Sunday, July 09, 2006

Medical Personnel Enabled Prisoner Abuse In "War On Terror"

A new study indicates that medical personnel assigned to Guantanamo and to the U.S. military prison system in Iraq and Afghanistan have been used to facilitate abuse of prisoners.

Dr. Steven H. Miles writes in today's Washington Post:

Based on my review of tens of thousands of pages of declassified government documents, congressional testimony, press accounts and reports by human rights organizations, the answer is clear: Many armed forces physicians, nurses and medics have been passive and active partners in the systematic neglect and abuse of prisoners. At facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the United States often failed to provide prisoners with minimally adequate medical and health systems. Some physicians and psychologists provided information that was used to determine the harshness of physically and psychologically abusive interrogations, which were then monitored by health professionals. Some doctors responsible for the medical records of detainees omitted evidence of abuse from their official reports. Medical personnel who knew of this system of neglect, abuse and torture remained silent....

In November 2002, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld appointed a working group to develop an interrogation policy for the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Upon receiving the working group's reports, Rumsfeld approved techniques such as isolation, interrogation for 20 hours, deprivation of light and sound and the use of loud sounds, as well as "manipulation of the detainees' emotions and weaknesses."

But his April 2003 directive also proposed three roles for medical professionals in interrogations. First, "the use of isolation as an interrogation technique requires detailed implementation instructions, including . . . medical and psychological review." Second, application of such interrogation methods was contingent on the detainee being "medically and operationally evaluated as suitable." Third, the interrogations required "the presence or availability of qualified medical personnel." ...

In December 2002, Rumsfeld empowered Guantanamo Bay interrogators to deny a prisoner's "medical visits of a non-emergent nature." Although he later revoked the order on advice of legal counsel, the practice of punitive denial of treatment apparently continued throughout the prison system.

In Iraq, Army investigators reviewed a video showing a prisoner with bound wrists lying on the ground near a checkpoint. Entry and exit gunshot wounds are visible. While the soldiers discuss whether to summon medical care, one soldier tells the moaning prisoner to "shut up" and kicks him in the face or upper chest, according to the report of an Army criminal investigation. A soldier who was present during the videotaping later joked that they "weren't in any hurry to call the medics," adding that he "thought the dude eventually died." ...

An FBI memo tells of a prisoner, arrested in Afghanistan, who was denied treatment for a gunshot wound and was tortured for at least three days before being taken to a hospital.

The above examples are only two of many detailed in the article.

Dr. Miles concludes that the medical complicity in the U.S. runs facilities is akin to the methods used in Argentina and Chile's "Dirty Wars" of the 1970's.

"(T)he torture physicians of Argentina and Chile simply went to work in the prisons. They did what was asked of them and did not report what they saw."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much for the Hippocratic Oath...

Why is it that doctors are afforded so much status when time and again they prove to be as human as everyone else?


7/09/2006 5:19 PM  
Blogger DrewL said...


Sadly, many physicians also happen to be Republicans, and in this case, they also happen to be members of the military. It's a veritable double-whammy.

7/09/2006 7:56 PM  
Blogger Bukko_in_Australia said...

Reminds me of Dachau. Before my wife and I followed our consciences and emigrated from the U.S. last December, we went to Switzerland to start a bank account. We made a side trip to Munich, to pay homage to the victims of Hitler's domestic terrorism prevention programme. (And to contemplate the Americans who will fall victim to Bush's). I'm a registered nurse -- that's how we could get a work visa to enter Australia -- so I was disgusted at the exhibit showing how medical staff aided the twisted, death-inducing medical experiments done at the camp. Now we see another way the U.S. is going along the same road as Nazi Germany. Oh, but we're not supposed to say things like that, are we? Makes us moonbats or something. Pointing out the truth, always a sign of lunacy in a world where the emperor has no clothes...

7/09/2006 11:52 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


I think a lot of people go into the medical profession in the USA not because of any ethical or humanist calling--but instead to make big money.

Some are clearly willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead. The military stint probably looks good (to some people) on a CV.

7/10/2006 7:29 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


There's always that motivation too.

7/10/2006 7:29 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


There is indeed a stigma faced by those who are not taken in by the emperor's new clothes.

And the "good Germans" here in Bush's USA wont have any problem with the (mis)use of medical personnel in the "war on terror."

7/10/2006 7:34 AM  

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