Thursday, December 08, 2005

Two Cheers for Grade Inflation

Today is the final day of classes for fall semester, meaning that today is the happiest day of my professional life since the final day of classes last spring. As part of our departmental ode to joy, we had a "holiday party" this afternoon, proving that the Arts and Sciences faculty at my university are undeterred by minor setbacks in our ongoing Global War on Christmas. We may not have been adequately prepared for the ferocious wave of Fox News suicide bombers (or "homicide bombers," as I prefer to call them), and no, it didn't help our worldwide image when a few rogue officers were discovered waterboarding all those elves. But we are slowly isolating all the manger scenes in town and are choking off the oxygen on which the Baby Jesus Brigades thrive. Today, in fact, I gave a little speech and used the word "victory" at least 75 times in three minutes, a record by any calculation; by the end of it, people seemed pretty convinced that I actually had a plan for victory. Also, I was standing in front of a giant sign that read, "Plan for Victory." I don't know how much more plainly I can make my point.

Then, flushed with holiday cheer, I informed my dean that I was going to supplement my horrific, inadequate salary by cornering the crystal meth market in student housing next semester. He laughed, almost as if he thought I was kidding.

After a few moments of awkward silence, somebody mentioned this article from the Washington Post a few days ago. In particular, this passage raised some concern:
The CIA, working with other intelligence agencies, has captured an estimated 3,000 people, including several key leaders of al Qaeda, in its campaign to dismantle terrorist networks. It is impossible to know, however, how many mistakes the CIA and its foreign partners have made.

Unlike the military's prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- where 180 prisoners have been freed after a review of their cases -- there is no tribunal or judge to check the evidence against those picked up by the CIA. The same bureaucracy that decides to capture and transfer a suspect for interrogation-- a process called "rendition" -- is also responsible for policing itself for errors.

The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls "erroneous renditions," according to several former and current intelligence officials.

One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

Somewhere, a light bulb just went of in David Horowitz's brain.