Tuesday, June 08, 2010

More Shame

Yesterday was another bad-news day all the way around. By mid-afternoon all I wanted to do was go home so I could climb into bed and pull the covers and the pillows over my head. Perhaps the one item that especially punched my abdominal region was the news of a report which had issued suggesting that doctors and other medical personnel colluded with the Bush torturers by studying ways to make torture techniques more painful, and (presumably) more effective.

Even the New York Times was outraged by the "white paper" prepared by Physicians for Human Rights if today's editorial is any indication.

Now Physicians for Human Rights has suggested that the medical professionals may also have violated national and international laws setting limits on what research can be performed on humans. ...

The group’s report focused particularly on a few issues where medical personnel played an important role — determining how far a harsh interrogation could go, providing legal cover against prosecution and designing future interrogation procedures. The actual monitoring data are not publicly available, but the group was able to deduce from the guidelines governing the program what role the health professionals played, assuming they followed the rules. ...

The group concludes that health professionals who facilitated these practices were in essence conducting research and experimentation on human subjects. The main purposes of such research, the group says, were to determine how to use various techniques, to calibrate the levels of pain and to create a legal basis for defending interrogators from potential prosecution under antitorture laws. The interrogators could claim that they had acted in good faith in accord with medical judgments of safety and had not intended to inflict extreme suffering.

The report from Physicians for Human Rights is available for downloading here. It is far from complete or exhaustive, but it was hampered right from the start by the usual government response to requests for information. The papers sent to the group were heavily redacted by the official censors. Enough was there, however, for the group to reach at least some tentative conclusions. Medical personnel actively violated the Hippocratic oath to do no harm.

That the Bush government would subvert the physicians and other medical personnel for such horrifying human testing and that the physicians and medical personnel would acquiesce is bad enough. But there's more: no one in the all-new-and-improved government, whether in the White House or Congress, seems to care, which I, and the New York Times editorialist find just as profoundly disturbing.

The report from the physicians’ group does not prove its case beyond doubt — how could it when so much is still hidden? — but it rightly calls on the White House and Congress to investigate the potentially illegal human experimentation and whether those who authorized or conducted it should be punished. Those are just two of the many unresolved issues from the Bush administration that President Obama and Congressional leaders have swept under the carpet. [Emphasis added]

I have given up holding my breath waiting for this administration or this congress to do anything with respect to the crimes of the last administration and congress. Nearly 18 months into the new regime it has become clear that no one has the slightest inclination to delve into the most shameful period of our history.



Not likely.

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Anonymous cntrl Z said...

Diane, like you, I've become increasingly disheartened as this administration, propelled into the White House by the hopes of so many, shows where its loyalties lie and what its priorities are. Trying not to learn helplessness, but it's hard sometimes. Thanks for posting your thoughts on this horrifying report.

6:48 PM  

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