As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Yoo's Law

State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas is forcing a vote on a bill that ought to be named after a certain Berkeley professor:

The California Senate is preparing to weigh in on the hot-button topic of torture, with a twist that combines elements of the Hippocratic oath and the military oath.

Under a resolution that state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas plans to put to a vote Thursday, California regulators would notify physicians and other health professionals that they could lose their license and be prosecuted by the state if they are involved in the torture of suspected terrorists [...]

During a committee hearing in January, Ridley-Thomas said there is evidence that physicians, psychologists and nurses licensed by the state "have participated in torture or its coverup against detainees in U.S. custody."

He cited "confirmed reports from the International Red Cross, New England Journal of Medicine, military records and first-person accounts."

"California has the obligation, I believe, to notify its licensees of laws pertaining to torture that may result in prosecution," Ridley-Thomas said.

The senator said physicians have reportedly advised interrogators whether prisoners were fit enough to survive "physical maltreatment, informed interrogators about prisoners' phobias and other psychological vulnerabilities that could be exploited."

Invoking the Hippocratic oath that physicians traditionally take, he said the state can "withdraw its consent to torture by demanding that its health professionals remember their oath to first do no harm."

This is extremely small-bore, but if the federal government is abusing detainees, the states ought to be able to step in and inform their own residents of the Constitutional and international treaty obligations citizens are required to uphold.

California Republicans will have a choice to make. There is substantial evidence in the public record of health professionals aiding and abetting in the practices at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. For each Yacht Party member, they must understand that their vote could either sanction these abuses, or affirmatively state that some parts of the United States still follow the rule of law.

I can only applaud Sen. Ridley-Thomas for this courageous proposal, which hopefully will spark a movement of revolt amongst state legislatures. This Administration is lawless and reckless, and diminishing what credibility we have left globally with each passing day. California can stand up, and steadfastly shout "We do not agree; we do not consent."

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