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Medical Workers Role in Torture
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, April 7, 2009
Posted: April 14th, 2009

Medical personnel were deeply involved in the abusive interrogation of terrorist suspects held overseas by the Central Intelligence Agency, including torture, and their participation was a gross breach of medical ethics, a long-secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross concluded. Based on statements by 14 prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda and were moved to Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, in late 2006, Red Cross investigators concluded that medical professionals working for the C.I.A. monitored prisoners undergoing waterboarding, apparently to make sure they did not drown. Medical workers were also present when guards confined prisoners in small boxes, shackled their arms to the ceiling, kept them in frigid cells and slammed them repeatedly into walls, the report said. Facilitating such practices, which the Red Cross described as torture, was a violation of medical ethics even if the medical workers intentions had been to prevent death or permanent injury, the report said. But it found that the medical professionals role was primarily to support the interrogators, not to protect the prisoners, and that the professionals had condoned and participated in ill treatment. At times, according to the detainees accounts, medical workers gave instructions to interrogators to continue, to adjust or to stop particular methods. The Red Cross report was completed in 2007. It was obtained by Mark Danner, a journalist who has written extensively about torture, and posted Monday night with an article by Mr. Danner on the Web site of The New York Review of Books.

Note: Much of content of the Red Cross report was revealed in a March article by Mr. Danner and in a 2008 book, The Dark Side, by Jane Mayer, but the reporting of the Red Cross investigators conclusions on medical ethics and other issues are new.

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