warprompts

What’s Worth 72 Words in the Washington Post?

Listen to Andy Worthington on Counterspin discuss press coverage of the people released with Sami-al-Haj:

Sami al-Haj, the Al Jazeera cameraman recently released after six years in the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo, is back in his native Sudan. As the only journalist believed held in Guantamo, Al Haj’s story has become well known around the world. It is less well-known in the US-al-Haj’s May 1st release merited just a 72 word squib in the Washington Post, and a short report on page 14 of the New York Times.

Still less attention has been paid to the other Guantanamo detainees who were released with Al Haj. Journalist Andy Worthington will join us to tell their stories. He is the author of “The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison.”

Read the fascinating piece, Why the Police Wouldn’t Tase Me, by a journalist who asked to be tasered:

At lunch break, Cpl. Gillis shows up and says the lawyers got cold feet about the plan to zap me. “As you learned this morning, there’s risk of injury,” says the 43-year-old RCMP expert in taser training who has been exposed more than 20 times during training and compares its effects to the muscle burn of a gym workout. “You could potentially tear a muscle and we would be on the hook for your medical expenses and loss of income. You could come after us for pain and discomfort.”

I had been questioning my sanity for days, particularly after seeing a video of La Toya Jackson voluntarily zapped (in the back). But now I feel like a dinner guest promised a full meal that never materializes. Why can’t I sign my life away with a waiver? Gillis says he’ll make another call during lunch. “My school of thought is that if we’re saying this is safe for use on the public, why not?” offers Gillis.

Back in the classroom, Tarasoff hands us each a loaded X-26 Taser and then goes over recent policy and protocol changes. Example: even if they draw a Taser on a subject, they will have to file a report by the end of shift, not within 15 days, “because people haven’t been completing the forms.” Officers are now also allowed to remove the barbed darts from the subject instead of waiting for a medical officer, unless they’ve hit “sensitive areas” like eyes and genitals.

‘Excited delirium’ situations

“Remember that if the situation dictates, you can use multiple applications,” Tarasoff says once again. “If the subject is in the grips of a mental health crisis or has excited delirium (ED), they’ll need medical assistance ASAP. In order for EHS to intervene, they first have to be restrained and under control. It falls on us to do that. With ED, the use of a taser in probe deployment mode may be the most effective response to establish control.”

This is another surprising recommendation. The American Civil Liberties Union says Taser International uses the diagnosis to “whitewash” in-custody deaths and the Canadian government report specifically called for restricting use with ED subjects. “Right now [the report author] is putting out off-the-cuff comments if you will,” Gillis responds. “Where’s the meat and potatoes? We have to go on science and the leading medical expert in this country Christine Hall [a BC ER physician] is still saying, ‘Look this is better than fighting with these people and traditional methods.’ So as a result we’re going to continue to use it in ED cases.”

Background — another post on tasers:

The Ethics of Selling Tasers to Governments Who Torture

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June 1, 2008 - Posted by | Media Criticism, Torture News | , , , , , ,

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