Archive | December 24, 2010

Antimalarials as Torture: Damning Evidence from Guantanamo

Mefloquine was once a common antimalarial, both for prophylaxis, and for treatment given infection. These days, while still available, Malarone is the choice for those who can afford it and Doxycyclene is still commonly used though it’s efficacy is often in doubt. I’ve personally taken Malarone with no ill effects (besides an increased waistline). Mefloquine has fallen out of favor largely due to complaints of serious psychological side effects. It is not recommended for those with underlying psychological issues as it can induce paranoia, rage and vividly violent nightmares. People I know who have taken it have related stories of frighteningly real, sexually violent dreams and of seeing hallucinations of rabid dogs and demonic manifestations.

According to medical records from Guantanamo, the US military prescribed Mefloquine for all detainees upon arrival to the makeshift prison. Not only that, but they also prescribed it at a dose that is 5 times the normal dosage of Mefloquine, and without evaluating detainees for possible preexisting conditions (depression, epilepsy) that rule out the use of Mefloquine. Here is the intake form used at Guantanamo:

Now, Mefloquine is a prophylactic, meaning that it is intended to prevent malaria infection. Malaria is unknown in Cuba. Many of the countries that the detainees came from are malaria endemic countries, but no doctor would ever prescribe Mefloquine without first obtaining a positive test for malaria. The intake form indicates that a malaria test is performed, but that the detainee would have already been given Mefloquine.

The conclusion is that Mefloquine was unnecessarily prescribed at a dosage higher than ever given. The only logical option is that Mefloquine was prescribed at a massive dosage to intensify lvels of fear among detainees, particularly at a time when detainees would already be psychologically compromised. In short, Mefloquine was used at Guantanamo as a form of pharmaceutical torture.

Guantanamo is already a well known stain on our history for reasons that anyone who reads this blog should be well aware of. The Bush admin was one of the worst periods in our history and I regret that I was not educated nor aware enough during those 8 years of insanity to realize how bad it really was. It is, of course, entirely regrettable that the Obama admin didn’t have the fortitude to close Guantanamo down within a week of it’s inauguration.

Allegations of medical experimentation at Guantanamo have persisted for years. The awful mix of torture and medicine raises specters of Josef Mengele and Unit 731. It blatantly violates the central tenet of the Hippocratic Oath that deliberately protects against needless treatment and promotes the welfare of patients. What’s worse, we paid for it. Countless Americans who don’t understand the necessity of due process, the Geneva convention and human rights lent their full support.

The full text of the Seton Hall investigation is here. It’s a fascinating read.

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Confessions of a Scrooge

Truthfully, I don’t like Christmas. It’s the perfect collusion of business and religion, the populace wandering like drugged sheep through a series of economically inspired motions with puppet strings laden with Biblical half-truths and myths. In short, if you want to get people to do things en masse, wielding the power of God is a good way to get it done. I understand the incredible negativity contained withing that statement. Please understand that I like gift giving and the exchanging of pleasantries to those you wish to keep contact with throughout one’s life. It’s the culture of religious guilt and coercion that I can’t stand (can you tell that I was raised Catholic?).

Religious coercion is what fuels the Holocaust, the Lords Resistance Army, the Japanese occupation of east Asia, the Spanish Inquisition, American slavery, lynchings, rapes in the Congo, Al Qaeda, the Bosnian genocide and any number of other human atrocities. Granted, buying gifts at Christmas isn’t in the least bit comparable to that litany of human horrors. The stage is set, however. Religion is like keeping nuclear weapons. Governments can wield it’s power at any time, to insure maximum destructive results.

This is exactly the reason that Jefferson and company pushed for a secular state. The founding fathers envisioned a limited government. With the power of God behind it, the powers of government are unlimited. Conservative figures in the United States know the power of religion, hence the disdain for secularism and the infusion of religious symbolism into our state discourse and the wish to have prayer in schools. Religious plurality and secular government in America is our best check against a runaway state. Conservative leaders would do well to visit Iran.

Mostly though, I dislike that people on one day a year feel the need to be charitable to the poor, but for the rest of the year, they blame them for all the world’s ills.

Dear Christians: I like that you want to be charitable to the poor for single day out of 365. Now stop giving tax breaks to the wealthy and start providing health care, education and peaceful opportunities.

But that’s a tall order.

Go forth, though, and be kind to your neighbor. Give gifts. Respectfully listen to people you don’t agree with. Be aware of the humanity of people everywhere, even if they may not speak the same language as you, and may not have the same opportunities. Try this every day and we might actually make it through all of this.

Here, though, is one of my favorite Christmas songs:

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