Of course, an alternate interpretation is that all season, we've been cheering on the good guys' torture of one suspect after another, unconsciously telling ourselves it's okay because it's long been established that 24 takes place in some police-state alternate-universe version of the U.S. where there's no Bill of Rights and no legal protection for anyone in any kind of custody. And now, to undercut that, they bring in an attorney, as if to drive home the fact that no, this isn't fantasy, we're going for reality. This could happen in our world too, if we're not careful. Duly noted, 24. Duly noted.
12:40:39. The WarheadMobile makes its way across the mountainous Midwest, Prado enjoys his human rights (in the sense of not being handcuffed and not currently being tortured), the Veep enjoys his Undal Office (though not the actual desk), and Weiss is sitting in holding with his client. Meanwhile, out on the floor, Buchanan is bitching down the phone line at someone about this outrage, trying and so far failing to get a hold of the judge who was available to sign a court order in the last fifteen minutes, but is now asleep. Skip overhears this and unwisely approaches Buchanan. Buchanan asks, "Do you have those hourlies for me?" Oh, Buchanan. Hourlies are so two hours ago. Skip says he's "here on another matter." Specifically, he's demanding to know why Prado's interrogation has been put on hold. "You have a job to do," Buchanan snaps, as Potato Face looks worried from across the room. Skip keeps pushing about the "slimy lawyer" protecting a "dirtbag like Prado," standing in for folks everywhere who are too shortsighted to recognize that protecting the rights of suspects means that their rights are protected, too. Buchanan finally orders Skip to get back to work. Skip reluctantly agrees. He returns to his desk, and Potato Face is immediately on top of him (not like that, ew) wondering what's up with him. He bitches about "some PC lawyer holding us up from doing our job." "Your job is to do the hourlies," Potato Face says. "You're holding yourself up." His arms must be tired. And who says "PC" anymore? This is hilarious, especially given the fact that Skip has seen firsthand how easy it is for the wrong person to end up in one of CTU's torture chambers. Heck, he had to rescue an innocent person from back there his own self.
It's 12:42:12 as Kiefer returns to CTU, asking Potato Face who's interrogating Prado. So apparently he's up to speed on everything but that. She explains about the lawyer from Amnesty Global with the court order. She also points out Buchanan, who's on the phone with the judge who signed the order. "I'll be right back," Kiefer says, and stomps over to Buchanan, bitching, "I don't believe this." Yet another display of the corrosive effect that committing torture eventually has on one's soul. Remember back when Kiefer used to feel guilty about stuff like this? Now he just can't wait to bring the pain. Sad for him, really. Buchanan is arguing over the phone that "this does not fall outside the boundary of the Patriot Act." I haven't heard a lot of examples of things that do fall outside the boundary of the Patriot Act, whose self-limiting powers as I understand them basically amount to "trust us, we're the government," but never mind. Kiefer glares at Buchanan until he gets off the phone, and hisses, "What the hell's going on here? You've got a key witness and a missing warhead. We should be pressing this guy with everything we've got." Buchanan says their only recourse is going to an appellate judge at 7:00 AM. Too bad only circuit court judges stay up late. Anyway, this judge feels that a guy with no criminal record shouldn't be treated as a terrorist. Kiefer brings up the meeting with a known terrorist in the middle of the night, which Buchanan dismisses as circumstantial. They're covering all the bases tonight, aren't they? First lawyers, now judges. Specifically, "out of control," "activist" judges who "legislate from the bench" "against the will of the people." Not that those phrases appear in the episode, but we're all familiar with the wingnut tirades about the guys in black robes and all of their morally and legally insupportable decisions (not counting Bush v. Gore, of course). Timely opportunity to make fun of judgeophobes, in any case. Anyway, Kiefer wants to see Prado's attorney. "Kiefer, don't make it worse," Buchanan says, but Kiefer's already on his way.