Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Doctors of torture chambers


By PAT MURPHY
Express Staff Writer

Washington regulators and prosecutors work at various speeds.

They're either quick, fast, slow or indifferent.

Quick—as when the Bush-Cheney White House fired U.S. Parks Police Chief Teresa Chambers in 2003 for confirming to The Washington Post that her department lacked proper resources for dealing with new post-9/11 security demands (she's still in court seven years later fighting for reinstatement) and when the Obama Pentagon fired Arlington National Cemetery spokeswoman Gina Gray in 2008 for blowing the whistle on bumbling managers who allowed hundreds of graves to be desecrated (Gray has a new federal job).

Fast—as when the Department of Labor recently began a crackdown on farmers who allowed children to work on farms. (Too bad. If not exploited, summer farm work is one of pre-adulthood's finest experiences.)

Slow—as in the Food and Drug Administration's spending 32 years since 1978 unsuccessfully trying to decide regulation standards for sunscreen. Manufacturer objections have blocked a decision.

Indifferent—as in not prosecuting CIA personnel for torturing terrorism suspects.

For my money, the worst of these creeps are physicians and other medical personnel who stood by during torture sessions to keep prisoners alive for yet more questioning and more physical abuse.

In a jolting decision early in his term, President Obama apparently decided to move on and not prosecute interrogators and physicians, presumably buying into the rubbish that criminal trials would "demoralize" the spy agency. Well, what about "demoralized" American citizens who suffered the indignity of their country's joining the morally degraded ranks of Third World nations that routinely torture as a tool of government?

Based on details leaked about interrogations, and George W. Bush's admission that waterboarding torture was used, do CIA interrogations revive memories of doctors who assisted brutal Russian questioning at Soviet gulags and Nazi physicians who worked alongside Third Reich interrogators to keep suspects barely alive during questioning?

Not everyone is willing to forget. Physicians for Human Rights has resumed pressure on Congress for investigations into behavior that the medical group says violated U.S. as well as international laws, including Geneva Conventions.

At the very least, these pseudo medical professionals should be barred for life from practicing medicine, if not imprisoned for abuse of humans.

Most physicians adhere to the World Medical Association's Declaration of Geneva that includes the oath, "I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties ..."

This is precisely what CIA physicians did—they used medical knowledge to violate human rights.




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