Physician-Assisted Abuse?

** FILE ** Detainee's walk in the court yard at Camp 4 inside of the maximum security prison Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2004, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AP Photo/Mark Wilson, Pool) AP

The treatment of enemy combatants and accused terrorists by U.S. Forces went under the global microscope after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Those concerns extended to the prisoners kept at the Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba.

Military officials argue that the men being kept at both camps had intelligence that was vital to the safety and success of the U.S. Military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the prisoners were being treated humanely.

But were they?

Dr. Gregg Bloche, a medical doctor and professor of law at Georgetown University, recently took part in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution.. The discussion was titled "U.S. Interrogation Practices: Are We Compromising Medical Ethics and Violating International Law?"

The panel examined the role of medical professionals during interrogations of prisoners.

"Physicians were, with some frequency, gatekeepers with respect to whether prisoners were thought to be fit for interrogation practices," Bloche said.

The alleged abuses stemmed from a program the Pentagon created to help American soldiers withstand torture and other abuses in the hands of their enemies.

"A decision was made … to use those techniques on some of the most resistant Guantanamo detainees," Bloche said. "And what that did was turn some of our clinical psychologists and psychiatrists into people who were abetting human rights abuses that in some cases, may have risen to the level of torture."

Bloche said the reports of such abuses underscore the urgency for an independent investigation into the techniques used by the military to interrogate enemy combatants and other detainees.
  • Bob Bicknell

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