Jack Bauer, the Patron Saint of the
By pointing out to his protege FBI Agent Walker that...
"You took an oath, you made a promise to uphold the law. You cross that line it always starts out with a small step, before you know it you're running as fast as you can in the wrong direction just to justify why you started in the first place.These laws were written by much smarter men than me, and in the end I know that these laws have to be more important than the 15 people on the bus... I know this. In my mind I know that's right, I just don't think my heart could ever have lived with that."
This is an argument that should be thrown in the face of people like Liz Cheney and her dear ole' dad. Once you cross the line of the law, you spend all your time trying to justify that action - running at full speed in the wrong direction.
In Episode 1 Bauer had a completely different view as he was grilled by Senator Mayer:
BAUER: When I am activated, when I am brought into a situation, there is a reason and that reason is to complete the objectives of my mission at all costs. [...]
For a combat soldier the difference between success and failure is your ability to adapt to your enemy. The people that I deal with, they don’t care about your rules. ... In answer to your question, am I above the law? No, sir. I am more than willing to be judged by the people you claim to represent. I will let them decide what price I should pay. Now please do not sit there with that smug look on your face and expect me to regret the decisions that I have made because, sir, the truth is I don’t.
In this confrontation Bauer came off defiant and strongly challenged whether the law mattered when lives where at stake. His little speech was met with Cheers and Praise on Fox News.
I wonder what they'd think of his latest statements on the subject?
All during this Season the issue of Torture has been not simply shown, but repeatedly challenged particularly by FBI Agent Larry Moss and by Senate Mayer. The reason for this change in tone might be the departure of series creator Joel Surnow who is an admit right-wing "nut" - or it might have to do with a promise made by the Producers to the Commandant of West Point to "Tone Down the Torture". Either way, there has been a difference as Jack's practices have faced some rather stiff push-back.
At one point Mayer and the President Discussed Torture:
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 elieve 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.
This is exactly the point, from all we've seen from the like of Liz Cheney - their arguments show strongly that THEY WILL TORTURE AGAIN. As soon as we have another Right-Wing Leaning President, they will unpack all their torture excuses and be right back in business.
Later Bauer and Mayer argued again face-to-face.
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 - Unwiling and Unable to Look Evil in the Eye and DEAL WITH IT!,
This is the true face of the right wing, they are strong and civil libertarians are weak little cowards, who don't have the stomach to do what must be done and will consequently leave our country vulnerable to attack. It's exactly what you hear over and over again said about Obama's closing of GITMO and banning Water-Boarding. Over and over they say "We NEED these tools" because in their mind nothing else works.
Except that it does.
Even in the midst of "24" the truth that "harsh tactics" aren't the only options slips out... in this sequence Bauer and Chloe track down Tony Almeida using his cell phone - something I strongly argued could have and should have been done previously to locate Col Dubaku, instead of threatening to kill the innocent wife and child of a rogue Secret Service Agent. They manage to capture Almieda using smarts not braun, and even after they capture him while Jack is trying to beat the information out of him - Janeane Garofalo's character figures out exactly what they need to know faster than Jack can get answers from Tony, even showing up Chloe O'Brien in the process.
Even in there own show - Torture doesn't always work, and if it doesn't work while good LEGAL police work do - there's simply NO EXCUSES left for it.
As has been documented by Human Rights First, the constant inaccurate information that has come from many shows for decades - not just "24" - the kind of "uber macho" view we often see repeated by clueless politicians has had a direct effect on the actions of our soldiers in the field, and not a good one.
In their final talk, Bauer and Mayer ultimate had a meeting of the minds...
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.
It's probably this conversation that helps lead to Bauer final conversation with Walker - but in the end Bauer's words to Walker have the opposite effect from deterence and she goes on to commit another act of Torture at the end of the episode while Bauer lays in a Coma - "For the Greater Good".
Even though anything she learns would be inadmissible in any court and her actions would guarantee an acquittal for the victim just like a recent Gitmo detainee had all charges dropped because the Judge determined - he was *Tortured*!
Although this may seem to be a "selfless" act, just as many of Bauer's - it's also pointless and fruitless.
This is the FBI Agent - Agent Hubbard from "The Seige", one for more like Ali Soufan who faced this exact scenario in regards to the treatment of Abu Zubaydah.
This is the argument we see going on constantly in our nation, between the President and the former Vice President, between pundits and talk show hosts.
This is a fight we simply CAN NOT AFFORD not to finally get right.