Sunday, April 13, 2008

Banned pictures of a tortured journalist

I have reported in the past about Sami al-Haj, the al-jazeera journalist who has been held at guantanamo for more than 5 years and who has been engaged in a hunger strike for the past 2 years. As I noted a week or so ago Sami drew some pictures to give us a visual look at his suffering but those drawings are being held soviet style for "national security reasons" (the reason given for withholding everything that is embarrassing to the administration)....however, political cartoonist Lewis Peake has made original renditions of those drawings based on descriptions by Sami. Click on the title and you can read the latest article (and view the pictures) by historian Andy Worthington about those pictures and also information that was recently "declassified" about Sami's medical care. Note how nearly identical some of the information relayed by Sami about the hospital and medical care at the base are to accounts by Al-Ghizzawi (Sami and Al-Ghizzawi have never met and are in separate areas of the base).... notice how a doctor casually told Sami that he probably had cancer... notice how they refuse to give him the results of tests... notice the total lack of competent medical care.... and then remember that Al-Ghizzawi has been blamed for his own ill health by the federal judge in his case.


guevara said...

I have a limited legal knowledge but as a medical practioner I have often considered “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death” to be a weakness which could be legally exploited in attacking the perpetrators of torture.
In the vast majority of cases, organ failure is in itself painless (although most people would logically think this not to be the case). Heart failure (as opposed to a heart attack) is painless. Liver and kidney failure per se are painless. Organ failure is simply the progressive loss of function of the organ from whatever cause.
“Impairment of bodily function” secondary to, for example a stroke, is painless. While the stroke MAY be painful (eg ruptured aneurysm) most strokes themselves are painless. Nevertheless, the impairment of bodily function is painless.
Death itself,one would expect to be completely painless.
On the basis of this, one strongly suspects a legal case could be made that no pain should be inflicted at all on any prisoners.
I would be interested to hear a legal opinionon this aspect.

The Law Office of H. Candace Gorman said...

Thank you for your post. Perhaps we have not analyzed in medical terms what it means to be "equivalent in intensity to organ failure" and maybe we should be looking to see if even that definition is yet another game played by the torturers. I will pass your email around and see what kind of responses I get.