I’ve been asking that question for the past several years, but after catching the last half of the HBO documentary THE GHOSTS OF ABU GIRAD, or however it’s spelled, on the heels of reading ‘WHATEVER IT TAKES,” an article about the TV show 24 in the latest New Yorker, I feel like crying.
In the article, Jane Mayer writes about how the Dean of West Point, along with several other military and ex-military men, including a retired interrogator for the Army, flew to L.A. to meet with the makers of 24 to argue against the ways they depict torturing prisoners because, get this, it’s having a terrible influence on not only cadets at West Point who will be the future officers leading our military, but on the enlisted soldiers in Iraq, who have made DVDs of the show their favorite entertainment.
They cited examples of soldiers in Iraq using some of the techniques they saw on 24 for torturing prisoners, and using the same justification for it that “Jack Bauer” the hero of 24 uses: “Whatever it takes.” (despite the fact that they, like all professional military and police interrogators know, and endless studies substantiate, TORTURE DOESN’T WORK! PEOPLE JUST TELL YOU WHAT THEY THINK YOU WANT TO HEAR OR WHATEVER THEY CAN MAKE UP TO STOP THE TORTURE, unlike on 24 where it seems to always work, especially the more inventively sadistic it is.)
Jack Bauer is a “hero” whose methods would—according to the man who designed and taught the Law of War for Commanders course at West Point—get him “prosecuted” because, “Jack Bauer is a criminal.”
If that’s the case, why aren’t these same military men pushing to have Rumsfield and Cheney and Bush and their henchmen all prosecuted for making this new policy of the U. S. military possible by their suspension of habeus corpus and whatever that “Military Act” is called that Congress passed before the last election giving Bush even more power and prisoners even less recourse to any kind of defense or fair treatment.
It’s not an accident that the methods used on 24 are loved by all the chickenhawks in the White House and the Cabinet and among their advisors who have never been anywhere near a real war. As well as by Rush Limbaugjh et. al.
As I said in a previous post (and despite the facts I’ve known since I was a kid, from family and friends in the service, and from my own service, that some forms of “torture” and criminal treatment of enemy captive or alleged “enemy” captives has been going on since at least Korea) the stated policy and practice of the U. S. Military was created by George Washington in the revolutionary War when instead of treating prisoners his troops captured like the English and Hessians treated some of the captured revolutionaries—torturing and killing them in the most cruel ways—he decided to treat all prisoners of war humanely, as we would want our troops treated if captured.
The HBO special is available on demand, if you haven’t seen it and can get it that way, but it leaves you with an even deeper sadness than you might already have over the ways our government and media and military rewarded the scumbags who created these new sadistic policies while throwing a few low level scapegoats to the public as either over-enthusiastic “Animal House” kind of hi-jinks-loving losers, or “just a few bad apples” as Rummy would have us believe.
Can we get our souls back? Hard to know, considering that the creator and master of 24 didn’t show up for the meeting with the military, he was busy schmoozing with Limbaugh, as he does regularly with the likes of Clarence Thomas and Karl Rove and the rest of the criminals who have brought us so low.
And he had the audacity in the article to pull the same shit the right wing always pulls by claiming it’s really brave of him to be an outright conservative in Hollywood, saying it’s easier for gays to come out of the closet there than it is for conservatives. “Cause Lord knows, there sure are a lot of out of the closet gay Hollywood celebrities, especially among the movies stars and TV stars and et-fucking-cetera, but all the conservatives have is Colin Quinn, Drew carey, Dennis Miller and half the comics in L. A. as well as almost all the producers, a lot of directors and writers, etc. etc.
So, the creator of 24, Joel Surnow, who’s never been in a real war or had to actually torture anyone himself, besides with his obnoxious personality (you have to read the article to see how that’s not opinion, it’s fact) ignores the military experts, who make it clear that they would never want to work with anyone who uses the methods this guy comes up with because that person would be a "psychopath" and therefore not someone they could trust in life and death situations.
But, the military guys didn’t seem to have any impact on the others from the show who did show up for the meeting, just like their counterparts who told the truth to Congressional Committees about how we needed twice as many troops to secure Iraq, or the Pentagon study group that drafted a report before the invasion predicting pretty much everything that happened, etcetera etcetera etcetera.
The Abu Girad thing really gets me, because in MARCH 18, 2003, that long poem I wrote for a reading on the eve of the invasion, I have some lines about exactly the same thing happening in prisons run by the U. S. military in Afghanistan, lines a lot of people when I first read the poem thought I had made up or were “over the top” when they are nothing compared to the reality—some of which is depicted graphically on this HBO special.
It’s enough to make you cry, or puke, or think maybe Jack Bauer is right, “Whatever it takes” to not just get these guys out of office, but to get them to tell the truth about their crimes, and then to suffer the consequences, like so many other people already have.