24 update: The CIP device, which can bring the United States to its knees in short order if it falls into the wrong hands, has fallen into the wrong hands, those of Colonel Dubaku, cohort of General Juma, the butcher of Sangala. Unless the CIP device is recovered and Juma overthrown, hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans and Africans will die. FBI agent Renee Walker is on the case, but too squeamish about constitutional protocols to be effective. Jack Bauer explains by example that when it’s necessary to elicit critical information by the next commercial break sometimes an interrogator must do what needs to be done. Renee takes the lesson to heart. But in short order, with Renee herself now a captive of a murderous Dubaku operative and those hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in greater peril than ever, a man from the Attorney General’s Office disrupts FBI headquarters to conduct a witch hunt, “If Agent Walker broke federal guidelines and used illegal tactics to get information,” he says, “then yes, she will be prosecuted.” You want to snap this fool’s neck.

Real world update: President Obama signs executive orders to close the Guantanamo prison camp. The New York Times says these orders will end a CIA program “that kept terrorism suspects in secret custody for months or years” and forbid the use of “coercive interrogation methods.” You want to stand up and cheer. The shame, the stain of what the Times calls George Bush’s “grotesque legacy” is at long last beginning to be wiped clear.

A new president! A new season of 24! Exciting times. Even a second-rate intelligence can hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and function, if by function we mean open a newspaper and turn on a TV. I suppose our vote is the tie-breaker. In 24, Janeane Garofalo plays Agent Walker’s enabling sidekick who is herself in the sights of the Attorney General’s Office. In the real world, Janeane Garofalo says that if she ever had George W. Bush and Dick Cheney over for dinner, “i would have them eat the meals that are served in Guantanamo while being shackled and hog-tied.” She is the duenna of our contradictions. Would we insist Jack Bauer live by our values if we were certain that, come what may, we’d live by them ourselves? The line to the lesser angels of our nature needs to be kept open.