by Jan-Erik Asplund '14
The CIA runs a global program of apprehension and incarceration against suspected terrorists (“extraordinary rendition”) which began in earnest after the September 11th attacks. While exact statistics on the program are classified, a 2006 report from the Council of Europe estimated that one hundred people had been kidnapped by the CIA on EU territory, and rendered to other countries after being transferred through secret “black” sites. Many of which were/are located in places where detainees could reasonably expect to be tortured.
One of these black sites, I’m relatively certain, is Dunkin’ Donuts: the one closer to downtown Bennington, by the Rattlesnake Café (itself the focus of a sizzling critique in this very paper last term).
Even if you’re just driving by it, it’s immediately clear that something is different about this Dunkin’ Donuts.
Empirically, we can’t really assume too much about the terrifying-looking storm clouds looming just over the roof of the building. It just wouldn’t be scientific. But notice the completely empty parking lot, the barebones aesthetics, and — obviously — the deliberately obscured signs that normally would signal that this is definitely a normal Dunkin’ Donuts.
A fellow traveler and myself pulled up around 1 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon to see if we could maybe uncover some things.
We walk in just as a woman screams at the woman behind the counter, who responds by also screaming. A highly confusing series of counters makes finding out where to order a serious ordeal, but that’s to be expected when it’s so unlikely that any actual Dunkin’ Donuts franchising office was consulted for advice on streamlining the process.
We both order the #5, which is a bacon, egg and cheese on a plain bagel. She looks highly confused by the fact that we have ordered by the actual number on the board. She turns around and walks up the board, where the word “bacon” has been obscured by an advertisement, which she moves so she can know what we ordered.
Biting into the #5 at Dunkin’ Donuts is an extremely unpleasing experience. I’m used to dining hall food but there’s honestly nothing that could have prepared me for it. Just thankful I had hash browns. Put them in your sandwich.
It was at this point that my companion and I were certain that we were correct, that this could not possibly be a real Dunkin’ Donuts. The women behind the counter were pacing the length of the store. “Even if I was sober!” one of them chuckled, seemingly without context.
At one point a boy of five or six wandered into our eyesight, which immediately unsettled us as he seemed to be completely alone in this “Dunkin’ Donuts”. Our gaze seemed to draw the boy back behind the wall he had come out from behind. Experimenting, I snapped my fingers. The boy reappeared right away, staring at me like a drugged-out political prisoner. I shudder to think of what a five-year-old boy could have done to end up in such a bleak place.
Around thirty minutes an East-Asian couple wandered out from behind the same wall. We never saw them enter.