nurses

What It Comes To (Choke On It Mix)

Guantánamo Bay detention facility, undated.  (AFP/Getty)

Rule number … er … I don’t know, give it a number: Don’t fuck with the nurses!

The case of a Navy medical officer who refused to force-feed prisoners on a hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay prompted the country’s largest nursing organization on Wednesday to petition the Defense Department for leniency, citing professional ethical guidelines that support the officer’s decision.

The officer is a nurse and 18-year Navy veteran whose commander has called for an internal inquiry into the refusal, his lawyer said.

(Carey)

Okay, look, this is a problem. We have heard versions of it before, dealing with “enhanced interrogation”, but to what degree are war crimes really worth redefining the role of medical professionals in our society?

And that is the whole of the question; everything else is a matter of policy and procedure, but at the core is this fundamental question.

We are holding these prisoners for no good reason, in violation of our own principles and in dubious relationship with our own laws. To the one, they have every reason to try a hunger strike. To the other, if you’re going to force-feed them, do it your fucking selves.

Which is the other thing: We’re Americans, damn it! Get your heads out, close this atrocity of a prison, and stop trying to redefine our society for the purposes of fostering warfare.

This should not be our heritage and legacy, yet for some reason history defies American principle. Indeed, Guantánamo will become one of our shameful tales, like biological warfare and genocide in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It happens, we don’t like to talk or think or give any sort of consideration about it, so it happens again.

The military’s aggressive interrogation policy, at Guantánamo and elsewhere, has forced agonizing decisions on medical professionals. Psychologists have helped design the torturous techniques, which have included sleep deprivation and isolation; they have also monitored the interrogations. Medical doctors have advised on caring for the detainees. Details of these professionals’ roles have fueled debates within major medical associations; such debates have played a role in elections in at least one major group, the American Psychological Association.

One of the main issues is whether the medical associations should discipline members who have taken part in interrogations in any way, even as observers. The Navy case represents the flip side of the equation. It is the first known defiance of Guantánamo’s force-feeding procedure, and the nurses association is acting to defend, rather than to condemn, the medical officer’s actions.

But, seriously, do not screw with the nurses.

And, no, you don’t need a proverbial slippery slope to understand the problem; all you need is some comprehension of what medical professionals pledge their lives to, and a modicum of human decency.

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Carey, Benedict. “Nurses Urge Leniency Over Refusal to Force-Feed at Guantánamo Bay”. The New York Times. 19 November 2014.