Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Memos from Room 101

I've read the memos. I previously read all the amazing Mark Danner pieces in the New York Review of Books (and the book compiling the first phase of his work), the result of immense investigative effort that has essentially forced the release of the memos. Without a doubt the most hard-boiled invisible literature I have ever read.

My favorite part of the memos is where the DOJ lawyers evaluate the legality of a plan wherein the interrogators and the pet psychologists, having deduced that Abu Zubaydah has an intense fear of insects, put Zubaydah in a box with a caterpillar that they have convinced him is a poisonous mystery bug. How about that: Orwell's scene from 1984, in which Winston's fear of rats is exploited by the device that puts the hungry rodents next to his face, lives on and is reenacted by actual torturers!

I've also read Cheney's counter-p.r. campaign interviews, arguing that if the government is going to release classified GWOT memos, it should also release the ones showing what they learned and what they prevented. Seems like a reasonable point, and the more of this stuff that becomes public, the better.

(By the way, thanks to whoever in the Obama White House figured out how to keep the cyborg veep in the press every day. I was starting to miss him.)

I have read the reports of Obama's nervous head-patting speech to the C.I.A. employees yesterday.

This thing is really building toward some kind of public war crimes trial of the dark events of the GWOT. At what point do the aggrieved dark practitioners unleash their tradecraft against their own state, playing out some bizarre Kiefer Sutherland version of consensus reality?

And what happens if we actually do get attacked? Maybe the torture trials will provide the perfect venue for the next global guerilla warporn intervention.

What will make a better postmodern Law & Order hack: the torture trials of our own intelligence agents and Chicago school-on-steroids Federalist Society lawyers, or the Kafkaesque saga of the surviving Somali pirate from the Maersk Alabama/Captain Richard Phillips lifeboat affair (the one who didn't get tagged by the SEAL snipers), Abduhl Wali-i-Musi, who just showed up in Manhattan for his trial? Maybe he can get interviewed by Anderson Cooper, and take Anderson hostage live on CNN. That would rock.

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