Friday, June 24, 2005

Dr. Mengele, Your 3:00 Is Waiting (Specious Nazi Hyperbole Edition) 

caduceusstlouis-e85 The issue of medical personnel assisting at the interogations in Guantanamo is not news, not even at the Gray Lady. When the Red Cross finally got past the 3-headed guardian at the gate last year, they had much the same story to tell as we read this morning in the Times, where the "questioning" of prisoners as it relates to medical ethics is getting a little more attention:
"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 former interrogators said the military doctors' role was to advise them and their fellow interrogators on ways of increasing psychological duress on detainees, sometimes by exploiting their fears, in the hopes of making them more cooperative and willing to provide information. In one example, interrogators were told that a detainee's medical files showed he had a severe phobia of the dark and suggested ways in which that could be manipulated to induce him to cooperate."
The American Medical Association's Code of Ethics clearly states at E 2.607:
"Torture refers to the deliberate, systematic, or wanton administration of cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatments or punishments during imprisonment or detainment.
Physicians must oppose and must not participate in torture for any reason. Participation in torture includes, but is not limited to, providing or withholding any services, substances, or knowledge to facilitate the practice of torture. Physicians must not be present when torture is used or threatened.
Physicians may treat prisoners or detainees if doing so is in their best interest, but physicians should not treat individuals to verify their health so that torture can begin or continue. Physicians who treat torture victims should not be persecuted. Physicians should help provide support for victims of torture and, whenever possible, strive to change situations in which torture is practiced or the potential for torture is great."
But the semantics-freaks at the Pentagon, who are more used to waging wars of words using the firepower of legal loopholes, had this to say in their defense:
"Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman, declined to address the specifics in the accounts. But he suggested that the doctors advising interrogators were not covered by ethics strictures because they were not treating patients but rather were acting as behavioral scientists."
Go back to that snippet from the Code of Ethics, where it says: "Participation in torture includes, but is not limited to, providing or withholding any services, substances, or knowledge to facilitate the practice of torture." Behavioral scientists, my ass. As for the responsiblity of the psychologists in this mess, they're all a-twitter because their own code of ethics doesn't really cover it, so they're going to "discuss" it, which is no doubt of infinite comfort to some guy who's been crouched in a squat with his hands tied behind his back for 12 hours (Think it's not torture? Try it for 10 minutes!):
"But in a statement issued in December, the American Psychological Association said the issue of involvement of its members in "national security endeavors" was new.
Dr. Stephen Behnke, who heads the group's ethics division, said in an interview this week that a committee of 10 members, including some from the military, was meeting in Washington this weekend to discuss the issue.
Dr. Behnke emphasized that the codes did not necessarily allow participation by psychologists in such roles, but rather that the issue had not been dealt with directly before.
"A question has arisen that we in the profession have to address and that is where we are now: is it ethical or is it not ethical?" he said. "
Well, duh.

Meantime, the UN, without US cooperation, is going ahead with its own investigation into our possible human rights violations.

Nazis! Gulags! Pol Pot! There, I've made outrageous comparisons! What are you gonna do? Make me apologize? Fuck you, Karl Rove.

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