Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That explains it... (death panels)

So, many pro-reform people are scratching their heads, wondering how so many of the anti-reform people made the jump from the current proposals re health care (more correctly, health insurance) reform legislation e.g. HR 3200 to "death panels" and the like.... Seems like a complete non-sequitor, with no basis in reality. And it is, or should be!

Some people, however, are more twisted... Consider, John Yoo, who took language from health care legislation and used it to relax the definition of torture to such an extent that almost any/every action became "enhanced interrogation techniques" rather than torture! Read the article below from The Public Record for a refresher...

"John Yoo, the author of one of the infamous Aug. 1, 2002, “torture” memos that formed the legal basis for so-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques against high-level terrorist detainees, used a statute governing health benefits when he provided the White House with a legal opinion defining torture.

Yoo’s legal opinion, which was signed by Jay Bybee, the former head of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), stated that unless the amount of pain administered to a detainee results in injury “such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions” than the interrogation technique could not be defined as torture.

Waterboarding, a brutal and painful technique in which a prisoner believes he is drowning, therefore was not considered to be torture.

Jack Goldsmith, who succeeded Bybee at OLC, said that Yoo, a former OLC attorney who now teaches at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., arrived at that definition by relying on statute written in 2000 related to health benefits.

“That statute defined an ‘emergency medical condition’ that warranted certain health benefits as a condition ‘manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain)’ such that the absence of immediate medical care might reasonably be thought to result in death, organ failure, or impairment of bodily function,” Goldsmith wrote in his book, The Terror Presidency.

“The health benefits statute’s use of ’severe pain’ had no relationship whatsoever to the torture statute. And even if it did, the health benefit statute did not define ’severe pain.’ Rather it used the term ’severe pain’ as a sign of an emergency medical condition that, if not treated, might cause organ failure and the like…. OLC’s clumsily definitional arbitrage didn’t seem even in the ballpark.”

Read the rest here: How a Health Benefits Law Formed the Basis For the ‘Torture Memo'

So, don't call these screaming "death panel"people yahoos, many are "Yoo-hoos." After they (e.g. Palin, various Republican legislators, etc.) were comfortable going enthusiastically along with Yoo's legal legerdemain without blinking, it should hardly be a surprise that they can get to "death panels" from the current legislation!

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