Thursday, November 16, 2006

"First, do no harm..."*

*Unless there's a War on Terror

Via Holden, we learn a bit more about the "War on Terror:"

A German-born Turk, who was held for four years in the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, has alleged systematic torture in the hands of the US military, from beatings to being chained to a ceiling for days.

Murat Kurnaz, 24, who was released in August because of lack of evidence he was involved in terrorist activities, said he endured ”many types of torture -- from electric shocks to having one’s head submerged in water, (subjection to) hunger and thirst, or being shackled and suspended.”


“They tell you “you are from Al Qaed”’ and when you say “no” they give the (electric) current to your feet.... As you keep saying ‘no’ this goes on for two or three hours,” he said, adding he had several times lost consciousness.

He claimed he was once shackled to a ceiling for “four or five days”.

“They take you down in the mornings when a doctor comes to see whether you can endure more,” he said. “They let you sit when the interrogator comes.... They take you down about three times a day so you do not die.”
Obviously I don't want to let that part pass by. It's something we've known, for some time now:

Military doctors at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have aided interrogators in conducting and refining coercive interrogations of detainees, including providing advice on how to increase stress levels and exploit fears, according to new, detailed accounts given by former interrogators.

The accounts, in interviews with The New York Times, come as mental health professionals are debating whether psychiatrists and psychologists at the prison camp have violated professional ethics codes. The Pentagon and mental health professionals have been examining the ethical issues involved.
Although Dick Cheney insists otherwise:

Vice President Dick Cheney said on Thursday that prisoners at the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had everything they could possibly want and were well fed and well treated as they lived in the "tropics."
Still, the evidence of abuse continues to mount. The early questions were of experiments, reminiscent of those conducted by the Nazis. When it became clear that was true, the next question was: is it ethical for medical professionals to aid in the torture of prisoners? And the answer, of course, is: No.

I don't think the Military Commissions Act of 2006 absolves doctors from ethical standards and practices; with any luck, it won't absolve anyone at all soon.Sen. Christopher Dodd said today: “We in Congress have our own obligation, to work in a bipartisan way to repair the damage that has been done, to protect our international reputation, to preserve our domestic traditions, and to provide a
successful mechanism to improve and enhance the tools required by the global war on terror."

That damage goes well beyond our international reputation and our domestic traditions. We have literally sold our birthright; and for what?

For those in positions of public trust, that they may serve justice, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person, we pray to you, O Lord.

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