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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Even Dramatized Torture is Bad for Morale, Image

From the Independent Online, about the TV show "24" and its regular use of torture as "the patriotic thing to do."

US military tells Jack Bauer: Cut out the torture scenes ... or else! By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
Published: 13 February 2007

In the hugely popular television series 24, federal agent Jack Bauer always gets his man, even if he has to play a little rough. Suffocating, electrocuting or drugging a suspect are all in a day's work. As Bauer - played by the Emmy Award winner Kiefer Sutherland - tells one baddie: "You are going to tell me what I want to know - it's just a matter of how much you want it to hurt."

But while 24 draws millions of viewers, it appears some people are becoming a little squeamish. The US military has appealed to the producers of 24 to tone down the torture scenes because of the impact they are having both on troops in the field and America's reputation abroad. Forget about Abu Ghraib, forget about Guantanamo Bay, forget even that the White House has authorised
interrogation techniques that some classify as torture, that damned Jack Bauer is giving us a bad name.

The United States Military Academy at West Point yesterday confirmed that Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan recently travelled to California to meet producers of the show, broadcast on the Fox channel. He told them that promoting illegal behaviour in the series - apparently hugely popular among the US military - was having a damaging effect on young troops.

According to the New Yorker magazine, Gen Finnegan, who teaches a course on the laws of war, said of the producers: "I'd like them to stop. They should do a show where torture backfires... The kids see it and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about 24'?

"The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do."

According to Human Rights First

The group's David Danzig said: "I think there is no question [it is having an effect]. We have spoken to soldiers with experience in Iraq who say, for young soldiers, there is a direct relationship between what they are doing in their jobs and what they see on TV... It's the same abroad. "The image of the US and its military [being involved in torture] is being affirmed."

Wayne Smith, of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), an international human rights group, said: "Even the FBI has confirmed executive orders authorising the use of hoods and dogs and stress positions. "If [these things] were being done to US troops we would call it
torture."


* Emphases added

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