19 June 2006


The Little-Ease, 2006 Edition

From Camus, The Fall (1956) (my Vintage edition):
To be sure, you are not familiar with that dungeon cell that was called the little-ease in the Middle Ages. In general, one was forgotten there for life. That cell was distinguished from others by ingenious dimensions. It was not high enough to stand up in nor wide enough to lie down in. One had to take on an awkward manner and live on the diagonal; sleep was a collapse, and waking a squatting. Mon cher, there was genious -- and I am weighing my words -- in that so simple invention. Every day through the unchanging restriction that stiffened his body, the condemned man learned that he was guilty and that innocence consists in stretching joyously.
From The New York Times (Saturday, 17 June 2006, here, registration required):
General Formica found that in the third case at a Special Operations outpost, near Tikrit, in April and May 2004, three detainees were held in cells 4 feet high, 4 feet long and 20 inches wide, except to use the bathroom, to be washed or to be interrogated. He concluded that two days in such confinement "would be reasonable; five to seven days would not." Two of the detainees were held for seven days; one for two days, General Formica concluded.
From Spencer Ackerman, here, at The Plank, The New Republic's blog:
Here are two such questions you can puzzle over from your home or office. Take all the shelving out of a typical filing cabinet. (My own office cabinet happens to be slightly smaller than the cell described here.) Now lock yourself in it for two days. You may notice you can neither stand up straight nor lie down, and crouching gets really uncomfortable extremely fast. Remember that as an Iraqi detainee, the Geneva Conventions apply to you. Now ask yourself: Why would Formica consider such treatment "reasonable" for two days? And if someone put an American soldier in such conditions for two days--or authorized doing so--what should happen to that person?
From Andrew Sullivan (here):
I haven't discussed the Formica Report because, even by the standards of the several previous reports, this one was such an exercize in transparent denial and avoidance it didn't merit discussion. But General Formica did what Rumsfeld wanted: no one was held responsible even for the abuses Formica did concede. That's the Bush principle. Torture, pretend to investigate, and exculpate. Rinse the blood off your hands and repeat.
From Camus again:
"Hurry! Hurry to the little-ease!"

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