A report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has found that medical personnel were deeply involved in the abusive interrogation (including the torture) of terrorist suspects held overseas by the C.I.A.
Based on statements by 14 prisoners who belonged to Al Qaeda and were moved to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in late 2006, Red Cross investigators concluded that medical professionals working for the Central Intelligence Agency monitored prisoners undergoing water boarding, apparently to make sure they did not drown.
AdvertisementAccording to the New York Times, the 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.
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.
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. Mark Danner, a journalist who has written extensively about torture, obtained it.
The report does not indicate whether the medical workers at the C.I.A. sites were physicians, other professionals or both.
Other sources have said that psychologists helped design and run the C.I.A. interrogation program, that physicians' assistants and former military paramedics worked regularly in it, and that physicians were involved at times.
In its 40-page report, the Red Cross roundly condemned the C.I.A. detention program not only for using torture and other cruel treatment, but also for holding prisoners without notice to governments or families.
The report also provided new details of the Bush administration's failure to cooperate for several years with the Red Cross's inquiries and investigations of American detention programs.
Repeated inquiries and reports from the organization beginning in 2002 received no response from American officials, the report said.
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