Saturday, March 29, 2008

TORTURED: By book on teaching how to be a good worker bee in America

Imagine DD's surprise on Friday upon learning that a book pushed at Keystone Boys State summer camp was popular reading at Guantanamo.

"At the Camp 7 facility for high-value detainees -- which jailers have dubbed 'the platinum camp' -- the book most in demand now is 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,' a nearly 20-year old treatise by Stephen R. Covey," wrote reporter Carol Williams for the Los Angeles Times.

"The librarian, who didn't want to be identified, said books are inspected by intelligence agents after each return. Borrowers lose their reading privileges and are disciplined if found passing notes."

It's difficult to imagine Covey's book as an object of genuine interest to prisoners UNLESS it's being used in some way as a camp message tablet or a source of levity. It's a deadening volume of self-help advice suitable only for making yourself over into a brainless slogan-spouting rule-following worker bee.

"The effort to get everyone involved at [Keystone Boys State] manifests itself by having every 'citizen' elected, selected, assigned or appointed to leadership positions throughout the week," states the website for the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Legion. "Each citizen also is provided with text materials based on organizational science and personal development exercises. Much of what we do is a spin-off of the [Stephen Covey] text, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective [People]," it proclaims.

"All citizens should become familiar with parliamentary procedures, 'Robert’s Rules of Order' and Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - NOW ! ! !"

When DD was a detaineestudent at Keystone Boys State week camp in the Seventies, Covey's book wasn't available to beat over the head of teenagers. However, the American Legion ran KBS like a military camp administered by active duty soldiers from the four branches of the US armed services.

Covey's appearance in a story on books generously made available to prisoners at Guantanmo Bay is cause for black humor. If physically and mentally torturing prisoners isn't enough, they can be tortured by being given a book of inspirational exhortations on how to be a more efficient corporate citizen. Was this book donated by the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Legion so that the former jihadis might better themselves while being kept in the national gulag?

We've digested four of the seven tenets of Covey's book, rewritten as it were to be "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Prisoners." (Modelled on a Wikipedia page on the book.)

Be Proactive! Guantanamo Bay detainees can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how they respond to adversity. When you, the camp-goer, are reactive, you blame others and circumstances for problems. It is not the fault of the United States of America that you've been strapped into a chair and had nasal-force-feeding tubes shoved into you. Being proactive means taking responsibility for every aspect of your life in the camp. Eat!

Think Win/Win! Mutually beneficial solutions are sought that satisfy the needs of the detainee at Guantamo, or, in the case of ERF -- a forcible removal from the camp-goer's cell by the Emergency Reaction Force -- of Uncle Sam and the camper. By way of an example, it is beneficial to both the health of the detainee and the Uncle Sam that you be strapped into a chair and have a nasal-force-feeding tube inserted so that death by starvation does not result, embarrassing America and bringing more heartbreak upon the detainee's beloved family.

Sharpen The Saw! Balanced self-satisfaction is important to the Guantanamo camper. Regain "production capability by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities" like .... hmmm, taking a shower in manacles, being interrogated, or -- if you're a really good boy, learning "basic written Pashtu and Urdu" while shackled to a desk.

Put First Things First! Prioritization and delegation are important in the Guantanamo detainee's time management. The camper delegates the administration of his life to Uncle Sam, freeing him up to prioritize those things which are really important -- like confessing to warcrimes while under duress, implicating casual acquaintances back home so that your bottled water ration isn't withheld indefinitely, obeying camp rules, getting by on fifteen sheets of toilet paper a day, learning to sleep with the lights on all the time and reading Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" now!

A day in the life of a detainee at the Los Angeles Times.

Learn to be a leader -- at Keystone Boys State.


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