Wednesday, December 21, 2011

 

Why the Showtime Series Homeland Sucks

Almost all the vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are very positive about their service there and few if any disparage their fellow soldiers' actions there. They know they did a good job there and they're proud of it.

Homeland is a series on Showtime which just finished its first (and last?) season. It's a copy, with liberties, of an Israeli series I have not seen.

I liked it for many episodes. Then the lead guy, Marine Sgt. Brody --now a confirmed traitor/terrorist --(played by Damian Lewis, who was so good as Captain Winters in Band of Brothers) complained to his best friend/fellow marine about their service in Iraq. One could forgive Brody for being bitter, as he was captured and tortured for 8 freakin' years. But his bud just nodded his head in agreement. Wrong. We have done a good job in both places--meeting and defeating the enemy at nearly every engagement. The top leadership, particularly in Iraq, has been uneven, but these were not grunts complaining about the brass and REMFs as is usual and even healthy, this was criticism of the grunts. Bad. Bad.

Then in the finale, it got a lot worse. Here's the background. Our attempt to kill Abu Nidal (here Nazir) with a drone strike went wrong and hit a nearby madrassa and killed a lot of young boys. One of the boys was Nizar's son who was also beloved (platonically) by Brody. The American prisoner was then not being tortured and was actually under 'house arrest' with Nazir and part of his family in an effort to turn him against his country. The son's death caused Brody to vow to kill the man responsible for the strike--now the American Vice President. Then the facile and decidedly unequal moral equivalence begins and never stops.

First, the perpetrators of the botched strike feel so guilty about it that they erase nearly all traces of it. What? Have we put any of our deadly drone strikes in Afghanistan down the memory hole? No, we boldly own up to our few mistakes and our less rare but still regrettable collateral damage; but we also don't apologize for the latter. If the terrorists would seclude themselves from their families and other innocents, then those people would not be killed in drone strikes. Who's putting the innocents at risk? Both of us. By way of historical context--during WWII, we put German and Japanese citizens not in the military at risk with our strategic bombing campaigns (and thereby we killed 600,000 German non-combatants --as many as starved to death in WWI because of the British blockade-- and 900,000 Japanese non-combatants (at least) were killed in city incendiary bombings, including the two nuke strikes in Agust 1945). We won that war.

The central tragedy of war is that during it, you don't do what you should, you do what you can to win. But back to the show.

I'll take a rough equivalence between the fault of the terrorists for surrounding themselves with innocents and our willingness to cause collateral damage when when we drone strike terrorists. I will not take more of the blame as Homeland, through its Jewish Jiminy Cricket, Saul, made clear we deserved. That non-equivalence is just total BS.

But in getting the information of the boy killing drone strike out of the CIA minion, Saul put CDs of our interrogation of certain captured terrorists on the table to blackmail the CIA guy in the know to spill his guts about the "horrible" drone strike. Saul implied that the tapes showed torture. I doubt it. I don't believe short bouts of water boarding is torture (otherwise the late Christopher Hitchens would never have agreed to try it (for about 3 seconds) and thousands of American servicemen would not undergo it during SERE training). There is nothing damning on the CDs (except to the America hating left). Saul says that the tapes, if he turned them over to the NYT (who clearly are America hating enough to publish them) "would be the greatest recruiting tool since Abu Graib." This is another stupid lefty meme. The Muslim extremists did not need the fraternity hazing at the infamous Iraqi prison to recruit hundreds of ground kamikazis before 2003. The day to day actions of Saddam Hussein in the same place before we properly finished Gulf War I make the "horrors" of Abu Graib seem like next to nothing to anyone with a modicum of historical knowledge and common sense. Back to the show.

Part of Brody's torture was being beaten with a stout table leg with its end wrapped in barbed wire. Compare that to the safe waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who later thanked his interrogators for doing it so he could talk with a clean conscious. Which of the two is actual torture?

Saul doesn't seem aware of the huge discrepancy between deliberately targeting innocents and targeting enemies who surround themselves with innocents for safety and/or propaganda gains. He can't see the difference between the real torture Brody received and the harsh but less than torture interrogation we have employed a whole three times. His and the show's equivalence of the real evil of the Muslim aggressors and our regrettably necessary response is morally bankrupt and factually wrong.

The show has lost me as a fan. It should lose you too.

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Comments:
Hitchens, after his difficult 11-second ordeal, stated without a doubt that it was torture. You can't use that example to prove the opposite of what he said.
 
What are you talking about? Saul has never even commented on Brody's torture, so we don't know how he feels about it.

This reads like some bitter dribble filled with arbitrary anger towards anything with a faint scent of a Liberal lean.

I'm not saying that represents you, but that's what this reads like.
 
Ordeal? I know what Mr. Hitchens said. I believe he is wrong. If he was having a white hot iron burning off man parts, for just one of ten thousand available examples, I doubt he would have volunteered for it. We seem to have such a micron thin frame of reference that very smart people can have a wet wash cloth put over their mouth and nose for a few seconds and believe it's torture. The left's nancy-boy ideas of what is torture are not convincing to someone with historical knowledge of how truly awful humans can be to other humans. It demeans the word torture to call Hitchens' "ordeal" torture.

I'm relatively sure Saul didn't approve of what the Muslims did to Brody but the fact that the show has him silent about Brody's actually being tortured and vocal (even indignant) about our non torture interrogation of high value captures and about the ultimate nothing burger we call Abu Graib, I think, makes my point about false moral equivalence. That false moral equivalence is the focus of my anger because it is ultimately the building blocks of a false history, which sees the microscopic specks in our eyes and ignores the huge redwood size beams in Muslim eyes. You are right about the bitter, though.
 
Haha. "I know what the experts, as well as the guy who actually went through it (and who made a complete 180 on his opinions based on that btw), are saying, but I still don't buy it. We could do much worse. Man up, sissy pansy pinko commie fags."

Also, just to point out: What Hitchens went through couldn't even be remotely considered as fucked up as what they actually do to the people they torture. Do you think they give the prisoners the option of tapping out after 11 seconds? Or of going into it wearing pleated slacks and a nice buttoned shirt? To say that it's not torture because Hitchens got to say uncle after 11 seconds is idiotic, to say the least. At least Hitchens realized that. RIP
 
Do you think that waterboarding is worse if you're in, say, some crummy old jeans? I have said in the past that an hour's unrelenting waterboarding would be torture. The facts that make it not torture is that, the way we do it, it does no damage, merely trips an autonomic reaction which resets once the stimulus (water over the nose and mouth) stops. They take pains not to get it in your lungs. They do it for short periods and then stop. You're still looking at what they did to KSM and to Hitchens in the frame of reference that stretches from asking polite questions to returning them to their cell. Compared to those waterboarding seems pretty harsh. But compare it to the actual tortures you know about (which I doubt is extensive) and waterboarding sinks to childs play, if that. We wouldn't do it to our own guys in SERE training if it actually harmed you. Talk about the politically motivated opinions of experts or Hitchens all you want, you can't get past that fact, which is repeated hundreds of times, if not thousands, each year. It's not torture the way we do it. For the last time, you demean the word torture to include this trivial action in its ranks. Stop newspeaking our language! You're an engineer, words aren't as sacred to you as they are to me. Thanks for the comments. They were good.
 
It's torture if done the wrong way, but we don't do it the wrong way, so it's not torture? And you're telling me to stop using newspeak? I'm sure we treat our enterprising journalists and our own trainees with the utmost respect when using waterboarding, but are you honestly going to say with a straight face that we do the exact same thing to terror suspects? Do you have proof of this? I'd be willing to put money down that says, in many cases, they do it the bad way (the torture way, that is) to foreign terror suspects.

And it's cool to dismiss expert claims as 'politically motivated', then admit that to a certain degree it is in fact torture, then blame people for newspeak and completely miss the hypocrisy there.
 
We don't have to to it the bad way because doing it the 'respectful' way works like a charm. We trigger an autonomic response that you cannot withstand, prepare for or reason away. It works every time it's tried and by 'it' I mean the exact same thing we did to the late Mr. Hitchens. Is washing your face with a wet washcloth a little bit torture? Quit "thinking" with your emotions.
 
You're claiming expertise on something that's impossible to know.
 
The bar for being given expert status in Court is incredibly low. I don't pretend to have expertise, I simply have an opinion based on the known facts and my near 60 years of human interface. You still tend to attack the other guy rather than argue that he is wrong using logic. It would be more fun if you would do the former less and the latter more.
 
Hahaha. Ok, let's try this then: Your claims are based on the assumption that the US only and always uses the 'good' waterboarding technique, and not the 'bad' one (i.e. the torturous way, using your prior claim). There is no way to prove this assumption right or wrong, because of the vast secrecy with which the US veils its dealings, especially re: terrorism. Therefore your claim that the US doesn't torture people can be neither proven nor disproved.

I have aired my suspicions that the US does in fact use the bad way of waterboarding, along with other techniques, such as forced nudity, extreme sleep deprivation, etc. Techniques that weren't applied to Hitchens, because he's a good guy and only wanted to know about waterboarding (this also leads me to believe that his careful treatment would not be afforded a foreign terror suspect). These suspicions are also based in revelations over the years, like the outsourced CIA-run torture facilities around the world, the glimpse into Abu Ghraib's conditions, etc. Even the fact that the US wouldn't even let the UN look into the conditions of Bradley Manning, a US soldier being held on US soil, should give an idea of how honest the US is being about their activities.

Hope that helps.
 
It didn't help, but thanks for trying. Your suspicions are not based in fact. Here's a counter example. Area 51 must have alien craft remains because when you go there, they won't let you see them. Ideally, agents sent to do us harm should just disappear (that is, we catch them, detain and interrogate them, try them and then execute them if convicted; and all in secret) that way the enemy can't learn form the mistakes the invaders made to get them caught. We don't do that; we even flirted with the idiotic concept of trying them in open court (where the rules of discovery would be devastating). German spies/saboteurs landed in America during WWII and were immediately caught and were hanged within a few months and one was an American citizen by birth. All OK with the Supreme Court (Ex rel Quirin). We won that war.
 
Roger, can you explain how to fairly "try" someone in secret? It seems a truly fair trial needs to be held in open, or maybe I'm missing something. Thanks.
 
You won what war now? I am pretty sure Russian s won fair and square and we just waited it out to calculate who would win to join at the very end and emerge as "victors" . Sorry to break your bubble buddy but its a very pussy move on our part and especially the demonstration of power by nuking two japanese cities.
 
While I agree that Homeland is a terrible show, I cannot help but ask how the author of this article feels about drone strikes now that more and more media reports show that civilian casualties resulting from drone strikes are actually rather high(or "collateral damage," if we want to adopt a useless phrase coined to avoid any association with the deaths of innocent people). The author's statement that the US owns up to its actions as far as drone strikes are concerned is way off base, as the US until recently refused to discuss the drone strike programs because they were only being done covertly. The US does not disclose civilian casualties caused by drone strikes, as evidenced by admissions from Obama administration officials that all military age males in strike zones are considered to be militants and therefore cannot be counted as civilian casualties. Estimates from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and other sources now indicate that several hundred civilians have died as a result of drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, out of a total of a couple thousand deaths. While these estimates indicate that the majority of deaths are most likely militants, civilian casualty rates are still much higher than the US has ever admitted to and are higher than just about anybody estimated a year ago. So, while Homeland may have done a terrible job of depicting the drone programs, how they operate, and their consequences, I am still interested in how the author of this article feels about drone strikes in light of the new disclosures made regarding the strikes. Most importantly, while war necessitates a "win at all cost" mentality, how can this mentality be reconciled with the fact that we are performing drone strikes in countries that we have never been at war with, increasingly against groups that only have very loose affiliations to Al-Qaeda and which probably do not pose a real risk to the US (many of these groups are small, disorganized, and engaged in hostilities with local governments, making it very difficult to see how they pose an immediate threat to the US).
 
I just can't believe how you people can argue that waterboarding is not torture.
How could you argue that with a straight face?
It baffles me.

Seriously, guys?

Seriously?

There is no "right" way to torture someone. Torture is torture, it's a means to an end, any physical (or mental) discomfort used to coerce someone into giving you something is a form of torture.

What, you think that waterboarding is something you can just reason through? Maybe to be compared to a slight unpleasantry, like, say, getting pinched?
If it were, do you think they would do it?
Or maybe you people somehow believe waterboarding is something to be enjoyed?

While I do agree that waterboarding may perhaps be one of the more 'mild' forms of torture, let me tell you, there's nothing mild about choking on water that's been getting in your lungs, and gasping for air, but instead, getting more water.


I swear, some people, these days....

There's something in the water....

Just kidding, you don't really know what water is, do you?
 
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