The turf war shaping up between the bureaucrats at CTU and the Department of Homeland Security in the show may seem petty and even a little bizarre, what with 19 cannisters of nerve gas about to be released on an unsuspecting public. But the fact that such maneuvering takes place even in real life illustrates just one of the reasons the intelligence services of the United States are so dysfunctional.
The 9/11 Commission found numerous examples of jealous bureaucrats at the FBI and the CIA guarding their turf not against terrorists but against each other. Even within those organizations, there was friction between counter-terrorism and law enforcement (here and overseas) as the CIA lost track of several of the 9/11 terrorists and then failed to put them on a domestic watch list. FBI agents in Minneapolis and Phoenix pleaded with their superiors on numerous occasions to take note of terrorists at flight schools. Instead of paying heed, Washington had the local offices of the FBI agents in question try and stifle the investigations by making life difficult for the agents.
This behavior can be explained only in the context of “channels” that careerists at the nation’s intelligence agencies are slaves to. Only by following procedure and not “rocking the boat” can one advance. This attitude punishes originality, faults thinking outside the box, and penalizes independent action.
This is not to say that most employees at our intelligence agencies aren’t dedicated, patriotic, hard working public servants, many of whom place their lives on the line for our country. What it indicates is a sick culture, a working atmosphere that rewards playing it safe and rarely punishes mistakes no matter how large.
Former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet may have been the most spectacularly unsuccessful DCIA in history, missing as he did 9/11, Saddam’s lack of WMD, downplaying Iraqi ties to al Qaeda (which we are now finding out were much more extensive than the CIA said they were), and underestimating the Iranian nuclear program. Instead of being fired, President Bush allowed him to retire and then gave him a Congressional Gold Medal.
Is it any wonder our intel services need an overhaul?
As for as the CTU-DHS war, one need only look at what Congressional investigators have pointed out was the mistake of folding FEMA into DHS and the subsequent problems with Katrina assistance. A case can be made that FEMA should never have assumed the role of disaster nanny in the first place. But the fact that states had come to rely on the agency as a first responder (even though that was never its mission) only points up the consequences of DHS turf building.
The DHS representative has let on that she doesn’t plan on taking over CTU completely until the crisis is over. That won’t stop her or her assistant Miles from probably making a hash of CTU’s efforts to stop the terrorists. Muscling in on someone else’s turf is a time honored tradition in bureaucracies – even when the stakes are so high.
We discover that the woman in the hotel room who promised Bierko the schematics is one Collette Stenger, described as an “International Intelligence Broker.” I’d love to see her business card: “Serving the terrorist community since 1999…” After one last leer at her mystery lover, she leaves the hotel to meet Bierko after informing lover boy that she will be at the airport in 45 minutes.
At the ranch, Vice President Strangelove asks Jellyfish if he has any second thoughts about declaring martial law. He does, especially after Martha works him over one last time trying to get him to change his mind. Too late – Logan appears before the cameras and announces a “curfew” for Los Angeles starting immediately. The press sees through the fiction and even Fox News is calling it martial law. The negative reaction has Jellyfish outraged as his political foes are “debating” whether or not the action is legal. I wonder which party the writers are talking about when we have some politicians trying to score political points with the nation under attack? Duh.
Whether you believe martial law was necessary is not the point. Debate later. Even impeach later. For the immediate crisis, swallow your doubts and keep your yap shut, especially when you don’t have the information that the President does. Of course, we can see that martial law is a ploy by Strangelove but the bitching politicians don’t know that. Best for the country if everyone holds their fire until the crisis is over, then go ballistic if you want to.
At CTU, Grandma Hayes shows up with her sleazeball assistant Miles (who played the gay guy that Bruce Willis used and then murdered in The Jackal). Miles immediately endears himself to all of us when he casually orders Chloe to set up a workstation for him where Fat Geek Edgar used to sit. The look Chloe gave him would have melted the CTU mainframe.
Agent Pierce (who finally has a decent role after 5 years of faithful service both to the executive branch of government and Fox television) gets a call from Wayne Palmer who asks to meet the agent clandestinely. Wayne has obviously uncovered some more information from his dead brothers computer files and needs to tell someone. Why Pierce? Evidently the writers needed some way to get Aaron involved in the plot and this seemed as good as an excuse as any.
Jellyfish is getting antsy about the political fallout from his rather draconian security measures but Strangelove assures him that “I’m in control of the situation.” Mike’s ears prick up at that announcement although one wonders why he should be surprised. It’s becoming pretty clear that President Jellyfish will soon be supplanted by the Vice President either through some kind of trickery or maybe even assassination.
Collette shows up at Bierko’s terrorist hideout and shows that she has dealt with many a murderous thug in the past by handing over the schematics only after getting her money. It appeared that Bierko was torn about whether or not to kill her. The fact that the email confirmation showed that she received $10 million for the information made it bad business to off the dark haired beauty.
We discover that the plans are for a “distribution center” with the target a residential area. There is only one possible explanation: The terrorists are going to flood the gas lines with nerve gas. And as Sue pointed out to me, the fact that martial law has been declared means that everybody will be at home, thus raising the body count dramatically.
Could such an attack succeed in real life? I’d be interested if someone could figure out how many parts per million would get into a household from 18 cannisters of nerve gas and whether it would be enough to kill 200,000 people. Remember, not everyone has a gas appliance so you would have to figure that the nerve toxin would have to hit something like 75,000 homes.
Meanwhile, CTU is on the trail of Collette thanks to some geek magic by Chloe who hacked Henderson’s hard drive to find her name. Jack and Curtis take a TAC team to the hotel only to find Collette’s lover Tio who, although appearing to be Italian (and with an Italian sounding name), actually works for German intelligence. Tio refuses to help Jack having spent 6 months undercover bedding down the gorgeous intelligence broker in order to uncover her networks. The fact that it was a two month job evidently has not crossed the minds of Tio’s clueless superiors.
Jack tries to tell the love struck spy what’s at stake:
JACK: If we don’t find Bierko, hundreds of thousands of people will die here today. That is more important than your “pre-emptive” operation.
TIO: It is not a question of importance. It’s a question of different agendas. Your job is to save American lives. Mine, German lives. You’re asking me to betray my duty to my country. Ask yourself what you would do in my position.
JACK: You better start asking yourself what you would do in mine. (Leading him away) Let’s go.
TIO: I’m here with the permission of your government! You can’t touch me!
After telling Curtis to take a hike, Jack gets down to business telling the German agent that he will give the NSA’s “wet list” of terrorists around the world if he helps CTU get Collette. Tio eagerly agrees (perhaps hoping that he will be sent on another plum assignment where he gets to screw some terrorist babe). After a little tomfoolery, Chloe gets her keycard back from Miles and hacks the NSA database through a backdoor and downloads the wet list to Jack’s PDA. Tio, Jack, and Curtis head to the airport to meet Collette.
Back at the ranch, Wayne is stopped at a checkpoint and is cleared through only after Strangelove and his assistant give the okay. The fact that Wayne is later run off the road by men intent on killing him reveals that either Strangelove himself or his assistant is working for the traitors at the Department of Defense. Wayne barely survives and runs off into the night with his would be assassins in hot pursuit.
After getting caught red handed by Miles, Chloe informs Bill and Grandma Hayes that she gave Jack one of the most classified secrets of the American government. Why? “Because Jack wanted it.” Bill goes ballistic and poor Chloe for once is rendered speechless. Grandma gives the okay to continue the operation reluctantly and only because Collette has arrived at the airport. Once identified, the woman is expertly captured by the TAC team and like all terrorist small fry, knows the drill perfectly; she asks for immunity from Jack who, given any other context, would be considered soft on crime so many times he has granted immunity to terrorists.
Tio tries to download the wet list into the German intelligence files but instead, hears a strange voice coming from the device: “This card will self-destruct in 5 seconds. Good luck, fool.” Jack is nice enough to call Tio immediately after the meltdown and assure him that he will help “rebuild his investigation.” Who wouldn’t given the fringe benefits.
In exchange for immunity, Collette can offer only the name of her contact who sold her the schematics. The person works at the Department of Defense. And we discover that it is not a “he” but a “she.”
Were you surprised she blurted out the name Audrey Raines? I must confess that I was indeed shocked, the first real slam-bang jolt of the season. The obvious question would be is it, in fact, true? Can Audrey really be the traitor?
The idea that she could be bought is nonsense. But working with Vice President Gardener and the other traitors thinking that she was doing the right thing? Not impossible. Improbable, yes. But don’t worry, Jack will beat it out of her I’m sure.
The Grim Reaper took the night off.
UPDATE Long time House reader Hector informs me that Grandma Hayes mentioned that 56 CTU employees bit the dust in the nerve gas attack. Since I only used the figure 55 (given by Bill) we will add one more to the show’s blood total.
Is Gardener the main man in the conspiracy or is there someone behind him? Is Gardener involved at all? Could it be Gardener’s assistant acting as a mole and the Vice President just an innocent boob?
If Audrey is involved, might not her father also be a player? And if Audrey is not involved, why set her up? Are the traitors trying to throw Jack off the scent? Collette must realize that if she’s lying about Audrey, her immunity deal is kaput. If that’s the case, then even Collette has been misdirected for purposes unclear at this point.
Or, Audrey is a terrorist loving, traitorous bitch. Which is it fans?
First, make sure you stop by Blogs4Bauer and catch up on all the news, speculation, and funnies from last night’s show.
Then come back here and let ‘er rip in the comments about whether or not you think Audrey is really a traitor.
And what’s with Michelle Malkin? I’m surprised to see Michelle have time for anything outside of taking care of her family and writing so the fact that she has now confessed an obsession with Prison Break comes as something of a shock. But the real shocker is her taunting of Jack Bauer. Has she no clue of the consequences of dissing Jack? Those two losers from Prison Break would make a fine midday snack for Jack who, if Michelle is unaware, is an equal opportunity torturer, administering pain in equally large doses to women and men.
Standing up to moonbats is one thing. Standing up to Jack…?
She’s braver than I thought.