“Doctors” At Gitmo


Steel yourself. If you were a doctor and had a patient showing up with symptoms like this, what would you do?

contusions (2), bone fractures (3), lacerations (2), peripheral nerve damage (1), and sciatica (2).

I'd ask how these occurred, wouldn't you? But the Gitmo doctors were remarkably incurious. These injuries just "happened." Ditto the following psychological symptoms in prisoners with no previous record of mental or psychological illness:

nightmares (5), suicidal ideation (4), depression (2), audiovisual hallucinations (3), suicide attempts (2), anxiety/claustrophobia (2), memory and concentration difficulties (1), and dissociative states (2).

The doctors never asked why prisoners were showing up bruised and with bone fractures or exhibiting classic symptoms of PTSD. One was actually told

‘‘[You]…need to relax when guards are being more aggressive.’’

The report is sickening. Just one incident:

At one point, the detainee was observed by an interrogator to be having auditory hallucinations in response to extreme sleep deprivation and other abuses. Case documents indicate that a BSCT psychologist was informed of the hallucinations and did nothing to mitigate obvious and profound psychological harm that he/she was made aware of.

Because the psychologists were part of the torture. What did the prisoners say was done to them, prompting these symptoms? You know the answer:

The detainees reported being exposed to an average of eight different forms of EITs (range: five to 11 forms of abuse) including sleep deprivation, temperature extremes, serious threats, forced positions, beating, and forced nudity. In addition to the use of authorized EITs, each of the nine detainees reported being subjected to ‘‘unauthorized’’ acts or torture including: severe beatings, often associated with loss of consciousness and or bone fractures, sexual assault and/or the threat of rape, mock execution, mock disappearance, and near asphyxiation from water (i.e., hose forced into the detainee’s mouth) or being choked.

Other allegations included forcing the detainee’s head into the toilet, being used as a human sponge to wipe the floor, and desecration of the Quran (e.g., writing profane words in the Quran, stepping on the Quran, and placing it on the floor near the trash). Five of the detainees reported loss of consciousness during interrogation.

I believe the prisoners. I also believe that the evidence Scott Horton has assembled – in an essay nominated for a National Magazine Award – strongly indicates that some alleged "suicides" at Gitmo were actually brutal torture sessions gone wrong. When five out of nine prisoners in this report testify to loss of consciousness as they were brutally tortured, how much of a stretch is it to think that some might have accidentally been killed? The Pentagon has already conceded that some prisoners in the war on terror "died during interrogation", a nice term for "tortured to death."

Notice also that none of this comes anywhere near the ticking time bomb exception that allowed torture to become the rule. These prisoners were destroyed – physically, psychologically, mentally – over a period of years. The report asks president Obama to set up a bipartisan blue-ribbon commission to investigate this evil, and to invite the UN rapporteur on torture to visit Gitmo freely to assemble the facts.

I'm sorry to say I think that has a snowball's chance in hell – to the eternal shame of this president. But I believe with every bone in my body that those who did this, cooperated with it and authorized it should be prosecuted and jailed.

Either there is a rule of law or there isn't. Either we are a civilized country or we are not.

(Photo: a mysterious building in the Gitmo compound.)