When Darrell Issa confused a hospital visit with torture
It's no secret that Darrell Issa isn't fond of the landmark health care reforms passed last year. He's voted more than once to repeal the reforms, and has signaled his intentions to find ways to de-fund the new access to health care. But based on comments exchanged in a committee hearing with John Ashcroft, Issa has no idea what conditions are like in the U.S. health care system, Guantanamo Bay, or both (emphasis mine):
ISSA: It is sort of amazing that as a member of the permanent Select Intelligence Committee, I’ve never heard any allegation of any detainee being denied food or water for a week. It’s clear that we treated our hospital patients at times worse than al Qaeda.
ASCHROFT: What’s more, they were poking needles into me all the time time.
ISSA: Clearly, we would never do that either.
Now, I don't know what hospitals Issa has been visiting. But at Guantanamo Bay, interrogation
...methods included, but were not limited to, forty-eight days of severe sleep deprivation and 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions and prolonged sensory overstimulation, and threats with military dogs. The aggressive techniques, standing alone and in combination, resulted in severe physical and mental pain and suffering.
The UN Committee on Torture found that practices at Guantanamo Bay violated the UN Convention Against Torture (pdf), a determination that has yet to be applied to any hospitals. And for years there have been reports of, of course, forced injections. Suggesting that clearly, we would do that also.
At a critical opportunity to meaningfully investigate practices that clearly had at least the potential to be both illegal and immoral, Darrell Issa took a full pass. In what could have been a full hearing on what our government does behind closed doors and what the American people could and should abide behind those closed doors, Issa chose to effectively mock the entire exercise.
Years later, he's yet to hold a meaningful hearing. Instead, he's constructed choreographed exercises to echo his pre-determined, deeply conservative policy proposals. The government needs a serious watchdog to take this job seriously. It's hard to see how that person is also the person who mocked torture and happily skipped an opportunity to investigate the human rights record of the United States. We need more.