Some mornings, you just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over your head, cry yourself to sleep and when you wake up find that you are someone else.
That is how I feel this morning. The last thing I struggled and worked hard to become and that I took pride in being has been undermined and debased, and the last vestiges of honor ripped away, thrown to the ground and trampled.
Over the last eight years, my entire life has been negated. The intelligence community was co-opted. The military was abused and broken. The rule of law was ignored and the Constitution was abrogated. And this morning, I learn that my profession – medicine – was complicit in torture.
[M]edical professionals working for the C.I.A. monitored prisoners undergoing waterboarding, apparently to make sure they did not drown. Medical workers were also present when guards confined prisoners in small boxes, shackled their arms to the ceiling, kept them in frigid cells and slammed them repeatedly into walls, the report said.
Facilitating such practices, which the Red Cross described as torture, was a violation of medical ethics even if the medical workers’ intentions had been to prevent death or permanent injury, the report said. But it found that the medical professionals’ role was primarily to support the interrogators, not to protect the prisoners, and that the professionals had “condoned and participated in ill treatment.”
At times, according to the detainees’ accounts, medical workers “gave instructions to interrogators to continue, to adjust or to stop particular methods.”
The report (.pdf) does not state whether the medical personnel who participated were physicians or allied professionals or some combination of the two, but it is deeply disturbing. As it depicts torture in graphic detail, it simultaneously paints a picture of abject banality toward the intentional infliction of suffering on human beings on the part of those whose professional credo is ostensibly to “first, do no harm.”
I literally had to tamp down the gag reflex, starting on page 10, and I was howling with rage by page 12 when I read the passage about torture victims having their pulse-ox monitored as they were subjected to waterboarding.
And when the details of medical involvement were laid out, starting on page 21, I vomited.
Medical personnel have a place in detention facilities, but it is by definition an advocacy role. Anything less is unconscionable, and the personnel who participated in the torture of detainees should all be stripped of their license and livelihood, and imprisoned for a long, long, long, long time.
And after those sentences are served, they should face a jury of their professional peers.
Those of us who have been tarred with the brush used to paint those thugs should have some sort of say in their ultimate fate.