by user Docsplice
Recently West Point Military Academy Dean U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan traveled to a shooting of Fox's "24", known for its incessant depictions of torture as essential to the heroics of its main characters, to ask that the show stop depicting torture as an effective method of dealing with terrorism and being to show the consequences of such methods. From Jane Mayer of the New Yorker:
In fact, Finnegan and the others had come to voice their concern that the show’s central political premise—that the letter of American law must be sacrificed for the country’s security—was having a toxic effect. In their view, the show promoted unethical and illegal behavior and had adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers. “I’d like them to stop,” Finnegan said of the show’s producers. “They should do a show where torture backfires.”
Finnegan told the producers that “24,” by suggesting that the U.S. government perpetrates myriad forms of torture, hurts the country’s image internationally. Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors—cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by “24,” which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, “The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about “24”?’ ” He continued, “The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do.”
Finnegan argues that torture actually contributes to the standing of Islamic terrorists in their own minds, further cementing their image of themselves as patriotic martrys:
Navarro, who estimates that he has conducted some twelve thousand interrogations, replied that torture was not an effective response. “These are very determined people, and they won’t turn just because you pull a fingernail out,” he told me. And Finnegan argued that torturing fanatical Islamist terrorists is particularly pointless. “They almost welcome torture,” he said. “They expect it. They want to be martyred.” A ticking time bomb, he pointed out, would make a suspect only more unwilling to talk. “They know if they can simply hold out several hours, all the more glory—the ticking time bomb will go off!”
The article also notes that torture has been debunked as an effective method of interrogation. Nonetheless, conservative figures continue to argue for the use of torture, often citing "24" as an example.
Torture may satisfy the bigoted bloodlust some people hold against Arabs and Muslims, but it does not make America safer from terrorism. In fact, as General Finnegan has so clearly stated, it makes America less safe, and plays right into the hands of the terrorists people find so frightening and entertaining from the safety of their couches and armchairs.