Sunday, March 06, 2005

Psychiatric Commitment Used To Shut Up Whistleblower

An Army sergeant in Iraq was tucked away in a psychiatric ward for complaining about crude treatment of detainees under interrogation, in spite of the fact that he was labeled as normal in his initial evaluation. Regardless of this, he was shipped off to a psychiatric ward in Germany for "evaluation" for an indeterminate time.

This was reported today in a Washington Post article.

This is of course the way dissent was suppressed in Russia during the dark years of the U.S.S.R. Dissenters were famously sent to "Siberia". The usual excuse was insanity. The government would declare them insane and pick them up. Their family might see them again years later or never, depending on the circumstances. The same tactic was used in Nazi Germany, and in most earlier cultures in one way or another. There was always an Inquisitioner or High Priest or Witch Doctor willing to fulfill the need of those in power to shut up the opposition.

The US is increasingly subject to this kind of thing. The move to initiate involuntary psychiatric testing for citizens is the subject of more than one failed bill in Congress over the last few years, and is on the table again this year in the form of the "Universal Mental Health Screening" initiative. This would create a file on every citizen. Given the penchant of psychiatrists to define everything from drinking coffee to picking your nose as a mental illness, it would be only a short step to define someone as "insane" and haul them off. This might seem ridiculous, but is not. It has already happened in isolated cases. During the reign of Janet Reno, there was the incident where the relatives of an old lady living alone got a judge to rule that she should be committed to a local hospital for a 90-day mental competency evaluation. This woman had no criminal record and according to friends and neighbors had never hurt anyone. She refused to go along with the game, though (which would have almost undoubtedly resulted in at least forced drugging if not worse) and the FBI wound up having to shoot it out with her as she defended her house with her husband's old shotgun.

The bottom line in the US today is you can be imprisoned without due process -- without committing any crime -- if the judge declares you mentally incompetent. Or even if the judge declares you should be taken away and evaluated for competency. This is not constitutional, and it's not safe for thee and me. It's time to tell our legislators that spiriting away people in the middle of the night without due process in the name of "mental health" is not to be used to coerce the populace.

1 comment:

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