“issues with reality”

That’s how a colleague who helped me shepherd out a problem employee described said employee to HR. After the last-last-last-chance interview between management, the employee and HR took place, the HR honco had to agree. I’m reminded of the recently departed when I read stories like this:

Jack Bauer, the fictional federal agent in the
hit American TV show “24,” gets what he wants—and does whatever it
takes to get it. Whether he must beat, suffocate, electrocute, drug or
engage in psychological abuse, he will unravel whatever terror plot
imperils the United States. …

According
to the New York-based group Human Rights First, the vivid depiction of
these tactics in primetime shows like “24” are influencing U.S. troops
abroad—and presenting a major challenge for military training
academies. “It’s become clear that this show has unintended
consequences in that it informs young soldiers about these techniques,
and it gives the false impression that they work,” says David Danzig, a
torture expert at the nonprofit organization . . .

The
Pentagon told NEWSWEEK last week that it didn’t know anything about the
tactics used on “24,” nor had it heard the allegations of their impact.
“Humane treatment of detainees is and always has been the [U.S.
Department of Defense] standard,” said Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros. But
former U.S. Army specialist Tony Lagouranis, who left the military with
an honorable discharge in 2005 and has since spoken out about the abuse
of Iraqi prisoners there, says the use of tactics like those featured
on TV was common during his 2004-2005 Iraqi tour. According to
Lagouranis, his unit tried out similar tactics after watching torture
scenes on television and DVD.  He has since teamed up with Human Rights
First, and recently met with the producers of “24” as part of an effort
to have them be more “responsible” in their portrayal of torture
scenes.

Let me reiterate something I mentioned the other day: If the military training system cannot beat into the heads of its trainees (figuratively speaking) the right and wrong way to conduct interrogations, the problem is the military, not the producers of a fictional TV show. This is a military responsibility, not Hollywood’s. If your daughter grows up to be a stripper, that’s on you, not Vegas.

I would suspect that after four-odd years and a few scandals that training is probably adequate to the task, so what is a more appropriate step to take than asking a leopard to change its spots? How about screening future interrogators more closely? 125 on your ASVAB doesn’t mean you’re golden, it just means you’re likely to pass.

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