This blog began in 2007, focusing on anthrax vaccine, and later expanded to other public health and political issues. The blog links to media reports, medical literature, official documents and other materials.
ELLSWORTH — On one historic day 225 years ago, on March 4, 1789, the first U.S. Congress met and the Constitution came into force. The Bill of Rights was ratified nearly three years later.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Meryl Nass of Ellsworth is a Maine physician and an expert on bioterrorism. She has served as chair of the state Commission to Protect the Lives and Health of Members of the Maine National Guard.
Massachusetts, which in those days included Maine, had opposed the original Constitution, until a Bill of Rights was added as the first amendments to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights has been part of the Constitution ever since, guaranteeing inviolable rights to all citizens. It led the United States to become the world’s beacon of human rights.
But since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. government has trampled at least four of the Bill of Rights’ amendments: disregarding the prohibitions against search and seizure without cause, the right to due process, the right to a prompt, public trial and the prohibition of torture (“cruel and unusual punishment”). Thus, on this 225th anniversary of the start of constitutional law in the United States, there is no cause for celebration.
But we now have an opportunity to help restore the primacy of the Constitution in our republic. Because of a happy coincidence, Maine can lead the way, because Maine is the only state both of whose senators are members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence spent three years and $40 million investigating the covert U.S. government program to kidnap, detain, interrogate and torture designated “enemy combatants.”
After reviewing millions of pages of documents, the committee issued the most comprehensive report on this subject to date, in December 2012. However, the 6,300-page report has yet to see the light of day: It was immediately classified. Ten years after we first learned about the abuses at Abu Ghraib, the scope of what was done has yet to be made public.
The contents of the report are critical to gaining an understanding of what happened, and learning how to prevent a repeat.
How important is the report? Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein saidthat the report “uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight ... The creation of long-term, clandestine ‘black sites’ and the use of so-called ‘enhanced-interrogation techniques’ were terrible mistakes.”
She further said that the committee report “will settle the debate once and for all over whether our nation should ever employ coercive interrogation techniques such as those detailed in this report.”
But without a public airing of the report, there will never be accountability; without access to the report, the necessary national discussion on torture will be spun and controlled by those with vested interests – those who have lied repeatedly about this subject, with impunity.
For example, former administration officials linked the Navy SEAL raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed to the “enhanced interrogation” program. However, both Sens. Feinstein, D-Calif., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Armed Services Committee, called this claim “misguided and misinformed.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee can vote to declassify its report. Declassifying the Senate report on U.S.-instigated torture is the first, necessary step to prevent similar violations of human rights in the future. It should also be understood that the U.S. program of torture, rendition and detention depended on infringing on the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution. As we begin the conversation on torture, it should be grounded in a new commitment to the preeminent role of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights in the affairs of the United States.
Agreement by Maine U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King will likely be pivotal to achieving declassification of the torture report and a national discussion of the report’s contents. Maine’s senators should not only vote to release the report, but also place the full force of their offices behind a return to constitutional government.
We must learn how the United States came to ignore its laws and Constitution and adopt medieval torture, extraordinary rendition and other illegal practices as policy. To end torture, and return to the rule of law, Americans need to know what was done in our name and with our dollars. Then we must say, “Never again.”
Meryl, enjoying spotting animals in the Thai jungle
Visiting tigers (inside the cages) in Chiang Mai
I think I'm in the wrong cage...
Night shot of a wild elephant
Canoodling at Elephant Nature Camp, Thailand
5 and 7 month olds playing
Mum and her 5 month old infant
Dusky Langur, curious about us humans in his territory
Self-satisfied Dusky Langur, after he relieved himself on me
Rhesus macaque: "I need three hands for this meal"
After swimming with dolphins at Key Largo, they checked me out at the edge of the pool
Visiting a Bhutanese Dzong, the regional seat of both government and religion (and a fort for good measure)
Why am I blogging?
Because life is meant to be lived! The left side of this blog has photos of some peak experiences. And the right side contains information about which I am passionate.
Too many peoples' lives are characterized by lack of authenticity, and fear of acknowledging and expressing their true nature. Employees cannot say what they think at work, and in the corporate system we must squish ourselves into square holes when we are round pegs. We thus lose touch with our souls, becoming cogs in a soulless, profit-driven machine.
The culture of political correctness has meant, in medicine, that we ignore how the foundations of our science are being undermined by commercialism. Clinical data generated or presented by the manufacturers of drugs, vaccines and devices cannot be trusted: there are hundreds of studies proving this. But this fraudulent information continues to be the only data informing the approval and use of vaccines, drugs and devices.
Unless scrupulous ethical conduct is demanded of physicians and biological scientists, our lack of meaningful standards will carry the medical-pharmaceutical system down the path of increasing irrelevance.
Medicine and its tools need to be affordable. The current medical-industrial milieu, characterized by contempt for science, countless ways for insiders to achieve wealth due to failure of good governance, and regulatory agency-to-industry revolving doors, has ushered in stratospheric pricing... further kicking us down that path to irrelevance.
Why is our new health care plan a giveaway to health industries instead of to health consumers? Wha won't it cover all Americans? Why was the "public option" never an option for the Obama administration?
So many of our leaders carry a heavy burden of mendacity and avarice. If they instead got in touch with their own souls (perhaps by exposure to the natural world), or made their decisions by maximizing the amount of good that results, our leaders might find real meaning and value in their lives.
Until that happens, the only way to straighten out the current mess is to demand accountability and impose penalties on unethical/dishonest leaders. Both political parties enjoy bounteous hors d'oeuvres from Pharma's table, making it unlikely the existing political "process" will provide relief--as we've seen in the demoralizing healthcare reform drama.
Until then, I'll continue to "call it as I see it" in this blog -- working and living the way life should be, in rural Maine, far from the centers of power.
Ellen Byrne has created several designs encapsulating aspects of the FBI's ridiculous case against Bruce Ivins. They can be purchased on T-shirts and coffee mugs. All proceeds will be donated to the the Frederick County chapter of the American Red Cross, a favored charity of Dr. Bruce Ivins.