January 19, 2011

Jack Bauer and "24": Torture In American Culture

Kate Kovarovic, American University Washington College of Law, has published Our ‘Jack Bauer’ Culture: Eliminating the Ticking Time Bomb Exception to Torture in volume 22 of the Florida Journal of International Law (2010). Here is the abstract.

After eight successful seasons on the air, Americans have come to trust Jack Bauer of 24 to get the job done. Regardless of the circumstances, Jack always succeeds where most men cannot; Jack can always find a way to break a terrorist suspect and obtain the exact information he needs to save the world. Because of this unrealistic portrayal of the successes of torture, Americans have also come to expect that Jack Bauer is not the exception, but the norm. The War on Terror has introduced a new legal theory to the American consciousness: that of the ticking time bomb exception. Despite the country’s pledge to uphold the principles of the ICCPR and the Convention against Torture, more and more Americans are rallying around the ticking time bomb exception, which permits government officials to torture a suspect who might possess critical information regarding an imminent security threat. This paper seeks to convey that the ticking time bomb exception is strictly prohibited under national and international law, and to place the ticking time bomb exception in a more realistic context for the American public.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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