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June 24, 2005

Medical ethics and Guantanamo

More reasons to keep the U.N inspectors out:

Military doctors at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have aided interrogators in conducting and refining coercive interrogations of detainees, including providing advice on how to increase stress levels and exploit fears, according to new, detailed accounts given by former interrogators.
The accounts, in interviews with The New York Times, come as mental health professionals are debating whether psychiatrists and psychologists at the prison camp have violated professional ethics codes.
… The former interrogators said the military doctors’ role was to advise them and their fellow interrogators on ways of increasing psychological duress on detainees, sometimes by exploiting their fears, in the hopes of making them more cooperative and willing to provide information. In one example, interrogators were told that a detainee’s medical files showed he had a severe phobia of the dark and suggested ways in which that could be manipulated to induce him to cooperate.
In addition, the authors of an article published by The New England Journal of Medicine this week said their interviews with doctors who helped devise and supervise the interrogation regimen at Guantánamo showed that the program was explicitly designed to increase fear and distress among detainees as a means to obtaining intelligence.
… Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist and former Army brigadier general in the medical corps, said in an interview that “this behavior is not consistent with our medical responsibility or any of the codes that guide our conduct as doctors.”

No kidding.

But Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, apparently told the Times that doctors advising interrogators “were not covered by ethics strictures because they were not treating patients but rather were acting as behavioral scientists.”

So give them another job title and they can do whatever the hell they want. I don’t think so.

Still, Dick Cheney thinks everything is peachy down by the bay:

WASHINGTON, June 23 (Agence France-Presse) - Vice President Dick Cheney said on Thursday that prisoners at the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had everything they could possibly want and were well fed and well treated as they lived in the “tropics.”
Mr. Cheney dismissed calls to close the facility, which holds terrorism suspects. “They got a brand new facility down at Guantánamo,” Mr. Cheney said in an interview with CNN. “We spent a lot of money to build it. They’re very well treated down there.”

Posted by Stephen at 1:53 AM in War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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