Monday, February 07, 2005

Abu Ghraib - Take 27

Question: Now that successful elections have been held in Iraq, what's next?
Answer: The MSM needs to recycle an old story to try to divert attention.

The Tehran Times for February 8, is running a "new story" about some supposed medical abuses in Abu Ghraib prison. The story seemed a little fishy. A big editing mistake (headline says "Qualified U.S. medics..." while the first paragraph says "Unqualified U.S. military medics..."), numbers that don't add up (between 800 and 900 admitted daily but the capacity of the prison was acknowledged as overfilled at 7000) along with an entire paragraph that seemed out of place (talking about a prisoner dubbed "Ice Man" but without any context) meant that I should look to the original source. Luckily the source was the Monday February 14, 2005 edition of Time Magazine and the article is titled "The Abu Ghraib Scandal You Don't Know".

Under a byline for Adam Zagorin, (sorry, I don't know anything about the author) Time purports to find "...another dimension to...the horrors of Abu Ghraib". Citing an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine by "legal scholars M. Gregg Bloche and Jonathan Marks", Time Magazine says:
...not only were some military doctors at Abu Ghraib enlisted to help inflict distress on the prisoners, but also the scarcity of basic medical care was at times so severe that it created another kind of torture.

I quickly googled the doctors names to see if they were mentioned in other articles. The search turned up some more details in an article at The Nation titled "US Army Doctors Implicated in Prisoner Abuse". Here is how that article characterizes the medical journal report:
The New England Journal of Medicine said in an article that the American medical personnel violated the Geneva Conventions by helping tailor interrogations to the physical and mental conditions of individual detainees at Abu Gharib prison in Iraq and the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The article says that medical workers gave interrogators access to patient medical files, and that psychiatrists and other physicians collaborated with interrogators and guards who, in turn, deprived detainees of sleep, restricted them to diets of bread and water and exposed them to extreme heat and cold.

"Clearly, the medical personnel who helped to develop and execute aggressive counter-resistance plans thereby breached the laws of war," says the four-page article labelled [sic] "Perspective."

"The conclusion that doctors participated in torture is premature, but there is probable cause for suspecting it."[emphasis added]

So, we have a story about Geneva Convention abuses, (still a point under contention!) where doctors were enlisted to design interrogation techniques, (Good. That input undoubtedly ensured the techniques were medically sound and not fatal!) and where the investigators were forced to admit that concluding the doctors participated in torture is premature. Where is the story in that!

The Time story then continues quoting people that were assigned to Abu Ghraib in 2003. These individuals cite supply and personnel shortages. Since Baghdad fell April 10, 2003, this means that the men and women quoted were some of the first assigned to that post. If you will remember, the military has already admitted that the speed of the advance outstripped the ability to supply the forward troops. I find nothing new in learning that Abu Ghraib may have been short of medical supplies or personnel.

As a last point, I wanted to take a look at who else may be interested in these "new developments." Beyond the Tehran Times, I found the New England Journal of Medicine article also quoted at in an article titled "US Doctors Tied To Torture At Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib". Once again the charge of Geneva Convention violation is leveled. Ok, nothing new. As I finished the article, I had to laugh out loud. Do you know what used as a source? I should make you go look at the site yourself but I won't. At the bottom of the article you will find the following line:
SOURCE: World Socialist Website
Need I say more?