Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Down the Rabbit Hole: HIV, Guantanamo, "Dirty Bombers" & the Devolution of the U.S. into a Torture State

"Whither I fly is Hell..."

Candace Gorman is reporting that her client, Guantanamo prisoner Abdul Hamid al-Ghizzawi, contracted AIDS at Guantanamo's Camp Delta. He believes he was infected during a "routine blood test."

Last October I wrote about Mr. al-Ghizzawi's dire medical state, and the Amnesty International campaign to save him. At that time, all we knew is that he was seriously ill with hepatitis B and tuberculosis. While Guantanamo authorities deny it, he claims he is not receiving adequate medical care. Eyewitness accounts from the U.S. prison confirm his charges.

His attorney wrote the following at The Guantanamo Blog last Sunday:

After I received the distressing news from Mr. Al-Ghizzawi that a doctor at the base has informed him that he has AIDS I sent an email to the government attorney who has been (mis)handling Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's case. I asked him if he could confirm for me whether or not Mr. Al-Ghizzawi has AIDS. Here is his response:

"We are not privy to the particulars of what your client may have been told by his doctor, if anything, but Guantanamo provides high-quality medical care to all detainees."

And so there you have it.... this criminal government will not deny the doctors diagnosis... (which in and of itself is telling) instead they provide an unresponsive answer...of course if it is true that Al-Ghizzawi has AIDS it means that he acquired the disease while at the base because the military claimed it did a complete physical when Al-Ghizzawi arrived and the ONLY condition he suffered from at that time was Hepatitis I guess there is good reason why they don't want to confirm the diagnosis.
HIV transmission in U.S. prisons has long been a humanitarian disaster largely ignored in the press. University of California, San Francisco researchers have an excellent summary of research on this. But they attribute HIV transmission to homosexual sex, voluntary or via rape. (They estimate from 9 to 20% of federal inmates are subjected to homosexual rape.) -- But Al-Ghizzawi claims his infection was caused by medical tests. And the prison authorities are stonewalling on any more information. Just what the hell is happening at Guantanamo? Are experiments being done on prisoners there?

It wouldn't be the first time such experiments were done on prisoners without their consent. Jonathan Moreno, a well-respected academic, and former Clinton appointee to the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, wrote a book that summarizes some of what is known about this sinister and repressed history.

I have no evidence the U.S. government is involved in any experimentation at Guantanamo, but if one is even barely aware of the deadly history of U.S. involvement in secret experimentation, from MKULTRA to Edgewood Arsenal, from the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment to Willowbrook, then you couldn't help but wonder, is it possible the U.S. has been conducting medical experiments at Guantanamo?

I bet you never heard of the Willowbrook scandal. It was a doozy.

The Willowbrook study [mid-1950s to early 1970s] involved infecting mentally retarded children with a Hepatitis virus to study the progression of the disease and to test vaccinations that were being developed at the time. Due to overcrowding, children were denied entrance to the Willowbrook State Mental Hospital [in New York] unless parents enrolled their children into the less-crowded hepatitis ward. This practice did not allow for voluntary participation since there were scarce resources available to care for severely retarded children which limited the treatment options from which parents could select. The institution's director was in charge of the study and conducted subject recruitment by sending a misleading informed consent to parents that included an exaggeration of the study benefits.
So, maybe my questioning of how Mr. Al-Ghizzawi was infected with HIV isn't so tinfoil after all. At the very least, his case is one of criminal negligence and cover-up.

Meanwhile, Jose Padilla was sentenced to 17 years and 4 months for supposedly aiding a jihad cell. While he was never tied to any violent activities, and charges that he was planning to set off a "dirty bomb" in an a U.S. city were ditched after the government realized it needed to drop the "enemy combatant" label they'd given him, he was sentenced with no credit for time served. And what did that "time" look like?

The Christian Science Monitor states that Padilla was subjected to "isolated military detention without charge for nearly four years and subjected... to harsh interrogation techniques."

Padilla's cell measured nine feet by seven feet. The windows were covered over… He had no pillow. No sheet. No clock. No calendar. No radio. No television. No telephone calls. No visitors. Even Padilla's lawyer was prevented from seeing him for nearly two years. (Link to CSM quote from Alternet)
Padilla himself claims that during the period of his confinement he was subjected to severe sensory deprivation and isolation, in addition to suffering from sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, stress positions, and injections of mind-altering drugs. Doctors who have examined him agree that his treatment caused him serious mental harm.

The question is cui bono? Who benefits? Certainly Padilla's treatment represents an attack on U.S. traditional jurisprudence norms, a conclusion ably represented in an article on the sentencing by Jacob Hornberger:

What happened to Padilla continues to hang over the head of every independent-minded American like a Damocles sword....

The reason that the Padilla case is so ominous for the American people is that it established that the government now wields the post-9/11 power to ignore and violate all of those constitutional protections, as long as it is the Pentagon that is doing the ignoring and the violating.

In other words, the Padilla case did not wipe out these constitutional protections as far as the police are concerned. But it does stand for the proposition that all of these constitutional protections are wiped out insofar as the military is concerned. And this despite the fact that the Bill of Rights expressly applies to the entire federal government, not just the non-military parts of the federal government.
While it's possible that the government continues to do experiments on incarceration that involves psychological torture, like sensory deprivation and sensory overload, isolation, use of drugs, etc. -- in fact, this seems likely -- it's certain that he represents a test case on how to subject a human being, in this case a U.S. citizen, to total government control, to break a person's body and will without any restraint of law or morality.

While Canada can't make up its mind whether the United States belongs on a list of nations that torture...

Amnesty International Canada... says it has ample evidence that prisoners are abused both in U.S. and Israeli jails....

"When it comes to an issue like torture, the government's main concern should not be embarrassing allies," Alex Neve, the group's secretary-general, told Reuters. The U.S. embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under "definition of torture," the document [part of a training course manual on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats] lists U.S. interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and blindfolding prisoners.

It also mentions the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba....
Down the rabbit hole, Alice got lost. But, in the end, she found herself and was returned to her comfortable home. We just keeping getting more lost.


Anonymous said...

I just saw this on the Diary rescue on Kos, how about e mailing me when you post new diaries on Kos so I can find them I just added a long response to it over there you know I support your work

You should have been at my mental health appt Wed my regular Doc introduced me to his "new resident" and he asked him if he knew about the experiments at Edgewood and the guy said NO, I asked him if he had heard about the LSD experiments he said yes, then I told him he has heard about Edgewood and he looked shocked I told him he won't run into many of us out of the 7120 men used 40% are already dead and the rest of us are mostly disabled and dying off quickly 2098 dead and 2200 disabled out of the 7120 men 74.43% dead and disabled as of FY 2000 when the last data was gathered by the IOM by the way DR Page is leaving the IOM he claims due to budget cutbacks he has been there more than 22 years so I am not buying budget cutbacks

I think there are issues with some of his work with SHAD and Edgewood that have come under questions Mike

Anonymous said...

Was the case of Mr. Al-Ghizzawi ever resolved? Perhaps he was deliberately infected with hiv. On pages 17 and 32 of the ICRC (International committee of The Red Cross) report, 2007 of the fourteen "high value" detainees transferred to Gitmo in 2006, some of the threats (1.3.10 - Threats) included infection with hiv. One of the detainees, says "The interrogators threatened to infect me with HIV" (pg. 32).

Anonymous said...

(continuing the detainee's quote above from the ICRC report): "I was given at least two injections by the doctor during this period, but I have no idea what they were for."

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