My recommendation for smart, funny summer reading? “Experiments in Torture,” by an organization called Physicians for Human Rights. At fewer than 30 pages, this breezy PDF is a must-have for poolside or beach.
“Experiments” is built around a comic device at once so simple and ingenious it’s reminiscent of classic absurd contrivances, such as those that drove Mel Brooks’s The Producers or Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. The idea is that the Bush administration, by making sure doctors were present during terrorist interrogations, proved itself to be an illegal torture and research operation. You see:
Medical personnel were ostensibly responsible for ensuring that the legal threshold for “severe physical and mental pain” was not crossed by interrogators, but their presence and complicity in intentionally harmful interrogation practices were not only apparently intended to enable the routine practice of torture, but also to serve as a potential legal defense against criminal liability for torture.
Get it? By doing the right thing, the administration proved its intention of doing the wrong thing! Read it quickly, so you can pass it on to your friends and let them in on the fun. The sequel, of course, writes itself: Barack Obama gets charged with war crimes after prosecutors cite his executive order to close Guantanamo Bay.