- By Henry Bowles
In its latest effort to dissuade troops from following the example set by 24‘s Jack Bauer, the Army is asking Kiefer Sutherland to explain to West Point cadets why they shouldn’t imitate the Fox show’s torture-happy protagonist. Sutherland, probably alarmed by the slew of reports that interrogators are adopting the Bauer approach to torture, has agreed to pay the cadets a visit. The Army is hoping Sutherland will have better luck than West Point professors, whose in-class attempts to explain that “Jack Bauer is a criminal” have yet to resonate, as revealed in the New Yorker‘s critical profile of 24 creator Joel Surnow:
Yet the motto of many of [retired West Point Professor Gary Solis’ former] students was identical to Jack Bauer’s: “Whatever it takes.” His students were particularly impressed by a scene in which Bauer barges into a room where a stubborn suspect is being held, shoots him in one leg, and threatens to shoot the other if he doesn’t talk. In less than ten seconds, the suspect reveals that his associates plan to assassinate the Secretary of Defense.
The failure to temper future soldiers’ enthusiasm for the Bauer approach—in addition to reports that interrogators in Iraq plagiarize tactics displayed on the show—had previously led West Point’s dean to make a bizarre, on-set appearance before begging 24‘s producers to be gentler with the show’s almost exclusively Muslim torture victims.
Amy Zegart is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. She is also a faculty affiliate at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and a professor of political economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (by courtesy), where she co-teaches a course on managing political risk with Condoleezza Rice. Previously, Zegart taught at UCLA, worked at McKinsey & Company, and served on the NSC staff. Her academic writing includes two award-winning books: Spying Blind (Princeton University Press, 2007), which examines intelligence adaptation failures before 9/11, and Flawed by Design (Stanford University Press, 1999), which chronicles the evolution of America’s national security architecture. She recently finished a book on congressional intelligence oversight, Eyes on Spies (Hoover Institution Press, 2011), and is currently working on a popular book about intelligence in the post-9/11 world. Zegart has also written about national security in the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Slate. A former Fulbright Scholar, she received an A.B. in East Asian Studies from Harvard and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford. A native Kentuckian, she lives in California with her husband and three children.| Amy Zegart |