Flashback: ABC's Boston Legal Ridiculed Idea MD Could Be a Terrorist

Two-and-a-half years before Army Major Nidal Hasan, a Muslim medical doctor, murdered 13 at Fort Hood in Texas in what more-and-more looks like a jihadist terrorist attack given his anti-American rants and ties to Islamic extremists, ABC's since-canceled Boston Legal drama ridiculed the idea a doctor could be a terrorist.

A scene in the episode first aired on Tuesday, May 8, 2007 -- meant to show the silliness and incompetence of the military for detaining obviously innocent men -- concluded with a released terror suspect being asked in courtroom about a colleague who had committed suicide to avoid the mistreatment: “Was your friend a terrorist?” The man replied with these words, dripping with disgust, which dramatically ended the scene: “No, he was a doctor.”

Audio: MP3 clip

The specifics were different than the situation at Fort Hood since in the ABC show the terror suspects had been held at Guantanamo Bay, but the ABC show accurately conveyed the liberal ethos that Muslims successful in U.S. society -- such as an officer in the U.S. Army -- should be beyond reproach and so it's uncouth to dare to explore their ideology.

From the September 25, 2007 MRC CyberAlert:
Nearly eight weeks before six medical doctors were arrested for their involvement in the late June terrorist attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow, ABC's Boston Legal drama -- which has its 90-minute season premiere tonight (Tuesday) -- aired an episode which ridiculed the idea a doctor could be a terrorist.

In the May 8 episode, titled "Guantanamo by the Bay," attorney "Alan Shore," played by James Spader, takes up the case of British citizen "Benyam Kallah" suing the government, oddly in state court, over Kallah's torture at the Guantanamo Bay facility after he was picked up in Afghanistan where he claims he was doing "humanitarian" work. On the witness stand, Kallah describes the torture and how a friend detained with him couldn't take the torture any longer and so committed suicide. Concluding the scene meant to show the silliness and incompetence of the military for detaining such obviously innocent men, Shore asked: "Was your friend a terrorist?" Kallah replied: "No, he was a doctor."

Pressed by the Massachusetts state court judge about jurisdictional questions, Shore launched into a political diatribe: "Okay. I realize the jurisdictional barriers are prohibitive but, your honor, we don't let the little things like the law stand in our way in this great country. The law, for example, recognizes the Geneva Convention but we say, 'the Hell with it.' The law has very strict regulations on domestic wiretapping and we say, 'the Hell with it.' The law says if you shoot somebody with a shotgun mistaking him for a quail you really should call the police."

Shore is victorious as the case is heard and the judge rejects the government's motion to dismiss the case.

At the very end of the show, "Denny Crane," a pompous and misinformed lawyer who is Hollywood's idea of a prejudiced and chauvinistic conservative, contends: "We would never be in Guantanamo if it weren't for Hillary Clinton." The reasoning of Crane, played by William Shatner: "Bill Clinton would never have lied in the deposition. He wouldn't have risked impeachment. So what if the sexual indiscretion [indecipherable] the public would have forgiven him. But Hillary! The reason he lied is because he was afraid Hillary would find out. That's why he was impeached. That's why Al Gore didn't win. And after all that impeachment scandal crap, the public would have elected any fool other than a Democrat."

On the attempted terrorist attacks in Britain in late June in which car bombs were discovered in London and a car exploded at the Glasgow airport, the Washington Post reported on July 8: "The eight suspects detained by police are highly educated and have overlapping family, work and school links. Six are foreign doctors or trainee doctors working in British hospitals; two of the doctors inquired about continuing their medical training in the United States."...

# Scene in court room (matches audio/video):
SHORE: Mr. Kallah, you've stated that you were tortured. Can you give us an example?

KALLAH, ON WITNESS STAND: I was beaten; repeatedly deprived of sleep. I was forced to wear a hood over my head, sometimes for days. I was sexually humiliated.

SHORE: How so?

KALLAH: I'd rather not go into it.

SHORE: And what else?

KALLAH: I was forced to lie in a fetal position, my eyes and my mouth duct taped. The worst part is that we felt it was forever. We we're never going to be released, never going to get a trial. One man, Ali, a friend, was arrested with me.

SHORE: What happened to your friend, sir.

KALLAH: Finally he couldn't take it. He hung himself.

SHORE: He committed suicide?

KALLAH: The Pentagon called it "manipulative self-injurious behavior: an act of asymmetric warfare engaged against the United States."

SHORE: Was your friend a terrorist?

KALLAH: No, he was a doctor.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center