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CATEGORY: "24", General

Vito Corleone’s advice to his son Michael was exactly the opposite. “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” In the case of our mushy headed President, however, Assad’s advice that he watch his back rings true.

The “Right Wing Plot To Take Over The Government” gambit is a time honored plot line in Hollywood. And the granddaddy of all right wing conspiracy movies is a film based on the taut, well written thriller Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey (who also collaborated on the political pot boiler Convention).

The equally engrossing movie starred some of Hollywood’s most prominent liberals at the time; Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Frederic March. Lancaster played an Air Force General James Matoon Scott who, angry with the President (played by March) for signing a nuclear arms treaty with the Russians, plots to take over the government with the backing of a shady conservative Senator as well as some other generals. The hero of the movie, Jiggs Casey (Douglas), senior aide to the general, discovers the plot and brings it to the attention of the President who then must counter General Scott, trusting only his Secret Service protection and a drunken Senator marvelously underplayed by Edmond O’Brien.

Complicating matters was General Scott’s mistress, the lovely Ellie Holbrooke, played by the ravishing Ava Gardner. She has in her possession some love letters from Scott that Jiggs is tasked to steal so that the counter-plotters have some ammunition.

Of course, being liberals, they are much too principled to use the damning letters and in the end, the President does what he should have done 5 minutes into the movie; fire General Scott and save the republic. Jiggs, who also thought the President was a loon for trusting the Russkies, ends up getting Ava Gardner in the end so sometimes I guess it pays to be the conservative hero in a liberal movie.

All kidding aside, the film is extremely well written and as suspenseful as any movie you want to see. But if you think about it, 7 Days in May and all the films like it that posit a military (or politically conservative) coup d’etat have one gigantic flaw.

It would never happen in a million years. Only a paranoid lefty could believe that any high ranking military officer would violate their oath and tradition in such a manner. It may say more about the left that they have these fantasies in the first place than it would ever say about the military or conservatives.

And while we’re on the subject, can you think of one movie or TV show that ever showed a left wing plot to take over the government? Of course not. That too would never happen in a million years. The plotters would be too busy sitting around arguing about the make up of the post-coup government and could never come to an agreement. Besides, liberals talk too much. All those angst-ridden soliloquies about what they were about to do would put the audience to sleep in about 15 minutes. There would probably be more action in a movie detailing the mating habits of Three Toed Sloths than in a left wing coup film.

For President Palmer, it appears that all the left wing fantasies about heroically battling the evil conservatives who, like Bush, are seeking to overthrow the Constitution and lock up every Muslim in America in concentration camps, are about to come true. And right in the center of the plot, a man who bridges the two worlds of the terrorists and the conservative plotters – Philip Bauer. What is the end game here? What “shipment” is coming from Las Vegas?

Things are starting to heat up. And Jack is just starting to realize that the price he is paying to save the country may be more than he can personally bear.


The hunt is on for poor Morris who has been seized by McCarthy and his Ditzy Blonde girfriend. Bill tasks Chloe with uplinking to the satellite to see if they can’t track McCarthy’s car but something is terribly wrong. Chloe has lost her geek magic! She is no longer Super Geek but a mere shadow of a geek, an ordinary low rent techie who can’t even access a super secret military satellite – something any geek worth their salt could do with their eyes closed.

Chloe insists she’s fine but she is obviously distraught over the kidnapping of her beloved ex husband. When Bill asks what the problem is she snaps, “The only problem is people like you bothering me when I’m trying to do my job.”

Being inured to Chloe’s pungent personality, Bill simply shakes his head and slinks away. It is finally up to Milo to shoo Chloe away and take over after Jack, who is circling the area where Morris was abducted in a helicopter, wonders out loud why the geeks at CTU can’t do something as simple as uplinking to a top secret military satellite.

Right away Milo finds McCarthy’s car proving that Milo is not without some geek gifts himself. He vectors the helicopter toward the vehicle and, after McCarthy realizes the helicopter is after him, a wild chase ensues in suburban Los Angeles with Ditzy Blonde weaving in and out of traffic, crossing the center line, and nearly getting killed several times. What Ditzy Blonde and McCarthy don’t seem to realize is that the helicopter, being several hundred feet up and capable of flying about 4 times as fast as the car, easily stays with their efforts at escape.

That is, until McCarthy ducks under an interchange and pulls off the road. While McCarthy looks for another car so they can ditch the helo, Morris works on Ditzy Blonde. He tells her about McCarthy’s connection to the nukes. This seems to make an impression on the clueless woman – that is until McCarthy makes a much bigger impression. He reminds her of the $7 million Fayed will pay them for Morris. Jack goes to ground too late to ID McCarthy’s new vehicle and once again, the trail goes cold for CTU.

You can almost see those rusty wheels turning in Blondie’s head when Fayed calls and demands to know where his nuclear enabler is. McCarthy assures him they are on the way and Fayed gives him the address of an apartment building nearby to bring him. After punching the address into his TomTom, a light bulb appears above Blondie’s head and she gets a scathingly brilliant idea; why share that $7 mill when it could all be hers? Ditzy may not be smart but she has a gun and uses it. McCarthy will not help set off nukes no more forever.

At the White House, Lennox is having a cow about the President rejecting his plan to scrap the Constitution and replace it with his idea of a “No Muslims Need Apply” America. He figures that since he has no more influence with the President, that he should resign. His aide Reed tries to talk him out of it but Lennox orders the young man to draft a resignation letter for him.

And here, as in past seasons of 24, we are treated to the shocker that the most innocuous of people harbor the deadliest of agendas. In a phonecon with Carson who could be either a lobbyist or bureaucrat, we discover that Reed is part of a dark conspiracy that is about to take “extreme measures” against the President so that Lennox’s plan will be initiated. Reed is ordered to feel Lennox out on joining the conspiracy so that the plotters can maintain their access at the highest levels of the executive branch.

At CTU, Bill is informed of Graem’s death and he immediately tells Jack. Jack appears unmoved by the news, more concerned with Maryiln’s reaction as well as his dad’s. And when Marylin arrives, it is left to Bill to break the news of her husband’s death to her. She takes it rather well all things considered. Josh however (who speculation threads are hot with guesses as to whether or not he is somehow actually Jack’s son) grieves over the loss.

At Fayed’s apartment, the Ditzy Blonde delivers Morris to the terrorist and immediately demands her money or McCarthy will “give him up” to the Feds. Not batting an eyelash, Fayed tells her that she’ll get her money after Morris reprograms the trigger on the nuke. Poor Blondie is totally clueless what she has walked into here. Her lifespan is now measured in minutes.

We’re really beginning to like Morris. He’s a male Chloe only blessed with interpersonal skills and a sense of humor. When Fayed orders him to reprogram the nuke trigger, Morris shoots back, “Not bloody likely, mate.” Of course Fayed socks him one. And each refusal brings more pain, progressively worse while Blondie begins to feel sick realizing for the first time that she is in far over her head.

Meanwhile, picked up by a trailing TAC team near the underpass, Jack and the boys find McCarthy’s body on a quiet suburban street along with his phone. Bill orders Jack to download the phone’s info to the CTU’s computers and let Milo work a little geek magic and retrieve recent phone numbers and locales. But something is wrong. Milo is good. He is wise in the ways of the geek. But he is not a geek warrior, a true Super Geek. Seeing Milo’s distress in being unable to crack the phone’s encryption protocols, it’s Chloe to the rescue. Snapping out of her funk over Morris, Chloe dons her Super Geek cape and tights and begins to work some truly remarkable geek miracles. After telling us about the National Security Agency surreptitiously backing up every cell phone call in the US and relaying it to a satellite (causing civil liberty advocates’ heads to explode all over America), she finds the call from Fayed and immediately gets the address of the building it originated from. Jack races to the address to save Morris.

Back at the White House, Assad shows up for a meeting with the President. Both men look very uncomfortable – the terrorist and the President forced by circumstance to work together and neither one very happy about it. Palmer, as the aggrieved party, demands that Assad prove his bona fides by making a televised address asking for the assistance of radical Muslims around the world and in the United States in getting the nukes and Fayed or there will be war – not just against terrorists but against nations that sponsor them as well.

I don’t know about you but if a nuke went off on American soil, I don’t think any President in their right mind would be having a conversation like this even if a terrorist leader was seeking “peace.” And there is a distinctly unreal quality to this notion that Lennox and the national security apparatus would be more concerned with domestic security than in blowing the terrorists and the nations that enable them to kingdom come. But in service to the storyline about jailing innocent Muslims, reality is sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

Jack makes it to Fayed’s apartment building and deploys his team. The problem is that there are more than 100 apartments that need searching. A way must be found to narrow their search considerably.

For Morris, rescue can’t come too soon. After giving us a demonstration of “waterboarding,” Fayed still can’t get the snark out of Chloe’s boy toy who continues to refuse to cooperate. The terrorist then decides to use a drill to convince Morris to give in. Truly horrific. And effective. Seeing this is too much for Blondie, she begs Fayed to let her go, foreswearing the money owed her in exchange for her freedom. This obviously disgusts Fayed who doesn’t trust anyone who would so easily give up $7 million and he turns around a drills a hole in Ditzy Blonde’s head with a bullet. For Morris who perhaps finally realizes he is going to die, it only takes one drilling through his shoulder to make him give in and agree to do Fayed’s bidding.

Jack has decided on a course of action to determine which apartment holds the terrorists. When in doubt, use the fire drill gambit. Chloe hacks into the city services computer and sets off the fire alarm for the building.

With the alarm, Fayed realizes that the jig is up but, like any good leader in a crisis, knows there is time before CTU can figure out where they are. He puts Morris to work reprogramming the trigger.

Back at the White House, Lennox can’t believe his eyes. He’s just gotten the memo on Assad’s upcoming speech:

“Not only are we providing free air time to a mass murderer, an avowed enemy of democracy, but we’re proving terrorism works.”

Good points but too late to do anything about it. Reed comes in and feels out Lennox about the plot. He is very cautious and guarded in how he broaches the idea of overthrowing or killing the President but Lennox still bristles at the idea. Simply saying he was “musing out loud,” Reed goes back to his office to write the resignation letter after Lennox appears to reject the conspiracy out of hand.

Back at Fayed’s apartment building, CTU narrows down their options and by process of elimination, hits the jackpot. Morris, goaded on by Fayed, completes his task and watches helplessly as Fayed arms a nuke. Fayed seems satisfied and orders Morris killed. And just when things look blackest for him, CTU TAC springs into action. They blow a hole in the wall, stunning the terrorists inside momentarily. Jack takes the lead pumping a 12 gauge into 2 bad guys while the crack shots with him account for 3 more. The last terrorist, hiding in a doorway, is dispatched when he is flanked by two window crashing TAC team members.

And Fayed? Flown the coop. A ready made escape hatch in the wall leading to the basement and freedom through the sewers allows their nemesis to escape capture. But Fayed was kind enough to leave a little present behind, just a small token of his esteem: an armed and ticking nuke.

Never fear. In CTU’s vast data base are instructions to disarm this particular brand of nuke. Must of been in the file marked “allpurposedisarm.exe.” Chloe pulls up the schematics and talks Jack through the nerve wracking procedure. No clock on the bomb itself so CTU helpfully supplies us one on Chloe’s screen. Working feverishly, Jack does everything that Chloe says but he still can’t access the timing mechanism to shut it off. We then discover that there is an updated disarm file (“fooledya.exe?”) and with Chloe telling him to hurry, Jack successfully disarms the nuke.

And Morris? When Jack finds out that Morris actually built Fayed a trigger, Jack screams into his face “You gave him something that worked?” One of the few times that I’ve seen Jack actually not act solicitously toward someone who had just been through what Morris had to endure. But he has a point. Morris has broken the CTU Code of Heroic Conduct and will have to redeem himself sometime later in the show. Let’s hope he doesn’t have to give his life for that redemption. Morris is one of the more interesting characters on the show.

Lennox gets the update from hell; Fayed escapes, nukes can be armed at will, CTU has no leads on where they are. He reconsiders his opposition to Reed’s poorly disguised “musings” and calls him back to tell him he wants in. The die is cast. And Lennox has crossed his own little Rubicon.

On the run now, Fayed calls his partner in this terrorist enterprise, the Russian General Gredenko. It is here we get the first hint of a wider plot involving a shipment of something from Las Vegas, presumably not poker chips. A hint might be that a lot of nuclear testing has been done in Nevada over the years but who knows? Maybe it’s poker chips after all?

At CTU, the hunt swings toward trying to track Gredenko. The agency’s data wizards spring into action trying to find him. An email fragment found on a hard drive at McCarthy’s gives them a clue that Gredenko is in Los Angeles. Jack (who received some interesting stares from CTU employees when he walked in either because everyone thinks he killed his own brother or because they haven’t seen him for two years) decides to go down to the morgue and talk to his dad about Gredenko.

Philip Bauer is deleting numbers from Graem’s phone. An interesting activity considering that someone – CTU, the police, perhaps the janitor – should have secured Graem’s personal effects as part of the evidence chain of custody as would occur in any criminal case. No matter. Jack is still clueless about dear old dad’s perfidy. Lying through his teeth, Philip denies knowing much about Gredenko, pointing to Graem’s dead body and saying “Whatever you needed to know, died with him.” .

Jack sees Marilyn and apologizes for killing her husband. Marilyn tells him that she’s been trying to leave Graem for years but that he threatened to cut her off from Josh if she did. It’s obvious she is pining for Jack which may set up an interesting conversation between her and Audrey when Jack’s flame makes an appearance later in the show.

And now the parameters of the plot are completely fleshed out when we discover that the nexus of all of this criminal, treasonous activity centers around Philip Bauer. Philip calls Carson about CTU being on to Gredenko. He orders that Gredenko be killed at all costs.

So Philip is not only involved with selling the nukes to Fayed, he is at the center of the plot to get rid of Wayne Palmer. What are the connections between the two? All we know is that Philip has some grand design that will be revealed shortly.

Back at CTU, Bill has a sit down with Jack about the death of Graem. Bravely, Jack takes full responsibility, even going so far as to insist that Bill not alter his report to protect him. Jack will take the consequences of his actions but he assures Bill he didn’t want to kill Graem. This may be true up to a point. Even Jack says he lost control when Graem admitted to killing David Palmer and his friends. But, you know, stuff happens. Jack reminds Bill that he didn’t think he could do the job anymore but Bill once again convinces him to stay on.

At the White House, Palmer reviews Assad’s speech remarking that it appeared to be “too religious.” Assad explained that since that was the worldview of most of the terrorists he would be addressing, he must talk to them in those terms. The President then receives a call from Noah the Veep who is upset that Lennox’s plan for concentration camps and mass roundups of innocent Americans was shot down. Patiently, Palmer starts to explain but the Veep doesn’t want to hear him. He says flat out that the President is weak and that he’s a fool to boot. Referring to Assad’s upcoming speech, the Veep says “The man has murdered countless innocents over the past 20 years and you are putting your hope for the country’s safety on him?”

Well…not exactly. But close enough to the truth to make Palmer uncomfortable. The Veep then reminds the President that the reason he was put on the ticket was because people thought he might be weak on national security. Now that he’s seen him in action, the Veep is forced to agree with that assessment. “Is that all?” asks the President? They hang up and you realize that Palmer has one more major league headache to worry about with the Vice President.

In fact, Assad suggests the President watch his back, that these are men who will stop at nothing in opposing him.”They will come after you,” he tells the President. Palmer doesn’t believe such things could happen in America. He’s right of course. But don’t tell Hollywood that.

Down in the bowels of the White House, in a power maintenance room, Lennox is initiated into the plot by Reed. He has a thousand questions. Reed doesn’t have many answers. He does say that the Vice President is not involved although we can’t quite believe that. When Lennox says exactly what is being proposed, Reed answers “Definitive Action.” A military coup? Assassination? Whatever is going to be done, the Vice President will be in charge before long, that’s the important thing says Reed. He wants Lennox to give him the President’s itinerary relating to Assad’s speech which leads us to believe it will indeed be an assassination attempt of some kind. Lennox agrees to get it but still appears a little wishy washy. Will he jump ship and help the plotters? Or will he stay loyal to the President and the Constitution. Suddenly, Tom’s character is becoming much more interesting.

Back at CTU, After Jack starts asking her about Gredenko, Marilyn tells Jack that one night, when she suspected Graem of cheating on her, she followed him to a house where she heard him speaking to people who talked with a Russian accent. Agreeing to help Jack find the house, Marylin asks Philip to look after Josh. Philip, who finds out that CTU may get to Gredenko before his goons can find and kill him, suggests that Josh come with him back to his house. We realize immediately that young Josh is about to become a pawn in Philip’s game – especially when Philip calls Carson and tells him to find a house in West Los Angeles, presumably to set a trap for Jack.

Chloe sees Morris in the infirmary and tries to snap him out of his self pitying mode. When her pep talks seems to be falling flat, she slaps him across the face. But Morris appears too far gone into feeling sorry for himself, calling himself a coward. Chloe tells him to get back to work because the techies are going to be short handed what with Milo joining Jack in the hunt for Gredenko.

And that hunt takes a bad turn when Philip calls Marilyn who is in Jack’s car trying to remember the route she took following Graem. Telling her to keep Jack in the dark about who is on the line, he calmly informs her that if she doesn’t do exactly as he says, Josh will die. He convinces Marilyn that he will kill his own grandson by telling her that he’s already killed her husband. Shocked, Marilyn agrees to Philips terms. As they pass Gredenko’s house, she almost tells Jack about her troubles but decides against it.

In that house, Gredenko lets on that the nuke plot was really hatched as revenge for America winning the cold war. He says, “Russia lost the cold war because they were afraid to use these weapons. Today, we will use them and the Arabs will take the blame.”

Could this plot now be an international one? Is this an effort to carry out two coups – one in Russia and one here – that would bring back the cold war and make defense contractors like Philip’s company rich and fat again?

This would be hugely disappointing, a real downer. And Gredenko’s ultimate play has not been revealed yet. But the writers have done worse so I wouldn’t put it past them.

Marilyn takes Jack to the address Philip gave her and is given to Milo for safekeeping while Jack and the 5 TAC team members make their way to the house. Bursting in, they find no one. Just in time, Jack sees the bomb and jumps out of a window. The huge blast levels the house. Seeing this, Milo takes off in the van with Marilyn. Cut off by some of Philip’s thugs, Milo blows up the van and makes his escape on foot with the thugs in hot pursuit.

Jack is down but not out. As he takes off after the van on foot by himself, he realizes that Marilyn has betrayed him. He may not want to know the reason why.


A grim night for the Grim Reaper.

McCarthy gets his just desserts.
Ditzy Blonde gets a second hole in the head.
6 of Fayed’s men are martyred.
3 CTU agents killed in blast

That last is taken from scenes from next week’s show where Jack says he lost “more than half” of his team. Since he had 5 men with him, we can logically assume 3 bit the dust.


Jack: 6
Show: 365

By: Rick Moran at 6:19 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

The LLama Butchers linked with Heresey!

Haven’t seen it like this since ‘79. Snow, 40 MPH winds that popped a power line out here in the boonies. Lost power from about 4:00 – 7:00 AM. Also lost heat which put new meaning to the term “drafty house.”

If the weather weren’t bad enough, the two hour episode means double the time to write the post. All of this combined will delay my recap until at least 11:00 AM.

Sorry for the inconvience.


We lost power again at about 9:00 Central causing me to lose about half of what I had written. It came on briefly at about 9:15 and went down again. Called the electric company. The downed line is a “feeder” line and they say to expect outages off and on for the next few hours while they attempt to fix it.

I hope to have the summary posted by sometime this afternoon. Very frustrating situation and I hope you’ll bear with me today as this winter storm works its way through the area.

By: Rick Moran at 8:06 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

CATEGORY: "24", Ethics, Politics

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

I have called Jack Bauer a thug, someone who would be in jail if he weren’t out saving the country every week. And yet the fact that Jack seems to be remarkably untroubled by the methods he uses to battle the terrorists has always been one of his more attractive attributes. We want the kind of certitude exhibited by Jack. We long for it. We crave it. A black and white world where we don’t have to wrestle with our consciences about what to do with real terrorists and where the choices made by our government to protect us would meet with universal approval is something most Americans would give their right arm for. This, more than anything else, helps explain the popularity of the show.

The moral choices made by characters on 24 do not necessarily shed light on contemporary America so much as they illustrate time-honored thematic constructs from great literature and drama of the past. By definition, these themes are “conservative” in that they reflect a traditional approach to drama while offering a point of view regarding the threat of terrorism that more conservatives seem to be comfortable with than liberals. But at the same time, the show seeks to redefine the moral universe inhabited by the characters who are asked to sacrifice traditional values for the greater good of saving the country.

But we don’t live in Jack’s world. The world we live in is a many layered, textured nightmare of progressively darker shades of grey. What is torture? Is it right to make someone stand for 12 hours straight? Can you “waterboard” someone? Beyond the moral choices regarding torture, does it work? Is it necessary? The rest of the world is appalled at some of our answers. Shouldn’t we be?

And so, 24 remains what it is; a television show with a devoted following among the political class in America with the consequence that its impact on our culture and politics travels far beyond the 15 million people who watch the show every week.

In this serious and thoughtful piece in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer explores the personal politics of 24 creator and producer Joel Surnow. In the process of dissecting Surnow’s beliefs, we discover that some of our country’s most authoritative sources on matters of interrogation and torture feel that the character of Jack Bauer is a bad influence on the troops and that the show may even be responsible for the mistreatment of some prisoners.

Mayer gives details of a visit to the set last November by U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, along with several senior FBI and CIA agents who have conducted thousands of interrogations in their careers. Their verdict was simple and straightforward; the torture scenes in the show were affecting the way that cadets at West Point as well as troops in the field were approaching the interrogation of prisoners:

Finnegan told the producers that “24,” by suggesting that the U.S. government perpetrates myriad forms of torture, hurts the country’s image internationally. Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors-cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by “24,” which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, “The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about “24”?’ ” He continued, “The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do…”

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.

Finnegan said that he’d like to see a show “where torture backfired.” All the experts agreed that torture, even when used in the show’s “ticking bomb” context, would never work. They pointed out that the fanatics, knowing that the bomb would go off soon, would simply hold out, secure in the knowledge that their suffering couldn’t last much longer.

They also pointed out that terrorist prisoners actually looked forward to torture as the first step towards martyrdom. An interrogation professional would never use it and would, instead, take the opposite tack of trying to build a relationship with the prisoner, drawing him out gradually by gaining his trust. Besides, the “ticking bomb” scenario itself was totally unrealistic and would never happen in the real world.

Of course, changing the parameters of the show by taking away the clock and interrogating prisoners the right way would make for lousy television which is why the producers would never agree to pursue such a storyline. More interesting is the idea that our troops actually think that this is the best way to get information from a suspect. Is what Finnegan and the others say true? Can our young men and women be so stupid as to reject their training and simply copy what a character on a fictional television show does, thinking that it is both legal and will get the job done?

I have no doubt that General Finnegan and the agents are genuinely concerned about the show’s impact on the troops. But the idea that some of the abuse of prisoners meted out by American soldiers is the result of watching a television show is absurd on its face. Blame it on our not giving the prisoners Geneva Convention protections or on poor discipline or leadership. But the intelligence professionals who carry out the overwhelming number of interrogations on prisoners can’t all be that stupid.

In fact, in an article in City Journal, Heather McDonald described how truly professional these dedicated men and women are and what they were up against when it came to interrogating al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners:

Army doctrine gives interrogators 16 “approaches” to induce prisoners of war to divulge critical information. Sporting names like “Pride and Ego Down” and “Fear Up Harsh,” these approaches aim to exploit a detainee’s self-love, allegiance to or resentment of comrades, or sense of futility. Applied in the right combination, they will work on nearly everyone, the intelligence soldiers had learned in their training.

But the Kandahar prisoners were not playing by the army rule book. They divulged nothing. “Prisoners overcame the [traditional] model almost effortlessly,” writes Chris Mackey in The Interrogators, his gripping account of his interrogation service in Afghanistan. The prisoners confounded their captors “not with clever cover stories but with simple refusal to cooperate. They offered lame stories, pretended not to remember even the most basic of details, and then waited for consequences that never really came.”

Some of the al-Qaida fighters had received resistance training, which taught that Americans were strictly limited in how they could question prisoners. Failure to cooperate, the al-Qaida manuals revealed, carried no penalties and certainly no risk of torture-a sign, gloated the manuals, of American weakness.

The solution was to initiate a series of extraordinary mild “stress techniques” that didn’t harm the prisoner but did put doubt in his mind that perhaps what he had heard about the Americans and their restraint wasn’t true:

Many of the interrogators argued for a calibrated use of “stress techniques”-long interrogations that would cut into the detainees’ sleep schedules, for example, or making a prisoner kneel or stand, or aggressive questioning that would put a detainee on edge.

Joe Martin-a crack interrogator who discovered that a top al-Qaida leader, whom Pakistan claimed to have in custody, was still at large and directing the Afghani resistance-explains the psychological effect of stress: “Let’s say a detainee comes into the interrogation booth and he’s had resistance training. He knows that I’m completely handcuffed and that I can’t do anything to him. If I throw a temper tantrum, lift him onto his knees, and walk out, you can feel his uncertainty level rise dramatically. He’s been told: ‘They won’t physically touch you,’ and now you have. The point is not to beat him up but to introduce the reality into his mind that he doesn’t know where your limit is.” Grabbing someone by the top of the collar has had a more profound effect on the outcome of questioning than any actual torture could have, Martin maintains. “The guy knows: You just broke your own rules, and that’s scary. He might demand to talk to my supervisor. I’ll respond: ‘There are no supervisors here,’ and give him a maniacal smile.

This is not to say that there hasn’t been torture committed by Americans. There have been more than 700 investigations carried out by the Army involving prisoner abuse and 25 detainees have died in American custody that have been ruled homicides. But to posit the notion, even tangentially, that the actions of Jack Bauer on a fictional TV show somehow contributed to this state of affairs strains credulity.

In Mayer’s New Yorker piece, she points out that while the show is fantasy, it sometimes crowds reality by depicting torture that actually occurred in real life, citing an incident last year where a terrorist was denied pain medication mirroring a similar event that occurred in Afghanistan. But the show’s senior writer Howard Gordon says that he makes up the torture scenes himself:

Howard Gordon, who is the series’ “show runner,” or lead writer, told me that he concocts many of the torture scenes himself. “Honest to God, I’d call them improvisations in sadism,” he said. Several copies of the C.I.A.’s 1963 KUBARK interrogation manual can be found at the “24” offices, but Gordon said that, “for the most part, our imaginations are the source. Sometimes these ideas are inspired by a scene’s location or come from props-what’s on the set.” He explained that much of the horror is conjured by the viewer. “To see a scalpel and see it move below the frame of the screen is a lot scarier than watching the whole thing. When you get a camera moving fast, and someone screaming, it really works.

So does the show “enable” torture by sanitizing it while showing that it is necessary? Clearly, the audience is asked to accept the illegal methods used by Jack Bauer as the price that must be paid to save the country. But are we asked to approve of it? Mayer makes the case that in fact, by making the audience complicit in Jack’s law breaking and by showing Bauer to be basically untroubled by his use of torture, the show removes any moral complications the audience might feel:

The “24” producers told the military and law-enforcement experts that they were careful not to glamorize torture; they noted that Bauer never enjoys inflicting pain, and that it had clearly exacted a psychological toll on the character. (As Gordon put it to me, “Jack is basically damned.”) Finnegan and the others disagreed, pointing out that Bauer remains coolly rational after committing barbarous acts, including the decapitation of a state’s witness with a hacksaw…

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.

Frankly, I think that because the show is so popular with the politically active segment of the population that we tend to overestimate its impact on the rest of America. I doubt whether the majority of Americans who may be aware of who Jack Bauer is actually take his methods to heart. And as far as being more accepting of torture, 63% of Americans oppose physical abuse according to an ABC Poll conducted in 2004 with 35% supporting torture. And even higher majorities (75% in a USA Today poll) opposed the kind of treatment meted out to prisoners at Abu Ghraib. This hardly seems “tepid.”

In the end, it’s just a television show. A rollicking good show to be sure. It is well written, well acted, with production values that are the envy of series television. But basically the show functions as a safe outlet for our fears about terrorism and security. And Jack Bauer may be a goon but his dedication to duty and his patriotism are so attractive that the audience is more than willing to forgive him his shortcomings.

Most of us like to think that there is someone out there in real life with that kind of tough, no nonsense approach to protecting America but without the moral baggage that Jack carries. In that sense, the show succeeds in what it sets out to do; entertain us for an hour every week with thrilling, edge-of-your-seat action while making us wish that next week’s episode would hurry up and get here.

By: Rick Moran at 8:18 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

Tramadol. linked with Tramadol....

There are times when television drama transcends the mundane, the ordinary and elevates the genre to a place where only great literature has gone before. Stephen Bochco’s Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue achieved that status on occasion as has Law and Order and ER.

This is not surprising. Most TV dramas in the past relied on tried and true formulas to be successful: Good guys and bad guys with the villains getting their just rewards in the end and precious little in the way of controversy to offend the sensibility of viewers. TV executives believed that mass audiences didn’t want to be surprised or disturbed, that they watched TV to escape from moral dilemmas and uncomfortable truths.

But with the advent of premium cable alternatives like HBO and Showtime and especially the strong showing of Fox Network’s shows, most of the over the air network dramas now carry controversial story lines with shocking twists and surprising moments – all designed to if not disturb the viewer then certainly get a rise out of the audience that will keep them tuning in week after week. Shocking audiences simply for the sake of doing the unexpected may make for interesting television. But in the end, such schlock fails to rise above the level of emotional manipulation thus becoming cheap and tawdry rather than elevating and sublime.

Last night’s episode of 24 went far beyond the kind of shallow, attention-grabbing, gimmicky plot lines of ordinary drama and entered the nearly uncharted territory of conflict and angst worthy of what is found in the best of western literary tradition.

While many may have expected Jack’s father to end up being a villain, I daresay no one expected him to murder his own son nor to acquiesce in the death of Jack. The revelation that much of what has transpired within Jack’s family during the last few hours was part of an elaborate ruse to throw Jack off the trail of the family company’s involvement with the nukes sets up a confrontation with Jack’s father that will prove both horrific and fascinating in the end – like watching a train wreck in slow motion. And the heavy burden that Jack carries for the sins of his father – something the Bible tells us shall be revisited on the sons for “3 or 4 generations” – now includes the death of Graem as well as the death of 12,000 innocents.

And it is perhaps a measure of how vulnerable Jack Bauer’s character has become this season that the extraordinary scenes of him torturing his own brother should bring such a rush of mixed emotions for both Jack and the audience. The schizophrenic combination of tenderness and blood chilling rage that Jack directs at his suffering brother are, in my opinion, among the most powerful images ever seen in a weekly dramatic television series. The scene where Graem states under horrible torture that he and Jack are alike, causing Jack to lose control of his sanity is all the more affecting because we realize that Graem is right – that he and Jack use measures that are outside the law for the same reason; they love their country. Does this make Jack a terrorist or a patriot?

Of course, Jack’s love of country is pure and unsullied by motives of profit or personal gain of any kind which is the one saving grace that separates him from his brother and father. Does it make Graem a tragic character in the end that he fails to realize this? I thought so. While certainly not redeeming him, his death at the hands of his own father is tragic because it was obvious that his love for his father and hatred of Jack led to his own destruction – a victim of the sin of envy.

The writers of the show have now set the bar for quality very high. Let’s hope they can live up to the standards they’ve laid down over the coming weeks.


In a meeting with President Palmer, Tom cries crocodile tears over the resignation of Karen and offers up the explanation that perhaps she quit because she opposed the draconian “Executive Order 1068” that Tom and the oily and untrustworthy Vice President (played with great effect by Powers Booth) have cooked up that would curtail civil liberties even more than they already have been. He convinces Palmer to reconvene the National Security Council to approve the measures. Palmer seems torn and once again, it is hard to tell if he is indecisive or simply cautious. The jury is still out on what kind of President he really is.

In resisting the shredding of the Constitution, the President states that he doesn’t want to redefine the country. Tom reminds him that “If one more nuke goes off, it will be Fayed who redefines our country.”

Who’s right? The answer, if I may be allowed to be cryptic, is both and neither. I covered what would happen in the event a nuclear weapon was detonated on American soil here. The real world concern would be what measures the government would take in order to insure that such an event never happened again. The American people might very well support measures as outlined in Tom’s plan but would it in fact mean the end of America as we know it? I think it would as do most civil libertarians. On the other hand, the idea that some rational compromises couldn’t be made in order to ferret out the enemy among us is suicidal. It appears that the writers don’t do “nuance” very well – especially when it comes to debates about civil liberties.

In the van that is taking Jack and his father to their presumed deaths, Jack’s father opens up and tells his son that everything he’s done, he did for him. Jack rightly protests that he doesn’t know what to say to that, apparently not wanting to assuage his father’s conscience.

Arriving at a conveniently located cement factory in the middle of nowhere (less than 10 minutes from McCarthy’s office by the clock) Jack and his father start to walk toward a freshly dug hole with a truck standing by to cover their dead bodies in fresh cement. If we were to ask how Graem knew even before the bomb went off that he would have need of the hole, the truck, and his father’s goons, we would discover a weakness in the plot. Not to fear. Everyone knows that bad guys always have contingency plans and that the execution set up could have been for anybody. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Cheating death once again, Jack wriggles out of his execution with the help of his father who distracts one goon while Jack overpowers another, using the gun held by one villain to shoot the other. When Jack’s father offs the second goon before he can be questioned, we immediately suspect him of trying to hide something. But at this point, it appears that he is still obsessed with protecting his company and perhaps Graem.

Jack calls Bill and tells him of Graem’s perfidy and requests a TAC team to recon Graem’s house. Few viewers don’t realize that this will set up the ultimate confrontation between Jack and his brother. What Jack will do to get the information he needs from Graem, we can only guess at.

Meanwhile, McCarthy calls Fayed with the good news that he’s found an engineer to construct additional triggers for the nukes but that he’ll need to be coerced. He sends the terrorist a picture of the victim along with his qualifications.

Good thing for us that the NSA has been violating the law and the Constitution because they intercept this completely domestic communication – including the picture of the engineer target. Morris begins to decrypt the corrupted file containing the picture, using some typical geek magic.

At Graem’s house, the CTU TAC team informs Jack that Graem is indeed at home and that they have the place surrounded. Curious, Jack’s father asks his son what he’s going to do:

JACK: I need to question Graem alone.

PHILLIP: What are you going to do to him?

JACK: Whatever it takes to find out what he knows.

Any doubts we may have had that Jack will put the screws to his own brother in order to get the information we need are laid to rest. The only question is, what method will Bauer use? His famous “electrotherapy?” Perhaps he’ll pressure Graem by using the former love of his life Marilyn and put a bullet in her thigh? Perhaps we’ll be treated to Bauer’s tried and true “Countdown” technique where he holds a gun to the head of his victim and calmly informs the subject that if he doesn’t get the information he needs by the time he counts to 3, the poor unfortunate’s brains will be spattered all over the wall?

The TAC team breaks into Graem’s house and the confrontation between the two armed brothers lasts only a few seconds but is extraordinarily intense. Graem surrenders and hears his own brother tell one of this team members to “prep” his brother for interrogation.

The ensuing torture scene has got to rank right up there with the best in the history of the show. Before Jack even starts, Graem offers the lame excuse that he “panicked” and that he was just trying to protect the company. Jack doesn’t buy it and begins firing question after question at his bound and helpless brother. “Where’s McCarthy? How do I find him?” Where is he?” Graem’s denials only seem to enrage Jack further. The patented CTU “Lie-O-Meter” detects deception and Jack decides to go for the gold: “Bring me the Agent Package,” says Jack.

Graem knows exactly what that means and visibly blanches.

Cut to CTU briefly where we discover that Morris’s brother is on his way to the hospital with severe radiation sickness. Milo balks at telling Morris, wanting him to continue working on the puzzle of the engineer’s picture. Chloe, once again making Milo looking impotent and powerless, tells Morris anyway and then convinces him to stay until the work on the corrupted image file is complete.

After being told by Bill that once they get a hold of the engineer, the nukes will become operational in 45 minutes, Jack tells his brother exactly what he’s going to do. He orders up something called “Cyacine Pentathol” which is a “neuro-inflammatory” designed to induce excruciating pain. Already sweating in anticipation of his ordeal, Graem continues to deny any knowledge of McCarthy’s whereabouts. Calmly, Jack orders Dr. Richard to administer 2 cc’s of the drug.

The effect on both men is hard to watch. As Graem screams in agonizing pain, Jack suffers along with him. What can possibly be going through his mind?

After ordering Richard to administer another two cc’s, Jack is unable to hold himself in check and rushes to the side of his suffering brother whose screams of agony actually causes us to feel pity for the man who has tried so hard to kill his own brother. As he cradles his brother’s head in his arms, he alternates between tenderness and rage, begging his brother to tell him what he wants to know one moment and screaming at him the next. Graem’s denials only seem to enrage Jack even further:

Jack: The machine says you’re lying! I know you’re lying! TELL ME THE TRUTH! TELL ME THE TRUTH ABOUT McCARTHY!

Finally, Graem appears to break down. It has nothing to do with McCarthy (what he is holding back). It has to do with Palmer, and Michelle. He set the whole operation up to assassinate the ex-President, kill his friends, and lure him out of hiding so that he could take the fall.

Jack is flummoxed. But why?

GRAEM: Because I love my country!. And in the real world, sometimes that means you have to do things, terrible things, even unforgivable things for the sake of your country. (Bitterly) But you know all about that, don’t you brother. Why do you look at me? We’re the same.

JACK: WE ARE NOT THE SAME! (attacks Graem).

Jack has killed for his country. He has tortured for his country. He has broken into private homes and offices for his country. He has terrorized civilians for his country. He has treated the Constitution like a “list of suggestions” as Karen accused Tom of doing – all for his country.

The fact that Jack’s motives are pure may not excuse his behavior. But because we can see that Bauer’s patriotism and fidelity to duty are in service to a higher, more noble cause, Jack is a hero while Graem is a heel.

Graem’s charge that Jack is just like him hits too close to home for comfort. An enraged and out of control Bauer orders 4 more cc’s of the pain inducing drug. When Dr. Richard refuses because it would kill the subject, Jack points a gun at him and orders him to do it anyway. And when Richard calls for help, Jack aims his weapon at a fellow CTU agent. Bauer has quite simply, lost it. It is left to Phillip Bauer to calmly stand in the doorway, not saying anything, to bring Jack back to reality.

Television just doesn’t get any better than that.

We revisit the President’s sister Sandra who is looking in on a badly beaten Walid who says he is “ashamed” that he spied on possible terrorists. Better I suppose that the real terrorists can plot in peace without having to worry about “good Muslims” like Walid informing on them. We are also told by Sandra that Walid shouldn’t feel that way, that those poor detainees were taken from their homes and their jobs largely on “trumped up” immigration charges.

Absolutely. Violating immigration laws – even being here illegally – is nothing to get in a snit about. Why should the United States care if it’s sovereignty is at risk? There are more important things at stake – like leaving illegal aliens alone and not angering the grievance mongers at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

When the President calls, he expresses surprise that Walid was treated so rudely. Sandra treats us to another speech about how evil her brother’s policies are which leads us to believe Palmer will probably not authorize Tom’s little Constitution shredding party.

Back at Graem’s house, Jack has what passes for a heart to heart with his father. Phillip says that Jack deserved “a better family” and regrets all the lost years between them. Jack agrees. In light of what was to come, this is actually rather poignant. And when Phillip says that he needs “a couple of minutes” alone, Jack’s instincts perk for an instant as doubt clouds his face temporarily. But after all, it is his father and they appear to be making some progress toward reconciliation.

Cut to a conference room where Tom is being congratulated by the Vice President for convincing the President to sign off on his civil liberties busting plan. The Veep mentions that he is happy that we are “finally going to stand up to them” – who exactly is unclear. Terrorists? Civil liberties absolutists? The ACLU?

As the National Security Council meeting starts, the President begins by saying that he had revisited his decision earlier in the day regarding the draconian executive order. He then surprises everybody when he once again declines to authorize the extraordinary measures contained in the order.

PALMER: Some of your seem to feel that the Constitution is valid only during times of peace not during wartime. That is not what the Founders intended.

TOM: With your indulgence, sir, George Washington’s enemies wore bright red coats and marched in a straight line. The Founders never could have conceived of stateless enemies, hiding among us, that targeted not our soldiers but our civilization.

Since the Founders did indeed realize the Constitution could be a hindrance in times of a domestic emergency, they allowed for certain extraordinary measures. While martial law is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, the suspension of habeas corpus is mentioned in Article 1, Section 9, and the activation of the militia in time of rebellion or invasion is mentioned in Article 1, Section 8. Limited martial law has been declared to cover certain regions and territories – the south after the civil war for instance – but has never been applied nationwide.

Tom’s argument is sound but his recommended measures to deal with the crisis are over the top. Palmer’s reaction is noble but potentially suicidal – especially his rather lame statement about American Muslims being “marginalized and thus radicalized” as a result of measures against them. One certainly doesn’t follow the other. And given Walid’s “shame” at spying on his fellow Muslims, the President’s words about American Muslims being such a great resource for law enforcement ring hollow indeed.

And just to show that the writers have been playing close attention to Democratic party talking points, we get this bit of nonsense:

PALMER: We Americans need to demonstrate that we are governed by the rule of law and not the politics of fear.”

This is hardly a way to get a discussion regarding civil liberties in wartime going when you automatically accuse your opponent of delving into the “politics of fear” if you want to compromise with the Constitution in any way.

Back at CTU, Morris has worked his magic and the picture begins to come into focus. Excusing himself, he heads for the hospital where his brother is supposedly near death. Imagine our surprise when the picture that appears is of Morris himself. His friends get in touch with him too late. McCarthy and his ditzy girl friend grab him on the road and hustle him away.

With Jack gone, Phillip asks to be alone with Graem. What could be the harm, right?

The ensuing conversation between Phillip and Graem is, to say the least, shocking. It also contains elements of pathos, poignancy, and a queasy realization at what a truly cold fish Jack’s father can be.

Graem crows that Jack has fallen for the “ruse” and that both his father and the company are insulated from harm. But something is wrong. Phillip seems pensive and lost in thought. Graem begins to get nervous. Did he realize what his father was capable of? He must have because he begins to, in effect, beg for his life. He sounds like a little boy reminding his father that he always told him to “make a plan and stick to it” – something his father agrees with but adds the caveat that “sometimes adjustments must be made” to the plan.

With a chilling “I love you” Phillip moves the plunger on the hypo containing the lethal drug all the way down and clamps his hand over his son’s mouth so that his screams of physical and mental agony will be stifled. And we realize that Jack is in for more emotional trauma when, after calling in the CTU medical team to tend to the now dead Graem, Phillip accuses “them” of killing his son. Since Jack was in charge of the interrogation, we know where blame will fall.

Jack will think he’s killed his own brother. What this will do to his already perilous emotional state is an unknown. And what Phillip’s role in the day’s events was and how it will be revealed is anyone’s guess.


Jack scores for the first time in weeks by offing a goon. Phillip murders the other one on purpose and commits “Filicide” to boot.


Jack: 4

Show: 354

By: Rick Moran at 11:33 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

Preemptive Karma linked with "24": All Torture, All the Time

One of the things I love about writing these 24 recaps is finding literary and historical parallels to the plot twists, especially those that mirror classical themes that have been used for many hundreds even thousands of years in western culture. Of course, the writers don’t consciously use the same plot devices used by Sophocles or Shakespeare. But the reason they don’t have to think about it is because many of the conflicts, the moral choices confronted by the characters, and even the characters themselves are so ingrained into our oral and literary traditions that it becomes second nature for any writer – even one who writes for a weekly TV drama – to use the threads of history and literature supplied by the masters.

Take last night’s episode, for instance. For some reason, the effort of Philip Bauer to save his son Graem from jail reminded me of Arthur Miller’s first successful Broadway play All My Sons. Miller himself used themes as old as drama itself; retribution, purification, and responsibility to your fellow man, themes he would explore even more boldly with his next play, the American classic Death of a Salesman.

But in All My Sons, Miller tells the story of a father whose overweening greed causes the company he runs to ship defective airplane parts to the army during World War II that results in the death of 21 pilots. The father convinces himself that what he did was right because he was building the business for his son and that he had a responsibility to the future of the family – even though he lied about his true involvement in the matter and covered up the fact that he had actually signed off on the shipment of the parts that he knew were going to get young men killed.

Returning home from the war, the son is unaware that his father let his business partner take the fall for what actually was his decision and he believes him when he says that he had no knowledge of the defective parts. As the play unfolds, we discover that the other son, a pilot who died during the war, actually committed suicide when he found out that his father was the one responsible for killing the 21 pilots. And the fiancee of the son who returned from the war (a powerful “messenger” character found in plays and literature from the Greeks through Chaucer) has the truth of what happened in the form of a letter from the dead son that, once revealed, causes an emotional upheaval that has the father finally being able to admit to himself that he is responsible for the deaths of the pilots.

The father talking about his dead son and the 21 pilots who perished as a result of his greed and pride:

“Sure, he was my son. But I think to him they were all my sons. And I guess they were, I guess they were.”

The universality of these themes is what attracts us to drama in the first place. Yes we like to watch things blowing up and we love to experience the tension that builds as the clock ticks and Jack races to save the country. But on a deeper level, what engages our emotions are the classical themes that have made audiences think and react for more than 2,000 years.

Philip Bauer was faced with a dilemma (or so he thought); save his son Graem from prison by covering up his “incompetence.” Most of us have already guessed that Graem is involved in this plot up to his neck but Philip can’t even imagine the evil that Graem has perpetrated on the country and his own family by facilitating the sale of nukes to a terrorist as well as his efforts to kill his own brother. In this respect, Philip’s ignorance is reminiscent of the son who returned from the war convinced that his father was innocent. And while Graem doesn’t have the conscience or the moral fiber (we think) to face up and admit to himself how evil has actions have been, it is clear that there will come a time of reckoning where Jack confronts his brother not only for his involvement in this terrorist act but also for his sins committed last year as well.

Ironic convergence as Philip realizes too late he has a bad seed for a son, recognizing a singular responsibility to mankind, and what is shaping up to be a tragic and complex denouement to the relationship between Jack and his father all call to mind the best that drama has to offer. It’s why we watch the show and get so emotionally involved in the characters. And it is what keeps us coming back week after week to experience the universal themes that the show explores, always with a silent nod to the masters whose imprint on our culture and traditions can never be erased.


President Palmer continues his rather earnest and empty speech to the nation, upsetting Tom to no end because he thinks that the President isn’t facing reality. By reality, of course, Lennox means a Muslim round up and loosing Big Brother measures on American citizens.

Once again, we are treated to a dialogue on civil liberties and this time, the writers make absolutely no attempt to disguise their contempt for those who advocate an aggressive security posture:

TOM: The Constitution is wonderful, Karen, but back in the days of the Founding Fathers, the weapon at hand was a single shot musket. It took a half a minute to load and fire. Fayed just killed 12,000 people in less time without even taking aim. I love the Constitution. But I won’t be ducking behind it when the next nuke goes off.

KAREN: I’m a realist too, Tom. And I am willing to do what it takes to protect the country.

TOM: No, you’re not.

KAREN: But I’m looking a little farther down the road. These warrantless arrests and detention centers will cause irreparable damage to this country.

For the record, I would like to point out that here, as in every other civil liberties argument on the show so far, Karen has not offered one alternative action above and beyond what we assume would be normal peacetime procedures for law enforcement for either trying to track or catch the terrorists who are operating in our midst. All we get from her are platitudes and high falutin calls to honor the Constitution.

This raises some interesting questions that the show – and indeed the country itself – has failed to discuss. Are there any measures the civil liberties absolutists would endorse beyond what law enforcement is currently vouchsafed by law? If no “Patriot Act,” what then? Business as usual and a “so sorry” to the families of victims who might still be alive if measures were taken to protect the citizenry?

Obviously, Lennox’s draconian ideas about security are so broadly drawn, so cartoonish, as to be useless in this debate. But the question remains unanswered by those so vociferous in their opposition to anything and everything the government has done since 9/11 to make us safer: What would you do, if anything, to protect the people of the United States from getting killed by terrorists?

Lennox, meanwhile, has had it with Karen and plots her downfall.

At CTU, Nadia discovers that Homeland Security has flagged her because she is of Middle Eastern descent. In what I thought was a rather realistic conversation, Bill reminds Nadia that he told her at the outset that because of her background, she would be subject to unfair measures. He promises to do something about it after the crisis has passed.

Jack is really starting to party down with brother Graem, keeping a plastic bag over his dear brother’s face for nearly 6 minutes. It doesn’t surprise us that Graem is a wuss, that any physical discomfort or the threat of torture will make him spill the beans. When Jack threatens to give Graem more of the baggie treatment, the lickspittle breaks down and tells all.

Apparently, the company contracted with the Russians to decommission some small nukes and Graem didn’t vet one of the contractors thoroughly enough. The contractor – Mr. McCarthy, tooling around LA with his dizzy blond girlfriend looking for a scientist who can build a trigger for the other nukes – absconded with some of the nukes and sold them to Fayed. Jack’s father is staking out McCarthy’s office to apparently get the contractor to hide any involvement by Graem and the company in the stolen nuke caper. Anyway, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. We know it’s a lie and that Graem knew full well that the nukes would end up in Fayed’s hands. What we don’t know yet is why. Is Graem just a greedy, amoral, slimeball or does he have another agenda at work?

Jack immediately calls CTU despite Graem’s protests that he’ll go to jail if it comes out that he was negligent. But Jack doesn’t tell Chloe (or Bill who calls later) that his father is trying to fix it so that Graem stays out of jail and that both men knew the nukes were stolen for 24 hours prior to the blast in Valencia. Disgusted, Jack takes Graem to McCarthy’s office to see if he can pick up any leads while telling Chloe to send two TAC teams to the area.

Meanwhile, McCarthy is having a devil of a time trying to find another scientist who can build a trigger that will set off the remaining nukes. To make matters worse, his stupid girlfriend is bored and wants to go to Vegas. Is she really that dumb or, as we are led to believe, does she only care about the money? And why does she remind me of a much older Kim Bauer? (Don’t go there.)

At the detention center, Walid continues to play secret agent under the admiring and not so watchful eyes of the FBI. His girlfriend, the President’s sister Sandra, is having a cow. She realizes the danger he is in but the FBI is adamant about using the businessman as an undercover operative in order to get information from what they believe is a terrorist cell in the detention center.

Back at CTU, Milo confronts Bill about how slow Nadia’s work output has gotten. Bill tells Milo about Nadia, who has been here since she was 2 years old, being flagged for her Middle Eastern origins. Of course Milo knows exactly what to do; he covers for Nadia with Morris (who has a pitch perfect sense of sarcasm and irony about everything) and then logs on to the computer using his own screen name and password so that Nadia doesn’t have to deal with the restrictions.

You know what this means, don’t you? If there is a mole at CTU this season, Nadia will almost certainly fill the bill. She’s perfect because 1) We like her; 2) She’s gorgeous; and 3) She’s such an obvious choice for the mole that we dismiss any chance of her being a traitor.

How’s that for logic?

When Bill calls Karen to get Nadia’s clearance reauthorized, Karen is shocked that a Muslim working in such a sensitive position would be flagged like this. She calls such security measures “The paranoid delusions of Tom Lennox” which very well might be true but seems a little harsh given what’s been happening recently. The mushroom cloud over Valencia can still be glimpsed if you look out the window.

And to make Lennox even more the villain, he has found a way to pressure Karen into resigning. Apparently when Bill was head of the Seattle office of CTU, they rounded up some of the usual Muslim suspects and detained them briefly before letting them go for lack of evidence. The problem for Bill is that Fayed was one of the detainees. The problem for Karen is that when she was at Homeland Security, she evidently made the file that contained that information disappear.

Lennox is a devious lout but he has a point of sorts. Can you imagine in the real world if the Washington Post got a hold of that information? Realizing that, Karen reluctantly agrees to resign.

The President is mightily displeased at Karen’s decision and tries to talk her out of it, saying that he needs opposing points of view. Karen responds that the President is his own best counsel. “You know what to do,” she tells him. She requests reassignment to CTU and the President agrees, approving her for military transport which means that we’ll see Karen again in a couple of hours.

At the detention center, Walid discovers that the inmates have been able to track what’s going on outside the fence because of a smuggled cell phone. Tasked by the FBI to steal the phone, Walid pulls a pretty nifty trick, feigning illness while falling against the inmate with the phone and taking it out of his pocket.

The idea that the FBI missed the phone in the first place is pretty farfetched. But where would Walid have developed his pick pocketing technique? Must be something they teach at Harvard Business School.

The Feds tell Walid to call a special number that allows Chloe to work some of her geek magic and download all the numbers called (and perhaps called into) the phone. This was the easy part. Now Walid has to return the phone to the owner before he discovers it’s gone. This apparently was something they didn’t teach at Harvard because as the seconds tick by and Chloe tries to decipher the encoded information, Walid doesn’t even attempt to return the item.

What’s worse, we discover that the phone has been used as a browser that accessed a radical jihadist website where the information about the additional nukes was in the open for all to see. Too busy spying on innocent Americans, the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, and the rest of our vaunted intelligence community missed the message that an inmate at a federal detention center knew exactly where to look.

But the real bad news is that we are informed that the men that Walid is spying on are not dedicated terrorists but simply, as Chloe so politically correctly informs us, “spectators” and, by inference, shouldn’t even be locked up.

Okay, I surrender. It is not a crime to read about killing a lot of Americans. It is not even a crime to talk about killing a lot of Americans. But what do we do with people who have demonstrated an interest in this sort of thing? According to the civil liberties absolutists, we can’t even keep track of them without getting a warrant. And no judge in America would issue one under those circumstances. Hence, potential terrorists are allowed to operate with impunity. Is this the price we pay for freedom? If those potential terrorists have 4 suitcase nukes ready to blow, I guess so. Better that tens of thousands of Americans die than people who have demonstrated an interest in facilitating that act be watched carefully.

This is an argument that has been glossed over by the civil liberties absolutists. They can never quite bring themselves to come out and state the obvious; it is better that thousands of people die or even that the US as we know it is destroyed rather than stretch the Constitution to keep track of people who may or may not be innocent but share an interest in seeing that happen.

In the end, Walid pays for his inability to sneak the phone back to the inmate and he is attacked and brutally beaten by detainees before the FBI can intervene.

Jack makes it to McCarthy’s office with Graem in tow and starts to search for clues. He discovers McCarthy has shredded a number of files in the past 24 hours which is suspicious but he fails to uncover any useful information. Just then, Jack hears someone entering the outer office. Handcuffing Graem so that he can’t escape, Jack investigates only to get cold cocked by one of the intruders. It is here that Jack’s father Philip (played by the impressive James Cromwell) enters the scene.

Although they haven’t seen each other in 9 years, Jack and his father skip the small talk and wade right into the issue at hand; namely, McCarthy, the nukes, and why he didn’t report them stolen the moment he found out. Philip’s explanation is plausible. He didn’t want Graem to go to jail, a sentiment Graem shares enthusiastically.

When Jack tells Philip that he’s going to call CTU to get the investigation going, his father pleads with him to hold off, only relenting when he sees how determined Jack is to get to the bottom of things:

PHILLIP: We’re talking about prison, Jack. He’s your brother.

JACK:Graem knew what he was doing was wrong. He was responsible for the nukes. He should have been more careful. And the second he knew they were stolen he should have reported it.

GRAEM: Oh you always do what you should Jack. What about when Dad needed you and you disappeared?

PHILIP: C’mon, Jack. Give us a chance to clean this up.

JACK: Dad, there are four more bombs out there. I cannot – I will not be responsible for thousands and thousands of lives just to protect the family.

GRAEM: Wrong. And I think your dead wife would agree.

JACK: (Lunging for his brother’s throat) Why you Son of a…

At this point, Philip relents and tells Jack to call CTU. And in a chilling transformation that reveals just how much of an amoral scumbag Graem truly is, the security men that came in with Philip, after a signal from Graem, suddenly pull guns on both the father and the brother.

McCarthy meanwhile discovers the name of someone who can build the nuclear triggers. And unless I was hearing things, he got the name of the scientist from one of Graem’s men. This means that Philip is probably their man and will be forced to accede to the terrorists demands to help them with the nukes or watch Jack die before his eyes.

Being led away, Philip sees the car that had the CTU TAC team full of bullet holes, the two men inside dead. He realizes this is Graem’s doing and asks in a plaintive voice “Good God! What have you done?” Graem’s chilling response was “They forced my hand. Call me when its done.”

And we are left hanging, wondering exactly what “it” means and whether Jack and Philip are headed for an emotional crisis. His father was willing to save his son Graem from jail. Will he be willing to save his other son who abandoned the family so many years ago?


The Grim Reaper took a brief respite from his vacation, just to keep his hand in, I’m sure. Two CTU agents taken out by Graem’s thugs.


Jack: 3

Show: 351


Chloe better start getting more face time or this feature will cease to be relevant. In lieu of anything Chloe uttered, I thought Graem’s zinger directed at Jack about his dead beloved wife was particularly cruel.

By: Rick Moran at 10:17 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)

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.


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.


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.


SHOW: 349


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 | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)

CATEGORY: "24", Politics

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CAIR spokesperson complaining about portrayal of Muslims on 24

The sound is grating to the ears. Whenever there is the slightest opportunity to piggyback a grievance – either real or imagined – on a story that will guarantee a few precious lines of copy in newspapers or a few seconds of face time on television, the Council on American Islamic Relations will turn on the whine and, like a fingernail being drawn slowly across the surface of a blackboard, draw attention to themselves in the most excruciating manner possible.

Today’s torture is the result of the realistic portrayal of Muslim terrorists on Fox’s action series 24. The show has been a favorite target for the group. They pressured the producers to actually change the story line two seasons ago because of characters who they considered were not truly representational of Arabs. The plot that season centered around Jack Bauer’s most evil foe in the history of the series. Marwan was clever, resourceful, brilliant, dedicated, and a fanatical jihadist. This exchange between Bauer and Marwan sums up both sides of the war we are fighting with the jihadis brilliantly.

Marwan is in custody but a cruise missile has been launched in the Midwest and is headed for Los Angeles. In order to get the frequency so that we can destroy the bird, which is just minutes from impact, the President has instructed Jack to make a deal with the terrorist:

Jack: You and I both know all I want to do right now is kill you. But I have my orders. You win. I’ve been instructed to ask you what you want.

Marwan: What I want is already happening.

Jack: The death and destruction is a means to an end, Why don’t we just skip to the end?

Marwan: To the end?

Jack: Everything you did today you did for a reason, for your people. What do you want to change?

Marwan: I have no desire to have a political discussion with you..

Jack: You tell me where the missile is headed, you help me stop it and I’ll guarantee you’ll talk to the President. Believe me, he’ll have no choice but to listen. You have a chance to get what you want.

Marwan: I already have agent Bauer. After this day, elected officials and the American people will know that they can’t intervene in our lives, in our countries with impunity. Besides, your President sees me in only one dimension – evil.

Jack: As you see us?

Marwan: Yes…and vulnerable.

You won’t find a Muslim talking like that anywhere else on television. Which, of course, is why CAIR is desperate to stifle it. And with this year’s story line including the detonation of a nuclear weapon in Los Angeles by other fanatical Muslims, the whine has reached new levels of agonizing discomfort:

Being portrayed again as the heartless wrongdoers has drawn renewed protests from Muslim groups, including one that had a meeting with Fox executives two years ago over the issue.

“The overwhelming impression you get is fear and hatred for Muslims,” said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said Thursday she was distressed by this season’s premiere. “After watching that show, I was afraid to go to the grocery store because I wasn’t sure the person next to me would be able to differentiate between fiction and reality.”

Who is it that can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality?

This isn’t even hypersensitivity to slight. It is out and out paranoia. Anyone who is afraid to go to a grocery store in the Washington, D.C. area because they are scared of being attacked is a loon, pure and simple.

In fact, why not just cut to the chase and call the spokesperson a liar?

She might have a point if there was some kind of crime spree directed against American Muslims. But one of the least reported facts in the aftermath of 9/11 was the remarkably low number of “hate crimes” directed against Arabs.

Since 9/11 the Justice Department has investigated 750 “incidents” involving not just Arabs, but others who appear to be of middle eastern origin. Out of all those incidents, federal charges have been brought against just 35 individuals. They’ve also assisted local prosecutors with another 150 cases.

This hardly represents an epidemic of hate directed against Arabs. But you’d never know it listening to the carefully choreographed cries of outrage from CAIR and other Muslim groups:

Watching the show’s characters talk about detonating a nuclear weapon a few blocks from where she works unnerved Sireen Sawaf, an official with the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council, and a self-described “huge `24’ fan.”

“It’s a great show, and I do realize it’s a multidimensional show that portrays extreme situations,” she said. “They have gone out of their way to have non-Muslim terror cells.

“But I’m concerned about the image it ingrains in the minds of the American public and the American government, particularly when you have anti-Muslim statements spewing from the mouths of government officials.”

Sohail Mohammed, a New Jersey immigration lawyer who represented scores of detainees caught up in the post Sept. 11, 2001 dragnet, watched the episode depicting the nuclear attack with an Associated Press reporter.

“I was shocked,” he said. “Somewhere, some lunatic out there watching this will do something to an innocent American Muslim because he believes what he saw on TV.”

Are you kidding me? First, Ms. Sawaf’s belief that the way Muslims are portrayed on 24 will have an affect on government officials? And then the lawyer who makes an outrageous statement about a Muslim being attacked without one shred of evidence that such a crime has ever been perpetrated in the past as a result of any TV show much less 24?

This is grievance mongering at its worst. And the most vile practitioner of it is CAIR whose over the top response to any and all perceived slights actually overshadows the grievance itself. It makes one wish that they would be half as condemnatory about terrorist attacks against innocents as they are about being singled out at airports for security checks or having people cast uneasy glances in their direction on city streets.

Goodness knows that there is plenty of bigotry hurled against Muslim Americans. America is a big country with a lot of ignorant people whose fear of those who are different manifests itself in many hurtful ways. And if the grievance mongers at CAIR would confine themselves to combating this kind of ignorance and hate, then they would be doing themselves and the nation a favor.

But that’s not the way the oppressed minority game is played in America today. If there is no grievance, then manufacture one. Liberal guilt and a willing media will do the rest.

Judging by this statement, Fox Network appears ready to resist pressure this time around to change the story line of 24:

In a written statement issued late Wednesday night, the network said it has not singled out any ethnic or religious group for blame in creating its characters.

“24 is a heightened drama about anti-terrorism,” the statement read. “After five seasons, the audience clearly understands this, and realizes that any individual, family, or group (ethnic or otherwise) that engages in violence is not meant to be typical.

“Over the past several seasons, the villains have included shadowy Anglo businessmen, Baltic Europeans, Germans, Russians, Islamic fundamentalists, and even the (Anglo-American) president of the United States,” the network said. “The show has made a concerted effort to show ethnic, religious and political groups as multidimensional, and political issues are debated from multiple viewpoints.”

Unbelievable that a major television network finds it necessary to point out that they’ve tried to spread the villains around among a variety of races and ethnicities. Kind of makes you wonder who might be keeping score?

By: Rick Moran at 6:17 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 01/22/2007
Simply Kimberly | Blog linked with Relax, It Is Just A TV Show

Mr. Dark has come calling and he’s brought his carnival of terror with him.

The Ray Bradbury novel that inspired the title of this recap (not the execrable 1983 film) was full of extraordinary imagery and allegories; the carousel that, depending on which way you rode it, either made you younger or older. The mirror maze. The strange and terrifying freaks. And Mr. Dark himself, a man with a tattoo for every soul he had ensnared to serve him.

Opposed by two 14 year old boys who were alternately terrified and intrigued by what the carnival offered. Mr. Dark met his end when one of the boy’s fathers embraces an age-regressed Dark and kills him because the devil cannot endure love. For Jack Bauer, a mere shadow of his former cold blooded self, the demons that haunt him finally get the upper hand when he is forced to shoot and seriously wound his CTU partner Curtis.

For Jack, it is too late. Mr. Dark already has a tattoo with his name on it emblazoned across his chest. The realization that the deal he made with the devil that allowed him to do his job better than anyone else while believing he was giving his life meaning proved too much for him. He physically rejected the compromises with his own humanity he was forced to make all these years. His incarceration by the Chinese was the trigger. But it was the recognition of his own isolation that caused him to vomit forth all the pain and self imposed loneliness from his soul when he finally came to grips with what he was capable of doing to get the job done; save his mortal enemy while possibly killing his friend.

The physical torture Jack endured in the Chinese prison was nothing compared to the mental anguish this realization must necessarily bring. And there is only one thing that could bind Jack’s wounds and prop him up so that he could go forth and continue to do his job; the call to duty.

The horror of a nuclear bomb being detonated on American soil is probably the only thing that could have saved Jack from the ultimate fate of experiencing a self loathing so powerful, it would have meant an end to his CTU field career. He is a creature of duty. And watching as the mushroom cloud blossomed over Valencia, Jack realized that if ever the United States had need of his “special talents,” it was now.

Jack has gotten on the carousel and is riding it backward – back to a time when he was without pity or remorse. He has a mission now. His life, such as it is, has meaning again.

Bad news for the terrorists. And not good news for Jack as once again, he descends into the demon haunted world of blood and violence to save the United States from the ultimate threat to its existence.


It should be interesting to see how the writers play with the nuke scenario. This Rand Corporation study of what would happen if a nuke detonated in a major American city is extremely sobering. Needless to say, 5 nukes going off in 5 different cities would be a catastrophe unprecedented in the history of industrialized civilization. It would be an open question if the United States could survive the economic, political, and public health impact of such an attack. Yes, there would physically be an area known as “USA” on the maps. But I doubt if you or I would recognize what kind of country it had become.

Simply put (and I’ve said it many times over the past three years about one episode or another), television doesn’t get any better than last night. And the exciting thing is, we still have 20 hours to go.

SUMMARY: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

As the White House grimly reviews the casualty figures from the latest round of attacks, Fayed calls the President. It seems that the terrorist reads the New York Times and Washington Post because he calls for the release of all enemy combatants at “Palmdale” detention center (an obvious euphemism for Guantanamo). As with all terrorist demands on the show, the United States has exactly one hour to comply or something really bad will happen.

For a country that has made it clear that we don’t negotiate with terrorists, 24 has consistently made a liar out of every modern President by showing the US not only negotiating with terrorists but simply giving in to their demands. Even Reagan used the Iranians to negotiate with with the terrorists holding our hostages in Lebanon. The show doesn’t even use the pretense of a third party for that.

Anyway, Palmer tells Bill to get the ball rolling at Palmdale just in case he decides to give in to Fayed’s demands. And in a rare show of unity, both Karen and Lennox oppose the deal.

After the failed suicide bomb at the train station, Jack and Assad follow Fayed’s man through the city streets hoping he will lead them to the terrorist leader. Jack convinces Assad that they need CTU’s help to track the car when it becomes clear that the terrorist is heading out of the city. Assad, wary of working with “the enemy” agrees but the country is such a mess, no satellite coverage is possible for several minutes.

Fearful that they will lose track of the terrorist, Jack hits upon a brilliant scheme, almost as scathingly brilliant as his convenience store heist in Season 4 when he was faced with a similar situation; carjack another vehicle and ram the terrorist’s car. Insurance fraudsters know the scam well. Deliberately side swipe a victim’s vehicle while having a “witness” (who happens to be in on the scam) claim it was the victim’s fault.

Jack casually steals a Jeep Cherokee, rudely pushing the owner away, and cuts through back alleys and side streets in order to catch up to the terrorist’s car. The scam works to perfection. And Assad, taking the side of the victim in this case, convinces the terrorist to get in his vehicle and continue his journey.

Back at The Typical American Family’s house, Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) takes the entire Wallace family hostage. Unable to complete his mission for Fayed because of the injuries he suffered as a result of the beating by his neighbor, he coerces The Typical American Dad to do his errand for him; take a box to a mysterious man named Marcus and pick up an item in return.

Assad meanwhile is playing his role of helpful stranger like a pro. Knowing that CTU is listening to his conversation thanks to his leaving an open phone line on his cell, he ticks off a landmark so that CTU can track him. Jack meets up with Curtis and his TAC team, filling him in on the good news that Assad is a reformed terrorist now and that all the hundreds of dead bodies trailing in his wake don’t mean squat. Curtis has a sour look on his face when he states the obvious:

CURTIS: The man is a terrorist, Jack. He’s responsible for taking hundreds – perhaps thousands of innocent lives over the past 20 years. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?

JACK: I don’t know what means anything anymore, Curtis. I’ve spent my whole life defending the country against people like Assad. Now he’s trying to disarm his people and renounce terrorism. I guess people change.

Sure they do. Just ask Yassar Arafat. Renounce terrorism for yourself but turn a blind eye while your subordinates gleefully continue to kill civilians. The strategy has the dual advantage of making you look like a statesman while still allowing for killing your enemies.

Arafat “changed” alright. He went from being a scumbag terrorist to being a scumbag terrorist enabler. And for that, he got the Nobel Peace Prize as well as becoming Bill Clinton’s most frequent (male) overnight guest at the White House.

Speaking of Presidents, Palmer learns that Pamela was arrested for obstructing the FBI and is being taken to the Anacostia Detention Center. Palmer calls her and the woman is breathing fire and taking names. She wants to make a federal case out of her arrest but Palmer dismisses her grandstanding and orders her release. Before leaving the detention center she wants to see Walid but the FBI is through playing with her and escorts her home.

Finally, CTU gets satellite coverage of Assad’s car just in time for Fayed’s man to be picked up after being dropped off. Jack and Curtis close in with CTU TAC. After being introduced to Curtis, Assad is promptly placed into custody. Jack protests but to no avail. Assad looks a little miffed but seems mollified after Jack, employing his legendary good manners, thanks the reformed terrorist for his help. Curtis looks at Jack like he’s from another planet.

The TAC team moves smoothly and professionally into position. Fayed’s man has opened a self storage unit and, amidst the dozens of boxes of Czech ammunition, takes out a laptop computer. But hearing a sound on the roof, he catches a glimpse of TAC team member and starts a firefight. Wounded, he takes out a grenade and blows himself to kingdom come, apparently destroying any evidence that would lead CTU to Fayed.

Upon hearing this and realizing he has no other options, the President orders the release of the enemy combatants. The MP’s carefully load the prisoners on buses to take them to an airplane and eventual freedom.

Our Typical American Dad meanwhile has found the mysterious Marcus and dutifully delivers the package. We discover it contains money – lots of it. Marcus then informs the TAD that it’s not enough, he wants $50,000 more before he gives up the “item.” Upon calling Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”), the TAD is ordered to get the item at all costs or his family is toast. Desperate, the TAD asks to see the item and when Marcus brings it out for inspection, the TAD shockingly kills him.

Back at the site of the recent firefight, CTU recovers a hard drive with some engineering specs on them. Since they’re in Arabic, Jack calls for Assad to lend his assistance. Curtis objects but Jack prevails and the former terrorist informs us that the specs are for a trigger device for a nuclear weapon. But not just any nuclear weapon. The device is made to trigger a so-called “suitcase” nuke.

There has been a lively debate among nuclear experts about whether or not “suitcase” nukes could actually fit into a suitcase. Former Congressman Curt Weldon famously lugged a suitcase around Capitol Hill for a few days to dramatize our vulnerability. Weldon’s Committee held hearings on the subject which was dramatized by Russian General Alexander Lebed’s famous claim on 60 Minutes that there were a hundred suitcase nukes that Moscow couldn’t account for.

Best guess? Possible but not likely. And the amount of maintenance that would be necessary (changing many impossible to get components every six months or so) to keep the bomb capable of detonating probably means that at the moment, terrorists don’t have one.

Meanwhile, a man is identified as part of the plot but no one knows his real name. Seeing a picture of the suspect, Assad recognizes him immediately as one Hassan Nameer, a nuclear expert who has expertise in suitcase nukes. When Chloe runs the name, the database spits out the fact that Nameer was being held at Palmdale. Immediately, the President realizes that Fayed’s “demands” were nothing more than a smokescreen to free Nameer. Bill stops the plane from taking off but too late! A turncoat American soldier hid Nameer in a luggage compartment on the bus that took the inmates to the airport, killed one of his fellow soldiers, and freed to the terrorist to hook up with Fayed to complete the work of arming the bomb.

Once he realizes he has escaped, Bill loses his famous cool:

Bill: Nameer is a known terrorist with possible access to suitcase nukes and he escapes in broad daylight.


Everyone on the floor looks anxiously at Bill. The guy has never raised his voice, not even to Chloe. Clearly, everyone is starting to feel the strain.

Back at the White House, another grim meeting, this time about the consequences of the detonation of a suitcase nuke in a large city. The number of deaths and serious injuries could be in the hundreds of thousands. That cuts it. Palmer says in a voice reminiscent of Commissioner Gordon summoning Batman, “Get me Jack Bauer!”

But Bauer tries to beg off, feigning being out of practice. Nonsense. Jack’s already offed two bad guys and made a deal with a reformed terrorist. Sounds like he hasn’t missed a beat.

Except he has, of course. Jack is tired of the responsibility but when the President says “I need you” to run the operation, Jack’s finely developed sense of duty overcomes his misgivings and he agrees to run the hunt for Fayed and Nameer as well as stop the detonation of the nuke. But Curtis is still balky about working with Assad. Jack asks Chloe to look into any connection between Curtis and Assad.

Nameer takes a magic carpet ride and arrives at Fayed’s lair just minutes after having escaped (on foot) from detention. He even mentions he had to come all the way across town – a feat that for any normal Angelino takes hours. No matter. We get our first look at The Gadget. Funny, it doesn’t look that dangerous…

Having made his first kill, The Typical American Dad calls Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) and demands the release of his family. The terrorist gives him one – his wife – and threatens his son unless he delivers the device to Fayed at the designated address (which is overheard by young Scott Wallace). Although agreeing not to call the Police after her release and conversation with her husband, The Typical American Mom dials 911 anyway. The police pass on the info to CTU and Jack realizes they are hot on the trail when the TAM mentions that she overheard Fayed’s name while being held by the terrorist. Jack and Curtis take the TAC team to the Wallace house to rescue young Scott and grab Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”)

After confirming with a Middle Eastern ambassador that Assad is indeed seeking to lay down his arms, the President calls Jack and asks to speak with Assad. Palmer offers him immunity for all his past crimes as well as protection if he will help catch Fayed and foil his nefarious plans. Assad agrees in principle, but like all good terrorists, he wants to see it in writing.

Back at Anacostia Detention Center, Walid has a conversation with another inmate that leads him to believe the man is involved in the terrorist attacks. He makes it a point to listen in to a conversation between two inmates, trying to get as much information as possible.

Our Typical American DAD finally makes it to Fayed’s hideout. As he is ushered into Fayed’s presence, Nameer eagerly takes the device and proclaims that it’s just the ticket to light up the sky with the fires of burning infidels. TAD puts two and two together and realizes what the terrorists are up to and says “You’re nuts!” which is true as far as it goes but not a smart thing to say if you want to stay alive when surrounded by about 20 bloodthirsty jihadis. TAD begs Fayed to call Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) and have his son released. On his way out the door, Fayed makes the call and orders the terrorist not to release Scott but kill him instead. The mastermind makes his way to another safe house while Nameer races to complete his work and arm the bomb.

CTU TAC arrives at the Wallace house. Just a Typical American House in a Typical American Suburban Neighborhood. So quiet, so peaceful. And yet, the wolf has been living among them for years, waiting for the day when he could tear off his sheep’s clothing and reveal his true nature. “Achhhmed” was just the friendly guy who lived across the street 3 short hours ago. Now he orders Scott to kneel and turn around so that he doesn’t see the shot coming.

Just in time, CTU busts in and distracts the terrorist. Despite orders from Jack to take him alive, a TAC member sees Bauer and Ahmed pointing guns at each other and fires.

It doesn’t matter how we pronounce Ahmed’s name anymore.

But young Scott comes to the rescue when he recalls the address that Ahmed had given his dad to take the package. Two other TAC teams race to the location while Jack finalizes the agreement with Assad and the United States government. Assad asks for a few minutes to examine the fine print which makes one pine for the days when terrorists were simply terrorists and not also versed in the nuances of law. I guess it just goes to show that lawyers have indeed taken over the world.

Back at Anacostia, Sandra finally gets in to see Walid. She also, finally, gets slapped down by someone for spouting her civil liberties absolutist positions – and it’s none other than Walid who tries to shake some sense into the woman. After telling her that he overheard some prisoners talking that made him think they were not innocent Muslims locked up by a capricious and bigoted government, Sandra starts in with her shrill talking points:

SANDRA: They’re being held illegally! Any statement they make…

WALID: Damnit Sandra! Stop being a lawyer for one damn minute! These guys may be planning something that could hurt a lot of people…

Well, that shuts her up. Temporarily at least. Walid tells her that the two inmates kept repeating a phrase in Arabic. He has Sandra memorize it and promise to pass it on to the FBI.

Back at the Wallace house, Curtis is told of the deal with Assad and gets a very sour look on his face – as if he were sucking on the sourest lemons possible. Jack doesn’t give it another thought because he thinks Curtis is on board when he says “If that’s the way it has to be, then that’s the way it has to be.”

Too late! Chloe calls with the news that there is indeed a history between Curtis and Assad. It seems after the Gulf War, Curtis’ outfit was on patrol and ambushed by Assad’s men. Curtis was wounded and the terrorists took two of his men as hostages. After releasing a video showing them begging for their lives and then beheading the unfortunates, it is not surprising that Curtis is a little unbalanced where Assad is concerned.

And we see just how unbalanced when Assad, on his way back to CTU headquarters, is accosted by Curtis just before he gets in the CTU van and finds himself looking down the barrel of Curtis’ gun.

Jack, realizing that Curtis may try something, races out side and draws his own gun, pointing it at his friend, telling him to move away and put his gun down. For several tense moments both men face off against each other. Curtis with his gun to Assad’s head. Jack with his gun pointed at the gap between Curtis’ vest and neck. When Curtis, crying now, shakes his head and says “I can’t let this scum live,” Jack realizes there is nothing for it.

The sound of the shot is not only a surprise, but the wound that opens up in Curtis’ neck along with the look of total surprise and shock on his face makes us catch our breath. As his friend slowly sinks to the ground with the life oozing out of the wound in his neck, Jack is confronted with the ultimate irony of his life; he has just saved his mortal enemy by shooting and perhaps killing his friend.

It is too much. The retching sound as Jack throws up makes us all queasy. This is not the Jack Bauer we’ve come to know for 5 years. We always knew he had a soft spot for women, children, and dogs but we’ve never seen his soul ripped open as we have here. Not even when his wife was lying lifeless on the floor at CTU have we seen Jack so totally, and utterly exposed. Even a pep talk from Bill can’t assuage the guilt and self loathing that has Jack saying “I’m done” with a finality that makes us think he really means it.

That is, until the nuke goes off.

CTU moves in on Fayed’s headquarters just as Nameer is finishing up the trigger. In the ensuing firefight, with the TAD looking on in absolute horror, Nameer makes it to the “on” switch of the bomb and flips it.

The two million degree heat from the detonated nuke obliterates anything and everything within a half mile of ground zero. And rising into the morning sky with a terrible majesty is “The Finger Of God” – the all too familiar but still an unbelievable sight of a mushroom shaped cloud, billowing upward and outward. Near its base, a roiling, churning sea of fire and smoke.

The White House, CTU, and Jack all look on in speechless horror. The unthinkable has been thought. The unspeakable has been spoken. And America will never be the same.

Milo brings the translation of the Arabic phrase overheard by Walid at Anacostia: “Five Visitors.” There are four more of these mini-cataclysms out there. Four more American cities that could suffer the same fate. And CTU has no leads, no clues, and apparently, no Jack. What are we going to do?

What are we going to do?


Obviously the casualty count from the nuke will be substantial. In deference to the fact that such an event should not be made light of, I will forgo adding the casualties from the nuke attack to this body count.

But the terrorist and TAC team count at CTU that occurred before the blast will be included.

112 confirmed dead in Baltimore
200 confirmed dead in Boston
Fayed’s man blows himself up
Ahmed becomes a permanent sleeper agent
1 CTU TAC man down at Fayed’s headquarters
2 terrorists taken out by TAC prior to nuke blast


Show: 347


Chloe speaking to Morris about Milo:

CHLOE: He could bounce you. That’s what I think you want sometimes.

MORRIS: Why would I want that?

CHLOE: I don’t know. It’s your character flaw. Not mine.

By: Rick Moran at 11:48 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)

Wry Mouth linked with 24: Spoilers Aplenty
Below The Beltway linked with The Broken Hero, Part II

“I don’t know how to do this anymore.”
(Jack Bauer)

Sure you do, Jack. It’s easy. Just empty your soul of pity, compassion, and empathy while keeping uppermost in your mind that you’re doing it for the good of the country.

I’m sure it will all come back to him eventually. I just hope it comes back to the writers of this show before we’re treated to a full blown outbreak of miasmic political correctness; a whimpering, simpering mish mash of civil liberties speechifying and multicultural hooey that threatens to cloud the focus of the show before it even gets started.

In a phrase; too one dimensional. I don’t mind that the White House Chief of Staff Thomas Lennox (played woodenly by Peter MacNicol) is a forceful advocate for domestic security measures that most Americans would find excessive, unconstitutional, and oppressive. But his mantra – “security has its price” is simple minded slop. I prefer a little nuance with my villains, please.

The angst ridden cries of betrayal are already coming from some of my friends on the right. I’ve seen comments on some conservative sites where people are so upset that they say they’ll never watch the show again – a threat I don’t believe for a moment. No matter how politically correct or terrorist-friendly the show gets, real 24 fans will continue to tune in. And the reason is simple; Jack Bauer is the most compelling character on television. The show may go PC but Jack never will.

But after all, it is a just a television show. And despite the extremely serious nature of the civil liberties vs. security debate perhaps, in the end, it may be that reducing the complex arguments for and against extraordinary security measures to one line sophisms is the best way to get a national conversation going on the topic. Goodness knows we need it. Too often, when it comes to discussing this vital issue, people have been talking past each other rather than trying to come to some kind of consensus on the best way forward.

How do we keep the homeland safe while maintaining our freedom? Anyone who says that this is simple question or that one side or the other is either unpatriotic or in favor of establishing a dictatorship isn’t helping matters any.

As I write this, it has been several hours since the premiere ended and we have yet to hear from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). They’re late. Usually by this time, they would have been tearing up the airwaves with anguished cries, bemoaning the unfair portrayal of Muslims as terrorists while simultaneously calling for a boycott of the show’s advertisers. If they condemned terrorist acts half as enthusiastically as they call for boycotts of shows that attempt to portray the true nature of our enemies, people might pay more attention to them.

All things considered, however, the first two hours was indeed riveting. And the storyline is as realistic as it gets. Pay close attention people because this show may very well be giving us a glimpse of the future. It is much more likely that suicide attacks on buses, trains, shopping malls, and sporting events would be carried out on American soil than nerve gas or nuclear attacks on large cities. And the rather esoteric arguments we are having today about liberty and security may one day become deadly serious debates about the survival of the United States as a free country.

And Jack? I wouldn’t worry about him. Give him a couple of hours, let him get a few kills under his belt and he’ll be as right as rain. On the surface anyway. How did those years of prison and torture affect him psychologically? I hope they make Jack’s struggle to give his life meaning a major part of the show. Coupled with his pursuit of the terrorists, that should make for some first class dramatic television.

SUMMARY: 6:00 AM - 8:00 AM

America is under seige. For eleven weeks, terrorists have been carrying out devastating attacks on “soft targets” killing thousands of Americans and giving the rest of the country the willies.

At the White House, a debate on civil liberties versus security is taking place between former CTU Director Karen Hays, now National Security Advisor, and Thomas Lennox, the smarmy, oily Presidential Chief of Staff. The President, none other than Wayne Palmer, brother of the deceased former President, has his feet firmly planted in both camps – for the moment. He listens to both sides of the argument and then fails to come to a decision regarding setting up detention camps for terrorist suspects. When Lennox chants his “security has its price” mantra Palmer responds “so does freedom, Tom” which is one way for the writers to show both sides of the issue. It was eerie how many of the same arguments have been echoed by both sides in the liberty versus security debate in real life. However, Lennox sounded like a B-list blogger spouting ignorant generalities and meaningless tripe while Hughes sounded reasonable and heroic in defending civil liberties.

Guess which side the writers want you to come down on?

It is at this meeting that we learn of the plan to hand over Jack Bauer, imprisoned by the Chinese for the last 18 months, to a supposed terrorist traitor, one Abu Fayed. In exchange for Jack (and $25 million), he will betray Hamri al-Assad, the terrorist that the government believes is behind the attacks.

Cut to the airport where Bill and Curtis are watching as a C-130 taxis toward them carrying a bearded, unwashed, unkempt Jack Bauer. It was hard to tell if he had just been released from captivity or whether he was on his way to a formal Moveon.Org banquet. The presence of the ubiquitous Mr. Cheng Zhi, the Chinese security agent who kidnapped Jack last year confirmed the fact that yes, Jack was being released from Chinese custody. We also learn from Mr. Cheng that in the nearly two years that Jack was a prisoner, he never spoke a word. (Too bad we can’t get Jack’s daughter Kim to attempt that trick.)

At CTU, Chloe gets nosy when she’s asked to set up a link to military operation that she knows nothing about. She confronts Nadia Yassir, second in command at CTU-LA and finds out that Jack is to be handed over to his enemies in exchange for information on the whereabouts of Assad. The military and CTU will use the information to take out Assad and his network. None to pleased, Chloe is comforted by her ex-husband Morris who also works in the office.

The producers have spiffed Chloe up considerably from her previous incarnations on the show. She’s gone from a typically disheveled, absent minded geek to a wannabe hottie with brown hair instead of her original blond tresses, nice clothes, and even a dab or two of makeup. But you know what they say about putting a hog in a dress. They could make Chloe into the most glamorous looking woman on the show and she’d still be, well…Chloe.

At the airport, Bill fills Jack in on what’s expected of him – ritual suicide. Jack doesn’t bat an eyelash. The first word out of his mouth is “Audrey” which means at some point in the next 24 hours, we will have a reunion scene with tears and hugs and kisses – probably just before Audrey is kidnapped. Jack also asks about Kim and is informed that neither woman knows he’s been released. Fans of the show devoutly hope that Kim is kept blissfully ignorant of her father’s release so that the American viewing public can be spared an appearance by Elisha Cuthbert, the only female in film history to be outacted by a cougar.

As Jack cleans up in preparation for his death, he takes off his shirt revealing horrible scarring from the torture he received at the hands of the Chinese. He appears a broken man, resigned to his fate.

Emerging from the airport shaved, shorn, and wearing a shirt buttoned all the way to the top (making him look decidedly mild mannered and a little nerdy), Jack takes a call from the President who apologizes for asking him to sacrifice his life. Barely coherent, Jack assures President Palmer that he knows what’s expected of him. After hanging up, Lennox assures the President he is doing the right thing: “It isn’t right, it isn’t wrong. It’s simply our only option…” – something that could be realistically said about many decisions by many Presidents over the years.

Arriving at the exchange point, Bill has a tender (in a manly sort of way) moment with Jack where we learn what really makes Bauer tick:

BILL: I don’t know what to say, Jack.

JACK: Do you understand the difference between dying for something and dying for nothing? The only reason I fought so hard to stay alive in China was because I didn’t want to die for nothing. Today, I can die for something my way, my choice. To be honest with you, it will be a relief.

This is a point about Bauer I was trying to make in my piece in The American Thinker yesterday. It’s not that Jack has a death wish. But he does crave the release that a meaningful death can bring.

Back at the White House, Karen discovers the nefarious plans of Lennox to set up detention centers for suspected terrorists despite the President’s refusal to authorize them. Once again, we are treated to the “security has its price so get used to it” argument from the faux conservative Lennox. Perhaps the writers will go all the way and make Lennox into a Manchurian Candidate type of character who talks tough against terrorists but actually willingly does their bidding by turning Americans against each other and destroying civic life. That kind of nuance may be beyond the writers, however, who seem to revel in portraying many political types – both right and left – one dimensionally.

Cut to a quiet suburban neighborhood where The Typical American Family is arguing about whether to send their child to school given the security situation. The father wants to cower in the house. The mother wants to go on living their lives normally. Their son Scott cuts the argument short when he informs that their their Friendly, Liberal, Neighborhood Arab Terrorist family across the street just had a visit from the FBI and the father is being led away in cuffs.

Seeing some neighborhood bullies approach their innocent looking neighbor’s house, the boy wants to rush to his defense but is restrained by the father who intercedes on behalf of Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhhmed”) and then invites the young man into his house for protection. It’s only later we find out that Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) is actually a real live, honest to goodness terrorist and that the father and son are being played for fools.

Meanwhile, Abu Fayed arrives to take Jack away. Chloe and Morris, using a little of their well known geek magic, are able to pirate a signal off of a commercial satellite in order to keep an eye on Jack. Alas, Fayed has thought of every contingency, even getting access to CTU surveillance protocols, so that Chloe’s clandestine caper is easily exposed. Threatening to break his deal with CTU unless the satellite is redirected, Fayed gets Nadia to nix Chloe’s coverage. He then teases our heroes by saying that he will now “think about” whether to reveal the location of Assad.

Nadia and Bill are fit to be tied with Chloe. In phone con with Karen telling her of Chloe’s stupidity, Karen bemoans the idea that “there are people in the Administration “willing to tear up the Constitution in the name of national security,” something she believes that country may not recover from.

If the country could survive the curtailment of civil liberties during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, the idea that it wouldn’t recover from whatever temporary measures were deemed necessary (albeit unconstitutional in the strictest sense and deplorable from a civil liberties standpoint) during this conflict reveals perhaps how little faith the writers have in this country. When people of good will on both sides can agree, the “torn up Constitution” can be put back together as it was in the aftermath of all of those conflicts.

At Fayed’s headquarters, Jack is facing death with quiet resignation. Even the prospect of torture (payback for what Jack did to Fayed’s brother years ago), doesn’t deter him from reminding Fayed that he made a deal with CTU and that he has to give them Assad’s whereabouts. To make his death even more painful, Fayed tries to take away any meaning that Jack’s selfless act would bring by informing him that Assad is not the terrorist mastermind behind all of the attacks but rather it is he, Abu Fayed, who is the actual perpetrator and Assad has come to America to stop him because he wishes to lay down his arms and negotiate with the west.

Uh-huh. And I was a finalist for the Miss America pageant not so many years ago.

Leaving aside that issue for the moment, Fayed does indeed call CTU and tell them where to find Assad. Then, just as he is about to snip off one of Jack’s fingers, he is informed that he has an important call. Leaving Jack alone with only one guard (stupid, stupid, terrorist!), we learn that the caller is none other than Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) who tells Fayed about his father. The terrorist mastermind could care less about that, only wondering about “the package” that Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) has in his possession. The way he said “package” can only mean trouble for America.

And Jack? Channeling Bela Lugosi, he uses his teeth to rip the heart monitor cuff off of his arm, thus feigning death. The lone terrorist guard leans down to investigate and Jack once again uses his teeth – this time to sever the jugular of the guard. Finding the keys, he makes his escape. Fayed’s search is cut short when one of the terrorists reminds him that they must get back so that “the operation” – one designed to “kill thousands” of Americans – can be carried out on time.

Put Ahmed’s “package” together with Fayed’s “operation” and you’ve got a nightmare waiting to happen.

Meanwhile, Jack finds a nearby parking garage where there just happens to be one of the few cars left on the road without an alarm system, wheel locks, or electronic ignition. Ripping some wires from underneath the dash, Jack magically starts it. After informing CTU and the White House of his escape and being rebuffed by the President in his effort to call off the military strike on Assad, Jack speeds to Assad’s location in an effort to save the good terrorist so that he can get to Fayed. Jack gets the address from the phone book in his cell, simply looking under the listing for “Terrorists: Reformed.”

In another call to the Friendly, Liberal, Neighborhood Arab Terrorist, Fayed orders him to “retrieve the package.” Making his excuses to the Typical American Family, he leaves the house only to be confronted by young Scott who apologizes for all the bad things that have happened to him and, by extension, all the bad things we Americans are doing to innocent Arab terrorists just like him. Scott chalks it up to “the whole world is crazy.” Ahmed replies “It’s been crazy for a while, you just haven’t noticed,” which is true as far as it goes. Someone as oblivious as young Scott wouldn’t have much of a clue about the real danger “Achhhmed” and his merry band of suicidal, beheading fanatics pose to America.

Jack, however, does recognize the danger – at least we all used to think so. As Jack creeps up on Assad’s hideout, we wonder what in God’s name he’s doing warning this terrorist scum – a man that Jack knows has killed hundreds of innocents. This is not a case of the ends justifying the means. After all, Jack doesn’t have to save him. All he has to do is capture him and torture the information from him regarding Fayed’s whereabouts.

And when Jack enters the hideout and points his gun at Assad, you half expect him to shoot it out with the thugs right there. But Jack needs to know where Fayed is so he helps Assad find the traitor in his midst with the transponder our military is honing in on and then spirits him away just as the helicopters blow the place to smithereens.

It is mystifying. And a little disconcerting. Has Jack gone wimpy? The question is answered a little later when he and Assad, along with the wounded terrorist traitor, take refuge in a house. It is there we discover that Fayed’s information is true – that Assad wants to “lay down his arms” and “negotiate with the west.” He wants to “mainstream” his organization.

The obvious parallel with Lebanon’s terrorist group Hizbullah is nauseating. The first question we might ask is just what there is to “negotiate.” Our security? Our freedom? It’s hard to tell whether Assad is supposed to be a Bin Laden character or, more likely, a standin for Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah (who has no intention of negotiating with anybody and threatens to start a civil war in Lebanon if anyone tries to take away his guns).

And to make matters even worse, did you notice that when Assad was giving his little speech about his peaceful intentions, that there was an American flag covering the window behind him? This murderous thug was actually framed by the flag with the lighting bringing the flag to prominence. It made me queasy.

Strange and troubling.

Things get even stranger when Jack starts to question the terrorist traitor. Beginning the ritual torture of the man, hearing his cries and screams of pain, Jack loses interest quickly saying that he believes him when he says that he doesn’t know where Fayed is. This doesn’t satisfy Assad who really applies the screws to the hapless traitor who then gives up a location where he knows Fayed’s men will be.

It is here that Jack, realizing he may have lost his touch – and heart – says “I don’t know how to do this anymore.” We hope he remembers very soon. We’ve still got 22 hours to go.

So Jack and Assad become the most unlikely anti-terror team in history as they seek to bring down Fayed together so that Assad can safely lay down the arms of his happy group of martyrs and negotiate whatever he intends to negotiate with the west. I sure hope that after his usefulness is at an end, Jack remembers that the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist.

At CTU headquarters, Chloe discovers that it was Jack that helped Assad escape death. She tells Bill who plans to keep this little tidbit to himself for the time being. One can imagine Lennox loosing the dogs on Jack if he found out.

We meet Sandra Palmer, the President’s sister, who is a liberal attorney for what appears to be a CAIR-like group of Muslim-Americans. No terrorists here, she chirps confidently as the FBI shows up asking to see personnel records from the group. The FBI leaves in a huff but from the look the Agent in charge gives Palmer, you know they’ll be back. Terribly upset that the FBI would ask for voluntary cooperation from anyone, she calls her brother to complain. She voices her mistrust of Lennox and his crew of mini-authoritarians, saying that they “treat the Constitution like a list of suggestions” which is extremely clever and would probably elicit a titter at an ACLU meeting but is hardly the point. The scary part is that the Constitution does indeed allow for such actions – just ask Japanese-Americans who lived during World War II.

Back at Terrorist Central, Fayed gives a last minute pep talk to a suicide bomber about ready to go on a mission. We don’t know where he will strike but there is more talk of the operation that will kill thousands.

As expected, the FBI returns to the CAIR-like group’s headquarters, this time with a document known as an Administrative Warrant. This is actually a warrant that doesn’t need to be issued by the courts. It is a warrant that was authorized by the Patriot Act but must go through a rigorous approval process by both the local FBI office and the national headquarters. Unless they believed that there was information about a nuclear weapon about to go off, there is no way on God’s green earth that the FBI agents would have been able to secure such a warrant in a matter of minutes. But, when trying to show how close the US is coming to a dictatorship, anything goes.

Sandra, not willing to have the FBI get a hold of the names and addresses of employees, electronically shreds the files. The FBI arrests her along with the head of the organization who apparently is her lover.

Meanwhile, Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”) retrieves “the package” which was hidden inside the wall of his house. Before he can leave, his bigoted neighbor pays him another visit and starts to beat on him. The terrorist is able to get his hands on a gun and kills the neighbor just as Scott shows up. Showing concern for his wounds, Scott suggests a trip to the hospital. Unfortunately, the young man realizes too late that not everything in this world is as it appears. Sometimes your Arab neighbor across the street really is a terrorist.

“We’re friends,” says young Scott. “Friends? You can’t even pronounce my name!” says Ahmed (pronounced “Achhhmed”).

Jack and Assad are waiting at the designated intersection when Fayed’s men show up. Assad informs us that it is a suicide bomber and his handler. The unlikely anti-terrorist team follows the two men to the train station. Jack sticks with the bomber and tells Assad to stay with the handler.

Boarding the train with the bomber, Jack is suddenly confronted by the conductor who demands his ticket. Having left his wallet in China and thus is without funds to pay for the ride, Jack informs the conductor that he is trying to stop a terrorist attack. I’ll have to remember that one the next time I get on the Chicago and Northwestern for a trip to the loop.

Just as the terrorist is about to set the bomb off, Jack intervenes and literally kicks the guy off the train so that the bomb explodes several blocks short of its intended target – Union Station – which is where the handler ended up to make sure that the suicide attack went off properly. Seeing that it didn’t, the handler calls Fayed and gives him the bad news. The call was intercepted by the NSA who were illegally monitoring the innocent terrorists, egregiously violating their privacy and Constitutional rights but also confirming what Jack said; that it is Fayed and not Assad who is the terrorist mastermind.

So the stage is set for Assad and Jack to take down Fayed together while the White House and CTU are left wondering what their next move will be. President Palmer thinks that “things are going to get much worse.” Knowing the writers for the series as we do, that would seem to be an understatement.


As has been my practice for the previous two years, only confirmed, on screen kills will be part of this body count.

22 Americans died in the bus explosion. Also, scratch one suicide bomber.
Jack reverts to cannibalism and eats his first kill.
Air strike sent 4 of Assad’s men to hell.
Assad kills the traitor.
Ahmed (pronounced…Oh, forget it!) offs his neighbor.
Another suicide bomber dies when Jack kicks him off the train.


Jack: 2
Show: 31


Something new this year. I will pick three quotes from Chloe and have my readers vote on which one will win “Chloeism of the Week” honors.

1. To Morris after he got chewed out by Milo:

“Morris, I had the same problem with Department Heads when I first started. Then I learned how to fit in.”

Only those of us who truly know and love Chloe can appreciate that one!

2. To Bill, admitting her role in the satellite caper:

It’s my fault. Fire me.

3. Same setting:

BILL: Chloe, look at me.

CHLOE: I’d rather not!

Other suggestions will be considered.


My friend Steve Strum will once again confront the logical inconsistencies in the series with his weekly “24isms.” Fascinating stuff!

By: Rick Moran at 12:38 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (26)


This article originally appears in The American Thinker

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!”
(Inscription above the Gates of Hell from Dante’s Inferno)

Tonight, 16 million TV viewers will make themselves as comfortable as possible on the edge of their seats as Fox Network’s pulse-pounding actioneer 24 returns for another season. This means that an American entertainment icon will also make a return, sparking both intense loyalty and raging controversy.

Jack Bauer (played by Emmy Award winner Kiefer Sutherland), the fictional counter terrorism agent working for the fictional Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU). is perhaps the most recognizable character in American television today. Even people who have never seen the show have an opinion about him. Bauer’s well know predilection for torture, violence, rebellion against authority, and a rather novel approach to civil liberties, has sparked debate far beyond the confines of the show. Serious forums involving intellectuals and constitutional experts have convened to discuss the implications of what Bauer does in order to succeed and defeat the terrorists threatening America. Numerous articles in newsmagazines from Newsweek, to The New Republic have been written about Bauer discussing his impact on our culture and politics.

Bauer has transcended the entertainment world and become a political talisman; stroked by the right and bashed by the left, 24 has become the favorite guilty pleasure of the political class in America. Even many liberals confess their addiction to the show, despite Bauer’s enormously troubling use of torture and the cavalier way in which he disregards the constitutional niceties. And many conservatives, seeing Jack taking the fight directly to our enemies (along with maintaining a moral certitude that is both refreshing and emotionally satisfying), cheer Jack on as he battles evil.

Last year at this time on these pages, I called Bauer “The Perfect Post 9-11 Hero:”

Torn as America is between getting the job done at all costs while upholding American ideals, Jack simply can’t help himself. He necessarily sees the world in stark relief, a place populated by some really nasty thugs who don’t even blink at the idea of murdering hundreds of thousands of people. We recoil at some of Jack’s tactics. But we recognize that Jack is the guy doing what needs to be done to keep us safe. This makes Jack Bauer the perfect hero in a post 9/11 America. He doesn’t engage in any kind of self destructive hand wringing about not being able to do anything about the threat. His doubts — if he has any — have been left on the cutting room floor. He sacrifices his personal life for the greater good. In this respect, he is a true patriot.

And while Bauer still fills that bill, events transpired on the show last year that narrowed the focus of Jack’s universe and ultimately, made his quest to bring down the terrorists a personal matter.

The murder of ex-President Palmer, Tony Almeida, and Michelle Dressler along with the terrorist nerve gas attack on CTU headquarters turned Bauer into an avenging angel of death. Stopping the terrorists became a means to an end – finding and killing the murderer of his cherished friends. Every thread Bauer unravelled, every bad guy he killed brought him closer to the man who took so much from him. Christopher Henderson (played brilliantly by Peter Weller), a super patriot who wanted to use terrorist attacks as a smokescreen to secure oil rights in the Caucuses, met his end not in a violent shoot out but by cold blooded, deliberate execution. There was something shocking in the way Jack carried out the sentence of death:

JACK: You are responsible for the death of David Palmer, Tony Almeida, and Michelle Dessler. They were friends of mine.

HENDERSON: That’s the way it works.

The sound of the shot from Jack’s gun was jarring. The realization that Bauer was capable of such a cold blooded act – especially since Henderson would have had information valuable to the continuing hunt for suspects – was disconcerting because it took the character into uncharted waters. Bauer was human after all. And the sense of loss that drove him to what can only be described as murder had finally overwhelmed him.

This theme of loss has been a part of the show ever since the end of Season 1 when Baur’s wife was killed by a CTU mole. It seems that ever since that first awful day, Bauer has been descending slowly into hell; a place not of his own making but one that he chooses to inhabit in order to give his life meaning. Indeed, one of the most common questions asked about Bauer is does Jack have a death wish? Placing himself deliberately in harms way as often as he does, it may very well be that in some way, Bauer longs for the release that death can bring him. But what he really craves is to fill the emptiness in his heart, the hole in his soul. If death is the only means to that end, Bauer will gladly take it.

The death of his wife and estrangement from his daughter along with the death of almost all the people he ever cared about has exacted an emotional and psychological toll on the troubled hero that makes him an extremely vulnerable character one the audience wants to wrap their arms around and protect. This vulnerability was never more in evidence than in the conclusion of last year’s final episode when, having been kidnapped by the Chinese for a past transgression, he is lying beaten and bloodied in the hold of a cargo ship bound for Shanghai. Slowly, Bauer raises his head and says in a pained and pleading voice,

“Kill me….Please kill me…” .

This from a man who has faced death a thousand times, a thousand different ways. Does the prospect of spending the rest of his life in a Chinese prison make him think that death is preferable to an existence without friends, family, or purpose?

It is this kind of vulnerability that will drive the show this year. The Emmy Award winning production team of writers, producers, and special effects wizards were faced with the problem all long running TV dramas must come to grips with: How do you top what you’ve done previously?

Rather than go for bigger terrorist threats, larger explosions, and more expansive plot lines, the drama this year will be telescoped to an emotional level not experienced by fans of the series before. Released from the Chinese prison where he has been beaten and whipped into apparent submission, Bauer will spend the first 24 hours of his freedom trying to stop a year long spate of terrorist attacks that have the country in an uproar. A war in the White House is going on between civil liberties absolutists and security advocates. But the heart of the show will be the emotional turmoil and self doubt of Bauer himself. Jack’s personal demons are finally going to get a thorough airing this year and it should make for compelling, riveting television.

In order to defeat the terrorists, Bauer will once again have to descend to their designated circle of hell to confront them. From the terrorists inhabiting Dante’s Seventh Circle who commit “violence against their neighbors,” to the bureaucratic hypocrites, evil counselors, and falsifiers in the Eighth Circle, all the way down to the worst of the worst – the betrayers of their own country in the Ninth Circle where Dante saved his most gruesome descriptive of punishment – the tormented souls are condemned to gnaw on the heads of their neighbor for eternity.

But unlike Dante, Jack has no guarantee that he will escape. He has been living in his own personal hell for so long that it is an open question whether he can tell the difference between the light and the darkness. For him, there is only a grayish existence, both in and out of the world. His one connection to the sane, the rational – his girlfriend Audrey Raines – is tenuous at best. Audrey and Jack’s past is one of enormous pain and betrayal. There is much to overcome if those two are to find any kind of happiness.

But I doubt whether Bauer will be thinking much about happiness in the coming 24 hours. And that is the secret to success of the show. It is anti-formulaic. Just when you think you can’t be surprised any more, the writers drop a bomb so unexpected, you don’t know whether to clap your hands in glee or throw something at the TV screen. Unexpected deaths of series regulars is the signature of the show and there is no reason to expect that will change this season.

So sit tight, get set, and strap it down. We’re about ready to experience another thrill ride that will alternately have us gripping our chairs in white knuckled suspense and cheering Jack on with a gusto we usually reserve for our sports teams. Like the knights of old, he sallies forth to engage in single combat with the terrorists, defending the honor of the United States and protecting her through the sheer force of his iron will. There’s nothing like it on television. And there’s never been anything like it before.


As I write this at 9:00 PM Sunday night, an ice storm is brewing in the Chicago area. Already there is a good 1/2 inch of ice coating the driveway.

There is also a half inch of ice coating the power lines. If they go, it will probably be a couple of days before I get power back.

No power would mean no internet for me. If this site isn’t updated by noon tomorrow, you’ll know that we’ve had a power outage.

Otherwise, my 24 post recapping the first two hours will be on the site by 10:30 AM at the latest. I work Sunday nights 10:00 PM - 6:00 AM and it will take a few hours to review the video and write the post.

If we have power, my Tuesday recap will appear at the usual time – around 7:00 AM central.

UPDATE: 1/15

Okay. I’ve had an intermittent internet connection this morning which will delay the posting of last night’s summary until perhaps 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM central.

I apologize for the delay and thank everyone for their patience.

By: Rick Moran at 12:30 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (19)

Captain's Quarters linked with Rome Returns