A report in the British medical journal Lancet charges U.S. military medical personnel in Abu Ghraib Prison with violations of medical ethics as well as military, international, and U.S. law:
In a scathing analysis of the behavior of military doctors, nurses and medics, Dr. Steven Miles of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine calls for 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 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.”
In one example, cited in a sworn statement from an Abu Ghraib detainee, a prisoner collapsed and was apparently unconscious after a beating. Medical staff revived the detainee and left, allowing the abuse to continue, Miles reported.
A military police officer reported a medic inserted an intravenous tube into a detainee’s corpse after torture to create evidence he was alive at the hospital, Miles said.
At prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, “Physicians routinely attributed detainee deaths on death certificates to heart attacks, heatstroke or natural causes without noting the unnatural [cause] of the death,” Miles wrote.
He cites an example from a Human Rights Watch report in which a beaten detainee was tied to his cell door and gagged.
The death certificate indicated “natural causes … during his sleep.” However, after media coverage, the Pentagon changed the cause of death to homicide by blunt force injuries and suffocation.