Investigate medical complicity in Gitmo torture, say doctors

In the continuing debate over mistreatment and torture at Guantanamo Bay, the journal PLoS Medicine has alleged that medical doctors and mental health professionals from the US Department of Defense concealed or failed to document medical evidence of intentional harm of nine detainees.

Vincent Iacopino, of Physicians for Human Rights, and retired US Army General Stephen Xenakis examined records for nine detainees and contend that doctors failed in their basic medical duty to the detainees. They want “a thorough, impartial investigation”. and declare that “until such time as such an investigation is undertaken, and those responsible for torture are held accountable, the ethical integrity of medical and other healing professions remains compromised.”

The mistreatment and torture included severe beatings resulting in bone fractures, sexual assault and/or the threat of rape, mock execution, mock disappearance, and near asphyxiation from water. Detainees were also subject to sleep deprivation, exposure to temperature extremes, serious threats, forced positions, beatings, and forced nudity. The authors claim that “each of the detainees continues to experience severe, long-term and debilitating psychological symptoms that are likely to persist for many years, and possibly a lifetime.”

The medics failed to inquire about the causes of injuries or symptoms. Psychological symptoms following interrogations were commonly attributed to “personality disorders” and “routine stressors of confinement" and not reasonably attributed to interrogation sessions.

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