Two days before the federal government filed charges against Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, New York State Senator Greg Ball jumped on news of the teenager’s capture and recommended spicing up traditional due process. On Saturday, the lawmaker suggested that authorities torture Tsarnaev. Yes, torture, illegal under international law.
So, scum bag #2 in custody. Who wouldn’t use torture on this punk to save more lives?
— Greg Ball (@ball4ny) April 20, 2013
On Sunday, Ball released a statement, doubling down on the tweet. “Is ‘torture’ ever justified in the war against terror, if it can save lives?” he asked. “I am not shy in joining those who say yes, and I believe we must give those tasked with protecting us every constitutional and effective tool to do so.” But while the lawmaker has appeared in several interviews righteously supporting this case, a new report on US interrogation techniques on detainees in the wake of 9/11 doesn’t.
On Monday, Ball took on five interviews, including Fox News and CNN with Piers Morgan. On CNN, Ball blew up at Morgan when questioned about how the state senator might torture Tsarnaev.
“Would you play cards with Osama bin Laden? What would you do?” Ball asked. “Maybe I should have said it in a British accent,” he added, pointing out the CNN presenter’s lilt.
“Can you stop being such a jerk?” Morgan asked. “Seriously, I invited you onto my show because you tweeted this to the world.”
“Why? Because you don’t have another bobble head that you can beat up and treat like a coward?” Ball quipped in response. You can watch the exchange below.
And yet. One of the major stories that slipped past the media radar last week was the release of a nearly 600-page report from the Constitution Project detailing how the United States engaged in the torture of detainees after 9/11. While the report confirmed that it was “indisputable” that the US tortured prisoners, it also highlighted the fact that torture may not have even worked to gain information or prevent atrocities.
ProPublica has the tidy summary:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and others have claimed that abusive treatment saved “thousands of American lives.” But the report found no evidence that torture itself was actually useful. As Obama’s former National Director of Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair wrote, as quoted in the report, “There is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means.”
“As a red-blooded American, I said, who out there, if it would save an innocent American life, wouldn’t use torture? I for one, would,” Ball told Morgan before he left the interview early.
And if it didn’t save lives? Ball’s in Ball’s court. (Eh heh.)