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Tom Tancredo in Republican Debate on Torture: "I'm looking for Jack Bauer"

Please let me generalize a lot in answering these questions:
Why are European leftists unpopular in the US? Because they talk so much about social justice, the welfare state and evil capitalists etc.
Why are American conservatives unpopular in Europe? Because they talk so much about family values, religion, gay marriage, abortion, torture etc. None of these issues is central to America's political problems and can be fixed by politicians.

When American conservatives read about European debates they can constantly shake their head in amazement about the strange ways in the old world. Europeans (and liberal Americans) shake their head in amazement, when they read the Los Angeles Times article about the second Republican presidential debate: "The GOP's torture enthusiasts":
IT WASN'T AN edifying spectacle: a group of middle-aged white guys competing with one another to see who could do the best impersonation of Jack Bauer, torture enthusiast and the central character on Fox's hit show "24." In Tuesday's Republican presidential primary debate, Fox News moderator Brit Hume — who appears to have been watching too much "24" himself — raised what he described as "a fictional but we think plausible scenario involving terrorism and the response to it." He then laid out the kind of "ticking-bomb" scenario on which virtually every episode of "24" is premised — precisely the kind that most intelligence experts consider fictional and entirely implausible.
Mitt Romney suggested: "My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo" and "enhanced interrogation techniques have to be used." And Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo said: "We're wondering about whether water-boarding would be a — a bad thing to do? I'm looking for Jack Bauer at that time, let me tell you." This remark was according to the LA Times "greeted by uproarious laughter and applause from the audience because, after all, who doesn't enjoy thinking about a hunky guy threatening to gouge out a detainee's eye with a hunting knife?" (Jack Bauer is supposed to be "hunky"?). Politicians appear stupid, when they look for help from TV show characters.
Dialog International shows excerpts of the FOX News video. And below is Stephen Colbert's take on the second Republican presidential debate; might take some time to load:

Conservative Americans, who blame Anti-Americanism for Europeans' harsh criticism of Republicans, might want to have a word with their own politicians and their eager bases and/or listen to McCain's honorable statement in the presidential debate. Though, I don't want to praise Saint McCain too much since he was joking about bombing Iran a few weeks ago. According to CNN, McCain answered
a question about military action against Iran with the chorus of the surf-rocker classic "Barbara Ann." "That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran," he said. "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah ..." His audience laughed.
FOX News and some presidential candidates give US conservatism a bad name. Please, don't just blame your lack of popularity on European Anti-Americanism. If you want to be liked by Europeans, please elect serious politicians, who do not refer to Jack Bauer and sing Beach Boys songs, when they are asked serious questions about matters of life and death. They are reinforcing the worst stereotypes Europeans have about Americans. And I am saying this as a fan of both "24" and the Beach Boys.

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Pat Patterson on :

What politician in his right mind is even going to attempt to answer "torture" questions? The fact that the question was raised is in itself a refutation that the US media is a slave to the government. In fact I would be curious to see if there were any such questions directed at PM Merkel for the behaviour of Germany's special forces in Afghanistan or perhaps to Pres. Chiraq to explain the shooting of demonstrators in one of the members of France's sphere of influence? But back to the torture questions, something that Sen. McCain has never really answered, is what is the difference in what he was put through and what has happened to prisoners of the US. McCain was initially tortured, witness his lack of mobility in his shoulders and arms, for some tactical information but mainly as punishment for the sake of punishment and for propaganda purposes. But the US, at least I still hope so, has probably engaged in what many call torture, though not according to the Geneva Conventions, for information only. There have been no propaganda broadcasts of captured Iraqi insurgents or al-Qaeda fighters on national tv apologizing for their acts.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"refutation that the US media is a slave to the government." Who but a handful of nutcases made that claim? A more popular claim is that that the US media felt overly patriotic and afraid after 9/11 and therefore did not ask tough questions in the run up to the Iraq war. Anyway, I believe the media in the US and Germany just broadcasts whatever sells best. Perhaps FOX wanted to boost its "24" show. Therefore Fox News asked the torture questions about this unlikely scenario. Why do so many people think that terror suspects know the relevant information and will tell the truth under torture? This misinformation is based on lack of knowledge and TV shows like 24. Terrorist groups compartmentalize information. The cells share information on a need to know basis, so that the plot does not get revealed, if one cell gets arrested. ============ McCain is no fool like Tancredo, but he sings about bombing Iran. This makes him appear callous. He reinforces the image of the stupid American, who thinks war is fun. How the f*** can you joke about starting a war? These are the sort of instances, when I don't want to defend the US in conversations with Anti-Americans. How many billions of dollars is Karen Hughes spending these days on improving the US image in the world? Waste of money. Some Republicans just don't understand and don't care how they are perceived in the world. In the presidential debate Saint McCain lectures the other contenders that talking about torture hurts the US interests more than whatever benefit one might get from torture, but then he sings about bombing Iran. Stupid.

Pat Patterson on :

The nasty little, well, actually big, secret in the West is that torture does work. When Cardinal Mindszenty was arrested by the Communists in 1948 he wrote a quick note to his parishoners asking them to forgive him for the things he would say while under arrest. During WWII all of the German agents captured by the British talked, as well as all the the agents captured by the Germans. All of the soldiers,sailors and airman captured by the Viet Cong and the NVA talked, all of the US soldiers and airman captured in Korea talked, all the RN sailors captured recently by the Iranians cooperated and appeared in propaganda films. The sad truth remains that torture, pain, duress, etc., worked in the past and works today. The question in the West must be whether to use some of these methods not whether they are effective. PS. Is Sen. Clinton now viewed as one of the nutcases in Europe? But this baseless charge is indeed the property of both the left and the right in the US.

Pat Patterson on :

Plus I forgot to mention that Rosa Brooks is an opinion columnist who publishes weekly and sometimes biweekly in the LAT.

Don S on :

Rosa Brooks is a columnist, and the results of a quick net search maker her seem a fairy unhinged one.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Other newspaper wrote about the Republican debate in a similar manner. Brooks did not get any of the quotes from Tancredo, Romney, Guillani etc wrong.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"The nasty little, well, actually big, secret in the West is that torture does work." FBI and CIA don't think so. As far as I know. Torture makes people talk, but a) they might not tell the truth. If there is ticking time bomb, then you don't have time to verify. b) they probably won't know the information, because terrorists organize themselves on a need to know basis, just like our intelligence agencies do. They make sure that their plot is not in danger, if one cell member talks. Re your examples: Has anybody revealed secrets that decide about the fate of a major battle or prevented a terrorist attack?

Axel on :

Torture does work? I gues that's why witchfinders who used peine forte et dure and other torture were so successful in identifying people flying on brooms and having intercourse with the Devil. The hypothetical "ticking nuke" situation is unlikely almost to the point of absurdity. It is designed to elicit a response driven by fear, and present a guaranteed way of resolving the problem, if only one acquiesces to the use of torture. That's why people like [url=http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/05/petraeus_comes_.html#more]Gen. Petraeus[/url] ("Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary. Certainly, extreme physical action can make someone "talk"; however, what the individual says may be of questionable value. In fact our experience in applying the interrogation standards laid out in the Army Field Manual (2-22.3) on Human Intelligence Collector Operations that was published last year shows that the techniques in the manual work effectively and humanely in eliciting information from detainees."), or [url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/06/AR2006090601442.html]Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence John Kimmons [/url] ("I am absolutely convinced [that] no good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that. . . . Moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, through the use of abusive techniques, would be of questionable credibility, and additionally it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can't afford to go there. Some of our most significant successes on the battlefield have been -- in fact, I would say all of them, almost categorically all of them, have accrued from expert interrogators using mixtures of authorized humane interrogation practices in clever ways, that you would hope Americans would use them, to push the envelope within the bookends of legal, moral and ethical, now as further refined by this field manual.") or [url=http://www.alternet.org/rights/28585/]Brigadier General David R. Irvine[/url], a retired Army Reserve strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner interrogation and military law for 18 years with the Sixth Army Intelligence School ("Why Torture Doesn't Work [...]No one has yet offered any validated evidence that torture produces reliable intelligence. While torture apologists frequently make the claim that torture saves lives, that assertion is directly contradicted by many Army, FBI, and CIA professionals who have actually interrogated al Qaeda captives.") or [url=http://www.chicagoreader.com/features/stories/torture/]Tony Lagouranis[/url], former Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, are against torture. Screw them. 24 rules.

bob on :

Come on. Tom Tancredo is a nut and hardly representative of anything. We dont exclude presidental candidates from the primary process as you well know. They run out of money and drop out or get bored and drop out. The Democrats have 'hymietown' Sharpton and Kucinch. The Republicans have Tancredo and Paul. This is the equivalent of Koch and his 'Kinder statt Indiener' pronouncement. The press rightly remarked that 'you sound like an idiot' and moved on. The American press didnt run stories on German exceptionalism, institutionalized racism, the potential re-introduction of baby farms, or the rise of far-right parties. The American press just ignored it. As for this kerfuffle, Americans are making fun of Tancredo. Of course, it is embarassing but that is popular politics. You know that. As to your coupling of Tancredo's gaff with American anti-Europeanism (ah, the 'thats why you're hated' reasoning), I fail to see any connection between the two other than the contempt necessary to make that causal jump. Next, the mainstream preoccupation of the Republican party with 'social issues', i.e. abortion, gay marriage and family values, does not reflect a conservative backlash for most Republicans, as you and other Europeans think, but a rearguard action on the putative ability of the federal government and judiciary to legislate positively in contravention of our Constitutional guarantees and devolved federal system of governance. The Griswold holding and its advancement through Roe v. Wade up to Lawrence v. Texas of a 'right to privacy' and a 'penumbra of 1st Amendment rights' is a drastic departure from customary Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence in its judicial creation of positive rights that having a constutional basis trump the legislative constitutional perrogatives of the state legislatures. The Republicans view this development as patently unconstitutional, a dangerous experiment in destabilizing the constituional balance of power and deeply undemocratic. That is what the discussion is really about. Roe v. Wade will not be overturned. Lawrence was decided by a conservative majority in 2003 and the 'right to privacy' upheld. The overarching political aim is to return social legislation to the states' sphere of exclusive competence and retard efforts, such as the Mass State Supreme Court decision to create gay marriage, when the majority of Mass citizens had voted against it. Really now, this is elementary American politics. If you are going to write about American politics, a familiarity with the basic party differences would help.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"Come on. Tom Tancredo is a nut and hardly representative of anything." So why let him participate in this debate? Why did not they invite Joe Sixpack or Jane Soccermom or any other of the thousands (?) of Americans running for president? Rüttgers, not Koch, coined the stupid slogan "Kinder statt Inder" in 2000. "The American press didnt run stories on German exceptionalism, institutionalized racism," Like what? "... the potential re-introduction of baby farms," Yeah, right. We are living in the Matrix. "or the rise of far-right parties. The American press just ignored it." Yes, absolutely, the US press never writes about the rise of right wing parties in Germany... Come on, it is one of the few German topics that gets covered in the US media.

Pat Patterson on :

Jorg-I could have sworn that just last year you argued just the opposite over at DMK after I suggested that the US press generally ignored Germany except for the yearly rise of neo-Nazism artic and arguments on whether Porsche was best represented by the water-cooled or air-cooled flat six! Have you changed your point of view?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

It depends. The US press is not sooo ignorant of Germany. I have been impressed by the Christian Science Monitor. I am disappointed by the New York Times. I don't remember what exactly I said last year. I might have been more positive. My above comment was more negative than I usually feel. Anyway, I have not studied the US media extensively. I have not done a survey about the Germany coverage. Thus I cannot make a definitive conclusion. I can just write about my impressions, which are fluctuating depending on what I have read recently.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ bob "As to your coupling of Tancredo's gaff with American anti-Europeanism (ah, the 'thats why you're hated' reasoning), I fail to see any connection..." I did not say anything about Anti-Europeanism.

Omar on :

Again, i have to ask myself, why we don't have an equivalent to Colbert or Stewart in Germany.. I saw both their takes on the republican answers and they were very straight to the point.. here is the take of jon stewart: [url]http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/index.jhtml?ml_video=87095[/url]

Volker on :

Does the names "Scheibenwischer" oder "Extra3" ring any bells by you? The "Colbert Report" is nothing special here in Germany. You just have to turn off RTL2.

Omar on :

oh please.. There is really no comparison. Yes, Scheibenwischer can be sometimes nice, but it's a very different level. imho the only one, who can be compared to Colbert would be Volker Pispers, but he's not nearly as frequent as Colbert. If we had a Pispers every second day, that would be nice.. Instead there is (was?) only Schmidt and he's really not THAT funny.. No really, German comedy isn't that much of a challenge to politics as comedy in other countries. "Kabarett" might be, but it can't take care of the day-to-day business. Take for example Canada, they have the "Royal canadian air farce" which is very political and nicely up-to-date. (plus, their website includes all their episodes).

David on :

It was the frontrunner Giuliani who called for waterboarding, and the top-tier candidate Romney who celebrated the lawless of Guantanamo. But it was the cheering audience that shows the true face of the Republican party - the party of torture, pre-emptive war, and bigotry. Fortunately, their numbers have diminished...2008 will show a landslide victory for the Democrats.

bob on :

"Come on. Tom Tancredo is a nut and hardly representative of anything." So why let him participate in this debate? Why did not they invite Joe Sixpack or Jane Soccermom or any other of the thousands (?) of Americans running for president? That is the point. Tom Tancredo is Joe Sixpack. He is a former high school teacher from Colorado, who got elected somehow. He raised money. Somebody seems to think he would make a good president. Why and how they arrive at that decision I dont know, but that is the fundamental egalitarian nature of American politics. There is absolutely no way to stop him: one, its constitutionally illegal and two even if you were to force out a candidate, he would have to be a unrepentant Communist who would refuse to swear the oath of office. Otherwise, the move would be political suicide for either party. The American press didnt run stories on German exceptionalism, institutionalized racism," Like what? "... the potential re-introduction of baby farms," Yeah, right. We are living in the Matrix. "or the rise of far-right parties. The American press just ignored it." Yes, absolutely, the US press never writes about the rise of right wing parties in Germany... Come on, it is one of the few German topics that gets covered in the US media. The point I obviously only attempted to make was that the European press emphasize a particular instance of outright stupidity by a politican or public figure and extrapolates it into a nationawide phenomenon of their own creation that largely supports their societal or ideological preconceptions. See how Katrina became alternatively a indictment of the American non-Hegelian concept of the State, irrefutable proof of global warming and a testimony of how American society hates black people and the working poor. The American press does not do this. Yes, the Times or the WaPo will talk about the fact that NDP got 6% in Saxony's regional elections, but that is news. Mainstream American preoccupation with the far-right might rankle, but it only pops up at election time. What is lacking in our news are subjective inferences usually of a feverish nature drawn from say NDP gains. We dont link MErkel's passivity about the Momument for displaced people (whatever its called) with Germany's cool relationship with the Poles and decide that possibly the two might signal a Teutonic lust for territorial acquisition or some such tripe, or interview some preliterate frat boy with a schmiss to regurgitate hyper-nationalistic dreams and then portray them as reflective of the larger German society to reaffirm an American minoriy's prejudices of Germany as an authoritarian Prussian regime filled with Junkers, Jew killers and Hoff lovers.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"The point I obviously only attempted to make was that the European press emphasize a particular instance of outright stupidity by a politican or public figure and extrapolates it into a nationawide phenomenon of their own creation that largely supports their societal or ideological preconceptions." Isn't this typical media behavior? If one German politician makes an Anti-American comment or if one German magazine like Spiegel runs an Anti-American cover, then the US blogosphere jumps on it and accuses basically the entire German media and all Germans of Anti.-Americanism Tom Tancredo did not make big news in the European press. I only saw a Tancredo headline in the Atlantic Review ;-) Die Welt -- quoted by Dialog International -- just wrote in their headline and intro that the Republicans compete with each other on toughness. You wrote: "Tom Tancredo is a nut and hardly representative of anything." On which basis are candidates invited to these debates? I guess, the top ten candidates, who lead in the opinion polls, are invited. So Tancredo is not Joe Sixpack, who decided to run for president, but instead is someone who a few million Americans have given their signature. Right? Anyway, the other candidates spoke about "tough interrogation methods" as well. Apparently, McCain was the only one, who said that this ticking time bomb scenario is highly unlikely and that a debate about torture is pointless. I mean, what is next? Will Fox News ask the candidates, whether they intend to nuke Mekka after the next 9/11??? Most 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. There are still many Al Qaeda supporters in Saudi Arabia...

Anonymous on :

Of course, it is typical media behaviour. However, the difference is one of degree and scope. The media panders to the interests of its readership, but it is not required to reinforce, expand and sharpen their prejudices through spurious and mendacious connections. The NYT had a decent article on the reconsecration of the Frauenkirche in 2006. Happy times, Radeberger by the bucketful and a renewed sense of community in Saxony--yeah! The Times didnt bring up the generosity of the RAF or the fact that the Germans have done donated much for Coventry cathedral. They easily could have. They readers who have been interested and the story's extension would fit the reader's preconceived notions of Germans and Germany, but they didnt. I find this sense of restraint missing frequently in the European press, when talking about America. As for the Spiegel and Stern covers, tarring American capitalists with the same language used for popular demonization of the Jews, yeah that will get your attention. I still think the characterization of Tancredo as a Joe Sixpack is arguably correct. Just because he happens to be a member of the House and raised a little bit of money does not automatically equate into a substantial financial or numerical backing. He wants to deport illegal immigrants. full stop. He is a one programme candidate. I havent heard that he even has a fully functioning operation for the New Hampshire Primary. He gets free airtime on tv networks and cable channels. I heard him on NPR four months making an ass of himself. BTW, a minimum signature requirement for a candidate is usually State electoral law for State elections and not a prerequisite for federal elections, though in some States it is--both for primaries and the elections themselves. Point of fact being that Tancredo does not need to have even ten thousand people behind him. If you have a love of the camera and enough frequent-flyer miles, you can stay in the sweepstakes until the primaries. As for the debates, who watches them? I dont. MSNBC and Fox are equally shrill, unedifying and uninformed. I think the main question would be: Senator, who you consider nuclear strikes against cities that negligently harboured terrorists? Such as the 9/11 attackers? HELLO, Hamburg.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"Senator, who you consider nuclear strikes against cities that negligently harboured terrorists? Such as the 9/11 attackers? HELLO, Hamburg." Negligently? Do you expect Germany to be a police state, who knows everything about anybody? Senator, would you consider nuclear strikes against US cities that negligently harbored terrorists and taught them to fly airplanes? Afghanistan is considered the mother of 9/11, but nobody in that country taught the 9/11 pilots their deadly craft.

Axel on :

"Senator, who you consider nuclear strikes against cities that negligently harboured terrorists? Such as the 9/11 attackers? HELLO, Hamburg." Anonymous, the German Federal Criminal Investigation Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA, the German equivalent of the FBI), together with the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV, the domestic intelligence service), already had the Hamburg group under close observation, including wiretaps and informants, since 1997. In March 1999 they warned the CIA that terrorist attacks were being planned and forwarded the information to the CIA. The BKA passed on the name and telephone number of Marwan al Shehi who lived in/visited the Arab Emirates, together with information that he was apparently recruiting pilots. German authorities picked up the connection during their surveillance of another member of the Hamburg group, Mohammed Hayder Zammar. The information appeared to be of vital interest to the Germans, but as it turned out, the Americans did not follow up the hint with the necessary care. New York Times, Feb. 24, 2004: German authorities informed CIA about the Hamburg Cell and named alleged terror pilot Marwan al-Shehhi as unsavory character back in 1998. [url=http://www.faz.net/s/Rub28FC768942F34C5B8297CC6E16FFC8B4/Doc~E22F052AFD8C9474AA14C75FE8CB32E4E~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html]FAZ: CIA hatte Hinweis auf Attentäter des 11. September[/url], 25 February 2004 [url=http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline.jsp?other_al-qaeda_operatives=alQaedaInGermany&timeline=complete_911_timeline]Complete 911 Timeline. Al-Qaeda in Germany[/url]

Anonymous on :

Another mentioning of Jack Bauer on Faux News: http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2007/05/24_hours.html Why don't you just recruit Kiefer Sutherland as president. He will be at least as good a president as Ronnie Reagan.

Omar on :

.. and very popular.. Well, i'm still waiting for the moment, where some news station would interview Kiefer about current policies or maybe Guantanamo and what he would do about it.

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