CIA Cited Israeli Court Rulings to Justify Torture

CIA Sought to Use 'Israeli Example' in Pro-Torture PR Campaign

Though there was some internal conflict about the use of torture within the CIA, the leadership never really questioned it too hard, and rather sought ideas on how to sell it to the public and to Congress.

The “Israeli example,” in which the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that some types of torture were acceptable in some “ticking time bomb” cases, seems to have been one the CIA General Counsel was particularly fond of.

The counsel went on to insist that even after torture was explicitly banned by the Senate in 2005, it didn’t cover “ticking time bomb” scenarios, and that CIA officers could continue to engage in torture and be assured of a legal defense if they were ever prosecuted.

Which is absurd, as we now know. No one was ever going to prosecute a CIA officer, no matter how much they tortured people. The argument further falls apart on the premise, as the sudden, imminent threat notion of the “ticking time bomb” flies out the window when one is talking about a sustained, multi-year torture campaign involving well over 100 detainees.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.