Monday, September 04, 2006


Is it any wonder that 24 comes from the Fox Broadcasting Network. How many times has a scene involved Jack Bauer going. We don’t have time and proceed to electrocute some prisoner to get the vital information out of him of where the bomb is planted and it usually works Jack gets the info. Says the day and then gets fucked over by bureaucrats. The End. But what of torture itself can it be justified.

Many people who are against torture will point to examples of the Guilford Four who were tortured into confessing that they had blown up a pub in Guilford. Not only was the result of the torture that innocent men and women went to prison but also that the guilty got off and probably murdered again. The pressure their was coming from a desire of the British people to have somebody to blame for those attacks. It was a media frenzy someone had to pay, and they need not have been the actual perpetrators. It is clear to most people that torture in that case was totally immoral and unjustified.

But what of the Jack Bauer example where it is a race against time to get the information to save lives. What is human rights vs thousands of lives? Around the time of the terror plot in London. It was stated that the information that stopped the bomb attack may have come from torture carried out in Pakistan. This was greeted by many conservative pundits as proof finally that they were the ones that had the metal to fight the war on terror and that the uber-liberals didn’t have the balls to defend the world from terror and it made sense I mean it works for Jack Bauer.

But a few weeks later it has emerged that maybe it was not Jack Bauer that saved the day maybe even their was no day to save. According to the New York times (hat tip Andrew Sulllivan) the terrorist had not bought plane tickets, did not yet have passports and had no bombs made. Not exactly a Jack Bauer situation. Firstly did they knew what stage they were at? The answer is yes due to the fact that they had camera’s installed in the flat. They were watching them al the time. They knew exactly what they were doing and what stage they were at. They got the tip off from locals in the area.

So where did the torture of a man in Pakistan come into all this? Not entirely sure why but I wager that is caused the British police to act before they were ready. Not sure if they had got all the suspects or not. In the end it seems that they were right in the first place. The terrorist were not about to attack and they may have lost leads on other terrorists.

So what did Jack Bauer style tactics give them?

But what of torture itself is it ever justified. Can it ever provided the information that is needed. That is very debatable. Torture someone and they will tell you what you want to hear. It may not be the truth but you will get what you want. This info will always be highly suspect and never trust worthy. Acting on it as the British may have can actually mess up your operation of real significants.

But to me the most important reason not to commit torture is this. Tony Blair summed up the war on terror for me in this sentence. “this is not a war of civilisations this is a war for civilisation”. And how can we ever win that war when we abandon civilisation and engage in the brutal savagery that the enemy would like to inflict on all of us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great and timely post Simon. How can we defeat evil if we become evil? My answer is that we cannot and that we are big enough to cling to our values in the face of terror and death.

Godwhacker (posting anonymously because of blogger beta issues)