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Thursday afternoon is Panetta’s long-awaited confirmation hearing. As something of a cipher on intelligence matters, Panetta can expect a tough hearing. With the CIA intimately involved in the hunt for Al Qaeda; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the torture policies of the Bush administration, Panetta’s approach to the future of intelligence will have far-reaching implications for U.S. national security, the rule of law, and global human rights…
It will be interesting to hear how Panetta clears up the dispute about his Clinton administration service. More interesting still will be whether Panetta defends renditions at all. Obama’s executive order leaves the door open to the first kind of renditions, empanelling a review of the practice led by cabinet officials to determine that renditions “do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control.” What sort of human-rights guarantees will Panetta — who, if confirmed, will participate in the review — insist upon?
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”