Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Medical Ethics and the Interrogation of Guantanamo 063
April 16, 2007 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Clinicians regularly visited the interrogation cell to assess and treat the prisoner. Medics and a female "medical representative" checked vital signs several times per day; they assessed for dehydration and suggested enemas for constipation or intravenous fluids for dehydration. The prisoner’s hands and feet became swollen as he was restrained in a chair. These extremities were inspected and wrapped by medics and a physician. One entry describes a physician checking "for abrasions from sitting in the metal chair for long periods of time. The doctor said everything was good."...
Medical Ethics and the Interrogation of Guantanamo 063
See also US now detaining 18,000 prisoners in Iraq
posted by y2karl (34 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
...Guards, medics and a physician offered palliative medications such as aspirin to treat his swollen feet.

Intravenous fluids were regular administered over the prisoner’s objection. For example, on November 24, the prisoner refused water. A Captain-interrogator advised him that the medic "can administer IV [sic: the log’s contraction for intravenous fluids of an unspecified volume is used throughout this article] fluids once the Captain and the Doctor on duty are notified and agree to it." Nine hours later, after taking vital signs, medical personnel administered "two bags" of intravenous fluids. Later that day, a physician evaluated al-Qahtani in the interrogation room and told him that he could not refuse medications or intravenous fluids, and that he would not be allowed to die.

The next day, interrogators told the prisoner that he would not be allowed to pray if he would not drink water. Neither a medic nor a physician could insert a standard intravenous catheter, so a physician inserted a "temporary shunt" to allow an intravenous infusion. The restrained prisoner asked to go the bathroom and was given a urinal instead. Thirty minutes later, he was given "three and one-half bags of IV [sic]" and he urinated twice in his pants. The next day, the physician came to the interrogation room and checked the restrained prisoner’s swollen extremities and the shunt. The shunt was removed and a soldier told al-Qahtani that he could pray on the floor where he had urinated.
posted by y2karl at 11:56 AM on April 16, 2007


The idea of medical staff involved in this rather shits on the principles of bioethics: autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, distributive justice, etc.

How horrible and how utterly predictable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:04 PM on April 16, 2007


That should be an automatic license revocation.
posted by facetious at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Their relatives should sue for malpractice.
posted by Megafly at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2007


Whoa, that was quick!
posted by y2karl at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2007


Terry Jones said it (NSFW JPG) best. Not much more to be said at this point.
posted by lifeless at 12:25 PM on April 16, 2007


I wonder if they're using any of the prisoners for medical investigation. Experiments in freezing them, or maybe surgical techniques. Mengeles-like, y'know.

I wouldn't be at all surprised.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2007


!!! [From Wikipedia entry on Camp Bucca] "After being taken over by the U.S. military in April 2003, it was renamed after Ronald Bucca, a soldier with the 800th Military Police Brigade and NYC Fire Marshal who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks."

Lets see, how can I explain this. . .
posted by j-urb at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2007


These are war crimes, and should be prosecuted as such.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:30 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"He was leashed (a detail omitted in the log but recorded by investigators) and made to “stay, come, and bark to elevate his social status up to a dog.” He was told to bark like a happy dog at photographs of 9/11 victims and growl at pictures of terrorists. ... The interrogators quizzed him on passages from a book entitled, “What makes a Terrorist and Why?,” that asserted that people joined terrorist groups for a sense of belonging and that terrorists must dehumanize their victims as a way to avoid feelings of guilt at their crimes."
No comment.
posted by nasreddin at 12:59 PM on April 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


US antiterror tactics crimp new terror case: Some of the strongest evidence against Jose Padilla, whose trial begins Monday, was coerced and can't be used in court.
posted by homunculus at 12:59 PM on April 16, 2007


Fucking sick! Oh, to turn the tables and let the prisoners interrogate the guards and doctors for a change.
posted by caddis at 1:55 PM on April 16, 2007


30+ people died at VTech, and it has gotten more attention today than the Gitmo torture has in 6 years, total.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 2:14 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic Novelist: And? What is your point? That we should torture people from VTech or shoot 30+ people at Gitmo so that we can try to even out the attention? Do you think that worst mass-murder on an American campus is not newsworthy?

Last Wednesday, Sanjaya was not voted off American Idol and that has gotten more attention today than "the Gitmo torture" has in 6 years, total. Not to make your arguments for you, but you should complain about that instead. It would make us all appear much more callous.
posted by Slap Factory at 2:51 PM on April 16, 2007


That we should torture people from VTech or shoot 30+ people at Gitmo so that we can try to even out the attention? Do you think that worst mass-murder on an American campus is not newsworthy?


That Americans should stop being so hypocritical and engaging in PC faux-outrage (see Don Imus and pretty much every other issue). I don't doubt that people are angry/hurt, but put those victims in Iraq and make them non-American and non-Western and let's see the reaction. Heck, make them Chinese political dissidents and less see the reaction.

Last Wednesday, Sanjaya was not voted off American Idol and that has gotten more attention today than "the Gitmo torture" has in 6 years, total.

That is an entertainment issue. While it is silly to focus on it, at least it is recognized as pop culture and not a tragedy.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 3:02 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic Novelist, I'm confused. Are you upset by people being angry at the shooting at VTech or by people being angry about torture and degradation in Guantanamo? 'Cause I can't find a way to read "Americans should stop being so hypocritical and engaging in PC faux-outrage (see Don Imus and pretty much every other issue). I don't doubt that people are angry/hurt, but put those victims in Iraq and make them non-American and non-Western and let's see the reaction. Heck, make them Chinese political dissidents and less see the reaction." that doesn't make you sound like an asshole.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:18 PM on April 16, 2007


I think "PC faux-outrage" would mean making a bigger deal out of foreigners being killed than Americans, to the extent that such a silly construction signifies anything.

Is it hypocritical to be more horrified by a family member being shot that someone you've never met? Probably, but also human and understandable. By extension, is it so shocking that people might be more affected by the deaths of college kids much like themselves than by those of far-away stragers? Again, perhaps it's not rational or fair, but it's certainly understandable and not worthy of your outrage.

Which, btw, I would deem as "PC" if that godawful label must be used. Finally, I find your idea that there's a clear distinction between pop culture/entertainment and news/tragedy endearing but ultimately disingenuous.
posted by freebird at 3:23 PM on April 16, 2007


Leave it to Gnostic Novelist to bring Don Imus into this.
posted by delmoi at 3:36 PM on April 16, 2007


Gnostic Novelist, I'm confused. Are you upset by people being angry at the shooting at VTech or by people being angry about torture and degradation in Guantanamo?

I'm quite pissed off at the torture in Guantanamo. I moved beyond upset in 2001. There are so many protests I can attend and so many letters I can write to my congressmen before I notice American hypocrisy on the issue (I noticed it a long time ago). And it takes a lot for someone like me to say that, seeing as I find Islam to be laughable.

I think "PC faux-outrage" would mean making a bigger deal out of foreigners being killed than Americans, to the extent that such a silly construction signifies anything.

That is only if political correctness = liberal/leftist internationalism. It's hard to pinpoint where P.C. came to mean such things.
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 3:45 PM on April 16, 2007


uh there wasn't any torture until 2002, unless we were torturing Cuban refugees.
posted by youthenrage at 4:01 PM on April 16, 2007


Let me see if I can place this within any bounds of reality here: The interrogations themselves (at gitmo) yield just about nothing since any information the subjects have is out of date. The process is useless because even if there was incriminating information it can’t be used in court. Almost a moot point because according to the administration ‘terr’ is a military thing - but then why hold them prisoner? Why not summarially execute them? Or why not try them in a military tribunal and incarcerate them? The detainees elsewhere are used for - what? Leverage? Even if it’s for information - useful information - given the nature of the abuses (if it were my brother, cousin, uncle, whatever) it’s spawning far more people who hate us. Who become partisans (if in Iraq) or terrorists, who strike, forcing us to take more prisoners to find them, making more people who hate us. Not to mention the toxic effect it has on the doctors (yeah, I want to visit Mengle through my HMO) and the military - we can train men to do just about anything, do we want torturers? Not to mention the social order, I don’t want to live in a country where torture is in any way acceptable. And meanwhile it’s pissing off a lot of other countries and our foreign relations are in the toilet.
I’m not seeing any reasonable goals derivable from any of these acts. I mean, not even something realistic like “control the oil supply” or some such goal however machiavellian. It’s not conducive to any goals. At least any realistic goals or ones outside the bounds of tinfoil hatdom. In that sphere they could be trying to end the world or initiate a 1984ish world order. But never having seen anything like that in the real world, how the hell do you know what the road to that looks like? A lot of this is unprescedented, but even the stuff that looks like facsism - where the hell is it going? It could well be that it looks so schizophrenic because it’s being opposed. But if that’s the case, why the hell would anyone risk eventual possible - I’d say probable - prosecution and do this sort of thing? It’s not like Stalin or Hitler had to worry about dispute through their respective internal apparatus of state. The PATRIOT act doesn’t go anywhere near far enough in terms of quelling that sort of dissent. So why bust out the torture program now? Unless of course you can use the external government apparatus - the foreign affairs portion, CIA, external military, et.al. on bases and such to get away with it. But still - where do you go if it goes bad? The only real option is to smash the internal government apparatus before the next election - or rig the next election - to avoid prosecution. Because you sure as hell aren’t going to be able to hide outside the country. Well, Saudi Arabia maybe. Still, doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. That apart from the obviously appaling nature of it.
+ what the Real Dan sed.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:01 PM on April 16, 2007


uh there wasn't any torture until 2002, unless we were torturing Cuban refugees.

I'm referring to OEF-A
posted by Gnostic Novelist at 4:07 PM on April 16, 2007


For context, Gnostic Novelist was basically spat on by everyone on the VTech thread, justifiably so in my opinion, so he's come here to peddle his kreepy krap.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:34 PM on April 16, 2007


Smedleyman: Your comment gave me a greater sympathy for those who endure aggressive interrogation tactics. Because it caused my eyes serious pain and discomfort. Hard returns man. Hard returns.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:56 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I gotta work on that. Sorry.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:03 PM on April 16, 2007


The interrogations themselves (at gitmo) yield just about nothing since any information the subjects have is out of date.

Torture is a tactic of intimidation ("this could happen to you"), not information.
posted by signal at 7:11 PM on April 16, 2007


Also - had this in mind from 1984 in the former comment:
“In past ages, a war, almost by definition, was something that sooner or later came to an end, usually in unmistakable victory or defeat.
In the past, also, war was one of the main instruments by which human societies were kept in touch with physical reality.
All rulers in all ages have tried to impose a false view of the world upon their followers, but they could not afford to encourage any illusion that tended to impair military efficiency.
So long as defeat meant the loss of independence, or some other result generally held to be undesirable, the precautions against defeat had to be serious. Physical facts could not be ignored.
In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one was designing a gun or an aeroplane they had to make four.
Inefficient nations were always conquered sooner or later, and the struggle for efficiency was inimical to illusions.
Moreover, to be efficient it was necessary to be able to learn from the past, which meant having a fairly accurate idea of what had happened in the past.
Newspapers and history books were, of course, always coloured and biased, but falsification of the kind that is practiced today would have been impossible.
War was a sure safeguard of sanity, and so far as the ruling classes were concerned it was probably the most important of all safeguards. While wars could be won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible.”

That and the passage concerning ideological hatred of the party beyond moral reasoning (e.g. willing to throw acid in an innocent child’s face to oppose big brother) it’s funny that we often see the horrors of “big brother” or whatever the evil it is we’re combating.
And yet we do not see the evil we ourselves are willing to commit to “fight” evil.

It is impossible to protect and defend a principle and yet willingly defy that principle.
Whatever the horrors of terrorism - and to be very clear, real terrorism is meant to be, and is exactly, terrifying - we cannot become dealers in terror ourselves to combat it.
There are indeed great lengths I would go to in order to combat it. And I have. I would kill or die myself to stop it.
But I would not corrupt the minds of children, distribute habit-forming drugs or throw acid in a child’s face to do so. What, then, would be the difference between me and the terrorist?

And indeed, one’s first thought is typically self-sacrificial, I take the hit for my people. I do the dirty work so they can remain pure.
But that’s exactly what terrorists think too.

You cannot cut yourself off from humanity. You are always in communication with other humans. You are always within human society and answerable to it. In the same way - you cannot raise your child in some sort of ideal where you do horrible things but keep that world away from them. You are that person. No one else can be that child’s parent. Those acts, that ethos, that philosophy, spills over. And if not directly onto them, on to their ultimate environment. You can’t cut yourself off from humanity and work in any way productively for it.
Some parts of human society war on others. But even when war is made, even when you’re seeking death - someone put that rifle in your hands. Someone made it. Someone else made your boots, your clothes, your helmet. A group of someones - ultimately whatever their motive - doesn’t want you to die.
There is no way to sever that connection. You can’t take the hit for them because you are part of them. And what you do is not in a void. Your contributions to the world are indelibly stamped upon it and upon you. And if you torture, you have contributed that much more torture into the world.
These doctors - and anyone else who buys into this really, forget that. They’re fighting for a better world, helping to prosecute the war on terror.
Now, if there are any groups worth opposing with force it’s terrorist organizations. But you can’t make the world a place where terrorism and torture does not occur by torturing someone. They’re not doctors anymore, they’re torturers.

And I really don’t understand how someone could so lose their perspective to so great a degree.

I mean these people don’t even have the excuse Winston had of living under big brother since he was a child and losing the sense of humanity in any sense but political identification with or against the single pole.

What can they possibly think to gain that they haven’t already destroyed the foundations of?
posted by Smedleyman at 7:46 PM on April 16, 2007


But none of these "revelations" will make any difference to the American people. Too many "good Germans" here . During my lifetime, no public "scandal" -- from the Pentagons papers and Watergate through Iran-Contra and the CIA's cocaine connection -- has made any difference except to serve as "mile markers" of the continuing degradation of the U.S. body politic and the moral emasculation of the American people.

But there's hope: TBS is showing reruns of the first season of "Friends"!
posted by davy at 7:50 PM on April 16, 2007


Not exactly medical ethics, but still.
posted by davy at 8:17 PM on April 16, 2007


So, after these interrogations, they won't hate us for our freedoms anymore?
posted by orthogonality at 9:19 PM on April 16, 2007


crusade -- inquisition -- oil
posted by taosbat at 10:31 PM on April 16, 2007


In other Iraq news: Gays Subject to "Sexual Cleansing" in Iraq
posted by homunculus at 11:41 PM on April 16, 2007


Why don't we just find a way to rid the Earth of its human infestation? Zyklon B for EVERYBODY!
posted by davy at 11:49 PM on April 16, 2007


It is good that this horrific shit comes out, is told, so that people with a sense of right and wrong can bear witness.

It is not good that this will change nothing.

That last part, is heartbreaking.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:47 AM on April 17, 2007


« Older L'inventaire Fantôme...  |  Three million long-haul trucke... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments