by Sid H Arthur - Human Rights 18 Feb 2007 01:37 pm

Prime-Time Torture

The effect of Fox TV’s “24″ on the execution of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo:

Although reports of abuses by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have angered much of the world, the response of Americans has been more tepid. Finnegan attributes the fact that “we are generally more comfortable and more accepting of this,” in part, to the popularity of “24″, which has a weekly audience of fifteen million viewers, and has reached millions more through DVD sales. The third expert at the meeting was Tony Lagouranis, a former Army interrogator in the war in Iraq. He told the show’s staff that DVDs of shows such as “24″ circulate widely among soldiers stationed in Iraq. Lagouranis said to me, “People watch the shows, and then walk into the interrogation booths and do the same things they’ve just seen.” He recalled that some men he had worked with in Iraq watched a television program in which a suspect was forced to hear tortured screams from a neighboring cell; the men later tried to persuade their Iraqi translator to act the part of a torture “victim”, in a similar intimidation ploy. Lagouranis intervened: such scenarios constitute psychological torture.

“In Iraq, I never saw pain produce intelligence,” Lagouranis told me. “I worked with someone who used waterboarding”—an interrogation method involving the repeated near-drowning of a suspect. “I used severe hypothermia, dogs, and sleep deprivation. I saw suspects after soldiers had gone into their homes and broken their bones, or made them sit on a Humvee’s hot exhaust pipes until they got third-degree burns. Nothing happened.” Some people, he said, “gave confessions. But they just told us what we already knew. It never opened up a stream of new information.” If anything, he said, “physical pain can strengthen the resolve to clam up.”

Read the full article.

8 Responses to “Prime-Time Torture”

  1. on 18 Feb 2007 at 2:59 pm 1.Riz said …

    Interesting malarkey indeed. I’ll read the full piece from the New Yorker (excellent publication) later, but it does beg the question of whether the makers of ‘24′ should feel any sense of responsibility, knowing their material is having a direct influence on the torturous interrogation techniques being used by the military.

    As of now though, I’m agnostic on the issue.

  2. on 27 Feb 2007 at 11:16 am 2.sonia said …

    hilarious. i almost fell off my chair. 24 is too close to reality which is why *some people* are worried. I have to say though i’m amazed it took the military this long - 24’s been on for bloody ages now - and i’ve always found it amusing how people can watch something on TV and completely dissociate from reality - like…er. this might be why our President is so keen to go to war? * oh no i forgot - that’s just a conspiracy theory, this is all a movie!*

    the question is which way round is it - the filmakers know full well what the military and CIA are upto and decide to not ‘whitewash’. the Military say - oh but look, you can’t show this stuff. Why not? because - as they’re saying - it will encourage soldiers to think torture in the name of their country is OK? Bollocks - that’s whaty they spend a fortune trying to train them that killing in the name of country is not only OK it’s their fucking job! Obviously what they don’t like is how reality of war and conflict is so far removed from rhetoric. Hence the fuss.

    Of course one would in theory like to applaud 24 for their guts in showing things a bit too much like how they are and not the usual ‘glossed-over’ crap. but then seeing how everyone thinks its a big conspiracy theory and made-up there’s not really much…

    It still makes me laugh though.

  3. on 27 Feb 2007 at 11:19 am 3.sonia said …

    i mean that what they don’t like is that it might reveal the true nature of the unpleasant job of those entrusted with ‘our national security’ - and how it’s far removed from rhetoric.

    i think people need to be aware of how murderous and violent the job of ‘national security’ really is. they might not be so inclined to be patriotic then. some might - obviously. but at least they’d be making an informed choice.

    but it’s hardly as if governments like their citizens to make informed choices now is it? the US govt. is not alone in this.

  4. on 27 Feb 2007 at 11:22 am 4.sonia said …

    “knowing their material is having a direct influence on the torturous interrogation techniques being used by the military.”

    that’s what i meant about which way round is it? do people seriously think the military/intelligence services hadn’t been using ‘interrogation techniques’ until 24 started broadcasting? ( ho ho ho if anyone says ‘yes’)

    it’s back to the media panics. now i agree - that with the case of little children - who aren’t incidentally being trained to kill - seeing violence on tv when they otherwise wouldn’t be seeing violence - has some potential negative influence and is worthy of debate. to suggest that full grown adults who work in the military/intelligence and whose jobs may or may not involve ‘interrogation’ are going to watch tv and think…ooh! is patently ridiculous.

  5. on 27 Feb 2007 at 11:26 am 5.sonia said …

    and sorry to go on and on again - but as a scholar on mediatization - it shows you how ridiculous our TV obsessed culture is. The US military complain about what’s on TV? People discuss this. for fuck’s sake how about instead of focusing on what’s showing on a fucking screen, focusing on what real people are doing to other real people? like torture? like war? OH NO! TV is so damn real - we’ll all make a fuss about that - much more so than real life. Cos unless we’re the poor sods being tortured, it isn’t very real to us is it, it’s somewhere else.

    very clever trick on the part of the military - criticizing a bunch of media types - when look what they are going around doing. Oh please. This sort of thing is what makes you grab your head and shout WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE?

  6. on 27 Feb 2007 at 11:28 am 6.sonia said …

    excuse me sid for all my strong swearing..just thinking about military types tends to do this to me, and the excuses they make for themselves, and the lack of acknowledgement of any kind of responsibility.

  7. on 01 Mar 2007 at 1:01 am 7.Lithcol said …

    There is torture and there is interrogation, they are very different. Torture is crude and may with some produce what you require, however interrogation is far more sophisticated. It all depends on the timescale in which you are operating. If you have the time you will interrogate, crosscheck etc. If you don’t you will use the more expedient technique of torture. Don’t tell me that torture is not used by any country when it is faced with an imminent threat. I will not believe you.

  8. on 20 Mar 2007 at 6:21 am 8.Sergeant S.W. Foster said …

    I assure you that anyone of high enough rank to be put in that position will have enough sense to know right and wrong and that “24″ is just Hollywood fiction.

    Sergeant S.W. Foster
    US Army

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