Clarence Page, the man himself, says what needs saying: America needs to remember that 24, the Fox TV show, is only compelling because it creates impossible situations that demand hard choices. Those situations, however, exist only in TV Land. It's pretty easy for a writer to write a ticking time-bomb. It's tougher to actually find one.Now, don't get me wrong. I love 24 like a family member. Kiefer Sutherland is the only man that scares Chuck Norris, and Chuck Norris is physically incapable of experiencing fear. But it's so good only because it's the equivalent of the modern, highly successful yet terribly formulaic prime time police drama. Police work is super boring; but when you throw in an Andy Sipowitz, a little bit of the third degree and hints of true crime, you get a marketable franchise. Same with 24. Actual intelligence work is quite dreary. It, like modern warfare, generally succeeds or fails based on logistics, not operations.I've heard actual cops say that the most accurate depiction of present-day police work is The Wire on HBO (which is also beloved like a family member). The reason, however, is that it really does get down into the nitty gritty of how you go about getting a warrant or a pen register or a Title III tap. Moreover, it also shows (and dramatizes) the wages of abusive policing, as well as the often moral opacity of the American criminal justice system. In short, it's nuanced.But, for "tough on terror" candidates, you need something quick and dirty---and Jack Bauer is nothing if not quick and dirty. As Mr. Page so eloquently says, however, it's just a show guys, it's just a show.From his column:

Here's a real-life scenario that the presidential candidates should hear about: Last November, Army Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan, dean of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, flew to Southern California to meet with the creative team behind "24."Accompanied by three military and FBI interrogators, he described how the show actually was undermining the academy's classroom lessons with the false message that torture is a jim-dandy idea in the real world.As investigative journalist Jane Mayer reported in the New Yorker in February, the meeting discussed how the show's ticking-time-bomb scenario makes a thrilling hour on TV but is virtually unknown in real life.And it would be a big help, the dean told the Hollywood folks, if "24" at least would sometimes show how torture produces false information and actually damages counter-terrorism efforts.Entertainment Weekly reported that the show's top producer, Joel Surnow, has decided to shy away from torture, not because it is an immoral or impractical technique but because it has been overused as a device in his show. That's showbiz.
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What the “ticking time bomb” folks don’t seem to understand is that a fictional work is able to set up an epistemological scenario that has no parallel in real life. When you watch “24,” you epistemologically experience the narrative through (i) a vicarious self embodied in the Jack Bauer character and (ii) a detached self that sees scenes that Jack Bauer cannot see. The detached self knows certain facts that the Jack Bauer self does not know. A tension is created in your mind between the knowledge-states of those two selves, and this tension is the “ticking time bomb” scenario.

In real life the problem is that you typically don’t know what you don’t know, so there is no such tension. [Indeed, if the Bush administration were a Wagnerian opera, “how can we do meaningful review when you don’t know what you don’t know?” would probably be the leitmotiv.] If torture is permitted in the hypothetical “ticking time bomb” scenario, then one starts to perceive every terrorism investigation as a ticking time bomb. Indeed, the entire “war on terrorism” can be framed as a giant ticking time bomb scenario … and in a sense that’s the only scale at which one can be readily know that there is a ticking time bomb. Thus, the more relevant question isn’t whether torture should be used in the “ticking time bomb” scenario that is usually hypothesized as a thought experiment, but whether it should be used as a routine matter in terrorism investigation.

I think this question must consider whether using torture as a routine matter is consistent with American ethical norms and whether torture has a proven record of effectiveness in interrogation. On both grounds, the answer seems to be ‘no.’


Thank you for working to provide the victims at Guantanamo their day in court. Even the MSM reported though only once or twice that none of these victims were caught on the battlefield but were sold for bounty, up to $10,000.

So many have been found innocent after being tortured. I think that Guantanamo Bay is an MK-ULTRA type of human experimentation as a US mayor said when she visited and is also a psyop on the world and the American people - one of the lawyers for the 4 British victims of Guantanamo that were released said that she thought bushco was using Guantanamo Bay as a test to see if the world would allow a torture camp without any law and unfortuanately it appeared the world would allow it.

This woman and her group worked very hard with no help from tony blair to get these 4 innocent british citizens released and her efforts along with Amnesty and ACLU give me hope that we can end this atrocity and disgrace.

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