Greg Ball, the Putnam County Torturer

It isn’t every day that an elected official openly and proudly advocates violating state, federal, military, and international law. In this case, it started with a Tweet, but the state Senator has since doubled down on the sentiment, appearing on all kinds of TV programs to advocate in favor of blatant criminality.

Specifically, the fifth and eighth Amendments to the Constitution protect against self-incrimination, and prohibit “cruel and unusual punishment”, respectively. Once you torture someone, you can’t prosecute them. (But, in a moral and ethical abomination, the United States believes that it can continue indefinitely to detain them).

What the Tsarnaev brothers did in Boston is a horrific, tragic, and despicable crime. One is dead, the other is going to be prosecuted. Tsarnaev doesn’t deserve respect or sympathy – he deserves to be prosecuted under the law and then punished. Torture would jeopardize that prosecution. Greg Ball went on TV to repeatedly suggest – tortuously referring to himself in the 3d person – that he “as Greg Ball” would happily “use a baseball bat” on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev if it would “save one innocent life”. Greg Ball did not specify in what way Greg Ball would use that baseball bat. Greg Ball.

Does criminality in response to criminality make us a better society? A freer society? Does the banality of Ball’s call for torture, and his own media tour/victory lap reflect poorly on just him, or a larger section of society in general? I mean, a lot of people seem to agree with him

The term “enemy combatant” generally means anyone who is a member of an armed force against which the United States is at war. After 9/11, however, it took on a new meaning, describing individuals fighting on behalf of al Qaeda and/or the Afghan Taliban who had taken up arms against – and been detained by – the United States as part of the “war on terror”. Under this novel definition, the U.S. government has asserted a right indefinitely to detain “enemy combatants” at military holding centers located outside the 50 states.

The government defines an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terror” as,

…an individual who was part of or supporting Taliban or al Qaeda forces, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners. This includes any person who has committed belligerent act or has directly supported hostilities in aid of enemy combat forces.

The Obama Administration formally ended the government’s use of “enemy combatant” in 2009, although it retained its right to indefinitely detain Taliban or al Qaeda combatants abroad.

It is not an un-American thing to suggest that our values and legal system are worthless if not counted on in the most difficult circumstances. Why defend the law and Constitution in one instance, while cheering its abrogation in the next? Is Amendment 2 worth protecting but Amendments 5 and 8, not so much?

Last week, a pair of Chechen brothers set off two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed, and over 100 injured – many seriously. On Thursday, they murdered a police officer, and injured another. One of the brothers was killed during a shootout with police after having wounded himself when attempting to throw at police another pressure cooker bomb like the ones he set on Boylston Street. His little brother kept police at bay and shut Boston down all of Friday, and is now in custody while being treated at Beth Israel Hospital.

On Monday, the Obama Administration announced that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be prosecuted as any other common criminal thug within our federal criminal justice system. There is nothing special about Tsarnaev to justify treating him as an alien enemy combatant. Indeed, Tsarnaev is a United States citizen detained on domestic soil, who committed prosecutable crimes. He’s not some terrorist mastermind – he’s just another murderer.

But our country is sick with disease. Disease like New York State Senator Greg Ball:

It’s one thing to debate the relative merits of treating Tsarnaev as an “enemy combatant”, but it’s another to offhandedly recommend using “torture” to “save more lives”. He went on to explain,

“On most days, New York State is terrorist target #1, and playing paddy cake with mass murdering killers is not effective in my opinion. In the war against these sick cowards who seek to harm innocent men, women and children, information can and often does save lives. Terrorists play by a different set of rules by manipulating the greatest strengths of our open society against us. One of the questions to be asked is this: is “torture” ever justified in the war against terror, if it can save lives? 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,” said Senator Greg Ball.

I’m not aware of anyone playing “paddy cake” with federal civilian inmates such as 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam, the attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, 1993 World Trade bomber Ramzi Yousef, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, or Lockport’s own Timothy McVeigh, who murdered 168 innocent men, women, and children in 1995. It’s not “paddy cake” to be in a Supermax federal prison facility, either.

Which form of torture does Senator Ball recommend (link NSFW) for Tsarnaev? Burning him with boiling water? Asphyxiation? Cut off his hands? Perhaps just a simple beating? Re-enact the torture of Abner Louima? What evidence is there that torture even works to gather credible, reliable information? What part of “illegal” is confusing for the Senator? Why perpetrate an illegal act and run the risk of harming the prosecution’s case?

By sanctioning the use of behavior – “torture” – which is patently illegal under domestic and international law, what is Mr. Ball (and those who think like him) trying to prove or say? That our rage at a vicious act excuses a vicious response? That our principles, values, morals, and laws can be brushed aside as so much lint when a Chechen kid throws a major city into chaos and kills 4 innocent victims?

Of course Dzhokhar Tsarnaev won’t be treated as an enemy combatant. There’s no evidence he’s an al Qaeda or Taliban operative, he wasn’t captured fighting against American forces on a foreign battlefield, and he is an American citizen. And if we are so quick to advocate for our government to act in contravention to law and morality, what are we left with, really?


  • “Last week, a pair of Chechen brothers set off two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. […] On Thursday, they murdered a police officer, and injured another.”

    I don’t doubt that this is a factual summary of reality. But I just wanted to point out that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has not yet been convicted of these crimes, and as such, is traditionally entitled to a presumption of innocence until that point, and journalists should write “He is accused of…”, etc.

    The Buffalo News wrote an editorial like this, too. It is discouraging to me how quickly the usual concepts of due process get ignored when an alleged criminal can be labelled a terrorist.

    • He is entitled to a presumption of innocence in court. Not anywhere else.

      • Perhaps technically true, but don’t journalists usually make a point of saying “alleged”, “accused of”, etc., when reporting crimes? I was surprised to see the Buffalo News state so boldly that we know for an absolute fact that they committed these crimes.

      • Oh, I don’t know–I think the presumption of innocence is a pretty good habit for US citizens to get into, even if they’re not legally compelled to do so. When Presidents and media and just about everybody forgets about it, then jury pools get contaminated and a legal lynching can result. We’ve had too many of those lately, including in Western New York.

        Greg Ball is guilty of far less than George W. Bush, who actually did torture people, including US citizen Jose Padilla, some of them to death. And of course, Barack Hussein Obama thinks that was OK, because we have to look forward, not backward.

        “Torture” goes with “terror” like PB with J. And just as “terror” is “political violence by Muslims,” so “torture” is “justice for Muslims”–I mean, when’s the last time the US tortured a non-Muslim? Ali Abunimah has a pretty good column on this:

  • That picture of Greg Ball alone conveys all I need to know about the man. He is a complete and utter douchebag.

  • Wow. On so many levels, this guy is a loser. How embarrassing for this constituents. ha, ha! Pathetic. And he’s so ego-driven he can’t see what’s wrong with his statements. He basically undercut whatever credibility he had. Way to represent your community, dumb-dumb!

  • tonyintonawanda

    It’s upsetting that someone who swears to uphold the constitution would so blatantly pander. I’m not sure how I feel about giving the bomber Miranda rights rather than try him as an enemy combatant. I’m not going to pretend to fully understand the legal ramifications of either decision. I think he gets tried, convicted and hung whatever way you choose to go. I’m curious if there is information to gleaned from him regarding terror cells, his brother’s actions overseas, etc. that we will never know with a lawyer present. But I’m not ready to trample the constitution either.

    It’s easy to say while you’re watching this unfold that we should beat the crap out of this loser in a moment of rage at what these two terrorists have done. But anyone is a position of responsibilty should publicly control this urge.

    Having said all of that….Greg Ball has long been a douche bag and does douche baggy things to get his mug some cheap press.

    • What does Greg Ball do that makes him a douchebag? I like Greg Ball. He is the only Republican in the State Senate to critically question the hydrofracking industry — the opposite of that corrupt whore Grisanti.

      • tonyintonawanda

        Matt, try this for starters:… And your obsession with Grisanti is pathological. Guess he is still refusing to give you that consulting contract, eh

        • Doug – The link that you offer says “no news found”. I would love to know why a “Republican” state senate Chief of Staff is shit talking Greg Ball on a liberal blog like Artvoice. Please, do tell….

          • tonyintonawanda

            Don’t know why the link didn’t work. Here it is.

            What is it about New York politicians that makes them desperate to show us
            their underwear? Sunday, New York State Senator Greg Ball tweeted a pants-less pic
            of himself. Here’s the tweet and the photo:

            Greg Ball has a long history of questionable behavior. Back in 2003 his
            ex-girlfriend, CNN producer Linda Fern Roth, requested a restraining order against Ball.
            She claimed at the time that Ball had “threatened to destroy her career and
            reputation.” A temporary order was issued but then the matter was dropped.
            In 2007, Ball was involved in a charity fundraiser which, according to the
            Washington Post, raised more money for a PAC Ball controlled than it did for charity:

            The Reliable Source found that a New York political action
            committee started by Ball — which later transferred its entire treasury to
            his campaign — netted as much as $10,000 by selling tickets to the 2005
            Courage Cup. That’s four times the amount the polo match raised that year
            for its prominently advertised beneficiary, Work to Ride, a Philadelphia
            charity that teaches poor kids to play polo.
            Then there was the goat incident. During a tight race in which Ball
            repeatedly suggested the Latino gang MS-13 was a threat (this is Hudson
            Valley, NY), Ball suddenly discovered a dead goat on his property with a scrawled message:

            Assemblyman Gregory Ball, who is known for promoting animal
            rights legislation, said he found the black-and-white goat in front of his
            Patterson, New York, property on Thursday.
            A threatening note written in broken Spanish had been tied around the goat’s
            neck and was signed by Mara Salvatrucha 13, a Central American gang also
            known as MS-13.

            The goat-killer was never identified. In case you’re wondering, Greg Ball is
            a Republican.

          • Really, “tony”? You don’t know Doug? You seemed to have known him pretty intimately when you were defending him in this blog post:
            How do you not know him, but are also aware of how he chooses to use comp time? It seems like you were throwing around some pretty intimate details that only he would know.

          • What part of “tonyintonawanda isn’t Doug Curella” did you find confusing?

          • I’m still waiting to know how it is that “tony” doesn’t know doug now, but was throwing around intimate details on this blog that only Doug would know. And why lie about not knowing who Doug is in the first place?

          • Maybe not everyone is as pathologically obsessed as you with the guy who has the job you thought you were owed.

          • Haha; Don’t be flattered. I read everything. Tony, you still over there in tonawanda?

          • tonyintonawanda

            I am indeed aware of who Doug Curella is but you didn’t say that. You just threw out the name “Doug” and accused me of being him and that fact you were implying I was Doug Curella didn’t cross my mind. As Alan points out, I am not him. I am a huge supporter of having a Republican-controlled State Senate in an increasing deeper blue state and in order to do so, we need moderates who can appeal across party line. Greg Ball continues to bring attention to himself in the most negative light that hurts our chances of electing GOP Senators and increases the likelihood we will be in the minority.

            There are some who want conservative perfectionists in office and are wiling to sacrifice people like Grisanti. This is insane. For everyone who hates the SAFE ACT (I am not one of them) blame the right wing nuts who cost the GOP the Steve Saland seat because he had the audacity to support gay marriage. You hand the seat to the other side to punish someone for not being conservative enough and you actually enhance the policies you don’t like.

          • That doesn’t explain how you were familiar with the details of Curella’s use of comp time; that Grisanti’s office had a particular employment arrangement documented; and the details of his time accruals? You were very passionate in defending him.

            I’m very supportive of moderates when they don’t try to whore themselves out in the halls of Albany on every issue. Getting ready to spend another $1.2 million on another Republican primary that never should have happened?

            The GOP minority, rather than standing on principal and letting the Senate Dems implode with their own corruption — so that they could retake the chamber next year — they instead wanted to get their hands in the proverbial pot with this “coalition majority” farce. It has made the party much weaker, and GOP incumbants will continue to loose primaries and seats unless they stand firmly against Cuomo’s culture of corruption.

          • I can confirm that tonyintonawanda is not Doug Curella. Have a nice day.

          • Awww and it was just getting good too….

      • I guess advocating torture didn’t make your radar then ? Good for him he’s against fracking, who the fuck with a pair wouldn’t be?

  • Matt, try this for starters: And your obsession with Grisanti is pathological. Guess he is still refusing to give you that consulting contract, eh?

    • The Breitbrats don’t DESERVE to be linked, for any reason at any time.

    • Did anyone notice that this “Matt” post just went from “tonyintonawanda” – to – “guest”? “Tony” has made many comments and has held court around numerous WNY online media forums. You might even call him a gadfly-regular. He has had many opinions.
      To see what else “tony” was recently commenting on (until he bailed and changed his Disqus account – “tony’s” screen name source) at the Buffalo News, in articles regarding the recent de-construction/destruction of the WNY legacy Schoellkopf Power Station No.3 (National Register of Historic Places designated) and the Maid of the Mist NO-bid NYS and construction contracts…

      A fascinating guy that “tony” was. Too bad it was no “tony” but rather a Kevin..
      If this were a stage play, he’d be nominated for the other kind of ‘Tony.’

  • disqus_Uqd4LbRsqX

    Greg ball: biggest douchebag to ever hold office. This is his last term for sure

  • Once you trash all the other Constitutional rights all you are left with are second amendment remedies .

  • Fantastic article! Thank you!! Greg “Goatboy” Ball is my representative and hails from my home town (I’m embarrassed to say.) He has a long history of always being in the center of controversy (Google Dead Goat Greg Ball, or Greg Ball groping waitress, or Greg Ball order of protection for girlfriend) and is a self-promoting Tea Party hack, filled with hatred, rhetoric and hot air. He has no answers, so he yells at you when you ask a question. He throws back irrelevant, meaningless questions at you when he can’t or doesn’t want to answer a direct question. He pledges his support to people, then turns around and votes the opposite way!! He has no integrity and it’s all about him strategically furthering his career of LIVING OFF THE TAXPAYER DOLE! He has accomplished absolutely NOTHING since being elected. NOTHING! Shame on anyone stupid enough to have voted for him! He represents what’s destroying our country — the Tea Party and the GOP’s childish behavior and obstructionist ideology. He is part of the problem plaguing our nation – no solutions, just saying “no” for the sake of it and not interested in solving any societal problems. Disgusting. His latest shenanigans, this vulgar tweet, and his subsequent TV appearances where he’s doubling down on his disgraceful and disturbing position is repulsive to anyone with an ounce of humanity or any respect for our Constitution and laws. But, to Ball, this is just another self-created opportunity to “stir the pot” and attract attention to himself (even negative attention is good attention in his little mind) and for him to gain national attention. And, the sad truth is, he’s accomplished his objective with flying colors b/c he’s getting into news streams all OVER the place – from The Daily Show, to Huffington Post, to Hannity and Piers Morgan, and others. These appearances will no doubt become valuable segments in his video reel that he’ll be shopping around to get a job at Faux News, or Breitbart, or Hannity, etc. when his term is up. Ball is lower than low – a complete waste of skin. He has disgraced his office, his State, and most of all, his Constituents. He can’t disappear soon enough for me.

  • He looks like the kind of wanna be tough guy that pulls wings off flies and short changes waitresses in coffee shops. Another armchair Rambo.

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