Caution: Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo content.
A few days ago, Body and Soul posted this excellent post about Seymour Hersh's book Chain of Command and a fairy tale that she was reading to her daughter called Ella Enchanted. This may seem like an odd juxtaposition but it is not. And it gave rise to this beautiful bit of prose from Jeanne:
The idea that evil is stupid is comforting in a children's book. It is not comforting in Hersh's.
I haven't gotten very far into Hersh's book, but so far, this is what I know: Within a few months of the Guantánamo Bay prison's opening, three things were obvious:
1. The Bushies wanted prisoners treated harshly in order to extract information quickly.
2. Treating prisoners harshly wasn't going to extract information -- quickly or otherwise.
3. The vast majority of Guantánamo prisoners had no information to give.
Bush and Company believed so firmly in the first point that the easiest way to kill a career was to mention the second or third points. Not that some people didn't try -- but they failed to have any influence. To have any interest in facts, any connection to reality, was to be branded soft on Al Qaeda.
Some of the Guantánamo prisoners were mentally ill old men. Under different circumstances, they might have had promising civilian careers in the Pentagon.