Television

Guantanamo: The DVD

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John Yoo's newly declassified torture memo—download it here—surely paved the path for the abuses at Guantanamo. But it wasn't alone. Vanity Fair reports:

Ideas arose from other sources. The first year of Fox TV's dramatic series 24 came to a conclusion in spring 2002, and the second year of the series began that fall. An inescapable message of the program is that torture works. "We saw it on cable," [Lt. Col. Diane] Beaver recalled. "People had already seen the first series. It was hugely popular." Jack Bauer had many friends at Guantánamo, Beaver added. "He gave people lots of ideas."

The rest of the Vanity Fair feature isn't so funny. Read it here.

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  1. You gotta be kidding me!

    Seriously, not funny. April Fool’s was two days ago.

  2. Isn’t that interesting.

    I’ve seen speculation that al Qaeda got some of their ideas for spectacular attacks from Hollywood.

    Before a thing can be real, it must first be imagin’d.

  3. …[Lt. Col. Diane] Beaver…

    ..

    Wait a minute which is the fiction here.

    With a name like that I’m seeing the female lead in a whacky comedy with many zany hijinks and especially sophmoric sexual innuendo…and at least a little tease of nudity. Perhaps Leslie Nielson playing the commanding general.

  4. Waterboarding isn’t torture, its like jumping into a pool on a hot summers day.

    Throwing people naked onto a cell floor when its 28 degrees isn’t torture, its juts like standing outside waiting for the bus when its a bit chilly!

  5. Lt. Col. Beaver is a pretty funny name. Sounds like the tough as nails lesbian base commander from the late night Cinemax soft-core spoof Privates Benjamin.

  6. Damn you, Isaac.

  7. There’s no such thing as torture. And even if there was, we wouldn’t do it. And if we did, we’d only do it humanely. For a good reason. Because we can hear the time bomb ticking!

  8. David

    I only thought of mine because I watched 2001: A Space Travesty a couple of nights ago. I realized Nielson has made the same damn flick over and over again since Police Squad and could still make me laugh my ass off at the same cheap gags.

    I got a laugh out of your comment too.

  9. I like that “I blame the media” just isn’t an excuse for kids anymore. Way to really own up to your decisions, guys.

  10. Man, where’s TallDave to kick around when you need him?

  11. How can any enlisted man take orders from a Light Colonel whose name is Diane Beaver?

    I mean come on, there you are, standing at attention while she’s giving you orders and you glance at the little name tag pinned on her uniform right above her left breast and it says

    BEAVER

    Then you fall on the ground LOL and she screams: down and give me twenty, Corporal.

    But you can’t give her anything because now your gasping for breath and holding your aching sides.

    And now you’re also a PFC.

  12. Then you fall on the ground LOL and she screams: down and give me twenty, Corporal.

    “But, I only have eight, Colonel!”

  13. Are we really blaming 24 for torture? Are we going to blame Grand Theft Auto for crime, too?

    This is so-con talk. Next we’ll have hearings on how these things need to be censored.

  14. Having dealt with people who were later at Abu Garib and had been at Bagram, I think there is some truth to this. The problem with endorsing torture as official policy is that everyone thinks their guy is the most important detainee in the world. The whole ticking time bomb argument is stupid. If we ever have the ticking time bomb, of course you torture the guy and no one is going to care. So that is not the problem. The problem is what do you do with the guy who may or may not be an innocent cab driver and may or may not know something. If you endorse torture as official policy, you go from torturing because there is a time bomb to torturing some innocent cab driver because the guys who picked up the cabbie think they have an important person in the world. All the intel types think they are Jack Bower. That is why they cannot be given the authority to torture. You can never stop it.

    The answer is for people in charge to assume responsibility. Are there some very rare cases where torture is warrented? A few yes. I don’t give a shit if they cut KSM’s balls off and fed them to him. But that is honestly the only case I know of in this entire war where torture was appropriate. KSM was behind 9-11 and we knew he had information that lead to the capture of other very dangerous people. If I were President, I would have personally authorized the torture of KSM and told the world to fuck off if they didn’t like it. But I would never authorize anyone to torture as a matter of policy or without the most extreme circumstances in which I would approve it and take personal responsibility for it. Basically tell the CIA that they are not to torture but if they feel it is necessary come talk to me and we will see.

  15. Oh great, El is here to call me a Nazi for suggesting maybe waterboarding Khalid Sheik Muhammad for a few minutes wasn’t such a bad idea, since everyone involved seems to agree it disrupted plots to kill Americans.

  16. What a bunch of weenies, I read the article (where’s my issue of VF? must be the dam post office). I was expecting authorization to pull fingernails with pliers, genital mutilation, blinding with lye, and breaking fingers with a sledge hammer, one by one.

  17. But, I only have eight, Colonel!

    LOL, ‘cept in my case, it’s that Arrowsmith blues riff, Big Two Inch.

  18. Tall Dave is a Nazi, Tall Dave is a Nazi, nanny, nanny, nanny [dances in a circle while pointing and lol]

    🙂

  19. I was expecting authorization to pull fingernails with pliers, genital mutilation, blinding with lye, and breaking fingers with a sledge hammer, one by one.

    That’s only allowed during House Subcommittee meetings.

  20. Well, I do have a Jewish girlfriend who likes a little S&M. Is that close enough?

  21. Are we really blaming 24 for torture

    I blame that got dam Iraqui Sayid on Lost for the torture shit. He was a bad one. And proved that torture works, dam it. But he was sad that it did and it cost him his love. Down side and up side. A necessary evil.

    So, does art mimic life? Or does life take a cue from art?

    Apparently these people are a couple a bricks shy of a truckload and got all their ideas from TV?

    Good point John.

  22. Dammit, we don’t have time to read Vanity Fair!

  23. I like 24 a lot, but I never thought it should be taken seriously as a source of ideas. Plus, I have to wonder if any of these people blaming 24 actually watched it:

    1) They talk about the first season of 24 as an inspiration for torture, but the first season had almost no torture. The most dramatic torture scene didn’t even work: The villain refused to break, his heart condition acted up, and he died without spilling any info.

    2) The second season did have a lot of torture, but half the time it was either done by the bad guys or it didn’t work.

    3) The whole story of the second season was that corrupt government officials were working with the oil industry to conduct a false-flag attack on US soil and start a war in the Middle East.

    4) That storyline was recycled in the 5th season.

    I’ll never get the conservative hawks who think 24 validates their world view.

  24. “I’ll never get the conservative hawks who think 24 validates their world view.”

    Neither do I. I find it to be Hollywood liberal claptrap. I have never gotten the facination with that show period but I really don’t get how you could read it as some great conservative show. As you correctly point out the, the enemies tend to be the typical Hollywood corporate villians. The same goes for the Borne movies, which are some of the most anti-American movies made in the last 20 years yet are constantly praised by people who should know better.

  25. Actually, John, only some of the villains are corporate. They run the gamut: Serbian warlords, mercenaries, Muslim fanatics, more Muslim fanatics, Chechen separatists, drug lords, some British dude who hates American imperialism, businessmen, intelligence officers, Chinese spies. It’s all over the map. It’s whatever they think will make a neat story.

    The evil President story was actually really good. Forget about the politics for a moment, the acting was just great. And 24 is always at its best when Jack Bauer is alone in the field and all the authorities think he’s following a bad lead.

  26. I wonder if this memo served a source to Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

  27. Why not instead of conducting the interrogations, allow Israel to interrogate terror suspects?

    If Israel’s interrogators violate Israel’s laws, then it is not our problem.

  28. I’ll never get the conservative hawks who think 24 validates their world view.

    Kind of reminds me of the idiots who make patriotic videos to very non-patriotic songs.
    Search YouTube for some examples, such as:

    America, Fuck Yeah!
    Born in the USA

    …that’s all I can think of right now, but I’ll guarantee a search of that Springsteen song will produce 100+ amateur videos of firefighters and veterans and kittens and 9-11.

    The Boss was singing about how much the U.S. sucks from a Union-esque view…

  29. Taktix I thought it was about how much the U.S. government treated Vietnam Vets like dog shit.

  30. Michael, thats called extraordinary rendition and has its own share of problems.

    And when we’ve done that, we give them to the Egyptians or Saudis. The Israelis would be too nice to them.

  31. I mean come on, there you are, standing at attention while she’s giving you orders and you glance at the little name tag pinned on her uniform right above her left breast and it says

    BEAVER

    Do you find something amusing about the name Biggus Dickus, TWC?

  32. There should never, ever, ever be authorization for torture from any official source.

    Now, if the President wants to use a little common sense with his pardon or commutation power AFTER an independent investigation has uncovered the facts of a case, I’m not going to make a blanket statement about that always being wrong.

    Torture is a crime. It is always a crime. It should always be a crime – a very, very serious crime, which should carry very serious consequences. But the President was given the pardon and commutation powers to make up for situations in which the letter of the law doesn’t quite produce a just outcome, given the particular nuances of specific events.

  33. Michael, thats called extraordinary rendition and has its own share of problems.

    Like what?

    Rising fuel prices?

  34. “Taktix I thought it was about how much the U.S. government treated Vietnam Vets like dog shit.”

    It basically paints a vision of America where everyone is out of work and has no future beyond going to war or going to prison. Taktix is right that a lot of people misunderstand it and read it as the wave the flag song. It is not. But art belongs to the public rather than the artist once it is created. The public puts its own meaning to it. People use Every Breath You Take as a first dance song even though it is basically about a stalker. I am sure it drives Springsteen nuts, but the fact is that Born in the USA is a patriotic song. The public made it that way just like Every Breath You Take is now a love song.

  35. “Now, if the President wants to use a little common sense with his pardon or commutation power AFTER an independent investigation has uncovered the facts of a case, I’m not going to make a blanket statement about that always being wrong.”

    That is a good point about the pardon power. But I think that shirks the responsibility down to much. The rare cases like KSM where torture may be justified ought to be determined by the highest level. We should never expect someone in the field to make the decision and hope the people at the top back him up. If the President thinks this or that situation justified torture, he ought to say so and take the responsibility for it. That is why he gets the big bucks.

  36. We should never expect someone in the field to make the decision and hope the people at the top back him up.

    I think that’s exactly what we should do. Before a guy reaches for the…instruments, he should tremble with fear of going to prison for the rest of his natural life, and know he is taking that chance if he goes through with it.

    You’d better be pretty freaking sure there really is a ticking bomb, and you really do have the right guy…or, dude, you’re gettin’ a cell.

  37. LOL, ‘cept in my case, it’s that Arrowsmith blues riff, Big Two Inch.

    Well I figured like all guys he’s exageratingoh hell…lying.

  38. And before we start filming we’ve got to do something about that name. I mean, what the hell kinda name is Diane?

    It needs to be Mandy or Bambi…or…Muffy…or

    Hey, come on people help me out here. What am I payin’ all you freakin’ geniuses for?

  39. I agree with TallDave. I’m also baffled, given what I remember from SEASON ONE of “24,” how anyone came away from that season with the ‘torture works’ meme other than as a post hoc rationalization.

    Who did Jack even torture that season? Just that one fake business guy in the car (around 10 a.m.), no? Who am I forgetting?

  40. Beaver was the Lt. Col’s married name.

    Her maiden name is Eatner.

  41. “I’m also baffled, given what I remember from SEASON ONE of “24,” how anyone came away from that season with the ‘torture works’ meme other than as a post hoc rationalization.”

    Makes sense to me.

    Torture works.

    Torture is moral when used on terrorists; doing evil things to an evil person is righteous.

    The details of the use of torture in ’24’ aren’t important. What matters is that the show is the most positive depiction of torture popular today, even if it’s more nuanced and liberal than reality, and so people grasp for it as a lifeline in a sea of morally relativistic Hollywood sludge. If conservatives weren’t so outnumbered and outgunned with regard to popular culture, maybe we’d have a better, more realistic depiction of the positive uses of torture, like the scene with the VC spy in “The Green Berets”. As it is, our soldiers have to take what they can get, and I’m glad they have Jack Bauer as a role model instead of Seymour Krelborn.

  42. “””The answer is for people in charge to assume responsibility. “””

    They get promoted, isn’t that good enough!!

    You know that’s not going to happen. Bush has his boys back and the military prefers to punish the lesser ranks.

  43. This life imitates art which imitates life is not surprising at all.

    Many DI’s currently use the exact same lines during training (on purpose, without irony) as those used in Full Metal Jacket and Officer & a Gentleman.

  44. Full Metal Jacket was a dead-on accurate portrayal of basic training in the good old USMC except for one thing. Nobody could have ever smuggled a live round off the firing range.

    Seeing that movie was like having De Ja Vu all over again, I kid you not. That one wasn’t anything except art photocopying reality. Shit howdy.

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