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Glenn Beck Defends Wanting To Pull Out Fingernails And Peel Skin Off With A Cheese Grater

Reported by Ellen - May 2, 2009 -

Never mind the "waterboarding isn't torture" meme. Fox News host Glenn Beck wants to torture, period. Beck trotted out his Jack Bauer fantasy again yesterday (5/1/09) in order to defend his support for what can only be described as torture. Putting forth a hypothetical scenario in which New York City was about to be “vaporized,” Beck said about his hypothetical suspect, “We can pull his fingernails out, we can peel his skin off with a cheese grater. Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Arguing that his position was merely an interpretation of the Constitution that reasonable people can disagree about, he said, "The key is, I'm not a bloodthirsty killer for wanting to do it.” With video.

The discussion was part of another of Beck's special 9/12 shows. This one had a studio audience. Beck's 9 principles and 12 values were self-importantly written on the wall but the show was mostly about talking up the tax day tea parties and talking down the media coverage of it. On FOXNews.com, there's a “web exclusive” of about 20 minutes of discussion that did not make it into the show. A little more than halfway through, Beck maneuvered the talk away from taxes, the stimulus plan, etc. into a defense of his views on torture.

At about the 8:50 mark in the video below (which counts down from the end), a young man said he thinks “desperate times call for desperate measures.” He was referring to the stimulus plan or the auto bailout or maybe TARP. They seemed to be interchangeable to the audience.

“No, no, no.” Beck said. Then he asked for a show of hands, “How many people believe you (can) sell out your principles when you are in real deep trouble?” His voice was full of disapproval. Nobody raised their hand.

Then Beck asked what he called a “trick question.” “There's a bomb in New York City. It's about to go off. We have somebody right over here. We can pull his fingernails out, we can peel his skin off with a cheese grater. Desperate times call for desperate measures.” As different people in the audience cried out “Do it!” and some thought not (but most were all for it), Beck continued, “He is somebody we believe has information – we're talking Jack Bauer.”

A man wearing an American-flag tie looked very proud of himself for saying that doing so would not violate “my principles.”

Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano was on hand. He spoke up at the request of one of the few audience members against the torture. “The Constitution applies to all persons,” Napolitano explained, not just Americans and not just those who are our friends.

Beck interrupted. “Judge, Judge... Is the Constitution a suicide pact?”

Of course, Napolitano said it was not.

“If you believe that New York City is going to be vaporized to death, wouldn't that really be a suicide for the United States to stand there and do nothing about it if we thought we could?” Beck asked. He overlooked the fact that there would be plenty of choices other than “do nothing” or pulling someone's fingernails out and skinning them alive.

But Napolitano did not address that issue. He said, “It presumes that torture works.”

“Those memos show that it did,” Beck insisted.

“Doesn't work,” Napolitano insisted.

Beck repeated, “The memos show that it did.”

“It's at least equivocal,” Napolitano said. He added that it's “repellant” and “not authorized by the Constitution” for us to use the same techniques on the terrorists as they might use on us “whether it works or not.”

“Here's the thing,” Beck said. He said he thought this was “the kind of stuff that we're always going to disagree on.”

Beck went on to say that there have been disagreements over the Constitution since it was written. “The key is, I'm not a bloodthirsty killer for wanting to do it.”

So either Beck is willing to sell out his principles on torture when he's in trouble or else torture is a principle he endorses at all times.