Fox anchor Abby Huntsman hosted two pro-torture guests and put her own thumb on the scale for a GOP-friendly attack on CIA director John Brennan for saying he would not agree to have any CIA officer carry out waterboarding, even if a president ordered it.
Huntsman began by highlighting guest KT McFarland’s tweet that Brennan’s comments were “a cheap trick” to “trash” Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, both of whom have endorsed waterboarding.
McFarland said there are two types of interrogations, two types of terrorists and two types of scenarios, thereby hinting that Trump and Cruz would only approve of waterboarding in dire circumstances.
MCFARLAND: One is called “the ticking time bomb” scenario. The president knows there’s a dirty bomb in lower Manhattan, it’s going to go off in the next 24 hours, you don’t know where or exactly what time and you’ve got somebody in custody that may know the answer to that. At that point, the president of the United States is not going to say, “Well, we really have to do this or we have” – the president of the United States is going to say, “I will do whatever it takes to find that out because if I fail, that means thousands of people might die.”
This is nothing more than a canard used to justify torture. As Conor Friedersdorf wrote in The Atlantic:
This is comic-book stuff.
No one can cite even a single terrorist attack that has been stopped, or could have been stopped, with torture in this manner. Scour all of history and you come up empty. Little wonder that it’s always invoked as a hypothetical, not a cautionary tale. Who can prove it won’t ever happen?
In a Foreign Policy article called, “Tick, Tick, Bull, Shit,” Rosa Brooks, former counselor to the U.S. defense undersecretary for policy and former senior advisor at the U.S. State Department, described the reality:
[I]n real life, you get ambiguity and uncertainty. You get conflicting information about the nature, magnitude, and timing of threats, and conflicting information about the identity of planners and perpetrators. Sometimes, you get information that’s just plain wrong: As the [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] report notes, more than two dozen people tortured by the CIA were detained in error. In some cases, they were victims of simple cases of mistaken identity.
Yet McFarland is a paid national security analyst for Fox.
If Huntsman did any independent research into the subject, she kept it to herself. Rather than present any challenge to McFarland’s BS, Huntsman could be heard murmuring her agreement off camera.
McFarland continued, “On the other hand, garden variety terrorists - nobody’s saying…” Presumably she was about to say that nobody's saying “garden variety terrorists” should be tortured.
But Huntsman interrupted to prod the other torture-supporting guest, Fox contributor Pete Hegseth, into describing torture as part of keeping America safe.
And Hegseth immediately attacked President Obama’s anti-torture stance as being “part of the problem.”
HUNTSMAN: Pete, you understand the reality that we face better than many people out there and you hear him say this. And this is a balance, how do we keep the American people safe, given the threat of terror today?
HEGSETH: We don’t know that Barack Obama would actually make that call in that moment. That’s part of the problem. Will the real Brennan please stand up? Because this is the guy that previously said these types of techniques helped us find bin Laden, helped us find key clues from Al Qaeda. So he’s understood in past that this is a tactic that was effective. He’s clearly playing his part in the political campaign right now, trying to stab at Cruz and Trump, both of which look at the weakness of this administration and they understand the appetite of the American people. They’re willing to do something like waterboarding if it’s gonna keep us safe. All it would take is an executive order by the next president to change that law - and why do I feel like Brennan probably won’t be the CIA director for either of those two?
Not surprisingly, Huntsman didn't question a word Hegseth said, either. “Well, it’s a hot debate and it will continue on,” she chirped, to close the discussion.
You can bet that so long as Trump and Cruz remain the likely Republican nominee, the "hot debate" will continue to be just as "fair and balanced" as this one.
But, you are man enough to be a Fox News host even if you aren’t man enough to undergo torture.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Sean Hannity . . .