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1/23/2007
AFTERMATH
CATEGORY: "24", General

What would really happen if a nuclear weapon had detonated in Valencia, California?

The reason that this is a legitimate question is because the best experts on terrorism and those whose business is assessing threats to America say that it is not a question of if we will get hit by a nuclear weapon but rather when the attack will occur. And the best guess of these experts is sometime within the next decade.

So the “unthinkable” better start to be thought about and in a serious way or such an attack will be much worse than it should be.

The sanitized view provided by the show of the aftermath of a nuclear attack actually does a disservice to the national conversation we must have about the eventuality of a WMD attack on America. A true depiction of the horrors of such an attack was provided by The Rand Corporation in their paper “Catastrophic Terrorism Scenarios.” It paints a horrific picture of what might happen if a small nuclear device hidden in a truck (one kiloton) was detonated in a city of 1-5 million people with few skyscrapers.

What would it be like? Take the worst parts of the Bible and multiply by a factor of ten. First responders in the blast zone would be dead and it would be impossible for others to reach the injured due to high levels of radiation. Communications would be down over a wide area. Electricity, water, gas, would all be disrupted for dozens of square miles outside the blast area. The electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would knock out car ignition systems, computers, and all electronic devices within the line of sight of the blast (horizon to horizon).

The resulting panic (which was hinted at in last night’s episode but looked to be extraordinarily mild compared to what would really happen) would overwhelm the transportation systems in the vicinity of the blast area. Roads would clog with cars filled with desperate, frightened people trying to escape the fallout. Law and order would break down and it would be survival of the fittest. With traffic not moving, people will abandon their cars and move away from ground zero on foot. First by the thousands, then the tens of thousands until, depending on where the blast occurs, as many as a quarter of a million people could become refugees, overwhelming the government’s ability to take care of them or stop them for that matter.

These refugees will flow through smaller towns and villages in their path like locusts, stripping each town bare of food, weapons, and any other items useful to survival. Gun battles would break out in the streets as residents fought for their lives and possessions. The refugees would likely organize themselves into gangs for protection and to acquire food, fuel, and the necessities of life.

The Army? The National Guard? Eventually, force would have to be used ruthlessly to stop the exodus and bring order out of the chaos. But it wouldn’t happen for several days. In the meantime, thousands more would probably have died as a result of murder, mayhem, and even radiation sickness. This is because the radioactive cloud containing the fallout would move much faster than the refugees. And those susceptible to lower dose radiation poisoning - the very young, the very old, and perhaps certain genetic types - would sicken and die without the medical care that could save them.

And the nightmare could be just beginning. Some estimates of the economic impact of the nuclear device detonated on American soil (depending on where it occurs) speculate that upwards of a trillion dollars would be lost. That’s five times the economic price of the attacks on September 11 which sent the economy into a recession. Needless to say, sucking a trillion dollars out of the American economy would be catastrophic, causing unemployment to skyrocket and perhaps even lead to “deflation” - where prices for items collapse. The worldwide economic downturn as a result of this massive hit on the American economy would lead to further instability throughout the world.

Admittedly, the show couldn’t and probably wouldn’t show most of these effects of a nuclear detonation on American soil. But after reading that Rand Corporation scenario, I guarantee you will want to do the minimum necessary to protect yourself and your family. Family Security Matters is an organization dedicated to helping American families prepare for just such eventualities. Their website contains a wealth of helpful information that you need to know in order to survive if worse comes to worst. And here’s another Rand study on the best ways to prepare for WMD attack.

The detonation of the Valencia nuke created controversy because detractors saw the “politics of fear” being advanced. On a superficial level, this is true. But more importantly - and what the critics have failed to acknowledge - is that when such a devastating attack occurs, those who are most prepared for the tragedy will likely be the ones who will survive. And denial of the threat or passing it off as simple politics, given what we know about our enemies, is sheer lunacy.

SUMMARY

The White House - indeed, the entire country - is in a state of shock. As the President’s security team looks on in horror at the mushroom shaped cloud blossoming over suburban Los Angeles, the grim task of dealing with the unfolding crisis begins. Estimates of the dead start at 12,000 with untold numbers of wounded. President Palmer’s first instinct is a good one; he must address the nation as soon as possible.

I am undecided about Palmer. Is he a spineless wimp or a thoughtful, cautious leader? So far, he has acquiesced in security measures that appear to be much harsher than anything President Bush has initiated while giving lip service to freedom and the Constitutional niceties. It could mean he’s indecisive or, like Lincoln, he will do what is necessary to save the Republic. He bears watching in later episodes.

Cut to a street scene where last we left Jack weeping over the now confirmed death of Curtis. The looming cloud in the distance has him mesmerized. People all around him are panicking, loading up cars with possessions and running away from the blast. What is crossing his mind? Shock? Confusion? Bestirred out of his reverie by a man who we learn is a helicopter pilot whose chopper went down as a result of the blast wave and who needs assistance to save his passenger, Jack snaps out of it and rushes to assist. He calls Bill and tells him he wants back in.

At the moment, Jack’s change of heart can be viewed in the context of him being a creature of duty; the country needs him and he responds automatically. How far that will take him remains to be seen.

We meet a Mr. McCarthy who apparently was one of the middle men used by Fayed to secure the assistance of Marcus, the creator of the trigger device. With the trigger destroyed, Fayed orders McCarthy to find him someone else who can make one. For double the money, McCarthy will apparently sell the soul of his mother and find another traitor who will assist the terrorists.

Jack saves the copter passenger using what appears to be a piece of one of the last remaining TV antennas in the United States. Those of you who are too young to remember when fiddling with the rooftop antennae was a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood can be forgiven if you didn’t recognize what Jack was using to jimmy open the door of the copter. After a very nice gratuitous explosion of the copter hitting the ground, Jack learns from Bill that there 4 more nuclear nightmares that must be dealt with. Bill reminds him that he had begged off the job just a few minutes earlier. “Not after this,” says a newly energized Bauer.

Back at the White House, the Secret Service has moved President Palmer into the bunker. A wise precaution given the circumstances. Convening a national security meeting to discuss retaliatory options against countries that sponsor terrorism, the President is confronted by a fire breathing Admiral with the conscience of a serial killer and the bigotry of a Kluxer:

ADMIRAL: We’ve been playing games with these terrorists for 11 weeks now. The only language they understand is force so let’s speak it to them real clearly. We guarantee that if each of these countries sustains three major metropolitan nuclear strikes, they will have neither the time nor the resources to play in our sandbox anymore. These people want to live in the stone age. I say let’s put them there.

Sounds like some horrible caricature of a right wing pundit - which, of course, was the whole point.

The President rejects the Admiral’s “advice” saying that the United States will indeed retaliate but not until the enemy is identified.

At CTU, the enemy is welcomed as a guest. Assad assures Bill that he only wants to help and extends his hand in friendship. Bill looks at the terrorist’s hand as if it had recently been in a vat of warm, oozing cow dung and ushers Assad into the conference room. From Bill’s interrogation, it is clear that this is a massive conspiracy, one that even our own barely competent intelligence agencies shouldn’t have missed. We learn that Fayed tried to acquire nuclear weapons six months ago from a former Russian general named Gredenko. And when Chloe runs the name using her magic terrorist enabler identifier program, we find that one of Gredenko’s business contacts in Los Angeles is none other than Jack’s father Phillip who runs BXJ Corporation.

Bill calls Jack and informs him of this bit of unsettling news and we find out that Jack has some definite “issues” with his father, a man he has not spoken to in 9 years. He convinces Bill to let him do the interrogating of Bauer The Elder, making us wonder just what methods Jack will employ to get the old guy to talk.

At the detention center in Anacostia, the FBI has hit upon a brilliant scheme; why not wire up Walid and allow him to mix with a suspected cell of fanatical, cutthroat jihadis who would just as soon slit your throat as give you the time of day. The mild mannered Walid seems an unlikely candidate for such a job but that doesn’t seem to phase our FBI. After all, it’s not their hides on the line when Walid goes undercover to assist them.

The Feds hatch a plan to grab Walid from the common area of the detention center and take him into the bathroom for a talk. While knocking the Muslim businessman around (while whispering what he’s supposed to do in his ear), they flash him the name of Fayed in hopes he can get the terrorists to open up about his future plans. His girlfriend, the President’s sister Sandra, is fit to be tied but is silenced effectively by the slightly bored and insufferable FBI agent who lets her have it by stating the obvious; if she wasn’t the President’s sister she wouldn’t even be there.

Jack steels himself for the call to his father but instead, gets the butler who tells him dad is out of town and left his cell phone behind to boot. Puzzled, Jack gets the number for his brother while “Liddy” (G. Gordon?), a man who monitors security at Jack’s father’s house calls the brother and tells him to expect the call.

The shock when we see that Jack’s brother is Graham, last year’s “Mr. Big,” the leader of the Blue Tooth Mafia (so named because all the bad guys used Blue Tooth cell phones), is total. Even more shocking is Graham’s disappointment: “We should have killed Jack while we had the chance rather than handing him over to the Chinese,” says Graham matter of factly.

One thing is clear. What with his father perhaps involved with a nuclear terrorist and his brother heading up a conspiracy that killed a former President, almost embroiling the US in a war, Jack sure has one helluva an interesting family. One wonders if his mother may have been Mata Hari.

The phone conversation between the brothers is strained, stilted. Graham assures Jack of his fidelity while he was in China - a hollow assurance given what we saw last year when Graham tried several times to kill Jack or get the President to kill him. And when Jack asks of the whereabouts of his father, there must have been something in Graham’s voice that made Jack suspect his estranged brother knew more than he was letting on.

Jack calls Chloe to get his brother’s address. He will pay him a visit. Not a friendly family get together but by the look on his face, we know Jack will do whatever it takes - even to his own brother - to get to the truth. Chilling, indeed.

At the White House, we are treated to more one dimensional debate on the Security vs. Liberty issue. I found this exchange particularly gruesome in the cavalier way in which Lennox wants to take away constitutional rights by using fear as a political club:

TOM: That’s why I see an opportunity here.

KAREN: Opportunity?

TOM: The bomb will remove any remaining doubt that we should be taking more aggressive measures; suspension of certain freedoms, detention, internment, deportation - Now is the time we hit these topics.

KAREN: Tom, your are counseling that we embrace the politics of fear.

TOM: I’m saying we embrace reality. We ARE afraid. But if fear consolidates public support for measures that can save our country from extinction, then you bet I’m in support of fear.

Spoken like a true walking, talking, Democratic talking point. The accusation that the Administration has used “fear” to gin up support for warrantless wiretapping and other domestic security measures is straight off the Democratic National Committee website. The difference, of course, is between those who believe there is a threat and those who think the threat doesn’t exist or has been overblown for political purposes. I suppose we should come to expect this kind of sophistry from Hollywood regarding this debate, but that last speech by Tom was just a little too much to swallow.

The President responds to Lennox by saying that the speech he was giving was not about policy but rather simply to calm the American people. This is another indication of either his indecisiveness or thoughtfulness. We’ll have to see in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, McCarthy picks up his girlfriend who us upset that they are not going to Vegas as planned. Instead, the middleman calls Fayed and tells him that he will probably have a replacement to help him set off the bombs very soon. All he had to do was look in the Yellow Pages under “Triggers: Nuclear” to find the right sort of fellow to help.

AT CTU, before Assad is whisked to Washington to hobnob with State Department and other appeasement types, Bill thanks him for his help and shakes his hand. And if a chorus of Give Peace a Chance had risen in the background, I think I would have been sick.

Over at the detention center, Walid begins to play his role perfectly, being just reluctant enough to impart any information of his own while casually dropping Fayed’s name to one of the terrorists. While he feigns ignorance, the terrorist is evidently impressed with Walid enough that he invites him to join his little terrorist clique. Several dead pools have Walid not lasting until noon. I’m not sure. The writers can drag this detention center thread on for a while, pulling clues that keep Jack hot on Fayed’s trail. I say it will be closer to mid afternoon before Walid is either killed by a terrorist or actually is brainwashed and joins them (if he’s not one already).

Jack shows up at Graham’s house unannounced. This throws his villainous brother for something of a loop - just as Jack intended. After being introduced to Graham’s son, we’re treated to a Scarlett O’Hara-Rhett Butler moment as the camera catches Jack looking up the staircase at Graham’s wife Marilyn before we get a similar shot of her looking down on him. What passes between them makes me think Audrey is going to be a jealous woman before the day is over.

Jack and Graham retire to the study to catch up on old times. Graham is still unsure why Jack is there but he knows he’s in trouble. Jack asks about Gredenko. Graham airily denies any knowledge of the Russian general and begins to tell a story about pre-Chavez Venezuala when Jack brings him up short. Convinced now that Graham is indeed hiding valuable information, Jack strikes a mighty blow and knocks his brother to the ground.

It’s “Bauer Time” and Graham is about to wish he had never been born.

After tying him up, Jack gives Graham the customary one chance to come clean before beginning the torture:

JACK: Graham, people in the country are dying and I need some information. Are you going to give it to me or am I going to have to start hurting you.

GRAHAM: (as Jack is choking the life out of him): You’re… hurting… me… now!

JACK: (deadpan) Trust me. I’m not.

Back at the White House, our angst ridden President can’t let the American people see who truly frightened he is. Tom helpfully informs him that bravado would be no more appropriate than fear. That may be true but the American people don’t need to see a President who is afraid. So perhaps a little bravado would be helpful as well.

The President starts in with what sounds like a pretty mealy-mouthed speech full of empty platitudes and cliches that made him sound more Carteresque than Reagan-like. Oh well. Maybe he’ll grow into the job.

And Graham? The mastermind who was willing to use terrorists for personal profit, who planned the murder of his own brother, and who was willing to sell out the United States for a dollar finally - finally is going to be made to answer for his transgressions. Jack places a plastic bag over Graham’s head, perhaps getting enormous satisfaction out of Graham’s terror as the wicked brother begins to suffocate. How far will Jack go?

As always, as far as he has to.

BODY COUNT

A rare night off for the Grim Reaper although we can now confirm that Curtis is indeed dead. And in the interest of accuracy, a commenter pointed out that I missed the dead soldier slumped over the wheel of the bus that carried Nameer to the airport, killed by the traitorous guard. That means one more for Jack and two added to the total for the show.

JACK: 3

SHOW: 349

CHLOEISM OF THE WEEK

No real Chloeisms this week because of her limited face time. But only because it was such a perfect line and so well delivered by Keifer Sutherland, we will make Jack’s threat to Graham about hurting him (”Trust me. I’m not”) an honorary Chloeism of the Week.

By: Rick Moran at 9:36 am
20 Responses to “AFTERMATH”
  1. 1
    AFTERMATH at Conservative Times--Republican GOP news source. Pinged With:
    9:53 am 

    [...] Original post by Rick Moran and software by Elliott Back [...]

  2. 2
    Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » All In The Family Pinged With:
    10:19 am 

    [...] More from Rick Moran [...]

  3. 3
    steve Said:
    10:19 am 

    One small correction: 9/11 did not send us into a recession. We were already in one, and though 9/11 worsened the recession, the recession was over by the end of the year.

  4. 4
    Jennie C. Said:
    10:33 am 

    I’m looking forward to seeing James Cromwell as Phillip Bauer. I hope he’s not bad, but if (since) Graham is, and is probably (possibly?) working with/for him, it doesn’t look good.

    The reason I hope he’s a good guy, is that I LIKE James Cameron.

    I could not -freakin’- believe it when Graham turned out to be Jack’s bro. That was a bigger surprise to me than the nuke.

  5. 5
    Brandon Said:
    11:33 am 

    I like Cromwell, too. But moreso because of his villainous role in LA Confidential.

    I have a sneaking suspicion he’ll be a villain in 24, too.

  6. 6
    Hector Said:
    1:57 pm 

    I love this show. Only in 24 could they nonchalantly show Graham to be Bauer’s brother. I just wish the writer’s had not immediately show the strained relationship between Jack and his family. It would have been interesting to see Jack wrestle between family and country.

    I will bet that Graham’s son turns out to be Bauer’s. The conversation between Graham and his extremely hot wife showed there was some tension between the two and it involved Jack.

  7. 7
    Steve Said:
    2:26 pm 

    Judging from last night’s show and from the previews for next week’s show, the past Bauer family outings must have been a real riot! I agree with an earlier commenter that we may yet learn that Kim has a little brother!

  8. 8
    Steve Said:
    2:28 pm 

    Graham’s son looks an awful lot like Kim, doesn’t he? Planned maybe?

    I was hoping that when they said Jack’s dad was now a character that Donald Sutherland would be cast in the role. Althought seeing James Cromwell (Farmer Hoggett!) in that role seems to be a brilliant choice…

  9. 9
    Don Said:
    2:33 pm 

    Enough about this TV show already!

  10. 10
    golfer1 Said:
    2:39 pm 

    Hector #6 and Steve #7, did you notice that Jack’s “nephew” looks more like Jack than Graham? I think y’all are both on to something here…

  11. 11
    leucanthemum b Said:
    4:42 pm 

    When you say you expect Walid to convert or die early, you’re forgetting this is the product of Hollywood writers you’re talking about. My money is on his converting some detained terrorist away from violence… just before he’s killed.

    After all, terrorists have feelings, too.

  12. 12
    Valor Said:
    5:13 pm 

    Question:
    When Jack talked to Sam (the butler at his father’s house), Sam said something along the lines that he had no idea Jack was even alive–a fact which did not seem to be in question by Graham, and Graham even knew that Jack was in China, which is odd because Jack was only [publicly]in the land of the living for one day–last season.

    Did I miss something, or is this the reason that Jack knew his brother was not…forthright?

  13. 13
    Johnny Tremaine Said:
    5:36 pm 

    Aaargh! I missed most of last night’s episode. I was flipping back and forth between 24 and Heroes. Damn you NBC for pitting one of my favorite new shows against another favorite. Daaaaaamn youuuuu…!
    Ah well, guess I’ll just have to upgrade my cable box from Cablevision and get the DVR.

  14. 14
    Jennie C. Said:
    5:37 pm 

    #12, you missed something. Graem (got the spelling from the synopsis @ fox.com/24/episodes/) was the one yanking Prexy Jellyfish’s chains last season. He knew full-well that Jack was alive.

    Not that he would necessarily share that info with the butler…wonder if dad knows.

    Regarding his kid, let’s not go on resemblances. Face it, Kimmy-babe doesn’t look one bit like either Jack *or* Teri (r Graem, for that matter, if we’re doing really incestuous theorizing here :).

    Leaving the resemblance aside, Jack’s REACTION to him is more telling. However, his parentage may be irrelevant. Is Graem going to make it out of the plastic bag??

    (and yes, I have seen Cromwell play heavies. And he can act circles around Sutherland Sr, so I can see why they signed him up).

  15. 15
    leila butler Said:
    5:46 pm 

    Will they ever explain assassinated Palmer’s brother being Prez? I suppose he has as much qualification as Obama though since he’s black and apparently white liberal guilt demands diversity, even if inexperienced or unqualified? ESPN keeps pointing out there will be two African Americans coaches in Superbowl- so what?

    When will Kim, Jack’s girfriend and her daddy reappear? Isn’t it time for CTU headquarter’s security to be breeched once again and/or another mole plotting mayhem? And wasn’t Eric Balfour working in CTU a few seasons back?

  16. 16
    Doug McConnell Said:
    12:51 am 

    1) I think the casualty figure for the show is a little low. There was
    a nuclear detonation this episode, after all. I believe the President
    was given 12,000 as an initial estimate.

    2) Regarding the identity of Jack’s brother, I also like the unexpected
    twist. However, as soon as I saw him, I got a rather disappointing
    vision of where the show might me heading. I have a feeling that due to
    the result of the elections, Fox has lost any spine it might have had
    and has joined Hollywood’s full court press to drive the DNC message to
    the population. That message being the “politics of fear” meme. I get
    the feeling this whole season will grind out the message that fear of
    Middle Eastern terrorists is misplaced, that the REAL enemy behind all the terrorism is some SOB American white guy (ie, Jack’s brother or maybe even his father). There is also the double whammy of the SOB American white guy being a member of Jack’s family.

  17. 17
    logprof Said:
    10:19 am 

    Hey, who has seen _Blood Diamond_? Isn’t the leader of the mercenaries in that movie Marwan?

  18. 18
    Doug McConnell Said:
    4:14 pm 

    I just read the post on the previous 24 episode where the rational for not including the casualties from the nuclear attack. I withdraw my previous comment on the level of the casualty figure for the show.

  19. 19
    Jim Zackey Said:
    5:55 pm 

    On both sides of the Atlantic media critics are raising
    questions what the spy-idol opera ‘24′ is actually about.
    The Guardian, London wonders if ‘24’ “trafficking in fear”. Is the serial used for softening opinions to sanction heavy-handed approach of the authorities? To Slate’s media editors it appears to be peddling “torture porn.”

    While common people are at liberty to the views they fancy, this tendency becomes risky when it affects those who vow to safeguard the American values. Following White House guidelines after Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay regarding what kinds of torture are officially acceptable, many have been struggling with the realization that the use of torture is no longer one of the ways by which you can recognize the bad guys. Not for Fox’s super spy opera star Sutherland’s Jack Bauer and his fellow agents, there’s never any question of civil liberties or other liberal wimpishness taking precedence over the urgency of their mission, notes British critic Adam Sweeting.

    For “24″s Producer, Creator and Writer, Joel Surnow, there’s no question that torture can be a legitimate counter-terrorism tool. It’s shocking to find this once-deplorable practice embedded in a TV drama, as if it’s routine enough to serve as a mere strand in TV’s entertainment mix, complains The Independent London. Surnow’s take on torture in the show, and in the war on terror, is a little more controversial as clear from his quote to The Guardian’s John Patterson: “I think torture does work. It would work on me! I believe torture has been around since the beginning of time because it works. I just think that for any person in the circumstances that Jack Bauer is in, you’d be a fool not to.”

  20. 20
    jm Burkard Said:
    6:15 pm 

    How to survive a nucleur explosion, (from 8 priest who did)..

    http://www.http://www.pdtsigns.com/hirosh.html

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