Tuesday, March 3

Jack Bauer vs Pat Leahy - To the Pain!

Tomorrow, the Senate is scheduled to begin it's investigation into the illegal activities and War Crimes of the Bush Administration. Last Night, the right wings biggest bestest hero - Jack Bauer - made his case against a Civil Rights defending, War Crimes prosecuting Senator (Not Actually Leahy, but close enough).

24 - 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

As per usual a terrorist attack is imminent, only One Person knows the key to stopping that attack and only Jack Bauer has the GUTS to get the information and save Americans.

Yeah, right.

Before any of you "24" defenders get on my case and say "Oh, it's just a television show"... let me just remind you of what one of Fox's own excutives say about it and the influence of the shows Right-Wing Co-Creater Joel Surnow. *Via the New Yorker)

Yet David Nevins, the former Fox Television network official who, in 2000, bought the pilot on the spot after hearing a pitch from Surnow and Cochran, and who maintains an executive role in "24," is candid about the show’s core message. "There’s definitely a political attitude of the show, which is that extreme measures are sometimes necessary for the greater good," he says. "The show doesn’t have much patience for the niceties of civil liberties or due process. It’s clearly coming from somewhere. Joel’s politics suffuse the whole show."

The entire point of this show - from DAY ONE - has been to push forward a Right-Wing Agenda under the guise of just "Entertainment".

Yeah, like Rush Limbaugh is just an "Entertainer" too - eh, Michael?

Secondly I'm not an advocate of censorship in any form. I'm an advocate of awareness - "24" is making an argument for the continued existence of a set of policies and practices that America simply CAN'T AFFORD.

I'm making the opposite argument. We need to find Another Way.

If you've followed this season - or any of my posts on this
subject - this episode and the next (which was also broadcast last night) takes Jack right into the White House to confront and torture a suspect, who happens to be the Chief of Staff of a crusading anti-torture Senator. (Note the Irony: The Same guy whose been running the campaign to stop Bauer's tactics - is himself a terrorist. Lesson: Only the bad guys want to stop Jack Bauer - or the Weak.).

In order to keep Burnett from being arrested and asking for a Lawyer - OH HEAVEN FORFEND THE LAWYERS - Jack conspires to have Chloe tamper with evidence and delete his name from a list of suspects. (That's Obstruction of Justice, Tampering With Evidence and Conspiracy - for starters and Jack's just getting warmed up!)

Once he finds his target, Jack uses a simple taser to implement his torture. (Note: Amnesty International has a specific focus on Taser Abuse and an estimated 150 deaths they have caused in the U.S.)

Starting in section 3 - (at 21:48) Senator Mayer debates the President on the subject of Bauer.

Mayer: Let me just remind you that you Madame President, that you supported the effort to ban the use of torture. You campaigned on the promise to reform the intellegence agencies.

President Taylor: These past ten hours Senator, things haven't appeared as "Black and White" as they might appear.

The message here is clear - just as it was stated by Dick Cheney to Rush Limbaugh, once you see for youself your tone will change.

“My guess is once they get here, and they’re faced with some of the same things we are faced with every day, that they will appreciate some of the things we put in place,” the vice president told radio host Rush Limbaugh on his program Monday.

“We did not exceed our Constitutional authority, as some have suggested. But the president believes, and I believe, very deeply in a strong executive [branch].”

Cheney added, “I think the Obama administration is not likely to cede that authority back to the Congress. I think they’ll find that due to the challenges they face, they’ll need all the authority they can muster.”

The "24" Torture Debate Leahy Stand-in Mayer vs Obama/Clinton Stand-in Taylor continued.

Mayer: Well, there's nothing "Grey" about Jack Bauer. The man has committed atrocities. Prisoners have died in is custody.

Taylor: Mr. Bauer has served under Three Presidents, not just me.

Mayer: Is it any less repugnant if it's authorized at the highest level? The State of War is not a Blank Check for the President or for anyone.

Taylor: OH, Don't Lecture me Senator. I am well aware of the limits of my power.

Mayer: Due respect, Madam President. Your power is great, just be careful that you use it to send the right message.

Taylor: All I'm asking you do is excuse Mr. Bauer as a witness. It's not a message, it's an expression of gratitude for what's he's done today.

Mayer: You're asking me to excuse him as a target of the investigation. And the message is clear: under certain cirmcumstances you believe his methods are acceptable.

Taylor: Some would argue that they are.

Mayer: And they would be WRONG! Under any circumstances, military or moral standard. America has been down this road before Madame President. You yourself called it a "national tragedy".

Taylor: It was a tragedy, I still believe that.

Mayer: Pardon Jack Bauer and you're telling every interogattor in the field that it's "Open Season" again.

In the following scene Bauer's interrogation of Burnett takes place. He almost talks, but just as he's about the give up the crucial piece of information - the target - he's interrupted by the President and Senator Mayer. He even defies a Direct Order by the President to Stand Down.

Eventually Bauer and Mayer go head-to-head.

Mayer: You're done Bauer, your finished.

Bauer: He was talking, whatever is going to happen is happening now it's on your conscience.

Mayer: My conscience has a lot less to answer for than yours.


Mayer: Madame President I don't care if his source is the blessed virgin Mary nothing justifies what went on in this room.

Taylor: But what if he's right? What if it means we could save lives?

Mayer: Look at that (points to the bloody and battered Burnett) and tell me it's not barbarism? Is that something you can live with?

Bauer: Earlier today two airplanes were brought down - is THAT something you can live with?

Mayer: You're reprehensible Bauer.

Bauer: AND YOU SIR ARE WEAK - Unwilling and Unable to Look Evil in the Eye and DEAL WITH IT!

So this round goes to Bauer, not to Mayer - who is actually correct both legally and morally. But more importantly the arguement that Bauer presents - the one that has been embraced by so many in the Right-Wing - is flat-out-wrong. If you face evil with evil - you've simply created MORE EVIL.

More importantly Jack's arguement - which is long been reflected in the comments of Cheney and even Senator Cornyn (R-Texas) really ARE likely to impact or real life fighting forces and military students at West Point. They already have.

Gary Solis, a retired law professor who designed and taught the Law of War for Commanders curriculum at West Point, told me that he had similar arguments with his students. He said that, under both U.S. and international law, "Jack Bauer is a criminal. In real life, he would be prosecuted." Yet the motto of many of his students was identical to Jack Bauer’s: "Whatever it takes." His students were particularly impressed by a scene in which Bauer barges into a room where a stubborn suspect is being held, shoots him in one leg, and threatens to shoot the other if he doesn’t talk. In less than ten seconds, the suspect reveals that his associates plan to assassinate the Secretary of Defense. Solis told me, "I tried to impress on them that this technique would open the wrong doors, but it was like trying to stomp out an anthill."

This isn't hypothetical - this is REAL. Our new soldiers are Arguing with their instructors on what is and isn't legal - and their source is JACK BAUER.

But the trust is not just that torture is immoral and wrong as Mayer states - it's DOESN'T WORK. The CIA's own Kubark Interrogation Manuals (Which the "24" staff claims to have been using for the last 7 years) actually says this when it comes to using coercive interrogation.

Interrogates who are withholding but feel qualms of guilt and a secret desire to yeild are likely to become intractable if made to endure pain. The reason is that they can interpret the pain as punishment and hence expiation.

Intense pain is likely to produce false confessions, concocted as a means of escaping distress. A time-consuming delay results, while an investigation is conducted and the admissions are proven untrue.

The CIA's own documentation has stated for nearly 30 years that TORTURE DOESN'T WORK AND PRODUCES FALSE INFORMATION - it generates false confessions and wastes valuable time while you verify that information. These techniques employed by the Bush Administariton gave us the false information that Saddam Hussein was aligned with and supply Al Qeada with chemical weapons training (He wasn't), and that he created an amazing set of mobile chemical weapons labs (He Hadn't) and that he still had an active Nuclear Weapons program (He Didn't!)

And the people on "24" know this - they've been told by various experienced interrgators who stated the following to them two years ago.

At the meeting, Cochran demanded to know what the interrogators would do if they faced the imminent threat of a nuclear blast in New York City, and had custody of a suspect who knew how to stop it. One interrogator said that he would apply physical coercion only if he received a personal directive from the President. But Navarro, who estimates that he has conducted some twelve thousand interrogations, replied that torture was not an effective response. "These are very determined people, and they won’t turn just because you pull a fingernail out," he told me. And Finnegan argued that torturing fanatical Islamist terrorists is particularly pointless. "They almost welcome torture," he said. "They expect it. They want to be martyred." A ticking time bomb, he pointed out, would make a suspect only more unwilling to talk. "They know if they can simply hold out several hours, all the more glory—the ticking time bomb will go off!"

In the ticking-time-bomb scenario - time is on the side of the bad guys, all they have to do is stall - or LIE - and they win.

It also should be noted that while Jack is violating multiple federal and international laws doing things "his way" - his estwhile partner FBI Agent Renee Walker is cracking the plot to attack the White House all by herself using nothing more that GOOD DETECTIVE WORK. Maybe there's hope yet - but I still doubt it since Renee still fails. Jack never fails - so Jack must be right and anyone who suggests all the things he's done so far REALLY WERE'NT neccesary are obviously wrong.

In this Panel from "24" at ComicCon excutive producer David Fury specifically talks about the subject of torture on the show. (At 2:58 in this video)

24 - 24 Inside - Episode 3, Part 3

Fury: We bring attention to the subject of torture in a way we've never done before. Where Jack is going to have to deal with efforts emotionally and psychologically in a way that he hasn't before. The fact is we deal with torture and the consequence of it makes it worthwile drama. We're not endorsing torture - but we're exploring it


Anytime you create justifications for a War Crime - You ARE Endorsing it, particularly when you fail to do what Fury claims - address the consequences of your actions. They won't.

Facing the consequences of his actions would send Jack Bauer to the Gas Chamber under the War Crimes Act (18 USC 2441) That's not gonna happen, period.

In the episode following this one the White House is attacked, it's staff, including Senator Mayer, the President and her daughter are taken hostage. NOW THEY GET A FRONT ROW SEAT OF JACK BAUER's Methods.

And naturally Jack will save the day - and get his pardon - and all the rest of the interrogators (and many of our soldiers who are HUGE fans of "24") will certainly get the wrong message (one that I promise you will resonate far more strongly than upcoming Leahy Senate Hearings) - yet again.

Torture Works, you just have to be Strong Enough to do "what's neccesary".

Lord Help us.