June 23rd, 2004

flavored with age

Adventures in Point-Missing

So, in the prisoner-interrogation memoranda released yesterday, there was a memo which requested authorization of 'standing' prisoners, a well-established technique in which victims are forced to stand straight up without moving for hours at a time. This makes them very uncomfortable and vulnerable. At the bottom of the memo (which, by the way, did receive authorization), Rumsfeld himself wrote this:

"I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?"

This is so loaded with asininity, I scarcely know where to start. Let's give it a try, though.

1. Since when does Donald Rumsfeld stand for 8 to 10 hours a day? What is he, a security guard? He's the fucking Secretary of Defense.

1a. It has been noted in some reports that Rumsfeld prefers to work at a stand-up desk. Fine. But he's certainly not standing continuously for anything like four hours at a time.

2. The word "prefers" is important above. If the Iraqi detainees preferred standing for four hours a day, that would be great. But they are forced to do it, which makes all the difference. This is the same reason that working in a cubicle is different from being in a jail cell.

3. Even if Donald Rumsfeld likes standing for eight hours a day and it doesn't hurt him, that doesn't mean it wouldn't hurt other people. I have a very thick skull and it doesn't hurt me to heatbutt a concrete wall; does that mean I should tell my friends to go around clocking people on the dome with a lead pipe?

4. While Donald Rumsfeld is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to allegedly stand for eight hours a day, the Iraqi prisoners are not paid to stand for four hours a day. If Donald Rumsfeld decides to stop being Secretary of Defense, he will most likely get a job in the private sector paying millions of dollars; if an Iraqi decides to stop being a prisoner, he will most likely be shot and killed.

5. Perhaps most importantly of all, if Donald Rumsfeld decides to stop standing, there are not a bunch of armed guards standing around him who will beat him with rifle butts.

Now, I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm a high school dropout, and I figured this all out on my own. So how come Rumsfeld couldn't? And how did this (as well as a document in which the Bush administration argued for denying prisoners their Geneve Convention rights and using torture) end up in a batch of memos released with the intent of proving that the U.S. did not authorize the use of torture? And, finally and more to the point, why would anyone vote for these people again?