During his campaign, President-elect Trump said that he would endorse waterboarding, a form of torture, to extract information from terrorist suspects. “Believe me, it works,” he said in February:
Torture works. OK, folks? You know, I have these guys—”Torture doesn’t work!”—believe me, it works. And waterboarding is your minor form. Some people say it’s not actually torture. Let’s assume it is. But they asked me the question: What do you think of waterboarding? Absolutely fine. But we should go much stronger than waterboarding.As his nomination drew nearer, however, he retreated from this crowd-pleasing suggestion. He told the Wall Street Journal in May that “I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.”
And in his only reference to the issue since the election, he told the New York Times that he had discussed the matter with James N. Mattis, before nominating him as Defense Secretary.
“I said, ‘What do you think of waterboarding?’ I was surprised. He said, ‘I’ve never found it to be useful.’ He said, ‘I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.’ And I was very impressed by that answer.”In any case, as the Times points out, Congress, lawyers, the military, the CIA, health care workers, psychologists, medical ethicists and foreign allies have all taken a firm stand against torture. It might be difficult for him to reinstate the policies which existed during the Bush War on Terror, even if he wanted to. Former Republican presidential candidate and Vietnam war hero John McCain, who was tortured while a captive during the Vietnam War, is adamant on the issue. “I don’t give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do, or anybody else wants to do. We will not waterboard,” he has said. “We will not torture.”
As with everything else Mr Trump says, his views on “enhanced interrogation” are contradictory and vague. In a moment of crisis, it is still unsure whether he might regard torture as a useful option.
California’s assisted suicide law came into effect on June 9. Betsy Davis, an artist with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was one of the first to take advantage of the legislation. She drank a lethal cocktail on July 23, after a long party with close friends. I’m afraid that we missed the story at the time.
Reading her sister’s account of Betsy’s death, which is full of loving sorrow at her passing, I was struck by how quickly Californians started to ignore all the careful safeguards. It is clearly specified in the law that the person must “self-administer” the drug. But she was too weak to hold the cup and drink it quickly, so her friends held it for her. They may have broken the law.
People tend to think that a lethal barbiturate brings about death quickly. This wasn’t true in Betsy’s case – she lingered on for four hours. Given that the drug was a homemade cocktail of morphine, pentobarbital and chloral hydrate which smelled like paint, her friends were “lucky” that it worked. Some assisted suicide patients in Oregon have woken up to discover that their suicide has failed.
It wasn’t a good beginning for the law.
|This week in BioEdge|
Suite 12A, Level 2 | 5 George St | North Strathfield NSW 2137 | Australia
Phone: +61 2 8005 8605
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgNew Media Foundation | Level 2, 5 George St | North Strathfield NSW 2137 | AUSTRALIA | +61 2 8005 8605