Monday, July 28, 2008

The Jack Bauer School of Law

A pretty depressing article by Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on how a fictional character was the model for torturing false confessions out of people:
If you're a fan of 24, you'll enjoy The Dark Side. There you will meet Mamdouh Habib, an Australian captured in Pakistan, beaten by American interrogators with what he believed to be an "electric cattle prod," and threatened with rape by dogs. He confessed to all sorts of things that weren't true. He was released after three years without charges. You'll also meet Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer who experienced pretty much the same story, save that the beatings were with electrical cables. Arar was also released without explanation. He's been cleared of any links to terrorism by the Canadian government. Jack Bauer would have known these men were not "ticking time bombs" inside of 10 minutes. Our real-life heroes had to torture them for years before realizing they were innocent.
If we are going to base our national security policies on a TV show, why not Airwolf? That would be much cooler and involve significantly less torture.