Archive for Friday, August 20, 2004

Study: Doctors covered up prison abuse

August 20, 2004

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— Doctors working for the U.S. military in Iraq collaborated with interrogators in the abuse of detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, profoundly breaching medical ethics and human rights, a bioethicist charges in The Lancet medical journal.

In a scathing analysis of the behavior of military doctors, nurses and medics, University of Minnesota professor Steven Miles calls for a reform of military medicine and an official investigation into the role played by physicians and other medical staff in the torture scandal.

He cites evidence that doctors or medics falsified death certificates to cover up homicides, hid evidence of beatings and revived a prisoner so he could be further tortured. No reports of abuses were initiated by medical personnel until the official investigation into Abu Ghraib prison began, he found.

"The medical system collaborated with designing and implementing psychologically and physically coercive interrogations," Miles said in this week's edition of Lancet. "Army officials stated that a physician and a psychiatrist helped design, approve and monitor interrogations at Abu Ghraib."

The analysis does not shed light on how many doctors were involved or how widespread the problem of medical complicity was, aspects that Miles said he was now investigating.

A U.S. military spokesman said the incidents recounted by Miles came primarily from the Pentagon's own investigation of the abuses.

"Many of these cases remain under investigation and charges will be brought against any individual where there is evidence of abuse," said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, U.S. Army spokesman for detainee operations in Iraq.

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