Batman fails it, as does Lucius Fox, or rather we should say the Nolans fail it.
The Dark Knight obviously wants to comment on the nature of contemporary policing/governmental security and the portrayal of Batman as a hot headed vigilante on the side of ‘good’ has parallels with leaders of various western governments.
But the failure is not so much the vigilante/unilateral actions of Batman which include unlawful extradition, money laundering to amass an armoury and numerous traffic offences. Thanks to Bruce Wayne’s R&D department Lucius Fox has developed a technology which uses cellphone tracking technology to create a sort of sonar system for the caped crusader to use in his exploits.
Towards the end of the film we see this technology has been reconfigured by Wayne to make every cellphone in Gotham act as a sonar device giving him, actually Fox, the ability to track the movements of everybody in Gotham. Quite rightly (for it is Morgan Freeman and he usually represents ‘truth’ wherever he lands) Lucius Fox tells Bruce Wayne that this use of technology is horrendous and evil. So far so good, but then the Nolans make him fail it by saying ‘OK, but just this once’.
However, ‘just this once’ is not a stand, it is a fall. and if you are indeed sending a message to millions of people about Bush on a futile hunt against Osama Bin Laden by indiscriminantly unfair means you have to portray it as such. To have people think that ‘Just this once’ is either a principle or a way to counter wrong headedness is dangerous, irresponsible and part of the problem.
It is also irresponsible to allude to the generalised surveillance which has happened over over a period of years to no good result with an evening of Batman/Fox surveilling the population with a known and credible pay off.
Anyone can say ‘just this once’ which then slides into ‘the end justifies the means’ and ‘if I don’t do it someone else will’, bad attitudes one and all.