Sunday, April 20, 2008

What Would Jack Bauer Do?

via Andrew Sullivan, Phillip Sands reveals from his new book "Torture Team" :

· Senior Bush administration figures pushed through previously outlawed measures with the aid of inexperienced military officials at Guantánamo.

· Myers believes he was a victim of "intrigue" by top lawyers at the department of justice, the office of vice-president Dick Cheney, and at Donald Rumsfeld's defence department.

· The Guantánamo lawyers charged with devising interrogation techniques were inspired by the exploits of Jack Bauer in the American TV series 24.

· Myers wrongly believed interrogation techniques had been taken from the army's field manual.

Emphasis mine. I have always joked that Republicans were watching too much "24" when they came up with a lot of this disgusting nonsense... but I don't think I ever imagined that it was actually true. Some Ivy League lawyers decided to trash our international reputation and sacrifice our values because they saw it on Tee Vee?! Awesome. I guess it's better to laugh about how ridiculous that is than to cry about it.

UPDATE: Here is a direct link to the Sand's article that talks about how a fictional character created by a right wing activist became a source of ideas for torture techniques at Gitmo.
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."

It was only when I got home that I realised she was referring to the main character in Fox's hugely popular TV series, 24. Bauer is a fictitious member of the Counter Terrorism Unit in LA who helped to prevent many terror attacks on the US; for him, torture and even killing are justifiable means to achieve the desired result. Just about every episode had a torture scene in which aggressive techniques of interrogations were used to obtain information.

Jack Bauer had many friends at Guantánamo Bay, Beaver said, "he gave people lots of ideas." She believed the series contributed to an environment in which those at Guantánamo were encouraged to see themselves as being on the frontline - and to go further than they otherwise might.

Under Beaver's guidance, a list of ideas slowly emerged. Potential techniques included taking the detainees out of their usual environment, so they didn't know where they were or where they were going; the use of hoods and goggles; the use of sexual tension, which was "culturally taboo, disrespectful, humiliating and potentially unexpected"; creating psychological drama. Beaver recalled that smothering was thought to be particularly effective, and that Dunlavey, who'd been in Vietnam, was in favour because he knew it worked.

The younger men would get particularly agitated, excited even: "You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas." A wan smile crossed Beaver's face. "And I said to myself, you know what, I don't have a dick to get hard. I can stay detached."

Lovely.