Thursday, December 09, 2004

Cancer Ward

I'm reminded of Alexandr Solzhenitzen's Cancer Ward as I read the news today. The book is about a man fresh from the Gulag who contracts cancer and is sent to an institution (sanitarium) for treatment. The Soviet political control over its people extends even to the realm of the Cancer Ward, controlling even decisions about care. Which cancer is worse, that eating away at the body and will of its host, or that of the Soviet apparatus? I'm not clear just how this metaphor applies to the BushCorp handling of the war. Is the cancer that is BushCorp eating at our very principles, and thus, as eventually happened in the Soviet Union, damaging the faith the people have in their government? Without a doubt.

First, sukabi mentioned an article at Raw Story, which links to a story at the Washington Post. Seems a CIA agent is suing for intimidation and retaliation for the reports he made concerning WMD in the lead-up to the Iraq War. This one isn't hard to guess, is it? He was reporting intelligence that ran counter to the official neocon party line.

Hey, at least they didn't throw him in the loonie bin. That's reserved for Officers who report abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees. Since the link there is to Salon, and some of you won't bother to watch the commercial to get it, I'm going to do some liberal (progressive?) quoting:

On June 15, 2003, Sgt. Frank "Greg" Ford, a counterintelligence agent in the California National Guard's 223rd Military Intelligence (M.I.) Battalion stationed in Samarra, Iraq, told his commanding officer, Capt. Victor Artiga, that he had witnessed five incidents of torture and abuse of Iraqi detainees at his base, and requested a formal investigation. Thirty-six hours later, Ford, a 49-year-old with over 30 years of military service in the Coast Guard, Army and Navy, was ordered by U.S. Army medical personnel to lie down on a gurney, was then strapped down, loaded onto a military plane and medevac'd to a military medical center outside the country.

Although no "medevac" order appears to have been written, in violation of Army policy, Ford was clearly shipped out because of a diagnosis that he was suffering from combat stress. After Ford raised the torture allegations, Artiga immediately said Ford was "delusional" and ordered a psychiatric examination, according to Ford. But that examination, carried out by an Army psychiatrist, diagnosed him as "completely normal."

A witness, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Marciello, claims that Artiga became enraged when he read the initial medical report finding nothing wrong with Ford and intimidated the psychiatrist into changing it. According to Marciello, Artiga angrily told the psychiatrist that it was a "C.I. [counterintelligence] or M.I. matter" and insisted that she had to change her report and get Ford out of Iraq.

Note that last paragraph, where clearly defending the Administration is far more important than a medical diagnosis. Yeah, it reminds me of Cancer Ward a whole bunch. And it wasn't just Ford who got the loonie bin treatment:

Col. C. Tsai, a military doctor who examined Ford in Germany and found nothing wrong with him, told a film crew for Spiegel Television that he was "not surprised" at Ford's diagnosis. Tsai told Spiegel that he had treated "three or four" other U.S. soldiers from Iraq that were also sent to Landstuhl for psychological evaluations or "combat stress counseling" after they reported incidents of detainee abuse or other wrongdoing by American soldiers.

I wonder sometimes, whether this blatant abuse of the rules is so pervasive that the media and America is just numb to it. And isn't that a true form of mental illness, where one sees abuse as "normal?"

Will abuse, torture, and the threatening of truth-tellers like this CIA agent and Sgt. Ford end any time soon? I doubt it, since it appears this report from the Washington Post about still more ignored warnings of abuse and torture caused bare ripples in the media collective consciousness in the last couple days.

I'm running out of spit. Someone, help me out here.