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The madness of George

Opinion: What this week's torture memos say about "Justice."

But you cannot read through the calculations of our nation's top legal authorities without wondering about the appropriateness of "Justice." These were not exceptions to rules being made on the fly. This was new policy, new guidance carefully designed to survive the moment and take its place as permanent operational reality. "Justice" in this light smacks of the "Hatchery and Conditioning Center" of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," or the more infamous Ministry of Love in George Orwell's "1984" (which, among other things, tortures people).

How ironic that it would be the "Justice" Department, with its civil rights division, its drug enforcement morality, and its propensity to poke its nose into people's private reproductive business, which ultimately determines that, when brutalizing a handcuffed, blindfolded prisoner, "the head and neck are supported with a rolled towel, ... to help prevent whiplash."

So what if the man who would be subject to "cramped confinement in a box with an insect" was none other than Abu Zubaydah, the slovenly murderer thought to be the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks. I will spit on his grave, and happily hear of his confinement for life in prison. I'm even agnostic about execution.

But putting him in a box with bugs? If Hollywood had dreamed this up — Indiana Jones and the Deadly Caterpillar — I'd have left the theater.

More seriously, it wouldn't have to be Zubaydah. Had this policy not come to light (and thankfully there are newspapers still brave enough to turn over such rocks), it could be anyone in that insect box.

Of course, the lawyers are looking out for you in there: If placed in such a box, it would be okay, they say, for your interrogator to lead you to believe a stinging insect would be dropped in with you, but:

You must inform him that the insects will not have a sting that would produce death or severe pain.

Thankfully we have lawyers watching over these things. Who else but a lawyer could understand the soul of a stinging insect?

More GlobalPost dispatches on Guantanamo Bay:

Spanish court considers prosecuting Bush officials

The last westerner in Guantanamo

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