In Law School, I Had the Unnerving Honor of Debating John Yoo...

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"I cited my treaties and precedents--there are a lot of them--to argue cold rooms and stress positions fit the Torture Convention's standard for severe pain or suffering," writes author and lawyer Theodore McCombs, "and Professor Yoo countered with the question at the heart of the Bybee memo: where is the line? What is severe enough cold? 49 degrees? What about 53, or 55 degrees? Is four hours in a cold room torture? Three? Two? 

"Guantánamo's non-sense draws comparisons to Kafka and Orwell, but to me the touchstone is Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which had its 150th anniversary on November 26, and Through the Looking Glass capture the ambitious inversions of Gitmo, where the iguanas that skitter out of the jungled camps enjoy more legal protection than the men inside. 

"What is it to read Alice, a century and a half after its creation, in the era of Guantánamo? For me, it is to understand 'nonsense' not as children's fantasy but as a riptide in the human mind, which drags us further off course the more violent or conceited or certain we are. It is to articulate what is so wrongheaded in Gitmo--to acknowledge men serving thirteen years of sentence before any verdict, and to insist on simple principle in the face of sophisticated explications."

see Alice in Guantánamo: Reading Carroll in the Gitmo Age

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This page contains a single entry published on December 4, 2015 10:24 AM.

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