Andrew Sullivan writes a beautiful piece for Time reviewing the latest from medical ethicist Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed, which explores the ways in which medicine in the military has been unforgivably corrupted by the Bush-Rumsfeld machine's insistence that those who swear to heal participate in the process of torture.
Some of the medical involvement in torture defies belief. In one of the few actual logs we have of a high-level interrogation, that of Mohammed al-Qhatani (first reported in TIME), doctors were present during the long process of constant sleep deprivation over 55 days, and they induced hypothermia and the use of threatening dogs, among other techniques. According to Miles, Medics had to administer three bags of medical saline to Qhatani — while he was strapped to a chair — and aggressively treat him for hypothermia in the hospital. They then returned him to his interrogators. Elsewhere in Guantánamo, one prisoner had a gunshot wound that was left to fester during three days of interrogation before treatment, and two others were denied antibiotics for wounds. In Iraq, according to the Army surgeon general as reported by Miles, "an anesthesiologist repeatedly dropped a 2-lb. bag of intravenous fluid on a patient; a nurse deliberately delayed giving pain medication, and medical staff fed pork to Muslim patients." Doctors were also tasked at Abu Ghraib with "Dietary Manip (monitored by med)," in other words, using someone's food intake to weaken or manipulate them.
Of the 136 documented deaths of prisoners in detention, Miles found, medical death certificates were often not issued until months or even years after the actual deaths. One prisoner's corpse at Camp Cropper was kept for two weeks before his family or criminal investigators were notified. The body was then left at a local hospital with a certificate attributing death to "sudden brainstem compression." The hospital's own autopsy found that the man had died of a massive blow to the head. Another certificate claimed a 63-year-old prisoner had died of "cardiovascular disease and a buildup of fluid around his heart." According to Miles, no mention was made that the old man had been stripped naked, doused in cold water and kept outside in 40° cold for three days before cardiac arrest.
Other doctors just looked the other way, their military duty overruling the Hippocratic Oath. One at Abu Ghraib intervened to ask guards to stop beating one prisoner's wounded leg and quit hanging him from an injured shoulder. He saw it happen three times. He never reported it. In Mosul, according to Miles, one medic witnessed guards beating a prisoner and burning him by dragging him over hot stones. The prisoner was taken to the hospital, treated and then returned by doctors to his torturers. An investigation into the incidentwas closed because the medic didn't sign the medical record and so he couldn't be identified.