Monday, July 29, 2013

Advertisements From A World Not Entirely Similar To Our Own, 1 (250=1)

Advertisements From A World Not Entirely Similar To Our Own, 1

“Try this one.  It’s enthralling.”

Gigi leaned over enticingly as she spoke, and he was certain, now, that she was wearing nothing beneath the dress that clung to her curves.

The goblet was crystal clear – of course! That was the only way to partake of pleasures, pleasures! such as these — and her appeal was such that he would have done almost anything just to watch those lips curl in amusement. 

But still he hesitated to take the vessel.

They say that to imbibe the souls of other men, or women, is to experience throughout your body all the torments and sorrows, and all the pleasures, too, but those were rare, for those who had felt the need to sell their souls to the distillers’ presses had few reasons to smile.

That was not what the adverts said, of course.  Everywhere one looked, a billboard or magazine layout or pop-up ad promised the healthful effects of these as-yet-unregulated draughts: invigorating effects, restoration of youthfulness, skin tone, muscles, A Spirit For Every Spirit! one commercial promised as children swung and parents laughed over backgammon, all partaking.

Gigi stared with the wide eyes he’d fallen for at the photo shoot for just such an ad.

“I’ve never…” he said.

“Then you must,” she breathed.

Her finger traced the rim of the crystalline half-sphere.  He took it from her, could barely see the ghost inside.

“Who was it?”

“Does it matter?” she purred.

In 250=1, I write stories that are exactly 250 words long including the title.  (The ad doesn't count!) Here's a list of all of them that I've written

Thursday, July 25, 2013

In The Beginning, 2 (250=1)

In the beginning 2

In the beginning, there was one tiny particle. Just one particle to fill up all the infinity of space.

That's a lot of infinity!

It made this particle feel small and insignificant.

For a long time the particle didn't know what to do about this. so it drifted, alone, nothing to keep it company at night, nothing to share hopes and dreams with, nothing to talk about which songs might have the best drum solo with.

For that matter, there were not yet songs, with or without drum solos!

One day the particle had an idea. Concentrating with all its might, it brought into existence a second particle. The two were so happy, almost spontaneously they generated other particles.

When these new particles came into existence, they wondered whether they, too, could create others.  Experimentation showed any of them could do this, and ever more particles jumbled into existence.

The particles began to feel the need to differentiate themselves.  Some learned to glow, others became heavy, or moved quickly. Some grew large. Some shrunk into themselves.

Some learned the power of grouping together. Some resulting alliances learn to think, talk, stand upright, share hopes and dreams, do drum solos. Other groupings learned  to forge elements in their fusion-core hearts and sent light and heat and radiation out.  Some groups became zebras. Others, nebulas.

Gradually the particles forgot where they came from, and, embarrassed, made up stories about their origin.“In the beginning,” they said “there was God.”


In 250=1, I write stories that are exactly 250 words long including the title.  Here's a list of all of them that I've written.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

Also, I make t-shirts, but I don't count how many words are on them:

Carlos DangerYou know him. Or you don't want to know him. Or you know him but you don't want to know him. Or you don't know him but you don't know that you don't know him. Whatever. Most certainly, you don't want him for mayor of New York City. But nobody can stop him. He's Carlos Danger, and he is unstoppable. Just look at the shirt! "Carlos Danger laughs at other dangers". Do you think that is a joke? DO YOU? It's not. Carlos Danger is above jokes. He is deadly serious, and he will be your mayor. And you will count yourself lucky for it. You will count yourself lucky, twice. Or more. Because Carlos Danger doesn't stop.


Carlos Danger by brianefp

Don't know who "Carlos Danger" is? READ SOME NEWS then come back and buy this shirt.

Friday, July 19, 2013

In The Beginning, 1 (250=1)

In The Beginning (1)

In the beginning, there was no beginning. There was just a continuation of what came before. But it was all mixed up

What happens is this: there is a universe , always and forever. It is swirling around, you see, and the spinning and swirling causes it to spiral to the middle, everything that is, spinning into a whirlpool in the enter, pulled inexorably in and down and down and in, and then out the other side where a new universe is born in the old one, spreading out and slowing down.
Then: You know how when you twist yourself on a swing, and spin free and then begin to spin the other way?

That's the universe!

And so when everything gets crunched down, it all gets mixed together and reborn. Now there are humans. Once they were dragons and unicorns, some of them, others were sea shells or a fern. Next time, maybe they will be ice cream, or pulsars, or pulsars made out of ice cream, maybe intelligent pulsars made of ice cream and able to still somehow paint graffiti on the side of bridges saying how much they love other pulsars made of ice cream, or to mark rocks with the year they graduate.

All the while, they're slowly spinning back to the middle of their universe, to spin into everything else and then tip back out the other side to become something even more fantastical, like maybe next time you'll have wings.

In 250=1 I write stories that are exactly 250 words long including the title.  Here's a list of all the stories like this I've written.

So it would be easy to think that this story was inspired by the new theory of the universe proposed this week, the one I call the "Does This Universe Make Me Look Fat?" 


But it wasn't.  Actually, I wrote this story (and a few others) just because I was thinking about how the universe began, myself.  I do that. I think about how the universe began and so I write stories about it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"The Guantánamo military commission for accused USS Cole bombing mastermind [DEFENDANT] had its first, but certainly not its last, secret session last Friday, June 14. According to ...[MEDIA], the hearing was 78 minutes long, and was closed both to the public and to the defendant. The subject of the hearing, and the title of the government motion being argued, were also classified. Defense counsel were permitted to attend but [DEFENDANT'S] attorney... told [MEDIA], “There was a secret session. That’s all I can say.”


When the public found out what was in Motion 92, there was so much outrage that of course the protests began, and the letter writing campaign, and the talk shows, and the indignant editorials which almost nobody read, but they were indignant.  The outrage rose and rose and the protests dominated the nightly news, and it was clear that somebody was going to have to resign.

Or not, because the other idea was to arrest the reporter and charge her with treason, and so that was done.

The reporter was arrested in the middle of the night as her children watched from the top of the stairs, charged and held without bail as a flight risk because she had once been to Portugal, held until she named her sources which she did not, and so she was summarily executed, which would have been expected to cause further commotion but for the fact that the execution was disguised as a suicide, a plan so brilliantly pulled off in the details, right down to the suicide note written in a reasonable facsimile of the reporter's own penmanship, that the public did not get any more incensed.  

With the suicide of the reporter, it was claimed that Motion 92 was not in fact even a real thing, and it was likely that the reporter had fabricated the entire idea that there even WAS a Motion 92, and after several press conferences to explain this, the matter died back down, and finally even the few straggling protesters who were camped, day and night, outside the White House's South Lawn fence, went on to other matters.

Everything in the preceding paragraphs is true except for the things that are not.  

Things that are NOT true include 

1.  the public outrage over Motion 92.  There was no public outrage because there was no public Motion 92.

1a. Even if Motion 92 had been made public the outrage itself would likely still have been missing.

Things that ARE true include:

2.  There was a Motion 92.  That much we know.  Or maybe we do not.  We know that we think that there was a Motion 92, and if Motion 92 existed, then maybe its story might be like this one.

Or maybe not.  

Maybe this story is pure fiction. 

Maybe this story is pure fact.  

How can you tell!

The use of that exclamation point was intentional. Nobody uses question marks anymore.

...THE.................................................................................................................... DEFENSE ...........ATTORNEY...............................................................................................................

She was not sure, until that day, whether she was what her old law professor with his bald spot and his too-short tie and his habit of calling on her when she wasn't paying attention would have termed a 'plumber' or a 'lawyer.'

'Plumbers make the water go where the customer wants it to go!' the man would say to the class, and then he would call on someone who had been paying attention, allowing the others (including the defense attorney who was not yet then an attorney) to develop a false sense of security and they (including her) would, eventually, stop paying attention.  Then he would call on her.

(Plumbers make the water go where the customer wants it to go, the professor would explain.  Lawyers give advice.  Plumbers just take instruction.  "Be a lawyer!" he would tell them.  Some students wrote that down.)

The defense attorney sat up late that night, the night before she wrote Motion 92, reading the same three sheets of paper over and over again.

They weren't even that long to read!

They were three 8 1/2-inch by 13-inch long sheets of paper that had rolled out of the secure fax machine somewhere, probably Langley Virginia, she knew, and she spent a moment, the night before she wrote Motion 92, contemplating the journey the papers themself had made: from their birth as indiscrete parts of a tree, probably in the Pacific Northwest, to sawmill, to paper pulping company near Green Bay, Wisconsin, separating from the mass of soupy gulp that had been a tree into three individual sheets of paper, eventually.  

Bundled into a ream with thousands of their brethren, the three had sat quiescent as they rode a semitrailer truck carrying them to an office supplies warehouse in Maryland, only to then sit on a pallet for several months, in the dark hot dusty quiet, until a government procurement truck had the pallet forklifted onto it, to drive the whole crowd of papers down the highway across the Chesapeake and around the Beltway, making stops at a series of nondescript buildings with windows that you could see out of but not into.  

At each stop, the compatriots were thinned out, until the box with these three in it was set underneath the secure fax machine.  
One day, their sleeve was opened, and they lay, in the middle of a group of friends, waiting until the three of them were pulled, headfirst, through the wringer and received only a nominal amount of printing on them, coming to rest, slightly curled and hot, in a receiving tray that was closely watched by a dedicated secretary with second-level clearance, whose sole job it was to make sure that none of these papers sat untouched and unseen for long, lest they be picked up by people who had no business picking them up and/or seeing them.

Before the three papers had even cooled off, the lawyer knew, the sheets had been scooped up into a manila envelope which was sealed, and carried by hand down the hallway. The elevator would have been required; these three sheets of paper, which had heretofore spent their entire existence (as separate cells in a tree, as part of a pulpy froth, and then as thin layers in a box) in a nondescript fashion, had risen in importance once they were tattooed with their message, brief though it was, and had therefore earned the right to be carried in that manila envelope down the hall, by personal escort (the escort was pretty, in the businesslike way that such women are, women who are willing to go through the privations of obtaining and working in a classified job they cannot discuss at the clubs they go to on Fridays, without obtaining at the same time the accompanying higher pay and importance that usually goes with such classified jobs.  A security clearance, once a thing of importance that marked its bearer as a person of some significance, not to say also some wealth although that was true, too, no longer meant such things. These days, it simply meant that one could park outside of the nondescript buildings on weekdays without a pass, and also that one was not allowed to take one's work home, which generally meant longer hours in the nondescript buildings because the work multiplied and multiplied.)

The papers rode with the pretty, businesslike, second-tier security-classified secretary whose job it was to do this, on the elevator, to a level reachable only by a key, which the secretary possessed.  There were only 11 such keys in existence and they could not be copied because they did not leave the building.  

The secretary turned her key in to the security guard whose own classified level she did not know, but who she suspected must have one higher than her own because he kept the keys.  The papers sat quietly in their envelope, not knowing the elevator they rode in had a security camera with a fisheye lens in two separate corners and when the doors opened the papers were not aware that they were carried into a small lobby with three doors leading off of it, and an armed guard at a desk. 

The guard checked the secretary's badge and waited until his computer said it was okay and then motioned her to the left, where the secretary walked through a door that slid open to find a man standing with his back to her and talking on a headset.  

The man looked at her and saw the manila envelope, and he took the three papers out of it, glanced at them briefly, then glanced at them with more concern.

He would have sighed, but men who occupy that office do not sigh.

Why should they! Even bad news is not ever bad news!

And so he did not sigh but he told the secretary that the papers should be taken to the Sergeant for delivery.

From there, the defense attorney knew, the papers had been put into a different sealed envelope, transferred from person to person and never left alone or unattended or sitting on a desk, until they had made their way to...


She was a bit hazy, when it came from the man in the office telling the Sergeant to deliver them, because ordinarily they would then go to the prosecutor who would be able to look at them at his leisure, day after day (although they were only a few days old, according to the time-stamp) until one day he would have leaned across the table where he sat every day to hand them to her, and then she would have been allowed to keep them from when they were given to her until she had to give them back, an hour, maybe, or the afternoon, or even a night, but probably not a whole night.

These three papers that had never been left alone in their entire life, she felt certain, but she also know that the papers had not come to her from the prosecutor, had instead been in a sealed envelope in her trailer, this morning.

The defense attorney knew the three papers were not hers to keep, and so she created her own set of three DIFFERENT papers.  Unlike the three papers she had known so briefly, looking at them in her trailer on the edge of a rocky bay on the side of Cuba, the three papers the lawyer brought to life had a name.

The name the papers had is not known to us anymore.

The name the papers created by the defense attorney, in her trailer on the edge of Guantanamo Bay, a trailer that served as an office and part-time living quarters for her, had once, was typed onto the three new papers and whispered by the defense attorney as she typed them on her laptop (for she was allowed a laptop provided it did not have an Internet connection, and this laptop was not allowed to leave with her when she took the plane back to her home in Florida every Friday) whispered by her as she typed it up, and then after being typed, and whispered, was never spoken again, and that name did not matter because the three new papers were given a new name the very next morning, when the defense attorney took them in and handed them to the prosecutor.

As per protocol, the papers were not copied in advance. The defense attorney did not have a copier.  

The papers were not saved to her hard drive.  She was not allowed to save documents on her computer without advance permission from the Tribunal.  

She had not printed any copies of the papers, as she was not allowed to print multiple copies without permission.  

The tribunal watched as the defense attorney handed the three new papers to the prosecutor, and handed back, too, the three papers she had been given the day before, 

She watched as the prosecutor looked at the three NEW papers he had been handed, then at the three OLD papers, which he looked at, looked at again, looked away from, then back again, and only after all of that were they handed to the assistant prosecutor, who filed them in the box on the table. 

All of this done under the watchful eyes of the two military policemen who stood behind the defense counsel's table at all times. 

The prosecutor looked at the three new papers, read through them, then read through them again, and only after he had read them, and only after he had handed them to his assistant to read, did he turn to the tribunal, who was patiently waiting for the prosecutor to begin the day's proceedings, and say: 

"There's a motion we may need to hear."

The tribunal looked interested, and the prosecutor's assistant walked the three new papers up, carefully hiding their name from the others in the room -- the others being only the prosecutor himself, the tribunal, the defense attorney, and the two military policemen.  Today's proceedings in the trial of the defendant would not require the presence of the defendant.

The tribunal looked at the three papers, and, having read them through only once, handed them back to the prosecutor's assistant, who bore them back to the prosecutor, who tucked them carefully into a manila folder near the back of the banker's box on his desk.

"Motion 92 will be scheduled for hearing," the tribunal said.


Motion 92 sat, untouched, in its own section of the file folders maintained by the prosecutor throughout the remainder of the day's proceeding.  The prosecutor that day argued the minutiae of what would happen the next day, when the defendant might be present at the defendant's trial.  Almost one hour was devoted to the question of whether the additional security detail -- three other military police and an enlisted man -- would be allowed to stand before the bar and behind the defense table or if they would have to stand behind the bar, in the row of chairs that was never filled by anyone other than military police and enlisted men.

There were five chairs, each identical, behind the half-wall that was traditional in courtrooms and so one had been installed here, a bit of tradition in an entirely nontraditional setting.  It was traditional to have a half-wall -- the bar -- separate the public from the participants in court.  Hence, the people who had built the courtroom had put in a half-wall, stained it dark brown and installed a swinging gate through which the lawyers could walk when they entered from the main entrance at the back of the courtroom, passing by the five plastic chairs, three on the left and two on the right, that had been taken from the enlisted men's mess and which, as noted, had never been sat in. There was never a public to sit in them, making the bar irrelevant. 

Eventually, the tribunal decided that the prosecutor was right and that for security reasons, the military police men on security detail for the defendant, as well as the enlisted man, would stand before the bar and behind the defense table.

"What about attorney-client privilege!" the defense attorney demanded, but the tribunal merely shuffled the papers on the bench and moved on to the next order of business, a request to increase the time delay on the broadcast of proceedings to the press corps by 5 seconds, to 40 seconds.  This was argued for 20 minutes, with the prosecutor insisting that it was necessary for protection of classified material and that it would not impose a significant burden on the reporters who attended the proceedings, as they likely would not even realize the additional delay was present.

When asked whether she took a stance on the motion, the defense attorney attempted a smile that did not quite come off as such, and said "The defense continues to request that there be no delay in publication to the press and notes its continued objection to the delay as well as to the silencing button."

The tribunal no longer, when the defense made such objections, reflexively looked to where a stenographer would sit if there were a stenographer in the courtroom.  

"Objection noted," the tribunal said, and moved on to the next order of business.

The trial proceedings that day lasted only six hours and fourteen minutes and so when the prosecutor and his assistant walked out of the courtroom, just behind the defense attorney, the air was still hot and bright in the way that air only seemed to be in Guantanamo Bay.  

The prosecutor squinted as he saluted the military policeman who held the door for him, waited in the sunlight for his eyes to adjust but they never quite did, he squinted everywhere he went here in the base, the light almost an assault on the eyes.  It was as if there wasn't enough here to absorb all the ambient sunlight: the absence of trees, and grass, and the few people here -- less than 200 prisoners, only about 1,500 soldiers, with less than a hundred support staff, all in an area about the size of one of those new suburban communities where all the houses were shaped like Frank Lloyd Wright knockoffs and there was a bakery and a hair styling salon in the small commercial building at the entrance to the area -- but none of that was here, of course, there were only barracks and wooden buildings bleached by sun and wire fences topped with coils that would slice your hand off from twenty feet away, seemingly -- the sunlight waiting around, aimlessly, as if the lack of things for the it to land on and be absorbed by had left an overabundance of sunlight drifting around, unattached, and the effect was not pleasant, not at all: all that extra sunlight glinted off barbed wire fences and corrugated-metal walls and gun-gray vehicles and it bleached everything, whited everything out, made everything seem sanded down and duller, not reflective anymore, made metal seem like rock and wood, where there was wood, seem like metal and made rock seem like... whatever was coarser and duller than rock, the prosecutor finally decided, his own imagination having been beaten into submission by the ambient light.

"Put that there," he said to the assistant, motioning to the small table across from his desk in his office, which was next door to the courtroom.  He looked out the window where he could see the defense attorney opening the door to her trailer office/home, the military policeman going before her to inspect it while she waited.

The assistant complied, and the prosecutor motioned him out of the room.  He glanced at his watch and then riffled through the folders until he found Motion 92, which he then pulled out. 

Getting a bottle of water from the minirefrigerator beside the table, he sat down on the threadbare, spartan loveseat and read it.

It took less time to read it the second time than it had the first. Motion 92 was economical in its use of wording, and similarly thrifty in the references to supporting arguments it made, not only because of the short length of time between when the defense attorney had been able to read the three papers that had prompted it, but also because of the lack of precedential cases upon which a motion like Motion 92 could be based.

The prosecutor read it a second time,and then laid Motion 92 down on the couch next to him for a second and took a sip of water.

"Well, shit," he said.

He got up and buzzed the secretary and told her to send in the assistant prosecutor.

In moments the assistant was there.

"Well, shit," the prosecutor said again, and waved Motion 92 in the air for him.

"We need to respond to this," the prosecutor told him, "And we need to do it quickly.  I want something on paper by tomorrow morning."

He thought for a second, and then changed his mind.  "By tonight. You get me a response by tonight, and I'll mark it up so that we can file it first thing tomorrow morning."

The assistant did not reach for Motion 92, not sure if he had the proper clearance levels.  The prosecutor looked at it again, read the first page or two of the motion, and then put it back in the folder.

"Here's what it says," the prosecutor said, sitting back down on the couch, but before he began speaking, he got up and looked out the windows, then closed the blinds so that nobody could see in. He then walked to the doors, one on each end of the office. He opened the one that led outside, and glanced at the military policeman standing guard out there.

"Five feet," he told the man.

The guard nodded and walked forward the requisite number of feet.  At the other end of the office, the one that led into the staff pool, he saw that nobody was in the room.

He closed the door, and turned back to the assistant, detailing quickly and efficiently what was in Motion 92.  In less than 2 minutes, he had outlined the basic idea of Motion 92 and what he wanted to do in response to it, at least in court and at least for now.  He then told the assistant to get what he could by 1900 hours and ushered him out the door.  He watched until the assistant sat at his desk and had opened up the secure laptop prosecutors carried back and forth with them from the mainland to here.

"Turn that away from the window," he reminded the assistant, who complied, his back now to the inner wall and his eyes on the laptop screen.

The prosecutor closed the door and went back to his desk.  He picked up the secure line and told the security detail that tomorrow the defendant's presence would not be necessary in court, and that there would be no hearing.  Then he hung up, and picked up again, dialed a different number.

This number caused the line not to hook up to another phone there on the corner of the island, but to instead link into a cable that went underneath billions of gallons of ocean water, a cable that had been buried in the rock of the island, which had been dug up and carved out and laid open enough to put the cable down inside the crust of the earth itself, and which had then had concrete poured over it, new rock replacing natural rock, hardening until there was an as-near-impenetrable barrier between the sky and the sun and the less-than-2000 people who lived here,  only a few of whom had anywhere near the necessary amount of freedom of movement to even approach the cable, and fewer of whom knew the cable was there.

From the rock, both manmade and God-made, that the cable began its journey in, the cable went directly underwater, beginning with the wave-tossed deep edge of the ocean that abutted directly onto the island, and moving downward quickly to lie on the ocean floor, from a depth of only forty feet near the rocky cliff where it left the island to joint the sea to a depth of nearly a mile, until the cable reached the mainland, where it traveled through a small bay underwater until it rose up near a dock on a military base, to leave the sea and begin again to live in the air and land.  From there it ran into a large box that was entered and left by dozens of identical cables, not all of which had any real purpose: some of them were extras in case they were one day needed, and some of them were decoys, in case someone were to get into the box and decide to try to interrupt the cables' job, which was to convey information from one place to another without interruption.

The cable ended at that box and another cable began, this journey again diving into manmade rock until leaving the ground some miles away from the military base in a nondescript area near the Everglades, rising out of the swamp amidst turtles and snakes and the odd feral housecat, to seemingly join the network of cables and wires that were strung all over the country.  This particular cable did not actually touch any other cable anywhere else in the country; it did not associate with lesser brethren, the types of wires and devices that would help send a phone call from a little boy in Oklahoma to his grandmother in Connecticut, or which would forward a list of funny cat jokes from Los Angeles to Milwaukee. This cable was part of a separate cadre of lines that was devoted solely to the most important, most secret, most serious communications, communications that were so significant and which carried with them such potential for disaster if they reached the wrong hands, that as few as approximately (for nobody konws the exact number of people who hold security clearances) as few as about 1,100,000 people in the entire country could be cleared to know of the EXISTENCE of such information, let alone to know what the information actually said.

These cables buzzed and hummed, day and night, with information too dangerous, too new, too important, for anyone but those (probably as few as) 1,100,000 people to be aware of, and they carried that information from Guantanamo Bay, to Washington D.C., to Des Moines, Iowa, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Austin, Texas, to Butte, Montana, and to 32 other places around the country, but 90% of the words and images these cables carried went to nondescript office buildings in Virginia, where the prosecutor's phone call went.

"We need a courier," the prosecutor said to the man who picked up the phone.

That was not what the cables carried. That was what the prosecutor SAID, but the cables carried those words scrambled and rescrambled and rescrambled on top of that, and then when they reached their destination they were unscrambled and unscrambled and unscrambled below that, the mixing and remixing and unmixing having the curious effect of flattening out the tones of the words, making them more monotonous even than they had been, this low-uttered sentence coming from the sunbeat rocks of Guantanamo Bay and being said into the ears of a man sitting in a windowless office in a nondescript building in Virginia.


Beauty is truth, truth is beauty, and neither is fact.


He stops exactly two feet from the elevator door.  It is a habit the courier has cultivated in hopes that someday, someone will ask him "Why do you stop exactly two feet from the elevator door?"  If they do, he will answer them:

"Because if you stand too close to the elevator door, when it opens, you can be surprised by someone just on the other side of the doorway, and they can get the drop on you before you realize how close they are."

This questioner, having then mulled it over for a second or two, would then say "Why don't you stand farther back, then? That way they can't get you at all, even if you don't know how close they are standing?"

To which he would reply:

"If I stand farther back, I can't see into the corners of the elevator in case someone is hiding."

He would pause, and then add:

"And if I'm too far from the door, people can get out of the elevator quickly and I have no chance to stop them, so they can spread out in the hallway before I know even how many there are."

He would not add that two feet is the perfect distance: close enough to block the door, grapple with an assailant, or fall back -- but far enough to not be immediately subject to attack.  That part would be clear enough from his statements, and the questioner would realize that the courier was a man to be reckoned with.

Nobody had yet asked him, and the two-foot rule was not part of his training -- not basic training, not Navy SEAL training, not the three years of virtual doctoral classes at a nondescript building almost identical to this one but three blocks away and on the left, and not the five years he had been on the job.  It was of his own devising. He often toyed with the idea of writing up the two-foot rule in a memo and seeking to have it added to the training, but (A) memos were discouraged in his division and (B) he wasn't sure he wanted others to know about the two-foot rule, in case they used it against him.  He would likely -- likely!-- someday need to get the drop on someone coming off an elevator.

Perhaps when he retired.

The elevator door opens and he pauses for only a fraction of a second, scanning the elevator, which has only one of the standard-issue pretty, but slightly too short to be 'hot', secretaries who work in these buildings.  Pretty tall girls become models, beauty pageant contestants, doctors.  Pretty SHORT girls go to work in nondescript office buildings where they can rise to the level of HR director but no further.

He does not talk to her.

He gets off the elevator, and the remainder of his trip to his destination is not worth talking about.  Nor can he talk about it at all, not to anyone, not even to his wife, if he had one.  He does not have one.  She divorced him 7 years ago, before he was promoted to his present position.  It was a perk of his present job that he was prohibited by law from disclosing his position, his place of employment, or his income, and so his child support and his alimony remained unchanged, and when his ex-wife's lawyer wrote letters to him seeking that information again, he provided the letters to the in-house counsel whose office was on the third floor of this very nondescript building with shaded windows behind trees that had obviously been planted only five years ago, and the in-house counsel would write back that the information could not be provided because [REGULATION] made it classified.  

[REGULATION] is not a published regulation.  You cannot look it up online or in the printed versions of the Code Of Federal Regulations.  It exists only in administrative directives issued by Secretaries, and when challenged a version of the directive with an agency seal is provided, but only for viewing.  The citation for [REGULATION] is by administrative decree not written down.  It can be cited by number only orally, not in writing.  Challenges to refusals to provide information under [REGULATION] may only be done by petition to the District Court For Regulation Of Security, pursuant to [RULE].


When the defense attorney gets off the plane, she is tired and somewhat bewildered.  

She had left her trailer that morning to go to court and arrived there only to be told by the military policeman standing outside the door that the day's session was closed to her.

"We are supposed to have a hearing today," she said.  She did not tell him that the hearing was about whether her client could be force-fed during his hunger strike, as the government insisted it had a right to keep her client alive until he was found guilty and deported or executed. 

She had thought about telling the tribunal that it would be less expensive for the government to ship her client back in a body bag, and that every version of the ending of the trial would be the same, because whether her client succeeded in starving himself to death, or whether the government executed him, or whether it sent him back to one of the countries it believed he should live in, the result was the same; it was only the manner of achieving that result that was in doubt, but she had decided that such an argument might be pushing it.

"The proceedings are closed," the military policeman said, again.

"Not to me," she told him and reached for the handle.

"I'm sorry, ma'am.  The proceedings are closed."  The military policeman nearly-imperceptibly moved, the smallest hint of a shift to block just the barest edge of the door.

She had stood there, stymied, staring at him, for only a few seconds, until the door had opened from inside.  The assistant prosecutor came out, glanced at her, and then began walking to the office building.  She spun after him and grabbed his arm.

"What's going on!"

"Closed hearings for the remainder of the week," the assistant told her.  Looking at her insignia on her uniform, he belatedly saluted her.  "Ma'am."

She could not get into the courtroom and waited outside the door for a half-hour.  The assistant prosecutor did not come back.  Nobody else came out.  She went and sat back in her trailer and watched the courtroom door, all day, through the small slit of a window on that side.  She did not work on anything.  She did not read her book that she had brought with her to help her fall asleep at night.  At lunchtime, she ate some microwave popcorn and a warm root beer from her cupboard.

At four p.m., the prosecutor left the courtroom and she ran out the door and intercepted him.

"What is going on!"  Pause. "Sir!"

The prosecutor would not meet her eyes.  

"Closed proceedings," he said. 

He fumbled in the file he carried, and pulled out a sheet of paper.  He showed it to her.  She read it:


When she reached for it, he said:

"[Regulation]" and put it back in his file.

And so she took the plane back to the mainland that night, strapped to a seat in the cargo hold, with three enlisted men and some administrative staff with accumulated leave time and a reporter from the press pool who knew better than to ask her questions.

As she walked down the cargo ramp at the back of the plane onto the tarmac, feeling the dense humidity of south Florida wrap around her like a sweaty aunt's hug on the Fourth Of July, a strange man walked up to her.

"[Name]" he said to her and she nodded.

The man took her by the wrist and with a glance at the others coming down the cargo ramp to make sure they were not close enough to hear, said in a voice that somehow seemed to hit her not in the ear, but directly between her shoulder blades:

"You are under arrest."

And looking as though he was escorting her off to dinner, he led her to a car that was just off to the right of the ramp.  He opened the back door for her and allowed her to start getting in and betrayed himself and his true purpose to any onlookers only at the last moment, when he somewhat roughly bent her head down to keep her from hitting it on the car roof, as policeman have done since car roofs were invented.

The door closed with the tight soft whisper of extreme luxury and the car turned a quick, tight half-circle and drove off.

The reporter stood on the bottom of the ramp coming off the plane and felt his breathing get shallower.  His chest actually tightened.

He realized his mistake and started walking again, trying to keep his gait normal.  He walked over to the edge of the tarmac, the wire-fenced gate manned by seven different military policemen.  He nodded to them and fumbled with his credentials, proving who he was so that they would let him out, even though the fenced-in place could only be reached by airplane directly from Guantanamo Bay and this was the only place from which planes left to go to Guantanamo Bay, so it was improbable to the point of impossibility that he was not supposed to be there, but he did not even joke about that.

Once outside he looked neither left nor right but went directly to his car, wondering if he was right about what he had seen and what it meant that he had seen it and what it might mean if it meant that he was right about what he had seen and then he drew a deep breath and told himself to just have the one thought at a time or things were going to get weird.

Going to!

He realized he was just sitting in his car and started it up and did everything that he could to simply drive off without seeming as though he was in a hurry.


Fingerprints on a bag containing detonating devices, found by Spanish authorities following the Madrid commuter train bombings, were initially identified by the FBI as belonging to [ATTORNEY] ("100% verified"). 

According to the court documents in [TRIBUNAL]'s decision, this information was largely "fabricated and concocted by [AGENCY] and [AGENCY]". When the [AGENCY] finally sent [ATTORNEY]'s fingerprints to the Spanish authorities, they contested the matching of the fingerprints from [ATTORNEY] to the ones associated with the Madrid bombing. Further, the Spanish authorities informed the [AGENCY] they had other suspects in the case, Moroccan immigrants not linked to anyone in the USA. The [AGENCY] completely disregarded all of the information from the Spanish authorities, and proceeded to spy on [ATTORNEY] and his family further.

As was discovered during the court case, even the [AGENCY]'s own records show that this fingerprint, despite the sworn testimony of [AGENCY] and [AGENCY] agents, was in all reality not an exact match but only one of 20 "similar" prints to the ones retrieved from Madrid. Based on that list of people with "similar prints" the [AGENCY] launched an extensive investigation of all 20 individuals using Letters of National Security. The investigation included medical records, financial records, employment records, etc. on all 20 people and their families. It was during this time that [ATTORNEY]'s name rose to the top of the list.

The [AGENCY] arrested [ATTORNEY] at his offices in West Slope, an unincorporated suburb of Portland. The arrest was under a material witness warrant rather than under charge; he was held with no access to family and limited access, if any, to legal counsel. The [AGENCY] initially refused to inform either [ATTORNEY] or his family why he was being detained or where he was being held.

Later, the [AGENCY] leaked the nature of the charges to the local media and the family learned of the charges by watching the local news. He was at first held at a County jail under a false name; he was later transferred to an unidentified location. His family protested that [ATTORNEY] had no connection with the bombings, nor had he been off the continent in over 11 to 14 years.


"Sign this, please," the prosecutor said to the tribunal, presenting him with two pieces of paper stapled together in the top middle. 

The tribunal glanced at it, and then looked up at the prosecutor. 

Reflexively, he glanced at the red button that could be used to turn off the sound feed to the press room before remembering that this session, too, was closed to the media and nobody was in the adjoining room watching their lips move and hearing the attendant sounds 40 seconds later.

He turned his gaze back to the prosecutor, who held the same rank as the tribunal, outside this room.  

Inside this room, things were murkier.

The prosecutor nodded.

The tribunal read the pages again and then picked up a pen off his desk.  He signed his name to the second of the two pages and handed it back.

"[REGULATION]," he said.

The prosecutor nodded again, went back to his table, and pulled out a sheaf of papers and notes.  Thumbing through them, he handed several over to the assistant prosecutor and then took the remainder up to the tribunal.

"Offer Exhibit 1470-Prosecution," he said, pointing to the sticker in one corner of the packet.

The tribunal had long ago stopped looking to the defense table on such offers, even when the defense attorney was there. 

"Received," he said, and took the packet of papers.

"The whole thing." he said to the prosecutor who shook his head.

"Start on page 3."

So the tribunal started on page three.  It was a transcript of a telephone call, with various words highlighted in a manner that the tribunal now recognized as being search terms; when a computer was told to search documents for certain terms, it highlighted the ones it found and a printout of those documents would have the words highlighted on them.  Page 3 was heavy with highlights.  The conversation itself was marked only as "Caller" and "Recipient."  He read through the transcript from Page 3 until the call turned to the subject of whether Strasburg would be able to pitch the next day, and then looked up.

"Motion 92," he said.

The prosecutor nodded again, and the tribunal later that day signed two other orders.


Was woken up and abruptly moved from the cell he shared with two other men.


The reporter ALMOST used his cell phone to try to call the defense attorney but stopped himself just before hitting "SEND."

Instead, he walked up to the desk clerk and asked her if the hotel had a payphone.

"A what." the clerk said back to him.

She was only 18! 

"A... never mind." The reporter walked down the hallway and saw that there was a 'business center' where people could use hotel phones and plug in their laptops and otherwise get a little work done while they were on the road.  He went into one of the little cubbies and took out his cell phone, opened the "Contacts" and scrolled with one finger until he got to the defense attorney's entry.

He picked up the phone on the tabletop and looked at the instructions for use.  "Dial 9 to get out," it told him, and so he did, thinking that it should only be that easy!

"9," he dialed.



Consulting his cell phone he went on


He waited.

The phone clicked twice.

Then it clicked once.

Then a voice said "The number you have dialed has been disconnected."

Then the phone clicked twice.

He hung up the phone and looked around himself, suddenly convinced that there were people following him.

He got up and told himself that was crazy.

He walked back up to the desk clerk and asked her if she would mind dialing a number for him.

"Sir," she said.

He did not tell her that he was not a guest at this hotel.  He had not checked in yet, and would not check in.

"I'm a guest.  I think my cell phone," he held it up "Isn't working. Can I get you to dial a number for me to see."

She stared at him for a moment, wondering what kind of trick this was.  He stifled the urge to tell her that it was not any kind of trick, because as soon as you tell someone something you're doing is not a trick, they think it's a trick.

"I should get my manager," she said, and added that he should wait there.  

He did not wait there, and as she went into the hotel offices behind the desk he turned and walked away, going out the lobby and out to where his car was parked.

A meter maid was ticketing his car, standing next to it and writing on a pad.  He glanced around, looking for signs that would mean he had parked it illegally,  and could not see any.  As he did so, the meter maid looked up at him and beckoned to him to come over there.

How did she know it was his car!

And so he turned and ran.


"So he's wanted for what, now," asked the local policeman.

The courier shifted from one foot to the other, staring.

"I can't tell you," he said.

"But you need us to go pick him up."

"We need you to find him, and if you find him, pick him up and hold him and then call me.  At the number I gave you."

"Which I can't write down."


"Is there a warrant out."

"No. Not a warrant."

"Subpoena, then."

"Not a subpoena."

"What's the authority for picking this guy up, then!" the local policeman demanded.

The courier did not sigh.  Instead, he looked at his hand, studied the thumb for a second, where he had a slight itch, and said, not for the first time in this conversation, "I can't tell you."

"I'm having trouble understanding this."

The courier then finally opened his briefcase and took out a letter.  The local policeman was shown a copy of this letter.  When he reached for it, the courier shook his head, pulled the letter back slightly.

"Read only."

The local policeman stared at him,  then read.

The letter told the reader that the bearer of the letter had the legal authority to require seizure of a specific person to be named, and that any reader of the letter was required by [ORDER] issued under authority of [REGULATION] to cooperate with the bearer of the letter, and that by [REGULATION] issued by [AGENCY] in compliance with [STATUTE] neither the bearer of the letter nor any person reading the letter was permitted to reveal the existence of the letter, the order, the name of the person to be seized, or the fact of the seizure.  It was signed by [OFFICIAL] and had a seal on it.

The letter was then put back in the briefcase.

"Do not write down or give out my phone number," said the courier.

The local policeman shook his head.

"Any chance I'll be told..." he began.

"No," said the courier and walked out.

....................THE FAST..................................... FOOD..............................................................RESTAURANT'S ASSISTANT MANAGER..................................

There were only three people in the entire restaurant, and the fast food restaurant's assistant manager was one of them.  The other one was the drive-thru clerk, and the third was a man who sat near the back, by the restrooms.  There were only ten minutes until closing time, and the fast food restaurant's assistant manager was thinking about breaking down the shake machine, a job he hated, when a car pulled up to the drive-thru speaker and he hear the drive-thru clerk say into her headset, in that voice the fast-food restaurant's assistant manager found so sexy -- so sexy that he had to remind himself she was only seventeen!-- "Thanks for stopping at [FAST FOOD RESTAURANT] how can I help you."

He did not hear what was said back; the words spoken into a speaker outside on the large menu went only to her headset.  He watched on the screen, instead, for the order so he could begin to assemble it.  He was head cook, inside cashier, and all the other things that needed doing, this late on a weekday evening.

A car pulled up outside the window and the drive-thru clerk said "That's $17.50," and on the screen above the assistant manager's head, the order appeared, burgers and fries and damn it a shake so the machine would be gunked up more than ever, and then as he shook his head and realized he wouldn't be getting to bed before one a.m. that night, four men walked into the door from outside and two of them stood and looked at him as they flanked the door while two of them walked over to the corner where the reporter, who was the man sitting by the restrooms, was staring at the entrants.

The assistant manager watched as the men spoke to the reporter (who he didn't, keep in mind, know was a reporter. To the assistant manager, this was just a man sitting in his restaurant nursing a soda while other men came in and talked to him in urgent low voices) and although he could not hear what they said, he gathered it was serious as the reporter (who he didn't know, etc.) was looking pale and the standing men grew more serious.  They took a piece of paper out of an envelope in a briefcase, and said something about it as the reporter reached for it.

From behind him, the drive-thru clerk said "How long is it going to take for the burg..." and he turned briefly to look at her and saw she was looking at the reporter (who he... again, etc. etc.) and then he turned back and the men and the reporter were gone, the door slowly closing behind her.

When he turned back again to the drive-thru clerk, she was holding up her cell phone camera and had snapped a picture of something.

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."-- Aristotle

"NEW YORK -- Concluding that they suffer from "significant constitutional infirmities," a federal district court judge in [CITY] on Thursday struck down sections of federal law that allow [AGENCY] to warrantlessly obtain private information under a gag order in the name of national security.

But U.S. District Judge... temporarily put her order on hold to allow the government to appeal her decision, recognizing that a higher court should first be able to "consider the weighty questions of national security and First Amendment rights" at issue in the case. The authority of national security letters, government orders to communications providers to reveal user information, was vastly expanded in the post-9/11 [STATUTE]. The federal government has made wide use of them in the name of the fight against terrorism.

In May 2011, the non-profit Electronic Frontier Foundation brought a lawsuit against the national security letter statutes on behalf of an unnamed telephone service provider, arguing that placing the company under a gag order violated its First Amendment rights. EFF also argued that the 2005 renewal of the Patriot Act provided too little judicial reiew for the secret letters.

[JUDGE]'s ruling vindicated EFF's arguments.

"Basically the court declared the national security letter statute unconstitutional on the grounds that it improperly gagged the recipients," said [ATTORNEY], the group's legal director. "Nothing changes in the short term, but it's a very strong ruling."

Because the government still has 90 days to appeal the ruling while it is on hold, [ATTORNEY] is still not able to reveal her client's name."


Having received the assignment of arguing Motion 92, the assistant prosecutor opted to focus not on the merits, as lawyers like to say, of the motion, but on the procedural irregularities that meant that Motion 92 should not have seen the light of day, let alone been typed up and printed out and carried over to the courtroom and then presented for filing through the prosecution's office.

"It is unclear to us how the information got into the hands of the defense," the assistant prosecutor told the tribunal.  "While relevant to the case, in the broadest sense of the word, it was not cleared for release to the defense and likely would never have been."

The tribunal frowned down at his desk, working through recollections of what had been in Motion 92.

"I'm not sure that I agree that it was only relevant in 'the broadest sense,' he ventured, and the Assistant Prosecutor reflexively hit the red button in a box on the prosecution's table, the one that cut the audio feed until it was hit again.

There was no press in the press box.  The military policeman -- only one today, given that there were only two other people in the courtroom -- already had sufficient clearance to hear this part of the argument.

The assistant prosecutor began to lay out why the matters set forth in Motion 92 were not exactly relevant.  His argument boiled down to this:

A. "Relevant" evidence is that which tends to make a fact of consequence i.e. a 'material fact' more or less probable.  (This is in fact the legal definition of 'relevance' in the legal community, although probably not in the real community of real people, where what is 'relevant' to one's life is not necessarily the same as 'what is likely to prove something one wants others to believe to be more, or less, true', in that most people's lives, unlike all trials in the American adversary system, are NOT devoted to proving or disproving hypotheses.

B.  The alleged facts set forth in Motion 92 were not facts at all, in that they had not yet been cleared for release by the various offices of various securities of various portions of the nation, to wit: The offices of national security and the offices of defense security and the offices related to the security of undercover, covert, or other classified types of efforts/people, and so if the facts had not yet been cleared for dispersal, could they be said to be 'facts' at all?

C.  Moreover, what the alleged facts in Motion 92 were allegedly attempting to prove was that the alleged facts upon which the prosecution was basing only the smallest portion of the current case, and that portion of the case wasn't even strictly speaking necessary to an overall finding of guilt but bear with him here, the alleged facts in Motion 92 were allegedly designed to show that some small portion of the prosecution's case against the defendant had been built upon information -- facts, if you will -- which was obtained in contravention of the United States' constitution and The Geneva Convention and the Hague Evidence Convention but in point of fact -- real fact, not Motion 92 fact:

    1.  The defendant was not a citizen of the United States and nor were his interrogators, and so the U.S. Constitution did not apply and
    2.  the Geneva Conventions apply only to declared wars and the United States was not at war with the defendant's homeland, which anyway was unknown as the defendant would not provide any information as to what state he was a citizen of, and three different states had at one point declined to declare him a citizen, and    
 3.  None of those three states were signatories to the Hague Evidence Conventions, which are simply procedural rules anyway and not substantive rights on parties.

   The tribunal wished sometimes he could take notes on these arguments, or at least have them read back.  He sat a moment and sorted through the mental stack of arguments he had in his mind.

"So what you're saying," he asked the assistant prosecutor "Is that the evidence isn't relevant, at all. The arguments in Motion 92, I mean."

"That's exactly what I'm saying," the assistant prosecutor said. "In part.  The evidence -- I'm using that term loosely"

"Understood," interrupted the tribunal.

"The evidence in Motion 92 is not relevant to the evidence the prosecution has, which it seeks to attack and exclude by attacking the method of which OUR evidence was obtained.  But OUR evidence, the evidence Motion 92 seeks to exclude, is only marginally relevant to our case anyway, so the methods by which the prosecution..."

(It should be noted that in many cases, the prosecution is referred to as "The United States" or "The state" or the name of the state or at least the unit of government, as the plaintiff. But in these cases, cases like the one in which Motion 92 was filed, the prosecution or plaintiff is referred to simply as "the prosecution."  The meaning of this would be interestingly discussed in the types of classes that discuss philosophy, and law and the significance of nomenclature, if the fact of how the prosecution is referred to were known, but the people who were allowed to know about the way the prosecution was identified in cases such as this one were either uninterested in discussing why it might matter that the prosecution was denominated simply "the prosecution," or they were prohibited from identifying how "the prosecution" was identified in court.)

(It should be noted, too, that the unintended consequence of the rule that no reporter or other person disseminating information about these proceedings be allowed to identify how the prosecution was identified in court meant that the reporters who were allowed to write articles about this inevitably ended up identifying the prosecution simply as "the prosecution," without being able to say that this was in fact the official term of art for referring to the prosecution.)

The assistant prosecutor finished:

" which the prosecution obtained its information is itself irrelevant. So not only is Motion 92 itself based on classified information that was not cleared for dissemination and therefore cannot be considered "fact" yet, but, in the end, because the information we obtained via the methods Motion 92 complains about is of marginal relevance, it does not matter how we obtained the information that is sought to be excluded by Motion 92."


"I really feel like I should get to call my lawyer."

Who is your lawyer.

"His name is... why, are you going to call him."

Have you already called him.

"No. Do I have to answer these questions."


"Then I think you have to read me my rights."

Are you aware of [TRIBUNAL RULING].

"What? I think so. Maybe."

The United States Constitution does not apply extraterritorially, nor to actors not employed directly by a United States prosecuting authority.

"Why are you quoting [RULING]. Where am I."

You were booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail.

"You said extraterritorial.  Am I in Guantanamo."

Who else knew you were going to the hotel.

"I don't think I have to answer these questions."


"Where are you... Hello, where did you go."


"I don't want to talk to you," said the defendant, staring at the ceiling after having briefly looked at the man in the suit standing there.

"OK, I understand, you don't have to but I'm here to help you," the new defense attorney said.  

"I'm not interested," the defendant said.

"Honestly,  like I said, I'm on your side.  I'm your new lawyer."

"I did not ask for a new lawyer.  Or a lawyer.  But not a new one, either."

"Sure, but your old one was removed from the case."



"So you, my attorney, know something about my former attorney, that you cannot tell me? How can there be secrets between a lawyer and a client?"

"Honestly, all I know is it's classified.  No secrets between us.  I just don't know why she was removed.  But I got the call two days ago and now I'm here, and I'm representing you.  So I'd like to talk to you."

"Not interested."

"That's not very helpful, and these are serious...,"

The defendant interrupted, saying something in a language the new defense attorney did not understand.

"...I didn't," the new defense attorney stuttered.  "I don't... speak that."

*Language language language* came from the defendant, a brief downpour of musical syllables interspersed with harsh interjections.

"This isn't... I can't," the new defense attorney sighed.  "This isn't helpful to me."

*Language language* came back at him, and he almost as felt as though the man had parroted back that line, in his own tongue.

He stood there a moment, then reached into his briefcase, and pulled out some papers.  He held them up and began to say to the defendant that these were important matters, that he might be executed or deported.  He said:  "Listen," but a voice interrupted him.

"You're new here," the voice, which belonged to the prosecutor, said, and the new defense attorney looked at the prosecutor, who had been standing next to him the entire time, "So I don't want you to get in trouble.  That motion that you're holding" [which was not Motion 92, it should be noted] "is classified eyes only.  He can't see the motion."

The new defense attorney looked at the prosecutor, who nodded.  The defendant suddenly opened his eyes and looked up at them.

*Language language* he said, and the prosecutor grabbed the papers out of the new defense attorney's hand, folded them hastily and tucked them into his own jacket.

"Just helping you out," he said. "I'll give them back when we're done here."

"So I can't show him the motion," the new defense attorney said.

The prosecutor shook his head.

"I can discuss it with him, though," the new defense attorney said.

The prosecutor nodded. "But you can't quote it directly," he said.  "Not even excerpts."

The new defense attorney said "What if I accidentally use a word in the motion without meaning to quote it?"  He smiled a bit.

The prosecutor did not smile back. 

"Don't," he said.


A U.S. federal judge ruled Monday that she lacks the authority to halt the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, while pointedly noting that the practice appears to violate international law and that [PRESIDENT] can resolve the issue.

District [JUDGE] said previous rulings already established that the court lacks jurisdiction to stop the force-feeding of prisoners during the ongoing protest, rejecting a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by [DEFENDANT] held at the U.S. base in Cuba.

[JUDGE] faulted the military’s response to the hunger strike, noting a consensus of opinion that the use of a nasogastric tube to feed the men against their will is a violation of medical ethics as well as international prohibitions against inhumane treatment.

“It is perfectly clear from the statements of detainees, as well as the statements from the organizations just cited, that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating and degrading process,” she wrote.

[JUDGE] wrote “there is an individual who has does have the authority to address the issue,” and then quoted a recent speech from [PRESIDENT] in which he criticized the force-feeding of the prisoners at Guantanamo as he said he would renew his efforts to close the prison.

...........................THE....................................................QUESTIONING ....................................

"I'm hungry," the reporter said.

That's good.

"No, it's not. I have the right to be fed.  It's been, like 10 hours since you last fed me."


"What, 22, how long have..."

You have three cell phones.

"That's not right."

You have more.

"No. I... look, this is all terribly effective, but do we have to sit in the half-dark like this. I can barely focus my eyes.  I am pretty sure there are about four books full of [STATUTES] that prohibit something like this."

ALL of your emails have been sifted.

"I want a lawyer."

No.  In those emails you mention, forty-three times, the bombings in Boston.

"I would like to speak to a lawyer."

No.  Two of the mentions appear to predate or be sent at the same time as the bombings occurred but before widespread dissemination of the news there had been a bombing.

"I'm not talking until I...that's not correct. Also, it was INSTANTLY known that there had been a bombing."

In later emails you referred to inside sources as having had knowledge of where the suspects might be located.

"What is it, exactly, you are saying..."

Do you know what this means.

"What is this?"

Do not pick it up.

"I can't hardly read it..."

In this motion there are references to a transmission, by facsimile, to a classified location.  The transmission contained classified information.  The fact that it had been sent by fax, was, also, classified information.  The facts that the information existed, had been written down, had been transmitted, had been transmitted by facsimile, had been read by the recipient of the facsimile transmission, and that the transmission had itself then been destroyed, all these facts were every bit as classified as the facts themselves.

"I don't..."

Who is your source? Did they also learn of this transmission that led to this motion?

"I don't..."

We have been in touch with your family.

.................THE...OTHER ....................................

"Look," the other reporter said, "I just don't know what I'm supposed to do with this information."

The fast-food drive thru clerk stared at her across the desk.  "This guy was arrested, I'm telling you." She showed, again, the cell-phone video of the arrest, grainy and far away and completely uncompelling to the other reporter, who had to get ready to go cover a city council meeting where they were debating special assessments to cover the cost of a dog park, and the measure was expected to draw at least 53 commenters, according to the signup sheets.  She would probably be there until 2 a.m. and then have to write a story to go on the website before 9 a.m.

"But the guys look like government guys and the reporter guy I recognize him, I saw him in [MAGAZINE] one day while I was waiting for a doctor's appointment, he's somebody.  I tried to Google him but I couldn't figure out who he is but he's somebody, and he got all arrested all secret."

"And," the other reporter said.

"And... I don't know. There's nothing in the news about it."

The other reporter shrugged.  "Probably means it's not news. Look, I gotta go." 

She stared at the fast-food drive-thru clerk, until the girl got the message and stood up.

"Maybe try one of those websites," the other reporter said, "Like [OTHER WEBSITE]."  The other reporter was packing up her tablet computer.  "Or something," she said.

The fast-food drive-through clerk left a minute later, and had her cell phone stolen later that night.  She told the local policeman who took her report that she had locked her car, and had left her cell phone in it, charging.

"I don't have a charger in my apartment," she told him. "It broke."

"Was there anyone who would want your cell phone, in particular?" the local policeman asked.

"Well..." the fast-food drive through clerk hesitated and then told the local policeman about the video.

The local policeman did not write down anything of what she said.  He wasn't stupid.  

"You'll get a copy of the report," he said, but he never typed up the report.

............................THE....................................................................TRIBUNAL'S ....................

The matter, Motion 92, having been argued, it is the decision of the court that Motion 92 be denied.
No written order shall ensue.  All extant copies of Motion 92 shall be destroyed.


"I told you," said the defense attorney, sitting next to the new defense attorney, who now represented her and the defendant, "that the fax was given to me. I assumed by your office."

"And I told you that didn't happen," the prosecutor said. "Our office didn't give you the fax. So where did you really get it?"

The defense attorney looked at her defense attorney.

"I don't know how else I can say this."

The new defense attorney shrugged.

"Here is the deal," the prosecutor said.  "If you reveal your sources to us, you'll get only a dishonorable discharge.  Loss of rank.  No retirement.  But the records will be sealed. You'll enter into a consent decree that both sides will say simply that you left because of health reasons."

"But I didn't do anything wrong.  I was defending my client."

"Your first loyalty was to the government. You're military!" the prosecutor said.

"I was doing my job," the defense attorney said.

"Your job," she heard, as she closed her eyes and wondered whether she could remain a lawyer if she took the deal, "Was to protect America."

That was said by the new defense attorney, who took his own job very seriously.

He knew who he was defending, that is.  He knew who he was defending.

"It would just be an oddity that [AGENCY] let [DEFENDANT] design a vacuum cleaner while he was held in a secret prison...if not for two things: its reasons for allowing the project, and the secrecy that surrounds it. Both fall under the rubric of insanity.
By the time of the vacuum project, [DEFENDANT], the planner of the 9/11 attacks, had already been waterboarded a hundred and eighty-three times, and he and other prisoners had been moved from a black site in Poland to one in Bucharest, on their way to Guantánamo. The main, torture-laced interrogations were over, but the government would not bestir itself to actually try [DEFENDANT] and the other alleged 9/11 conspirators for almost a decade. (He was captured in 2003, and his military-commission trial at Guantánamo is still in its preliminary phases.) “We didn’t want them to go nuts,” a former [AGENCY] official [said]."
"No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside it's jails."- Nelson Mandela.

....................THE..................................................................QUESTIONING ............................

The reporter was released on bond, $1,000,000, which he only had to sign for and promise to pay if he violated any conditions of the bond, some of which were not written down.  He was told that if further proceedings were required he would be notified.

A letter which was read to him told him that he could speak to a lawyer about this with prior permission only, permission to be requested from [AGENCY], and that claims for compensation must be filed in [COURT], under seal.  He would be allowed to have legal counsel review, in person, a copy of the letter spelling out his rights in these proceedings, upon written notice, such review to be done at [LOCATION] after security clearances were received.

He hugged his wife and asked how long he had been gone.

He changed his gmail address.

He began writing a book, about the history of the National Hockey League and found a new job, designing websites in Seattle.


In the western part of the country, there are vast groves of long-ago planted trees that have spent their entire lives waiting to be cut down.

One day, one of those trees is cut down.  It is dragged across the rough, vehicle-tracked ground, past its friends and neighbors and distant acquaintances, past the trucks with other trees that it never knew, past the men cutting down other trees.

It is taken to a place where it is ground up and pulped.  The tree doesn't mind this.  It is a tree and the shape it is in is the shape it is in.  It doesn't matter to the tree, which, insofar as it has consciousness, has it no matter what you do to it.  Each part of the tree contains a tiny bit of the tree and so when the parts swirl apart and swirl together and swirl apart and together again, they retain that and join with other parts of other trees, some of which it knew before and some of which it did not, but it does not matter to any of them.

These parts of trees are now a paper, and this paper is stacked, quickly and mechanically, on other sheets of paper, some of which are made up of this tree, too, and some of which are not.  This is a tiny forest, now, a symmetrical geometrical forest that rests quietly, the stack of paper its new neighborhood replacing the old one where it grew in a row with others who were like it but unlike it, too, all the same but different.  Now they are all the same but the same, too, and one day this paper is taken out of its sheath, put into a stack underneath a machine that sometimes buzzes and hums and grabs paper from the top of the stack to pull it away to a fate that can only be imagined by pieces of tree from the western part of the country.

Sometimes a tree becomes something huge -- a [DECLARATION], maybe, of how [COUNTRY] is different from [EVERY OTHER COUNTRY], a piece of tree carrying upon it [TRUTHS] which, though [SELF-EVIDENT] still needed to be explained in writing, and having been so, will thereafter be enshrined in [MUSEUM], carrying their [TRUTHS] which are [SELF-EVIDENT] but need to be written down, maybe, as a reminder.

Sometimes, a tree becomes that, or it becomes a [WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS], or an [OPINION], a tree of action! A tree of might! A tree whose humble existence soaking up the sun has led it to this juncture, where it may bear words that free a man, a woman, a nation, from bonds that held it.

This tree, then, this paper, waited patiently for its turn, and one day, it was grabbed by the machine! 

It was slid through! 

It was printed upon!


The paper was picked up by a receiving tray that was closely watched by a dedicated secretary with second-level clearance, who began to send it on its way.


The title of this story is a near-direct quote from the June 19 article on "The Constitution Project," a website devoted to covering the military tribunal trials of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

The Brandon Mayfield story is true. The quote is from the Wikipedia page about him.

The national security letter ruling story appearing just after the Aristotle quote was the beginning of a Matt Sledge article that appeared on Huffington Post. 

The two paragraphs before the Nelson Mandela quote are from an Amy Davidson article which appeared on The New Yorker's website on July 11, 2013.


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