The following is a quote from the television series “24”.
I see fifteen people held hostage on a bus, and everything else goes out the window. I will do whatever it takes to save them, and I mean whatever it takes. … Laws were written by much smarter men than me. And in the end, these laws have to be more important than the 15 people on the bus. I know that’s right. In my mind, I know that’s right. I just don’t think my heart could ever have lived with it.
Fox has announced that this will be the last season for their hit television show “24”, which had the fictional character Jack Bauer fighting fictional terrorist attacks being perpetrated in the USA! I was kind of a late comer to the television show. I did not have access to the Fox channel for most of the early seasons, so I had to catch “24” on replay when it was broadcast on satellite channels. Some of those seasons I missed part or all of the episodes. It was an easy series to like that happened on the scene at a time period where the USA had been attacked by real terrorists. The right show at the right time to captivate an audience. Besides what was a ground breaking format for story telling, a crucial part of what made the show interesting, was the Bauer character’s willingness to do whatever information extraction methods “he felt” necessary, to prevent disaster. There will be a movie spin-off but I will miss tuning into the weekly series.
The last few years -in real life- the US populace has been split on the value of harsh intelligence agency interrogation techniques. In the fictional television series “24”, Jack Bauer has usually pushed the envelope of using harsh techniques to obtain his intelligence information. A trend of the series, was reflecting what was happening in real life US political scenes – in the real life battle between pro and con usage of extreme interrogation methods. There are those that wish to make even harsher restrictions on what the US Intelligence Agencies can or cannot do during interrogation of terrorist suspects. My personal reflections are split on the real life issue. I can understand the moral objections and information value issues that can be argued by both sides of the conflict. But in the end I tend to agree with the Bauer quote I included at the top of this post. I think you have to give Intelligence agencies the ability to do their job when dealing with terrorists. I am a big believer in living life by the rules. But I am also am a believer that when terrorists/adversaries do not play by the current rules then – you change the rule book to level the playing field. We can only hope there are real life Jack Bauers – those willing to take personal and professional risks, by bucking the slow moving US bureaucracy – that real terrorists count on- that tends to hamper the safety of US citizens from terror attacks.