Tuesday, March 17

Primetime Torture: 24 Turning a Corner? Maybe...

24 - Season 7 - 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM

A funny thing happened in the latest episode of "24" - which Human Rights First calls an example of Primetime Torture - someone may have finally Talked Jack Bauer Down...maybe.

As I discussed in my last diary some would argue why bother with torture on a mere TV Show - however people like Army Interrogator Tony Lagouranis that in the absense of clear direction from their leadership - our troops began making up their interrogation techniques on the fly, and many of their ideas came directly from shows like "24".

Silly though it may seem, the show "24" is indeed part of our national debate on torture particular as people such as Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham and Cal Thomas constantly refer to Bauer as justifications for actions taken by the Bush Administration.

In the past Bauer's character - the right-wing poster boy for extreme measures - has argued that "Either you do what is neccesary or (innocent people suffer)." He's said that those who don't agree with him are "WEAK - Unwilling and Unable to Look Evil in the Eye and DEAL WITH IT!" - and as a result practically anything he does is therefore Justified.

This of course sounds exactly like Dick Cheney.

KING: I’d like to simply ask you, yes or no, by taking these steps do you believe the President of the United States has made Americans less safe?

CHENEY: I do. I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11. I think that’s a great success story. ... President Obama campaigned against it all across the country. And now he is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.

You see, it was "Neccesary" - it was "Justified" - we HAD to do it. Obama HAS to Keep doing it. Just like St. Jack always says. Even if the Red Cross says it was clearly, absolutely Torture,

The classified report, Danner wrote, "tells a certain kind of story, a narrative of what happened at the 'the black sites' and a detailed description, by those on whom they were practiced, of what the President of the United States described to Americans as an 'alternative set of procedures.'" The accounts -- which the report concludes are so strikingly similar as to make fabrication extremely unlikely, if not impossible -- offer "a harrowing view of conditions at the secret prisons, where prisoners were told they were being taken 'to the verge of death and back.'" As the Washington Post described, "during interrogations, the captives were routinely beaten, doused with cold water and slammed head-first into walls. Between sessions, they were stripped of clothing, bombarded with loud music, exposed to cold temperatures, and deprived of sleep and solid food for days on end. Some detainees described being forced to stand for days, with their arms shackled above them, wearing only diapers."

The real irony here is that the foes that have framed Bauer for murder, are exactly like him! 8 minutes into the first section Jon Voight, playing the head of a Blackwater-like U.S. mercenary group makes the following speach as he commits himself to unleashing a deadly WMD attack on U.S. Soil.

Voight: Mr Seton, I get no pleasure from the knowledge that people will die at our hands. One single soul - The loss of one soul is tragic to me, let alone the numbers we're talking about - but do not forget that every war must have collateral damage, and that what we're doing is fundamentally and absolutely neccesary.

Sounds kinda familiar.

But this week Bauer's techniques and arguements have come back to bite him - big time. His attempted interrogation of a Congressional Staffer led to the target's death (not at Jack's hand). Jack is on the run for murder. He's managed to get Chloe Sullivan arrested for Obstruction of Justice by asking her to tamper with evidence, he's led FBI Agent Renee Walker astray with his arguments and now she's been suspended from duty.

It's not until he comes face to face with the U.S. Senator (Kurtwood Smith) whose been trying to restore the rule of law, revise the War Crimes Act and send Bauer to PRISON that he finally begins to see - just a glimmer - of how far wrong he may have gone off track. (Scene begins after the third break, 29 minutes into the episode)

Mayer: At the hearing this morning you said you had "no regrets" about what you've done, but what I saw was a man full of regret.

Bauer: Of course I have regrets Senator. I regret losing my famlly. My wife was murdered because I was responsible for protecting David Palmer during an assasination attempt. (Actually she was murdered as blowback from a busted black-ops attack led by Bauer in Bosnia) My daughter can't even look at me (Which might have a bit to do with Jack cutting off her boyfriends right ARM!) Everyday I look in the eyes of men, women and children knowing that at any moment their lives might be deemed "expendable" in an effort to protect the greater good. I regret every decision and mistake I might have made that resulted in the loss (of innocent life). You know what I regret the most? It's that this world even needs someone like me (IT DOESN'T!)

Mayer: So you think I'm naive to believe we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard of conduct?

Bauer: It doesn't even matter what I think, you just need to understand that things get a lot messier where I work than where you work on the hill.

Mayer: What you've lost Mr. Bauer is tragic, what you've been compelled to do in the name of saving innocent life is tragic. Sometimes we need to incur the most horrible losses in order to uphold the ideals that this country is founded on - how can we presume to lead the world unless we set an example?

Bauer: You make it sound so simple.

Mayer: Maybe it's simpler than you think, maybe all the things you've seen and all the things you've done have clouded your vision.

THAT RIGHT THERE is exactly the point. It's just what Bauer has failed to understand all this time. Let me again point out that it was a failed (illegal) black-bag opperation to assasinate Slobadon Milosevic's right-hand man (Victor Drazen) that instigated personal retaliation against David Palmer (who authorized the mission) as well as Bauer (who led it) and his family. Even on "24", from the beginning our extreme measures have been a catalyst for the extreme measures of others, and Bauer has been blind to it this entire time.

Just as Real Life Interrogators such as Matthew Alexander have explained our using criminal methods in Iraq have Caused Greater U.S. Casualties. Causing people unneccesarily suffer and die, even in order to save other people - is NEVER justified. Committing a crime to stop crime still means - there was a CRIME! Yes, it is simple - but that doens't mean it's EASY! The right thing is often the HARD thing do.

After finding the evidence he's looking for and discussing the specifics of what Jon Voight's company is probably up to - Mayer and Bauer again begin to discuss the future possibilities. (Section 3 - 34 Minutes into episode)

Mayer: You're obviously on to something, maybe I can help you find the evidence you need to prove your case.

Bauer: Starkwood infiltrated the White house. They'll come after you.

Mayer: We'll keep the circle small, it's time you started trusting the institutions that you've sacrifice so much to protect.

Bauer: Trust isn't my greatest asset.

Mayer: Son, you have to start somewhere.


Unfortunately immediately after this scene Mayer takes three bullets to the chest, and Bauer is on the run again - but before he's gone Mayer clearly makes the point that what Bauer is doing, and he's been doing - ISN'T NECCESARY. And frankly if it's acceptable to let people suffer and die, then maybe it's better to allow that to happen on the basis of some kind of PRINCIPLE.

Let's just suppose for second that Cheney is right, maybe we will be hit again if Obama stops the various extreme interrogation and illegal wiretap programs - I SERIOUSLY DOUBT IT - but let's take that point. As the President's daughter (who'se played by an actress who had a regular role in the Post-Apocalypic CBS Show "Jericho" where yet again a Blackwater-like private army and corrupt corporation use WMD to take over the U.S.) argues in another part of the episode, those people who we may lose - while standing firmly behind our ideals - would be THE REAL HEROES - not someone like Bauer who is little different than the people he's fighting against.

It's well past time we started demanding that America truly live up to it's values - fulfill the promise of American potential - and stop under any and all circumstances accepting the kinds of sadistic rationizations coming from either Cheney or Bauer.

They're time is done.

Now, I actually doubt the show will begin to change direction, even though the producers promised Human Rights First that it would. This is probably just a momentary aberration from their ongoing campaign of sadism - but it does offer, for once, a credible opposing arguement directly to those - like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh - who've been swallowing Jack's drivel for so many years. There IS another way besides deliberate brutality, really and truly there is.


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