Terrorism & Its Civilized Discontents

An Eastern Orthodox Ethical Reflection on Torture as Counter-Terrorism

by Alexander F. C. Webster

In the eleventh episode of the fifth season of the wildly popular Fox television series 24, one particular scene dramatically depicts one of the most acute moral dilemmas entailed in a robust counter-terrorism policy.

Jack Bauer, a U.S. counter-terrorism agent played by Kiefer Sutherland, is waiting in the home of his former mentor Christopher Henderson (played by Peter Weller), while terrorists are on the verge of detonating canisters of deadly nerve gas elsewhere in the city. When Henderson arrives home at 5:53 p.m., Jack apprehends him and his wife Miriam (played by JoBeth Williams), tying them to separate chairs next to one . . .

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Alexander F. C. Webster (Archpriest), Ph.D., is Dean & Professor of Moral Theology Emeritus at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York, and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

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