Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fact v. fiction

Philippe Sands has an article in Vanity Fair concerning the "torture memos" and the responsibility of White House officials for installing the "aggressive" interrogation regime. But there's another aspect, which Sands especially describes in an in interview with Democracy Now!, that I found telling:

PHILIPPE SANDS: I went back. I spoke with others, including Diane Beaver again and Mike Dunlavey, and went into great detail. And it turns out, as she described it to me, the TV program 24 had many friends down at Guantanamo. And the timing is fascinating. The abusive interrogations started in November 2002, just three weeks after the start of the second series of 24. And it seems that there was a direct connection between that program and the creating of an environment in which individuals felt it was permissible to push the envelope, as it was put to me.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did the lawyers say about 24?

PHILIPPE SANDS: Diane Beaver no longer feels able to watch 24. I mean, she told me she recognizes now that this is extremely problematic, but that 24 was being broadcast into Guantanamo by cable television. The first series ran throughout 2002, and they were active viewers. It was an extremely popular program.

Which might not be such a big deal, except that at the debates for the GOP nomination, torture was presented in exactly the terms of a '24' script:
The candidates also were asked to respond to a hypothetical scenario — homicide bombings at three shopping centers near major U.S. cities. With hundreds dead and thousands injured, a fourth attack is averted when the attackers are captured off the Florida coast and taken to Guantanamo Bay to be questioned. U.S. intelligence believes another, larger attack is planned and could come at any time. How aggressively should the detainees be interrogated about the where the next attack might be?
And if you've been holding someone for a month and are just getting frustrated? Uh, we won't consider the more realistic scenario.

So there's Ronald Reagan invoking the spirit of John Wayne, the election of Arnold Schwarzanegger in the hopes that he would be a political Terminator, and the brief infatuation with an actor from 'Law and Order.' What is it about fiction that conservatives just don't grasp?

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