Sunday, December 16, 2007

Are Americans "Better Than That"?

This is an article I read from Consortium News on the torture scandal that's been hitting the news. I haven't really commented on it because to be honest, I have mixed feelings on the issue. As much as I abhor the torturing of others, I do believe that there can be, and probably have been, situations in which it was necessary. And this guy who wrote the article, brought up "24" and Jack Bauer. Of course, this became of interest to me, because I'm such a big fan of "24". The writer brings it up in a totally disrespectful way, without having seen the show. He says that there is at least one torture scene an episode, which is really fucking ridiculous. I can probably count on one hand the number of times Jack has tortured someone in the history of the show. But to the layman who's never seen the show, because there have been a few moments of torture in the show, the whole show must be about Jack Bauer plying out someone's fingernails, or waterboarding a Middle Eastern man.

The author, Ray McGovern, also refers to our policy of torturing terrorist suspects as a "Jack Bauer culture". When I read that, I thought of Orwell's quote, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." It's easy for all of us to play armchair quarterback and second-guess the actions that these men (and women) decide to take. But can it be a necessary act? If someone in custody knows of, say, an imminent attack (or heaven forbid, something having to do with nuclear weapons), IMO, torture would be a last resort, but still on the table. If living in a Jack Bauer culture is wrong, I don't think I'd want to be right.

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