Saturday, September 10, 2005

Katrina: What kind of camp is it like, boys? 

Tinfoil hat time, but I reread Délay's words this morning, and one word caught my eye:

[Not-yet-indicted] congressman [Délay] likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"
(via back)

Can you guess what the word was?


And I'm on not talking Susan Sontag here.

I've always thought that, even though we have plenty of football stadiums in this country, the Chilean experience—where the enemies of the regime were rounded up and held in soccer stadiums before being tortured, shot, or thrown for airplanes—could not be "happen here" because the sheer scale of this country would make the logistics very difficult.

So, I find some details about the Dome stories unsettling:

1. Concentration of marginalized people into sports arenas

2. Surrounding them with armed guards

3. Dedicated transport (not trains, as in Nazi Europe, but buses)

4. Use of "emergency powers" (next door to quasi-legal, arbitrary)

5. The cash cards (so botched) weren't electronic identity cards, or electronic ankle bracelets, but they'll figure that out next time.

Now, I'm not saying the motivation for the Domes was anything other than benign (though Bab's stone-cold comment on the "underprivileged" makes it very, very clear how marginalized the citizens in the domes were).

However, in some ways it's a blessing—not that this excuses the deaths and the loss—that the political hacks at FEMA were so feckless and clueless.

Because the techniques, the administrative and management skills required, to concentrate large numbers of marginalized people into, um, "camps" is the very last thing we would want Republicans to acquire. Because those skills, used for benevolent purposes this time, can be put to other purposes when the impulse is there—and if we take the Republicans at their word (see Orcinus), it will be. (This is yet another illustration of the "fight to the finish" concept; we may no longer be in "pendulum" mode.)

And please refer all comments containing the words "tinfoil hat" to The Department of No! They Would Never Do That!

NOTE In a way, this tinfoil hat scenario has an eerie parallel to Abu Ghraib. No matter our imperial sins in the past, and they are many, the techniques required to concentrate large numbers of captives in camps, and then to torture them, just aren't in the mainstream. "That's not what America is about." Because the chain of commmand hasn't yet had to write the manual on how to organize a torture camp, and so the perps screwed up. (O felix culpa!) The Stanford Effect (here) wasn't strong enough to suck the whole chain of command in, and the story got out. If history is allowed to judge Bush, as we all hope it is, I feel that destroying the very possibility of military honor by making the chain of command complicit in torture will be one of the gravest charges against him.

UPDATE Oh no (via Jesus's General)....

It didn't occur to me (though it should have) that Bush would use faith-based organizations to handle the logistics of filling the camps.... No matter how hard I try with these people, and I try very hard, I am never cynical or paranoid enough.

corrente SBL - New Location
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The Washington Chestnut
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