Pick up this week’s New Yorker

I’ve read many excellent pieces in the New Yorker in the last seven years of being a subscriber– some which come to mind. Malcolm Gladwell on the “Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg” (1/11/99), Michael Specter’s “The Rug Missionary” (3/6/2000), Katherine Boo’s “The Marriage Cure” (8/18/2003). Seymour Hersh’s latest piece, The Gray Zone may be the most important one. This was the article hyped all weekend on the news shows. The Secretary of Defense authorizes a top-secret program (code word Copper Green) to coerce, torture, and humiliate Iraqi prisoners– and this leads to Abu Ghraib. As it’s a classified neither Rumsfeld nor his Undersecretary running the operation, Stephen Cambone, were legally forbidden from testifying in a public hearing on them. This article, by the way, follows Hersh’s three pieces in 2003 on the intelligence failures of the Bush administration, which earned the magazine a National Magazine Award.

Go ahead, read it online. If you pick up a copy, you’ll also be treated to an Edward Sorel illustration of an idea many have constructed but perhaps no one has artfully depicted. Here’s Colin Powell, as the Cowardly Lion (no guts); Condoleezaa Rice as Dorothy (no home) and with Donald Rumsfeld as Toto; Dick Cheney as the Tin Man (no heart), and George Bush as the scarecrow (this one’s pretty much a no-brainer). Sorel’s caption: “In the spirit of the Powell doctrine, the Secretary of State is reported to be devising a clear-cut exit strategy.” The lion is retreating back down the Yellow-Brick Road, away from the oil fires in the distance. I’d love this on a T-shirt. Sorel may not be the first to think of it (here’s a 2001 essay by Patrick O’Grady in 2001, who figured the “Statue of Liberty” as Dorothy, and Karl Rove as the man behind the curtain), but he captures the wayward gang of four (five) leading this country into some unknown Oz.

Plus a new short story by Jhumpa Lahiri. And the cartoons are funny, too.