Sunday, April 20, 2008

Torture and "24"

John Cole has a post up in which he points to a story in The Guardian that claims "24" influenced interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay.

According to the article:

Beaver told me she arrived in Guantánamo in June 2002. In September that year there was a series of brainstorming meetings, some of which were led by Beaver, to gather possible new interrogation techniques. Ideas came from all over the place, she said. Discussion was wide-ranging. Beaver mentioned one source that I didn’t immediately follow up with her: “24 – Jack Bauer.”

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few months about whether "24" has had the effect of normalizing torture, much of it well warranted. However, I think there may have been some serious fact-checking problems with this particular story that suggests "24" was a resource for torture methods in September 2002. As I wrote in a comment to Cole's post:

Hey, did anyone care to look at the date where the phrase "24" was uttered as a source of ideas for torture? September 2002, which was not long after the first season of "24" ended and several months before the start of season 2.It's been a lot of years, and I have since stopped watching the show, but IIRC, torture was not a prominently used tactic in the first season, at least not by the "good guys." At most there was one torture scene perpetrated by the good guys, and I don't think it worked.That's not to justify the constant torture of suspects that occured in later seasons (which ultimately was why I stopped watching). But this story just doesn't seem to add up.

I'll admit, my memory could be wrong since the first season of "24" was now six years ago. So if someone can refresh my memory, I'd be quite satisfied. But this does seem to be a statement that ought to have been fact-checked a bit more thoroughly.

***UPDATE*** Thoreau noticed this problem as well, except he has a better memory than I do.