Heritage Foundation hosts ‘24’ panel

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff claims to be a big fan of the show, as are other senior political and military officials.

A conservative think tank brought Hollywood to the nation’s capital by hosting a panel that discussed the Fox Television show “24” in Washington, D.C., today.

Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk-show host, served as moderator for the event, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.

Each season, “24” chronicles 24 hours in the life of Jack Bauer, an agent of the fictional Counterterrorism Unit (CTU) in Los Angeles, as he and his CTU teammates keep the United States safe from terrorist threats.

Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Homeland Security Department, said he is a big fan of the show, as are a number of senior political and military officials.

One of the most realistic and thought-provoking aspects of “24” is that the characters are “always trying to make the best choice in a series of bad problems,” Chertoff said. “People are attracted to that because that’s what happens in real life. There is no magic bullet. What do you do when you make a mistake?”

The show is unrealistic in assuming that major terrorist threats can be thwarted in 24 hours, Chertoff said. He also said he lacks the high-tech facility that the CTU uses.

Chertoff said technology is critical for homeland security and that he wishes he could have the instant communications and reliable systems the characters on the show have. “What you don’t see is the computers crash, and you have to get the IT people to come in and reboot them,” he said.

People at DHS’ National Counterterrorism Center say “24” is their favorite show, said James Jay Carafano, senior research fellow for defense and homeland security at Heritage.

Another expert on the panel was David Heyman, director and senior fellow of the Homeland Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan think tank.

Three of the show’s creators contributed to the panel: Howard Gordon, executive producer and writer; Joel Surnow, executive producer, creator and writer; and Robert Cochran, executive producer, creator and writer.

Mary Lynn Rajskub plays Chloe O’Brien, who assists Jack with the CTU’s advanced technology. On the panel, she said the hardest part of her job is all the fake typing she must do and “pretending like I know what I’m talking about.”

Carlos Bernard, who plays Tony Almeida, a fellow CTU agent, and Gregory Itzin, who plays President Charles Logan, also participated in the discussion.

Video of the panel discussion is available at www.heritage.org.

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