TCS Daily

Is "24" a Conservative Show?

By Michael Rosen - March 2, 2007 12:00 AM

UNIV. OF CALIF. AT BERKELEY - Here, at the alma mater of Joel Surnow, Executive Producer of "24," one suspects that the natives would register their revulsion if only they knew about the connection between their campus and the hit television program.

Indeed, Berkeley undergrads were recently greeted by the shocking revelation that the largest student group on campus was...wait for it...the College Republicans. (sub req'd)

But perhaps the two developments are somehow related. Joel Surnow is an avowedly conservative guy: he hobnobs with Rush Limbaugh, he waxes tearful when thinking about President Reagan, and sports a bumper sticker that reads "Except for Ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism & Communism, War Has Never Solved Anything." But is "24" itself a conservative show?

According to liberals and the mainstream media, the answer is a decided yes. The New Yorker recently ran a recent lengthy exposé of Surnow and the show in a piece entitled "Whatever It Takes: The politics of the man behind '24.'" Author Jane Mayer argues that the show "depicts the fight against Islamist extremism much as the Bush Administration has defined it: as an all-consuming struggle for America's survival that demands the toughest of tactics."

Mayer lavishes fully 2/3 of her word count on the show's portrayal of torture, which she contends has softened the traditional, wholesome American opposition to the practice. Mayer cites survey and anecdotal evidence in support of her thesis that the 67 instances of torture over the show's first five seasons bear responsibility for eroding the anti-torture taboo in both civilian and military life.

But leaving aside for a moment the richness of the fact that a major organ of the Mainstream Media Left is railing against televised depiction of violence because of its influence on public attitudes and behavior (when was the last time the New Yorker criticized a major Hollywood studio or a violent video game-maker for their "unwholesome" products, let alone cited the Parents Television Council? That, of course, would infringe on free speech), Mayer's understanding of "24"'s relationship to torture is incorrect both in its own right and as a premise for the corollary of her argument: namely, that 24 extols conservative values and trashes liberal ones.

To begin with, contrary to Mayer's facile account, the show's portrayal of torture isn't wholly positive and it doesn't always work. In this season, for instance, hero Jack Bauer's confidence is badly shaken after being both recipient (in a Chinese dungeon) and purveyor of horrendous pain. His psyche spirals downward after violently interrogating his own brother.

And Jack's brother serves as a counterexample to Mayer's observation that "everyone breaks eventually" on the show. He stoically refuses to give Jack the information he desperately needs, even as his veins course through with liquid pain.

Still, Mayer reaches the (circular) conclusion that the show condones torture because it is, at root, a conservative endeavor, and that the show is conservative because it sanctions torture. But again, neither of these syllogisms is accurate.

First, not just conservatives approve of physically strenuous interrogation. As I noted more than two years ago, liberals like Alan Dershowitz and others have argued for implementing mild coercive techniques. Citing years of military and civilian research, the Atlantic's Mark Bowden believes that extracting information through aggressive interrogation - followed by rigorous investigative follow-up - can yield results, pace Mayer's firm belief that torture is counterproductive.

Second, "24" offers ample evidence of its political moderation. During a recent appearance on Michael Medved's radio show, Surnow said that only two of his seven writers identify themselves as conservative. He claims that they never sit down and plan to write a show that leans Left or Right.

And it's not just lip service. Far from the Arab-Muslim-bashing forum CAIR makes it out to be, "24" offers fair and even sympathetic treatment of pretty much everyone. Yes, the show refuses to bow to political correctness and, yes, many of the evil terrorists are Arabs and/or Muslims; this is simply a reflection of reality.

But at the same time, the show depicts both good Muslims and bad Muslims, just as it depicts good Russians and evil Russians, good civil servants and traitorous ones, and the like. This season, one of the principal good-guys is a Muslim woman; when the government curtails her computer access at the Counter-Terrorism Unit because of "ethnic profiling," the show's characters universally view it as an injustice.

And more broadly, contrary to Mayer's protestations, the staunchly right-wing characters are caricatured as much as those on the left. While ACLU and Amnesty International types come in for an especially delicious skewering, so do those who drape themselves in a mantle of patriotism as they try to overthrow the government or promote a "stronger" America. This season has witnessed an informed and even-handed (if oversimplified) debate between the president and his advisors over how to treat American's Muslim population in the wake of a string of horrific domestic attacks.

Yet there is one sense in which the show is conservative with a small "c": it doesn't shy away from a near-Manichaean depiction of good and evil. While "24" doesn't eschew nuance or neglect the potential for transformation from bad to good (or vice versa), it very clearly sides with the good-guys and despises the evildoers. The very fact that it's sometimes quite difficult to discern what team a given character plays for reinforces the firm value judgments the show imparts to membership on those teams. (In a similar way, "The Departed," recently crowned Best Picture of 2006, is also a conservative (small "c") film.)

Of course, ultimately, it's just a show. At a recent panel, according to Mayer, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said of "24" that "frankly, it reflects real life." But with due respect to Secretary Chertoff, Howard Gordon, the show's executive producer and a moderate Democrat (Mayer bizarrely puts scare quotes around the latter two words), offers the sagest advice: "I think people can differentiate between a television show and reality." This is true for conservatives, liberals, and even residents of the People's Republic of Berkeley.

Michael M. Rosen, TCS Daily's intellectual property columnist, is an attorney in San Diego.



Formula for success
The formula that makes the show click is the way it allows us to give in to our most bestial, predatory and atavistic instincts, so long as they are drenched in the mantle of self righteousness. There's such nonstop action we are never allowed time to think about what we are in the process of doing.

And it just makes you feel so damned good, fixing the world's problems by crushing in the face of some ugly palooka.

Yes, the show does portray both good and bad Muslims. The good ones, of course, aren't exactly Muslim any more. They're Spec ops types with a little dark makeup on. They're cast in the same roles we used to see with the "good Russian", Grigory, who nobly sacrifices himself in the final 15 minutes for the cause of Freedom, falling on the grenade to take one for the Good Guys.

This used to be thought of as Saturday matinee stuff-- not suitable for adult viewers. But I guess times change.

Have you cashed your check from CAIR yet?

far right "straw man"
I don't believe TV writers always intend to create overtly conservative or liberal shows, for a number of reasons. That being said, I believe that in one aspect, "24" can be called "conservative" for a different reason than most people are citing.

Particularly this season, the show posits a potential far-right/quasi-fascist reality in which all Americans with Arabic names are to be rounded up and put in camps, and government conspirators attempt to assassinate the President in order to implement such a policy. Those in favor of such actions are portrayed as either sinister or clownish, or both, and the idea that "far-right equals evil" is unmistakeably clear. This "straw man" is opposed by all the "good" characters, including Jack Bauer.

But I think in the context of the show, this is utimately a conservative and not a liberal slant. It is as if the writers are implying "You think Bush is a Nazi??? Here is what REAL ***** would look like. So you better be happy with what you have."

Conversely, "24" is also replete with typical liberal entertainment industry stereotypes. The corrupt, Nixonesque former President Logan clearly resembles a Republican. The Americans...including Jack's family members...who have helped the terrorists clearly did so out of "corporate greed."

So is "24" conservative? I don't think so, but I don't really care if it is. The entertainment media are free to create material with any political slant they wish. I care about the quality and entertainmment value of the product. If some uppity paranoid Lefties want to nitpick "24" to death looking for hidden right-wing messages, be my guest. There are about a hundred shows I could do the same thing to, looking for left-wing bias, but I have better things to do with my time.

Was Roosevelt a secret conservative?
He actually did, what many liberals believe conservatives want to do. That is round up everyone who looks like the enemy, and put them into camps.

From what I've read recently, Roosevelt actually over rode the objections of that arch conservative (in liberal minds) J. Edgar Hoover, when he decided to round up the Japanese.

An Inconvenient Truth
My feeling is that what is depicted on 24 could really happen to us if we are not on the offensive with the terrorists. When we pull back into a defensive position in the war on terror, we will be attacked again and again. They will not stop.
I really do not see a political spin with the depiction of two black presidents and the Nixonesque white president. Many women in positions of power and competence and the torture debate. This could be the future very easily. Lets hope we have Jack Bauer to save us.

What is Defense
"Lets hope we have Jack Bauer to save us."

Five and a half years after 9/11 our borders are not
secured...nor is there any prospect of acceptable security in the immediate future. Many continue to confuse security policies with immigration policies.

Maybe there are no evildoers in the world...they are just on TV. Maybe they will never come...big oceans and all. Maybe Jack will save us...if there were a "Jack".

The US can decide today to defend itself...or wait and see if there is another attack (which is unlikely anyway!). And if in the future we find ourselves mourning a few million dead Americans, we can again appoint committess to take a fresh look at security.

Real Defense means we negotiate with all, trust noone and plan for the worst. Hoping that "Jack" will save us amounts to surrender.

As the archetypical "useful idiot"
Roy wouldn't have to be paid.

What about 'West Wing' and "Commander In Chief'?
Both were blatantly liberal agenda serving shows. One of them was an obvious attempt to brainwash the country into accepting Shrillary as presidential material. I don't recall the mainstream newsies carping about this -- except to deny it, of course.

When the same folks who are going after "24" come clean on "West Wing" and "Commander In Chief", then perhaps we should have this discussion. Otherwise, it is a waste of time.

Anyone want to bet the plan of the bad guys is to create an EMP which will cripple the USA?

Roy makes the case for locking him away in a little padded room...
Roy, as usual, is moralizing against doing what is obviously rational to the vast majority of sane people. In this case, torturing a few people whose actions have put the lives of innocents in jeopardy and whose knowledge could be useful to the authorities to prevent said death or injury.

24 is not a celebration of bestial urges, it is a show that is based on following the decisions made by people in impossibly difficult and complicated situations. It is not torture porn.

However, to assume that all torture must stem from "bestial, predatory and atavistic instincts," is to deny reality. Under many different sets of circumstances where time is a factor, torture is not only rationally and morally justified, but entirely legal. Were time not a factor, torture would not be justified.

The Israeilis capture terrorists who have just planted bombs so often that they invented the phrase "ticking time bomb" to describe the scenario. (1) Furthermore, kidnappings still take place in this country and the ransom exchange is still a great place to catch a suspect who might know where the victim is located. In each of these situations, a criminal has willfully endangered the life of his fellow citizens, and is in posession of information that can save those lives. So, what do we worry about more? The innocent victim, or the "rights" of a criminal who is seeking to kill them? I would take the same position as the courts of Florida and the 11th District have, and suggest that it is entirely proper to torture the hell out of the person who has placed innocent lives in danger.

Does torture work? Yes. Anybody who says otherwise is denying the entire histroy of humankind and is a lunatic. Everybody breaks. The military, our intelligence agencies and our enemies all know it. Combined with careful follow-up investigation, torture can produce excellent results with a minnimum expenditure of time.

When we "torture" somebody for information, it is worth noting a few differences between our methods and those of our enemies. We do not beat prisoners for fun, cut them to ribbons, use rape, mock executions, etc. Waterboarding is a completely harmless procedure that does not risk death or injury to the person who experiences it. Is it fun? No, but if it was it would not work.

Furthermore, it is already legal. Take the Leon case, where Jean Leon kidnapped Florida resident Louis Gachelin. Gachelin was then held at gunpoint by leon's associate. The police arranged a ransom, and captured Leon at the drop. Because of their legitimate fear that Gachelin would be killed if they could not get to him in time, they beat Leon, choked him, twisted his arm and threatened to kill him. Leon gave up his associate and Gachelin is alive today because of it. Afterwards, Leon was taken to the station, read his Miranda rights, and signed a confession.

Of course, Gachelin and his ACLU lawyers tried to get the confession thrown out on the grounds that it was "coerced." The judge argues that the coercive effect of the torture used to extract Gachelin's location had worn off by the time that Leon was read his Miranda rights and signed the confession.

Moreover, in his dicta (a set of comments not directly related to the resolution of the matter at hand,) the judge in the case expressed his approval of the threats and beatings used by the policemen to obtain the confession as justifiable on the grounds of immediate necessity. The Florida Appeals Court affirmed the judgment and dicta, as did the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. (2)


The value of torture
Your rationale for torture is very thoughtful, but it paints a picture of a society enjoying the only occasional short term gain at the cost of losing its humanity. The example was made at some cost to France when they employed torture as a last gasp effort to stave off the loss of Algeria. It doesn't achieve the desired goals, but gives off a stink that clings to the torturers for many years after.

Ask Russia about Chechnya.

One problem never acknowledged, or apparently even realized by torture enthusiasts such as yourself, is that most of the torturees are not involved in anything. It is in the nature of sweeps that they sweep up large numbers of ordinary fish, with only the occasional hot tuna in the net.

Take as our example the large number of Iranians in Iraq now being "detained and interrogated" by Americans. Among this hapless group, numbering now in the hundreds, are undoubtedly some freelance smugglers and members of tiny militia groups. But there may or may not be any representatives of the Iranian government bent on clandestine skullduggery. We do know that we're holding a handful of legitimate diplomats and businessmen. And most of these people are just ordinary Iranians. What will they tell their friends on eventually coming home?

Probably the same thing all those people we held in Aby Ghraib told their friends. We do have the numbers from that little episode. At the time the scandal broke, 43,000 Iraqis had been detained there, and an unknown number of them either humiliated, violated or tortured.

Our reward for that effort? 700 indictments. The other 42,300 had to be released, to tell their tales to friends, family and neighbors.

That's why we're losing there. Torturing random arrestees is a good way to get on every faction in the country's S___ list. Which is where we are today. Of all the various Iraqis, only the Kurds still like us.

But go ahead with your idee fixe. Every last person we decide to torture is a dangerous terrorist. Or maybe an insurgent of some kind. We won't know which kind until we wring it out of him (or her).

Risk of an EMP
The Pentagon is actually very concerned about EMP. It's one of the few weapons around that would seriously cripple their operations.

But I wouldn't worry about terrorists using it. If they had any nuclear devces (the only things I know of that can create an EMP) I expect they would be using them for other purposes.

Bias in the media
Maybe you ought to come up for some air. West Wing and C in C were critically acclaimed as being good entertainment. "24" is also widely, widely touted as being good entertainment. The critics are not polarized politically and there is no plot to run down programs with a right wing orientation. They like programs that are well done and have an appeal to some audience. They don't like mindless pablum that entertains no one. That's their only bias-- good shows survive and bad ones don't.

I myself like to watch NCIS, because it's intelligently written and acted. I don't watch The Unit because to me, it's for twelve year olds.

But on average I think you would have to agree that those pinko liberals out there in Hollywood are mostly giving us entertainment this season that has a decidedly right wing slant. Michael Moore doesn't have his own show because it wouldn't get the ratings. "24" gets great ratings, and is considered good television.

The Japanese camps
Times were a lot different back then. No one was conscious of the need for any sensitivity toward others. So the "Nips", being slanty eyed yellow people who didn't count for anything in the minds many Americans, could easily be rounded up and interned.

Besides, it was convenient to confiscate all their property, mostly a lot of prime California farmland, which was eagerly bought up by good, white Americans.

The Germans in America were also widely thought of as being a fifth column. And in fact a few of them no doubt actually were. I wonder how many little German kids got beat up because their parents were thought to be Hitler lovers.

America is a lot better than that now. We no longer indulge in ethnic cleansing operations. I think Brown v Board of Education did a lot to change us for the better.

Standards for authorizing torture, and Torture v. The Soul
First: The standard.

The standard I proposed was that the people to be tortured should be likely to posess information relating to planned attacks, and the situation/intelligence should be so time-sensitive as to make immediate action necessary.

What you are discussing is random torture without reason, and it is something that I have never heard advocated. Abu Gharaib seems to be the only example you cite for this sort of behavior, and I have to ask whether that is a representative example of such behavior? The results of the ivestigation were pretty clear on the fact that the behavior involved was limited to a few bad apples. This does not imply widespread random torture. Furthermore, consider how the story was discovered: Our armed forces were investigating the abuses, and preparing to punish those guilty of misdeeds. We stopped the abuse, and punished the abusers. What does that say to all of those Iraqis involved? Additionally, consider what was actually done. There were no rape rooms, even if prisoners were placed in sexually suggestive situations. There were no thumbscrews, knives, racks, iron maidens, etc. All that was done to the prisoners was to degrade them psychologically so that they would be less resistant to interrogation. Do I advcate the tactics used? No. Do I think it was an indication that the United States Army is engaged in the widespread torture of random detainees? Absolutely not.

Second: Torture v. The Soul

Is torture inherently destructive to humanity?

Are you kidding me? French paratroopers and Russian Spetznatz engaged in a much bloodier, dirtier and more ruthless form of torture than anybody proposed here. Waterboarding is in no way equivalent to cutting off fingers or hooking electrodes up to genitals. Chopping living people to bits to get them to talk, or to frighten others, may be dehumanizing. Pouring water on a cloth that covers somebody's nose and mouth, for the purpose of saving the lives of innocent people, is not dehumanizing in the least.

Additionally, consider the alternative of NOT torturing terrorists who might know something critical. What happens when people find out that the nuke that destroyed New York went off because some idiot did not torture a suspect they had in custody? What will happen then? If you want a recipe for unrestrained torture of innocents, that is it.

As a final note, consider the calculus. The terrorists/kidnappers have intentionally put the lives of other people in danger through their own actions. By witholding vital information about where their attack will take place/where the victim is being kept, they are putting those lives at further risk. Whether it is a bombing at Macy's, a nuclear/chemical/biological weapon, or a kidnapped child, the question of self-defense enters in. Stronger measures are totally justified to protect the lives of the innocent people involved. If this means a little bit of pain for the terrorist/kidnapper, tough luck.

Unless your christian
Think things have changed? Watch the MSM drag Mitt Romney's religion thru the mud.

Polygimy has not been practiced in a century by the "formal" LDS church. However, they are already making a big deal about it.

The MSM will ignore any faults in Hillary while dragging any opponent to ruin.

So much for sensitivity.

Actually it is not the Pentagon. Virtually all communications worldwide are via satellite. The DoD always looks for alternatives but think about the impact on global commerce?

Iran is currently testing space vehicles. They are also developing nuclear weapons deny or not. With one nuke in space disruption to western and global economies would be profound and devastating.

The DoD will survive. There are many non-GPS based programs. There was life before GPS.

At what cost do we ignore this? A space detonations might be far more devastating than a city.

24 and the right
I like 24 because it is fast paced non stop action. I rarely watch TV except old movies. 24 is fun. I hate shows with "deep" meaning. If I want meaning I read a book. I want a hour of what happens next.

Most shows are total fluff. I could care less about the new gay character or wives that cheat. I don't want a PC freakfest.

One reason I watch so litle TV is that it is utter crap.

24 is refreshingly simple and focused. Far fetched, yes. Fun, yes. A model for political discourse? Maybe but only as food for thought. Certainly no more than a old Stanley Cramer movie?

the show is not conservative...
The shows depiction of torture is merely a tool that the show uses to make the situation seem more desperate and intense. 24 utilizes many such tools as it is the entire aim of the show, to be fast pace, brutal and in your face. There are plenty of times in the show in which the torture attempts do not work, and even times in which it makes the situation a whole lot worse. Aside from this, another reason for the constant use of torture is to convey the resolve of Jack Bauers character. There is no better way to get across what kind of a man Jack Bauer is than to have him be perfectly willing to torture people. I believe these are much more believable reasons for depictions of torture on a fiction TV show, rather than saying its some kind of conservative ploy or agenda there of.
I also feel compelled to supply further proof that the show does not in fact lean on the conservative side. President David Palmer is constantly portrayed on the show as a great president and a great man. He is one of the most beloved characters and was put in a very positive light throughout his run on the show. Then there is the character of Charles Logan who was a Republican. He sold nerve gas to terrorist, wanted to start war in the middle east, and committed murder. His character was put in a very negative light, and was portrayed as a villain.
If anything this is a very strong example of the show being liberal, and not conservative. Not that I am saying the show is Liberal, just saying that this is strong proof that it is not conservative.
I believe that the people who are accusing 24 of being Conservative or having any type of political agenda are people who have just recently started watching the show. Those of us who are true fans and have been watching the show since the start of its run have a much better and more accurate perspective on the show, and know its not conservative nor liberal.

It doesn't work
I think you may have been selectively deploying your attention. By the time Abu Ghraib came to light, there had already been 37 instances of deaths in custody, either by torture, beatings or mistreatment of the sort that resulted in things like suffocation. Waterboarding is not an innocuous thing. In the hands of morons it is routinely fatal.

Further, you say "The standard I proposed was that the people to be tortured should be likely to posess information relating to planned attacks, and the situation/intelligence should be so time-sensitive as to make immediate action necessary". But this is rarely the case. Normally what happens is that attacks are happening in a certain area, and a sweep hauls in a handful of unemployed young males. They are tortured, to find out whatever we think we might be able to find out.

And experience everywhere has illustrated that whether or not you know anything, when you are subjected to torture you tell them anything-- ANYTHING-- to stop it. So we do get lots and lots of actionable intelligence that way-- very little of it accurate or true.

It's an abomination. The problems with widespread use of torture have been learned time and again in recent history. It's a shame Americans tend not to read history... because now we have to discover this again for ourselves.

What is the worst problem with torture, even if it were occasionally to uncover the famous but hardly ever encountered "ticking bomb"? It is the fact that armed force is but one of the weapons we have in our effort to convert the world to our way of thinking.

Militarists rarely think very deeply about the "hearts and minds" problem-- which is why our efforts to convert countries like Iraq and Vietnam to our ways by hostile force fail so utterly. We just can't force them to like us, on pain of torture.

The funny thing is, they started out liking us. Most people in the world's underdeveloped nations, and in particular the nations of Islam, both liked us, wanted to be like us, and wanted to travel to America so they could actually BE us.

Not so much any more. We have lost awesome amounts of audience share, in the battle for men's minds. And torture is among the most basic reasons for this newfound antipathy toward America.

On the plus side, I'm sure the infinitesimally tiny fraction of men on earth who actually are terrorists has been forced to conduct their operations in such a way that no one person knows very much about the operational whole. That was the way the French Resistance worked, and that's the standard plan now among all resistance groups.

A couple of misconceptions
"The results of the ivestigation were pretty clear on the fact that the behavior involved was limited to a few bad apples. This does not imply widespread random torture."

It was an example of what has always been a routine practise in every nation's military. When excesses can no longer be covered up, find a couple of small fry to take the fall. Lay firewalls to protect the higher ups.

One thing that has been reported in every investigation into torture, and particularly at Abu Ghraib, has been the presence of nonmilitary players, reportable to no one. They don't wear name tags or insignia and they show up bearing the stamp of authority, telling people what they are authorized to do. Karpinski was not in charge of her own operation, and there were areas of her prison she was not allowed to enter. This is a problem stemming from having, at current count, about a hundred thousand civilian mercenaries in Iraq. Lines of authority are unclear and they are accountable to no chain of command. These are the people who instructed the soldiers in torture techniques. At least a few of them were Israeli consultants brought in during the first year of the occupation.

Who brought them in? Who knows? But according to the rules of the game they are (1) not accountable under the military code of justice, and (2) not accountable under the laws of Iraq.

I urge you to read beyond your usual range of approved sources, and find the accounts that have been given of these activities.

"Furthermore, consider how the story was discovered: Our armed forces were investigating the abuses, and preparing to punish those guilty of misdeeds. We stopped the abuse, and punished the abusers."

Not so. This one is very easy to check. The Red Cross had access to enough of Abu Ghraib in the year previous to the story breaking that they issued a report to the upper ranks of the military, bringing these abuses to their attention.

The general staff asked them to keep it quiet, saying that they would attend to the matter themselves. The Red Cross complied. And it was only nine or ten months later that the story broke again, due to whistle blowers. The military never took any actions on their own initiative during the entire affair.

If you take a moment to look at the full range of excesses found in the popular press I think you'll find them to be divided between extremes on either political wing. Read Front Page Mag, for instance, if you want to find absolutely venomous and libelous charges levied against Hilary, Obama, Edwards and any other liberal.

You are selectively processing reality if you believe you have never read anything, anywhere that pillories Hilary. Likewise, if you want to find reading material showing Cheney in a bad light, you need not look far.

This extremism has always been a feature of American journalism. We tend to be much improved today over what we were during the heyday of the yellow press. But yellow journalism still exists.

The only stories I've seen about Mitt Romney's religion have as their theme our progression as a nation, from when John Kennedy's Catholicism made him seem unelectable, through Lieberman's Judaism to Hilary's unfortunate choice of gender. And all the stories seem to point to how we either have evolved, or should evolve further in the direction of not allowing such things to matter.

If you can find a story in ANY mainstream magazine, newspaper or even a web site larger than just some guy's blog, that says we should not elect Romney because he practises the wrong religion, please forward that information to us. I'd be very interested in taking a look at it.

"Polygimy has not been practiced in a century by the "formal" LDS church. However, they are already making a big deal about it."

So... please name the "they" to which you refer.

What's their motivation?
You say Iran is testing space vehicles. That doesn't seem wildly implausible to me. They are at that stage of deveopment as a nation.

But how do you arrive at the assumption that they can only be doing that because they intend to destroy civilization? I'm thinking that for you this is the world's most obvious conclusion, but I don't quite get it. You must believe we live in a world of unthinking demons, bent on destruction.

What was I thinking? Of course you believe that.

"A space detonations might be far more devastating than a city."

Depends on your definition of devastating. Nuking a city could result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Where a space detonation might disrupt our GPS, or our ability to bring in soccer games from Italy. Which might be the more harmful?

Terrorism is a tactic
An air burst of even a small device over DC would probably destroy the electric grid and civilian computers for miles. It might even short out your computer and you could no longer read TCS.

Since the population of the USA is so self-centered, the government would be forced to divert attention to getting American Idol back on the air.

Iran, DPRK and Russia would be free to spread their totalitarianism with little interference from the USA.

Non-nuclear emp
"The mechanical construction of the FCG is actually quite simple -- an effective design of such a device can be accomplished by a college graduate in electronics or physics. Because of this fact we will not discuss the details for security reasons. Suffice to say that the non-nuclear EMP device can be manufactured anywhere a machine shop and electronic supplies are available. The electronics and explosives, while not available at your local Radio shack or hardware store, are, never-the-less much easier to procure by terrorists than any type of nuclear materials. Build the device's structure, add the electronics and explosives, and all you need is a timer to set off the explosion. Today, universities are already building prototype devices for further exploration of EMP weapons designs as well as non-lethal devices for use by police to disable vehicles. Countries such as India and several other asian nations are working on both devices and countermeasures."

"Statements from public and protected sources lead MILNET to believe that EMP devices will be used by terrorists in the short term. We evaluate the risk as being high and our confidence in our sources is also high. Recent efforts by the intelligence community to find manufacturing facilities for such devices indicate that MILNET is not alone in its analysis of the risk level. "

FYI, factor this in....
an EMP would be far more devastating than you make it out to be. It would fry all unshielded, solid-state computer chips. No motor controlled by a chip (the little black box that replaced your distributor) would operate, nor would any other machine or computer with a chip. That means no water, no electricy, no communication, no transport = no food, ....and you get the picture. [this is why the CCCP continued to use vaccum tubes in essential electronics, i.e. comms, utilities, and military aircraft] This is internal catastrophe that would distract us in a very big way. Think about the consequences of Pearl Harbor or 9/11 in terms of economic and political effects.... and those were small events compared to a potential EMP burst over LA or NYC. It is the perfect way to prepare for a larger event to follow. This is how you set up an ambush.... create a distraction (lethal or not) to cause your enemy to turn and move in a desired direction and then hit them with the big and most certainly lethal surprise.

Therefore, the field manual says "Always attack the ambush."

The idea behind pre-emption is to prevent all these possible events to spiral completely into chaos with far greater reaction and devastation than anything ever seen before. Hereby, and heretofor, we are back to "24". A society may be so moral as to allow this to happen because of the revulsion of co-ercive interrogation, but that society (i.e. Quakers, Amish, RB-World) can only exist within a larger one that will act to preserve them.

BTW, the recent atrocity that occurred in the Amish school (don't recall exact details, might Google it) is a remarkable and humbling example of a society's ability to forgive their fellow man. This incident might be an argument for how the U.S. should have reacted to 9/11. However, in that case, there was only one insane neighbor. I think that if it were known that there were tens of thousands of insane neighbors, training in large and well-funded camps for the sole purpose of carrying out numerous such atrocities across the world against undefended, innocent little girls, well, an argument might be made for doing all that you can to extinguish the movement.

"SALT LAKE CITY Feb 24, 2007 (AP)— While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice by his Mormon church, the Republican presidential candidate's great-grandfather had five wives and at least one of his great-great grandfathers had 12."

"Just as conservative authors have speculated, it was the Clintons who asked Wellesley in 1993 to hide Hillary Rodham's senior thesis from the first generation of Clinton biographers, according to her thesis adviser and friend, professor Alan H. Schechter, who describes taking the call from the White House."

Why was Sputnik such a worry?

If the USSR could put a satellite in orbit it could put a nuke on NYC.

How devastating would an EMP be?

Just imagine just about every car in your city not working and could not be repaired for weeks or months.

NO electricity for months.

Greenies want us to go back to the 'good old days'. An EMP would return the country to 1850.

NO cell phones or computers for months or years.

Just about anything with an electric motor or a transistor would be junk.

Not my greatest concern
"Iran, DPRK and Russia would be free to spread their totalitarianism with little interference from the USA."

Totalitarianism takes a whole lot of effort. Those places have all they can do just maintaining totalitarianism inside their borders.

If they tried to expand they would likely collapse and die.

All it takes is the threat
With such pacifists like Murtha and the democrats leading the USA, one small threat would cause them to pe* their pants and do what ever was demanded.

If we are not willing to call their bluff by slapping them down, hard, they might just get the wrong idea.

Just starting

I mean, how is this relevent to anything? His great great grandfather?

Ted Kennedy's father was recalled from England before WW2 because he was a Nazi sympathizer. Never hear that mentioned about that old windbag do you?

You isolated?
First, he has openly stated he wants to bring on WW3. Words mean things, at least to me. How long does he have to talk of destroying the west and Israel before it means anything? Bulgaria might be building rockets to but I don't hear then talking of bring back the 13th Imamn.

You apparently greatly underestimate our reliance on the satellites. It is far more than TV. Virtually ALL global communications takes place by these links. This includes financial transactions.

Try and image the total economic damage to nations if such a disruption happened. We would be talking of the utter inability to engage in commerce. I am talking basics like food and gas. I am sure locally it could continue for a time but go look at the dish on a Wal Mart. All the transactions are SATCOM. You phones, everything rely on SATCOM. Weather, missile launch warnings, intelsat?

Yes, a tactical nuke could kill many thousands in a single nation. Iran would likely suffer greatly for such a transgresion.

A air burst at about 150 miles could cause total societal breakdown. Rioting, looting. This ain't the same society as in 1929. People nowdays have no concept of what going without means. The underlying infrastructure to todays economy is literaly beyond the reason or interest of most peoples to care or understand. I find it amazing, in fact, that so many know so little about the basics they take for granted.

I am not being paranoid Roy, just pointing out that I am amazed how that man in Iran can essentially thumb his nose at the world while developing nuclear weapons all the time speaking of global war and vaporizing Israel and the left thinks they can "talk to him".

Our "friends" in the EU and Russia help us by selling them the technology. It is amazing.

I predict we deal with him now economically or we deal with him later militarily.

I further predict nothing will happen until the later is required. By then I wonder how many people shall have paid the price of inaction?

In the second article notice the civil communications reliance approaching 90%.

And this is no concern?

Florid, feverish visions of Hell
"BTW, the recent atrocity that occurred in the Amish school (don't recall exact details, might Google it) is a remarkable and humbling example of a society's ability to forgive their fellow man. This incident might be an argument for how the U.S. should have reacted to 9/11. However, in that case, there was only one insane neighbor. I think that if it were known that there were tens of thousands of insane neighbors, training in large and well-funded camps for the sole purpose of carrying out numerous such atrocities across the world against undefended, innocent little girls, well, an argument might be made for doing all that you can to extinguish the movement."

You do know that this is a fantasy, don't you? That there are isolated disturbed individuals but no hordes consisting of tens of thousands of swarthy men, every one eager to disembowel our lovely little girls?

Give it a break.

The smoking gun
Oh my god! So this is your proof of the MSM's plot against god fearing Americanism. Mitt Romney's polygamous grandfather.

I guess you skipped over the opening sentence, which begins "While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice..."

Did you know that Barack Obama's mother was a... a White Woman?? It's true! I read it in the MSM.

Hilary Clinton's "hidden thesis" seems to have made the front page news. Hasn't it? How did you hear about it? From MSNBC perhaps?

Or how about John Edwards' great big house? Did you hear about that in the MSM? Or did they successfully keep it hidden?

Have you ever thought that their main purpose in life was just to dig up any kind of dirt they could on anyone, including diaper-wearing astronauts, just so they could sell more papers?

You're a real trip.

That's the worst thing I ever heard
You and marjon must have hatched from the same pod. Do you both spend all your days combing the media looking for presumptive atrocities?

Look just above this for my response to marjon. The press digs up dirt. They are equal opportunity dirt diggers. Currently in my home state they are scooping up great heaps of dirt in an effort to tar our state treasurer, who is both a great treasurer and a Democrat. No one takes this personally. That's what they do to sell newspapers.

They're also trying their best to fan the flames about John Edwards' big new house-- as they were a couple of years ago about his attendance record in Congress. And yet they have the reputation of being too liberal.

Don't recall hearing the Nazi story-- but everyone knows TK's father made his fortune in the rum running trade. However on earth did we hear about that?

We need a reservation for you folks. One with no newspapers-- they only make you more upset. :)

The paranoid world view
"If the USSR could put a satellite in orbit it could put a nuke on NYC."

They didn't. I would have remembered.

My god I wish we could be rid of people like you. No matter what the advancement in our knowledge is, you want to figure out whether you can use it to kill people. And if you can, you have to make one first so you can kill people before others just like you on the other side of the planet find out about it and kill people first.

If only we could terraform the moon we could put you, your team mates and the guys on the Al Qaeda team on it and you could duke it out to your heart's content, without disturbing the normal people.

Neighborhood bullies
"All it takes is the threat", to be sure. But the threat is coming from the United States.

We are doing everything in our power to start a fight with Iran-- and they are not responding. They know how this game is played. We want to try out the nuclear attack we have planned for that country so bad our leaders obsess about it every night when they go to bed. But Iran isn't buying what we're selling.

I have no admiration for the kinds of pugnacious little twits who go around trying to call people's bluff when they aren't doing anything, wanting to slap them down hard so bad the anger shoots from their eyes in little daggers. These people are the curse of the world. They're just walking around armed and dangerous looking for a fight. And unfortunately, no one else wants to fight them badly enough to stop them.

It's like the world is one of those western towns, bullied by some bad hat of a sheriff and there's no one around brave enough to shoot him.

Paranoiacs with real enemies
I see your concern. The money would be wiped out.

With no record available of any financial transactions the hold of capitalism on society would collapse. No one would know who used to own what, or who owed who else what. We would all have blank accounts.

Furthermore, you must be well aware that by our actions, there are many millions of people on earth who would wish us that fate, we have caused them so much inconvenience.

And a simple tool like the Flux Compression Generator puts the capability for doing this kind of damage into the hands of anyone with a basic engineering background: "an effective design of such a device can be accomplished by a college graduate in electronics or physics".

So they don't even need the reckless bravery and the taste for violence of an Al Qaeda cell member. All they have to have is an antipathy toward the world your party has created. That would be the capitalists, militarists, corporatists or whatever you want to call them. It's the perfect tool for destroying their power.

Naturally it would entail learning how to live off the grid. There would be no electricity, no food distribution, no money and no social controls. Armed bands of end-times people would patrol the planet, in a post-apocalyptic dystopia.

Do you think such a future might sound attractive to anyone-- enough for them to create it? I do.

Perhaps you're well placed, up there in Alaska. You don;'t watch that much TV anyway, do you? You'd hardly miss it.

You are missing key facts.
First, you might as well drop the "most of the detaineees were innocent" line. The people who were involved in the acts depicted on 60 Minutes, or were under the supervision of Englund and crew and the mercenaries, were all people who har already killed American troops. While 90% of the people who were detained at Abu Ghraib may have been innocent, the people in cell blocks 1A and 1B had either already been convicted of murder or had been captured on the battlefield. (1) There is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that American troops are engaged in widespread torture of innocent people. What must you think of this country to imagine that Americans would do such things for no reason?

Your allegation that the military was covering up the events at Abu Ghraib is equally non-factual. Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez first brought the complaints regarding detainee abuse to the attention of the military. After an investigation, the "Taguba Report" was published. You can read a copy of the executive summary here (2). The investigation began almost an entire year before the bums at 60 Minutes ran the story. I say "bums" because they very clearly tried to make it look like the Army was ignoring what had occured, despite the fact that the Army was getting ready to file charges against those responsible. All on their own initiative, I might add.

You seem to live in some world of inverse truth, Roy. A world where 99.5% of American soldiers are maniacal, baby-killing machines, who torture innocent civilians for fun and then bury the evidence of their crimes in deep, dark holes at night.

You need help, Roy. The only way that you could possibly believe what you do is to have serious problems with both your moral compass and your ability and/or desire to seek out the truth. You are either hallucinating, or you are a narcissistic sociopath of the worst sort, and need to be locked up for the good of every body else.



Torture works extremely well, if applied correctly.
First, let me address your "everybody hates us now because of torture" point. This is quite possibly the most absurd idea I have ever heard. Why wasn't every country in the world on our side in the Cold War? Why did anybody ally with Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini in WWII? They were all torturers, and yet they had plenty of friends and allies, even within this country, The Commies in particular, never lost their "audience share" in this country because of the mass murder of millions of people, the starvation and deprivation of millions of others, and the torture of many of those who were executed. Does this particular effect only occur when Americans torture?

On the question of detainee deaths possibly due to homicide, the highest number I found in an even questionably reputable source was 27 in "The Nation." (No right-wing maniacs, they.) (1) Furthermore, a simple Google search demonstrates that this is the generally used number with human rights groups and liberals all over. In response to the deaths and other alleged abuse, there has been 400 investigations of detainee abuse, and more than 230 military personnel have received a court-martial, non-judicial punishment or other administrative action. (2) In other words, we are taking care of it. As an aside, remember that most of the people punished in some way for detainee abuse are not people who were directly involved, but rather people who facilitated it through lack of vigilance. That is a substantially different crime than committing homicide or torturing people without reason.



The Ticking Time Bomb
I have already given you several examples of situations where the ticking time bomb scenario has actually occured. In addition to the Leon case in the USA, there was the kidnapping of a child by serial rapist in Germany, where the authorities beat the suspect for the boy's location, and got it. The fact that the boy was dead does not diminish the fact that, had he been alive, torture would have been the only reasonable way to get the information out of the child-murderer quickly.

In the area of explosives planted elsewhere, we have to consider the fact that the Israeilis intercept people who eare either just going to, or just coming from the planting of a bomb so often that they invented the phrase "ticking time bomb."

Finally, the fact that it may be unlikely does not get rid of the need to deal with the moral question it raises: If a nuke is about to explode/a kidnapped child about to die and you have a person in custody who can tell you have to save the city/the life of the child, but you will have to torture it out of them: Will you do so? Unlikely does not mean impossible.

Kennedy killed a girl too.
And they made their money running booze.

Another attack
We have pleanty of Jack Bauer's looking out for us everyday and that is the only reason we have not been attacked again. If you go to the website called terrorist timeline, it gives you a good idea of how resillient our ememies are and will continue to be.
We can not negotiate our way out of this mess. I am not opposed to low level diplomatic channels. I am opposed to the type of diplomacy that was done in the 90's with the PRK. The taxpayers of this country wound up 4 bil porrer and the PRK has the bomb.

Would you trust them with your son or daughter?
From Wikipedia:

"While an estimated 100,000 Islamist militants are said to have received instruction in al-Qaeda camps since its inception, the group is believed to retain only a small number of militants under direct orders. Estimates seldom peg its manpower higher than 20,000 worldwide."

Perhaps not the best source, but does not appear to be the fantasy that you live in.

"What me worry?"
the Alfred E. Neuman Party --

And there we have it
RB's constant message:
"We are doing everything in our power to start a fight with Iran-- and they are not responding. They know how this game is played. We want to try out the nuclear attack we have planned for that country so bad our leaders obsess about it every night when they go to bed. But Iran isn't buying what we're selling.

I have no admiration for the kinds of pugnacious little twits who go around trying to call people's bluff when they aren't doing anything, wanting to slap them down hard so bad the anger shoots from their eyes in little daggers. These people are the curse of the world. They're just walking around armed and dangerous looking for a fight. And unfortunately, no one else wants to fight them badly enough to stop them.

It's like the world is one of those western towns, bullied by some bad hat of a sheriff and there's no one around brave enough to shoot him."

It's because no one who thinks like you do is actually brave enough to do anything of the sort.

Why aren't you brave enough? I think it's because you don't really believe in what you say and your moral convictions in this regard are so weak that you're content to vent and 'score' anonymously on the internet. Where are those "human shields" when al Qaida really needs them?

The current state of alQaida in the world and in Iraq

But, this must be some weird fantasy, right?

My complaint with Edwards is not his house. More power to him.

My complaint is he wants to tell me how to live my life and critisizes business and the health industry, both of which made him wealthy. It is amazing.

No, I don't comb. This stuff is well published and easy to find. If troll, I troll for ideological stuff to help refine my thinking. The news is pretty lame. I get tired of the the stuff like Romney. In fact, I think it was on CNN they had a guy saying Romney had no chance due to the LDS affiliation.

I fail to see why it matters. However, to deny a liberal bias inthe MSM, especially pages such as the NY Times is feckless.

I think you take my comments a little to serious. That I comment on things does not mean I am obsessed.

I like the debate.

Money as a tool
Money is a tool Roy. I tis not just us. The entire globe is dependant on SATCOM.

In fact Bin Laden stated in the 1990's that the key to destroying the west is to cripple the economies.

Since my education was in Nuclear Physics I tend to have a little more than basic knwoledge of what is involved. While the suitcase nuke is more than the triviality shown on TV teh technology and physics are well known.

I simply stated what is obvious. That you think I am a loon for pointing out specific risks in our critical infrastructer is no concern of mine. I am not hiding in fear but when I see the world sit by oblivious it is amazing.

Roy, were not the threat.

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