The Christian Science Monitors asks: Does the Fox television show “24,” which features a heroic counter-terrorism agent who must stop a conspiracy that imperils the nation, encourage real-life interrogators to “go too far” when they question terrorist suspects? This week’s New Yorker features a story about Joel Surnow, the show’s creator and a self-described “right-wing nut.” The story says Surnow has been visited by military officers, FBI interrogators and human rights groups, all of whom said the show’s graphic depictions of the torture of suspects was “hurting efforts to train recruits in effective interrogation techniques and is damaging the image of the US around the world.”
The military brass said the show’s central political premise – that the letter of American law must be sacrificed for the country’s security – was having a toxic effect. In their view, the show promoted unethical and illegal behavior and had adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers. A retired law professor at West Point told the New Yorker that his students would frequently refer to Jack Bauer in discussions of what permissible in the questioning of terrorist suspects.