Backtalk, February 16, 2006

Hunter Shot by Cheney Has Heart Attack

Hi folks –

The AP article regarding Harry Whittington’s heart attack states:

“White House physicians who attended to Whittington at the scene after Cheney accidentally shot him were involved in the treatment, the officials said.”

I am a licensed physician, and I’ve spent most of the last 21 years in academic medical centers, hospitals, and the like. I’ve worked as a consultant with ICU teams and surgical trauma teams. I have NEVER seen a situation in which any victim of violence was subject to care provided by the assailant’s associates.

The traveling White House docs – whatever their considerable skills may be – aren’t the only physicians who have ever encountered gunshot wounds or intra-arterial foreign bodies resulting from gunshot wounds. The traveling White House docs also aren’t the only physicians able to manage “heart attacks” whether the arterial blockage is caused by lead or plaque.

I watched interns and residents and cardiology attendings for some years in my duties at UCLA. I never noticed anyone from the White House coming by to tell them how to care for patients. (They and UCLA seemed to thrive on the White House’s neglect. Heck, UCLA has even expanded its hospital network without resorting to specious claims about weapons of mass destruction.)

Even if they had come by, they couldn’t have been involved in patient care. In real life, hospitals are – well – choosy about who gets to come and play with the patients. To practice in a hospital, docs have to be vetted before starting to see patients. …

So what the hell is up with Corpus Christi Memorial? I’m not doubting the skills of the White House docs – they apparently saved the patient’s life in the field. But why are they in the ICU? Are they paid to travel with and provide care for the veep, or are they paid to take care of his victims after he’s left town?

If the latter, the White House docs will be very busy once the Iraq vets are back. One-third are already estimated to meet criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD.

Payback is a bitch. Unless, of course, you’re Dick Cheney.

~ Kirk James Murphy, M.D.

Uranium-Enrichment Myths Busted

It would seem that the “neo-crazies” were at least partially correct since as of today Iran has begun U-235 enrichment WITHOUT IAEA oversight.

~ Jonathan Krieger

Gordon Prather replies:

Reader Krieger is misinformed. All activities that Iran has resumed were not resumed until the IAEA inspectors were on-site and ready to observe their resumption. As for resuming “uranium enrichment,” the Iranians can’t have “resumed” enriching uranium as they have yet to begin.

Iran: The Next War

Dear Mr. Pilger,

I enjoyed your well-written article, and the compact historical narratives to support your argument. I agree with you that war with Iran is imminent. It may comes to you as a surprised to learn that this Iranian is actually hoping and praying for that confrontation. No, I’m not crazy; I fully realize that Iranian military is no match for the mighty military machines of the Western powers. However, the U.S. has not and perhaps will not be able to forget and forgive the embarrassment of the hostage crisis, and the hefty cost of losing a strategic partner sitting on a piece of real estate of immense geopolitical importance.

The fact is that even if Iran were to completely dismantle her nuclear program, Americans would levy other demands on her. If Iran were to dismiss the idea of euro vs. dollar, stop supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, and give Israel full recognition, America would then ask for a regime-change in the phony spirit of freedom and human rights. It will never stop!

I’m not a religious person, I don’t agree with Ahmadinejad’s remarks, and I don’t particularly care for the Islamic regime; nevertheless, I have come to accept Iran’s faith based on my understanding of the American culture and mentality. A war may indeed be a salvation for my people. Eckert Toll once said: older civilizations have greater tolerance for pain … than younger ones. Iran is at a historic crossroad and must come to terms with Americans’ anger and hatred toward her, one way or the other. I truly believe that the ultimate loser is the one who goes to war out of anger. We Iranians are no strangers to wars, atrocities, invasions, and aggressions of foreigners, and in the end we shall prevail, as we always have.

~ Ali Tehrani

“Rotten in Denmark” Backtalk

Like Jim Wilson and Morton Nielsen, I’m a bit disappointed with many of my fellow antiwar libertarians. Yes, the Danish cartoons were intentionally provocative, but as libertarians we must side with free speech, whether we find that speech offensive or not. Also, a person can be both antiwar and anti-Islam without contradiction. I believe Islam is an inherently warlike religion, and as an advocate of peace I encourage Muslims to either reinterpret and modernize the Koran, find a new faith, or preferably, abandon the irrationality of religion altogether. One good alternative might be the Bahai faith, which seems to have everything that’s good about Islam without the negative, medieval portions. Yet in many Muslim-majority countries, the Bahais are mercilessly persecuted as heretics. Unlike these devout warmongers, I would never physically attack a person for their free exercise of religion, no matter how odious I find their beliefs to be. We should not excuse Muslims for their crimes against human rights and freedom simply because they are the apparent enemies of the neoconservatives.

~ Vaughn Treude

Scooter’s Choice

Hi Justin:

My name is Martin Henz, living and working in Singapore. I am an avid reader of your column at, and full of admiration for your work. Your recent column focuses on the upcoming trial of Scooter Libby. While you are collecting interesting facts, I don’t think that in this case you see the full picture yet. There is one piece of information missing that will put you on the right path. Here it is: “Libby Lawyer Known for Work With Classified Material.”

Libby hired John Cline, famous for his extremely successful defense of Oliver North in the Iran-Contra affair. You say that Libby will adopt the “German” defense. The hiring of Cline and the recent demands to see the extremely secret Presidential Daily Briefs, which you reported in your column, indicate that he will use the Iran-Contra defense, instead.

Here is how it works: You say that if you had access to top-secret information, you could prove that your client is innocent. (Maybe Libby will claim that he was tasked with some super-secret stuff and therefore forgot some details of the Plame case, thus didn’t purposefully lie.) The exact details are irrelevant. The attorney general will then take a good look and decide that the secret information cannot be revealed to the court because of national security concerns. Then you argue that your client cannot get a fair trial because of government secrecy.

This is how North avoided jail, and this is how Libby will avoid jail. You didn’t get this yet, Justin. Instead you wrote:

“Waas also indicates that Libby’s defense strategy will quickly put him at odds with the most secretive administration ever. Legal correspondence between Fitzgerald and Libby’s lawyers reveals that the latter are demanding all sorts of top-secret government documents, the kind that any administration is likely to fight to keep under wraps, including ‘more than 10 months of the President’s Daily Brief’ an ‘eyes only’ summary of essential intelligence prepared for the president and a very few of his top advisers.”

In the light of my thesis explained above, your second sentence provides evidence for the opposite of the first sentence. Libby’s team is not at odds with the administration. On the contrary, the two have already started performing an artful dance of cover-up.

~ Martin Henz

Previous Backtalk