Killing the Messenger…or, What Would Jack Bauer Do? (reposted commentary)

[Fast-forward three years— its 2018, and we in the blogger world and general news-junky fellowship are on the brink of yet another Trump-Era scandal of true Alice-in-Wonderland proportions.       The new CIA Director, who was appointed just a few hours ago— Gina Haspel, was promoted in the wake of new firings by the President.    She faces grueling confirmation examination before assuming the Director’s chair.      Ms. Haspel, a thirty year veteran of the CIA, has some baggage left over from the Bush-era torture scandals hearings, conducted during the Obama-administration.

Here is a post I wrote at the time, and in view of the tempest that is about to surface over Ms. Haspel’s significant role in the supervision of the torture hearings by congress, featuring the water-boarding and other techniques used against U.S. prisoners.

Jack Bauer, for those of us who were on Mars during the years that the excellent and suspenseful TV series called “24” was aired.   The Jack Bauer character was played by Keifer Sutherland, who now plays the role of the U.S. President on the TV series “Designated Survivor.”]

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KILLING THE MESSENGER…OR, WHAT WOULD JACK BAUER DO?
(Re-posted from Sometimes, 2015.)

Sometimes, 2015.

Often the” tattle-tale” gets in more trouble than the actual culprit.  The kid that breaks the vase while showing off baseball prowess  in the living room gets less flack than the sibling who tells on him.    The gang-banger who reports a robbery to police will be permanently ostracized by peers, while the robber gets off with a slap on the wrist.  This is one of the truisms of childhood, and  honor-among-thieves is often admired, at least secretly.

So in the current news circus–particularly the round-the-clock “spinning of yarns” news channel CNN–the cry of “kill the messenger” screeched onto the television screens immediately upon the bomb-shell reading of the Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA following the attack on the World Trade Center on 9-11.

We may have been softened up or prepared for the report by the fictitious Jack Bauer. of 24 fame…who was on the television series the primary “interrogator” of enemies, and when he was forced to resort to torture techniques he “reluctantly” rose to the occasion and performed his talents for the good of the agency.   Unfortunately, sometimes the people Jack Bauer was forced to torture were not always guilty of anything.  Darn!  Jack always felt appropriately bad when that happened.

So now there are the inevitable cries of “political propaganda,”  and a scramble to soft-peddle or excuse terrible occurrences that we, as a nation under God, are not supposed to do.  Shock and awe!

Hopefully the fall-out of this revelation of disaster will reach back into the time of the Central American wars…Nicaragua and El Salvador, and throughout South America.   Iran-Contra is a good place to start.  As a historian of Latin American History, the familiarities of our government involvement “down there” are understood.  Of course then it was the Soviet Union that was the big enemy and any illicit activity was excused by Washington as “anti-Communism.”

The same loud voices against the “tattle-tales” who are revealing the information about torture in the new Senate report are from those who would be in the front lines denouncing such atrocities committed by leaders in other countries.

Killing the messenger is not productive.  Sometimes telling the public what is really going on in our name is not anti-American or political propaganda–it’s just the right thing to do.