Homeland- A Combination of Terrorism and Dirty Hands

December 14, 2011

Political Theory

You’re in the midst of a red threat level- the most dangerous terror alert. A terrorist is on the run. He is an expert sniper and was once a U.S soldier. You are a veteran agent in the CIA. One of your most insightful and meticulous analysts, Carrie, has been injured in an explosion; known by your agency to be linked to terrorism. The blast also killed your greatest lead. Now the case has gone cold.

The Different Levels Of Terror Alert

After the explosion, the pressure has been put on your agency, now more than ever, to find the terrorist. Another problem arises, Carrie’s injuries have triggered a manic phase of her hidden bi-polar disorder. She will need time to even out before she can return to work. Carrie has known she is bi-polar but will not tell her employer, she will be fired if they find out.

The sniper is no longer your central problem.  Carrie believes that this is all a distraction from the bigger picture; one which includes a well-known mastermind terrorist with a desire for greater destruction. You have assumed the role of a seasoned agent on this task force, Sal. You have been co-workers and friends with Carrie for some time now but you were previously naïve to Carrie’s disorder. Just now you have learned of her disorder, no one else within the agency knows.  Your boss has asked you when she plans to return to work, as they need her immediately to start deciphering the clues, this threat is urgent.  It is also known that your boss may be firing someone as a result of the last explosion.

What do you do? Do you lie to your boss to potentially keep Carrie on the task force with the hope that she will provide hopeful insight towards solving the terror plot? Or do you stick to your basic morals and tell your boss the truth about Carrie?


Sal and Carrie

The scene detailed above is one of the many intertwined plots of Showtime’s new hit series Homeland.  I believe that this is an obvious case of dirty hands.  Sal, decided that it would be beneficial in the long run, to commit an act of bad,  by lying to his boss about Carrie’s personality disorder. Dirty hands 101. But what made it so justifiable to lie to his boss and commit this acts of dirty hands? Was it more justifiable because the only harm he was committing was a small white lie, while the benefits of it may end up saving the lives of many innocent Americans? At what point, do we render it ok to commit dirty hands? What if, Carrie wasn’t an expert analysis and therefore she was not as vital to your taskforce. Would this change the outcome of the situation?

Personally, I believe that since there were innocent lives at stake, it is ok to overstep our morals.  But if put in the situation, what would other famous philosophers like, Locke and Hobbes do? John Locke believed that humans by nature are self-interested. If put into Sal’s situation, Locke would probably tell his boss the truth with consideration to his own job security. While on the other hand Hobbes theorized that unity, and harmony among citizens, who are under the same ruler, provides the best protection from enemies. In other words, Hobbes believes humans are best off when they are following the same leader, and to be safe from our enemies we need our society to all be on the same page with each other. If, Hobbes were Sal, he would most likely tell the boss about Carrie’s personality disorder, but also try to sit them all down together, and discuss how Carrie can still retain her job. He would believe, it is worth the risk of his own job to promote unity within his workplace. I believe approaching this situation in a “Hobbe-like” manner may be the most effective. Which approach would you chose? Are there other philosophers that come to mind whose views may present a better approach to the situation?



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One Comment on “Homeland- A Combination of Terrorism and Dirty Hands”

  1. mpogoda3 Says:

    I have wondered this too after being an avid Homeland watcher myself. This point was very interesting and argues the boundary between what is right and wrong. I personally believe that what Sal did was correct, and by committing dirty hands, Carrie would still be on the force and could really help them in the future. Because they are dealing with such severe threats to innocent people, it is OKAY to tell a small lie in order to save lives. This is exactly what Sal had to do. After knowing people with bi-polar disorder, it is hard for me to believe that they would get fired from their jobs, depending on how severe it really was. Bi-polar disorder is relatively common and can be treated in a variety of ways. While Sal could have stuck to his basic morals and told his boss about Carrie, he did the right thing in attempt to save innocent people. I agree with your point that looking at Hobbes’ approach could be the best. He basically believes that despite Carries problem, it is better when society is all together fighting for the same thing. He thought that having Carrie with bi-polar disorder is better than not having her at all.

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