stopped in a movie, and that applies to the real world? Well... I guess there are ejection seats in C-130s, and all one has to do to fire blanks at full-auto is load them in the MP-5 (two of the things which bothered me in Die Hard II).
It's stupid. It's fatuous. It insults anyone who stops to think about it.
I can think of lots of ways to attack a city (when I was taking "Intelligence in Combatting Terrorism" one of the assigments was to design just such a plot). Almost all of the plots hatched by us were the sort which torture couldn't stop.
For all the reasons the ticking bomb is bullshit. Once they are underway, you have to assume I don't know how long I have to hold out. That I won't lie. That once I tell a false story, it won't take awhile to disprove, and that I can't steel myself in the reprieve, to hold out a little longer, or spin another story, or, or, or.
Sooner or later my honest report (assuming I break) will be lost in all the crap (all the more so if there is more than one person being tortured, the interrogators will start to manufacture corroboration; and when the story changes, so too will the false corroboration change to match it, because the answers are expected, and the source will be guided to them).
Back in the day (when torture was less unacceptable than it is now) this was known.
Often I have thought that the only reason why we are not all wizards is due to the fact that we have not all been tortured. And there is truth in what an inquisitor dared to boast lately, that if he could reach the Pope, he would make him confess that he was a wizard.
- Friedrich von Spee, SJ (1591-1635), Cautio Criminalis ("Precautions for Prosecutors")
But one of the Justices of the Supreme Court thinks we need to acquit those who would torture.
For support he doesn't point to any real world applications; times and places where such a course of action was effective.
Rather he points to a television show.
Angels and ministers of Grace.