My wife and I watch 24 because it’s a decent action/suspense show. This season, however, we’ve noticed that they sure seem to torture a lot of people on the show. And I’m not talking about the bad guys. It’s the good people of CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) who do the torturing, because the bad guys have all the information.
So far they’ve tortured the Secretary of Defense’s estranged son (innocent) [Update: not quite], several terrorists (they knew a lot), a mercenary (who knew a thing or two), a CTU employee (innocent), and Jack Bauer’s girlfriend’s husband (innocent). It’s all a bit disturbing.
An ACLU-type lawyer shows up at CTU headquarters (he’s been tipped off by a Marwan minion) with a court order forbidding torture of the suspect. Jack Bauer concocts a plan and gets the man released. When the lawyer leaves, Bauer grabs the suspect outside CTU and tortures him until he discloses the location of Marwan.
Bauer leads a team and is about to arrest Marwan and save the country from a nuclear attack when the acting president orders the Secret Service to arrest Bauer for violating his and the court’s order prohibiting torture. Marwan escapes, and the gripping drama continues.
This was one of the dumbest sequences all season. They’ve been torturing people left and right for relatively unimportant reasons all season and when they’re finally faced with a situation where they literally have to torture someone who knows about nuclear terrorism, the President balks. It’s not the same President as earlier in the season (long story), but somebody should have told him that this wouldn’t even be the first person they’ve tortured today.
But I digress. Cal Thomas explains where this fits in:
All of this is relevant to real life and the scarier drama that is being played out by the United States Army, which last week announced it is preparing to issue a new interrogations manual that specifically bars the use of “harsh” techniques of the type used at Abu Ghraib prison.
Thomas goes on to explain the limits the manual sets on interrogations and gets to:
If the Army nabs a person it suspects of knowing the location of a nuclear bomb that is about to wipe out an American city, would the interrogators and their military and civilian superiors refuse to use torture to squeeze the information out of the captive?
That was precisely the scenario on “24.” Agent Jack Bauer rightly chose the greater good – saving millions of lives – over the niceties imposed by those whose manual seems inspired by “The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette.”
So many of those who want us to torture prisoners for information eventually bring up this scenario—”What if there’s a hidden nuclear bomb and…” —as if it was a big flaw in the whole “torture is bad” position. All they’ve done is proven that there are some hard choices and maybe that the no-torture position isn’t an absolute. My response is that if, God forbid, some terrorists have a nuclear bomb and are threatening to kill millions of innocent people then yes, you can go ahead and torture them if it will help save all those people.
Now that I’ve admitted there are extreme conditions where torture might be permissible, let me ask Cal Thomas a question: There have been several serious incidents of torture at Abu Ghraib. So how many nuclear bombs have we found?
The new Army interrogation manual is about handling real-world prisoners who have information about the locations of ammo dumps, or the latest sacrificial fool to occupy the al-Qa’ida 3rd-in-command position.
Cal Thomas’s article has more problems:
We are dealing with people who have repeatedly demonstrated they have no moral constraints and are willing to perpetrate mass murder while practicing their religiously twisted ideology in pursuit of their objectives.
I’m right there with you, Cal. Go on…
These people are evil to the core.
Amen, brother! Speak the truth!
Are we not paying attention to the beheading videos? The barbarians are at the gate. In fact, they have broken down the gate.
Bring it on home!
This war won’t be won (at least by our side) if we impose on ourselves restrictions that the terrorists do not impose on themselves.
There you go! Cal Thomas wants us to be more like our enemy, the people he’s just finished describing as having no moral constraints and willing to commit mass murders, the people who are evil to the core, the beheaders, and the barbarians.
That’s not a plan for winning a war. That’s a rejection of western civilization.
(Thanks, Hit and Run for the pointer.)