The Doctors Who Tortured

We have been told that lawyers who provided the patently bogus clearance to torture terror suspects - against all legal precedents - are somehow peripheral to the act itself. Perhaps too the same might be said of doctors, who monitored the broken and abused bodies of those subjected to George W. Bush's "alternative set of procedures." But the ICRC report makes plain - in plain English - what was done, and the betrayal of the Hippocratic oath it required:

Health personnel offered supervision and even assistance as suspected al-Qaeda operatives were beaten, deprived of food, exposed to temperature extremes and subjected to waterboarding, the relief agency said in the 2007 report, a copy of which was posted on a magazine Web site yesterday. The report quoted one medical official as telling a detainee: "I look after your body only because we need you for information."

This is not news, but the specificity of the testimony of the torture victims is striking and backs up evidence produced by Stephen Miles three years ago:

Of the 136 documented deaths of prisoners in detention, Miles found, medical death certificates were often not issued until months or even years after the actual deaths. One prisoner's corpse at Camp Cropper was kept for two weeks before his family or criminal investigators were notified. The body was then left at a local hospital with a certificate attributing death to "sudden brainstem compression." The hospital's own autopsy found that the man had died of a massive blow to the head. Another certificate claimed a 63-year-old prisoner had died of "cardiovascular disease and a buildup of fluid around his heart." According to Miles, no mention was made that the old man had been stripped naked, doused in cold water and kept outside in 40 degrees cold for three days before cardiac arrest.

We have known about this incontrovertibly for years, specifically in the log of Qahtami's torture:

According to Miles, Medics had to administer three bags of medical saline to Qhatani while he was strapped to a chair and aggressively treat him for hypothermia in the hospital. They then returned him to his interrogators. Elsewhere in Guantanamo, one prisoner had a gunshot wound that was left to fester during three days of interrogation before treatment, and two others were denied antibiotics for wounds. In Iraq, according to the Army surgeon general as reported by Miles, "an anesthesiologist repeatedly dropped a 2-lb. bag of intravenous fluid on a patient; a nurse deliberately delayed giving pain medication, and medical staff fed pork to Muslim patients." Doctors were also tasked at Abu Ghraib with "Dietary Manip (monitored by med)," in other words, using someone's food intake to weaken or manipulate them. Of the 136 documented deaths of prisoners in detention, Miles found, medical death certificates were often not issued until months or even years after the actual deaths.

And people wonder why torture is regarded as a cancer. Because it metastasizes quickly and poisons everything it touches.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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