A new study finds medical professionals neglected or concealed the mistreatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay
The "enhanced interrogation methods" used by the Bush Administration required the complicity of doctors and psychologists. In the CIA, for example, staff from the Office of Medical Services were consulted to see if detainees had been subjected to "severe mental pain or suffering," the standard established by Jay Bybee and John Yoo in their since-discredited legal memos defining torture.
Some of these medical professionals exercised highly questionable judgment, as we've long known. Here's how Leonard Rubenstein and Stephen Xenakis explained it last year The New York Times:
...the medical service opined that sleep deprivation up to 180 hours didn't qualify as torture. It determined that confinement in a dark, small space for 18 hours a day was acceptable. It said detainees could be exposed to cold air or hosed down with cold water for up to two-thirds of the time it takes for hypothermia to set in. And it advised that placing a detainee in handcuffs attached by a chain to a ceiling, then forcing him to stand with his feet shackled to a bolt in the floor, "does not result in significant pain for the subject."
Still, the fact that medical personnel were present to monitor interrogations has been used by Bush Administration apologists to insist that the "enhanced techniques" never rose to the level of torture. That's why a study released this week is important. Its authors examined the treatment of nine detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, and the role that medical professionals played in their ordeals.