No Comment — June 8, 2007, 9:28 am

The Ship of Fools Flounders On

The Brennan Center at NYU has released an important study of the conduct of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division over the last three-years. The shorter version would be to say that scare quotes now need to be attached to the words “Justice” and “Civil Rights,” because what’s going on there is quite the opposite of what those labels imply. “The Bush administration engaged in a three-year effort to suppress likely Democratic votes,” says the report.

Of course, everyone who watched Brad Schlozman testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee knows this already. The real shocker in the Brennan report was the statement that the career employees of the Division – 55% of them – have departed, either being hounded out or leaving in disgust over what was happening. It’s not surprising that conscientious, career lawyers would abandon the rat and rot infested vessel under the command of the man known to his closest friends by the mafia moniker – “Fredo.”

The real worry is about those who are left aboard. Increasingly this is becoming what was known in the literature of the High Middle Ages as a ship of fools (Narrenschyff):

Ja würt all gschrifft vnd ler veracht/Die gantz welt lebt in finstrer nacht/Vnd dût in sünden blint verharren/All strassen/gassen/sindt voll narren.

”All scripture and learning they detest/they bring the world into darkest night/and wallow in sin and blindness/all streets and alleys are full of fools.”

Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

No Comment March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada



September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content


Arab artists take up — and look past — regional politics
“When everyday life regularly throws up images of terror and drama and the technological sublime, how can a photographer compete?”
“Qalandia 2087, 2009,” by Wafa Hourani
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Tale of the Tape·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Heroin isn’t the weakness Art Pepper submits to; it’s the passion he revels in.”
Photograph (detail) © Laurie Pepper
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
New Books
New Books·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Almond insists that watching football does more than feed an appetite for violence. It’s a kind of modern-day human sacrifice, and it makes us more likely to go to war.”
Photograph by Harold Edgerton

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!


In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today