“Anyone who claims that “24” has promoted torture should also acknowledge that with Dennis Haysbert it cast an African-American president seven years ago. If we’re going to take the blame for Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, I think we should at least get the credit for Obama. It’s the other side of the same coin.” – Howard Gordon, an executive producer of Fox Entertainment’s “24” (as reported in today’s NY Times)

WASHINGTON – Government officials have confirmed the first open and public exchange with an extraterrestrial entity. Sidney Greenblatt, special agent for the FBI’s exo-atmospheric investigations unit, has told this reporter that the visitors are real, they are here, and – after years of stealth observation of our planet from airborne saucer shaped vehicles – they are ready to go public.

“My counterpart in the alien Grobdarian government,” said Mr. Greenblatt, “is a nice fellow named Xlethku Znagflerp. Once you get past the odd fishlike smell and swaying eyestalks, he’s really rather charming.” Agent Greenblatt reports that the Grobdarians were quite excited to see their race represented on the popular TV show “24”, which has apparently become hugely popular back on their home world in Proxima Centauri.

“Mr. Znagflerp told us that Grobdarian viewers were quite pleased to see jack Bauer face off against alien creatures so remarkably like themselves in appearance,” relayed Mr. Greenblatt. “They realize that ’24’ has an unerring ability to predict the future – from our acceptance of the use of torture during interrogation of suspected terrorists to our election of the first U.S. president from a former slave race. Such prophetic ability is highly valued among their people.”

Mr. Greenblatt went on to explain that Grobdarians are by nature a peaceable race, which is why they were initially surprised to be portrayed on the show – in an episode cleverly titled “Illegal Aliens” – as bloodthirsty creatures bent upon the total annihilation of the human species. But they were swayed by the show’s great sense of realism and fine special effects, as well as Keifer Sutherland’s brilliant and nuanced performance, and have now enthusiastically embraced Jack Bauer as an honored enemy.

As this article goes to press, the Grobdarians, eager to play their part in this exciting drama, are hard at work perfecting a weapon that will reduce all carbon-based lifeforms on the planet earth to starch, a popular dessert food among their young. Mr. Znagflerp reports, according to agent Greenblatt, that the Grobdarians’ one regret is that the imminant cessation of all life on our planet will cause the cancellation of their favorite TV show.

And then they will no longer be able to tune in to “24” to find out what’s going to happen next.

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