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The Holes in “Homeland”

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Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 10:17 AM

I’m sure many of you have become addicted to the TV show, Homeland.   Personally, I find it a bit of a bus man’s holiday and rather unrealistic in its characterizations.   But in terms of style, I guess taste is all relative.  I did, however, want to call out this article by my friend (and Council of Foreign Relations fellow) Rich Falkenrath —  The Holes in “Homeland” — which details some of the ways in which the show paints an unrealistic picture of the underlying reality of counter-terrorism (though I’m sure most Lawfare readers knew that already).  Here’s a taste:

Real-world counterterrorism operations, in contrast, are far more regimented, bureaucratic, and cautious. Homeland has a single team hunting Abu Nazir; in the case of an actual major terrorist threat inside U.S. borders, thousands of people would be involved. The FBI would take the lead on almost any domestic operation against a suspected terrorist, with the CIA and other agencies in supporting roles. Most aspects of the operation would be subject to tedious legal review, specific authorization from senior officials, and, in some cases — particularly those involving wiretaps and arrests — judicial oversight. Details about the threat and the various operations launched in response to it, meanwhile, would be widely disseminated and discussed at the highest level of the U.S. government. The White House would have the final say on any major decisions, often with the president’s personal involvement. In Homeland, the president never appears onscreen and is mentioned only occasionally; the vice president acts unilaterally and independently — an obvious gesture to the role that some people believe Vice President Dick Cheney played during the Bush administration.

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