Happy New Year, everyone! We had an awesome bon fire, karaoke and non-alcoholic champagne to ring in the New Year. It was a helluva party until some idiots started throwing empty cans of silly string into the bon fire. Fortunately no one was injured. Still, there was a lot more duck-and-cover then I usually like in a war zone.
So, New Year's Day greets me with some interesting tasks. I'm struggling with how to tell this story because it's quite unbelievable, even to me. Rather than try to spin a good yarn, I'll just lay out the facts.
We have a young detainee (in his 20s) with one huge tumor in his chest and a bunch of smaller tumors in his lung. It turns out he had a bone cancer as a child. Sometimes these kids get either recurrent disease or a new cancer like lymphoma. We don't know exactly what it is and we really don't have the equipment needed to find out.
He's going to die unless someone figures out what this mass is made of.
In my new job as chief of staff, I can request a Compassionate Release. This is reserved for detainees (note that we don't call them prisoners) whose conditions have worsened significantly since their capture and who would probably not be able to participate in the insurgency if they are released. He seems like a good candidate, right?
So today I get a question from Legal, "Umm, do you think there is any chance of him recovering if he gets the care he needs after he's released?"
It's a good but difficult question. Based on what I know of the Iraqi healthcare system, the odds of him getting the appropriate care are pretty slim. But assuming he got to a good doctor and assuming this is something treatable like lymphoma, then yes, he could recover.
"Umm, do you think he could recover enough to participate in the insurgency?"
Think about my dilemma for a second. I am a physician sworn to care for patients and Do No Harm. If I say he CAN'T recover, he can be compassionately released (and potentially get the care he needs to recover). If I say he CAN recover, they won't let him go and he will surely die.
Before you decide what I should do, would it change your mind to know that he killed a bunch of soldiers? What if he was just an innocent bystander?
After you've got that figured out, tell me what to do with my other 20 year old with the 6 centimeter brain tumor. In this case, I KNOW he's a Bad Guy.