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Recent revelations raise questions about the role of health providers at US detention facilities. Thus, the Washington Post reported that detainees are being involuntarily drugged. Almerindo Ojeda provides additional evidence that health providers at Guantánamo aided interrogators to the detriment of detainees.

More after the break.

Last week the Washington Post reported that Guantánamo and CIA detainees alleged that they were given strange psychoactive drugs by force. Jeff Stein of CQ had reported a similar things a few weeks ago. I wrote about this in my piece Involuntary Drugging of US Detainees.  In response to the Post article, Almerindo Ojeda wrote a letter to the Post detailing additional evidence that the provision of health services and interrogations at Guantánamo have been intimately linked, with health providers serving the abusive interrogation regime.

Almerindo is the Director of the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas at the University of California at Davis, where they have a wonderful archive, the Guantánamo Testimonials Project with testimony from many sources on the conditions at the prison. The Project --  by typing out many handwritten documents, transforming them into searchable text ,and  carefully organizing them-- is one of the premier sources for  such materials as detaneee or FBI accounts of abuses there. My colleagues and I use it all the time.

In any case, the Post did not print Almerindo's letter. He has thus revised it slightly and given me permission to post it here:

A recent article in the Washington Post (Detainees  Allege Being Drugged, Questioned, 04/22/08), quotes Pentagon spokesman Cmdr.  J.D. Gordon as saying that interrogations at Guantanamo do not affect or  influence medical treatment of the detainees held there. Unfortunately, the  evidence suggests otherwise.

Attached to a recent motion on behalf of Guantanamo prisoner Salim Ahmed  Hamdan are medical records stating that, on 8/28/02, an ointment was applied to  Mr. Hamdan's lower back and then covered with moleskin--a treatment which the  attending medic described as a "special request for medical attention per  FBI". In addition, a medical record for the same detainee dated 2/19/04  carries the annotation "no rec time per Intel"--or "no recreation time per  Intelligence" (I understand that exercise is an important component treatment of  sciatica, which Mr. Hamdan suffered from then).
Moreover, one of the "counterresistance techniques" approved on December 2,  2002 by then Secretary Rumsfeld against Guantanamo detainees was the use of  isolation facilities for up to thirty days. Here, and for selected detainees,  "the OIC [or Officer in Charge], Interrogation Section, will approve all  contacts with the detainee, to include medical visits of a non-emergent nature."  Although blanket permission to use this and other techniques was rescinded by  then Secretary Rumsfeld a month later, their use was still allowed on a  case-by-case basis and with approval of the Secretary of Defense (see memos  16-23 in The Torture Papers, by Greenberg and Dratel).

Similarly, section 30-6-d of the <span style="text-decoration: underline;">2004  Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures</span> posted recently by  Wikileaks reads as follows:

Detainees who are on self-harm precautions [i.e. those at high risk for  suicide or other self-injury] that are scheduled for interrogation will have  their clinical status and risk assessment verified by the licensed Behavioral  Health staff prior to leaving the block. Detainees on self-harm precautions are  generally not clinically stable enough to leave the  block.

So the needs of interrogation may trump the reasons for placing a GTMO  prisoner in a mental health ward. And this as a matter of standard operating  procedure.

Almerindo Ojeda, Director
Center for the Study of Human Rights in the  Americas
University of California at Davis

Originally posted to stephen soldz on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 01:58 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    I thank Almerindo for brining this new evidence to our attention, and for maintaining such a wonderful archive.

  •  I wonder what passes through a doctor's mind (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rudy23, symptomORdisease

    who went to medical school to heal the sick, only to find himself monitoring somebody who hasn't been allowed to sleep for almost a week, or who has been kept naked in an icy cold room for the same length, just to make sure that person suffers but doesn't die so they can keep doing it.

    Probably 'I should take Diane and the boys out to Appleby's or Chili's when I get off duty'.

    Evil is such a banal and boring thing in life as opposed to how it is portrayed in fiction.

    Jeff Healey March 25 1966 - March 2 2008: Rest in Peace and say hi to Stevie Ray Vaughn for me

    by LeftHandedMan on Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 02:02:34 PM PDT

  •  thanks for the diary (0+ / 0-)

    This is an important issue. Lost amidst the diatribes against the Bush Administration are just the kind of important details that you bring up... details like physicians enabling the disgusting policies to be carried out.  

    Complicity in heinous acts such as torture being carried out in the name of our Country extends in some measure to us all, but certainly a great deal more to professionals like physicians who are violating every ethical tenet of their calling.  

    Finally, a plug for a recent book: 'Five years of my life: an innocent man in Guantanamo' by Murat Kurnaz.


  •  In looking at this issue, (0+ / 0-)

    I wondered what constraints, such as any variant of the Hippocratic oath, that might be inculcated to US military medical personnel during training or enforced during service.  

    I found some information in a Lancet article, "Abu Ghraib: its legacy for military medicine" by Prof Steven H Miles MD:

    Although US military personnel receive at least 36 minutes of basic training on human rights, Abu Ghraib military personnel did not receive additional human rights training and did not train civilian interrogators working there...Military medical personnel in charge of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan denied being trained in Army human rights policies... Local commanding officers were unfamiliar with the Geneva Convention or Army Regulations regarding abuses...

    So based only on this very cursory review, there aren't any such constraints.  I hope that I'm wrong.

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