By Patrick Appel
Dahlia Lithwick points out the inanity of a torture program based partially on 24 and the limits of the comparison:
Jack Bauer operates outside the law, and he knows it. Nobody in the fictional world of 24 changes the rules to permit him to torture. For the most part, he does so fully aware that he is breaking the law. Bush administration officials turned that formula on its head. In an almost Nixonian twist, the new interrogation doctrine seems to have become: "If Jack Bauer does it, it can't be illegal."
Bauer is also willing to accept the consequences of his decisions to break the law. In fact, that is the real source of his heroismto the extent one finds torture heroic. He makes a moral choice at odds with the prevailing system and accepts the consequences of the system's judgment by periodically reinventing a whole new identity for himself or enduring punishment at the hands of foreign governments. The "heroism" of the Bush administration's torture apologists is slightly less inspiring. None of them is willing to stand up and admit, as Bauer does, that yes, they did "whatever it takes." They instead point fingers and cry, "Witch hunt."