CIA medics joined in Guantánamo torture sessions, says Red Cross
Leaked ICRC report claims medical staff monitored terror suspects during waterboarding
Medical personnel committed a "gross breach of medical ethics" by taking part in torture in Guantánamo, a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross document has revealed.
The 40-page confidential report, written in 2007, describes how medical staff working for the CIA monitored prisoners' vital signs to make sure they did not drown while being subjected to waterboarding, during which water is poured over a cloth placed over a person's nose and mouth.
Medical personnel were also said to be present when prisoners were shackled in a "stress standing position". The detainees were "monitored by health personnel who in some instances recommended stopping the method of ill-treatment, or recommended its continuation, but with adjustments", according to the report.
The Red Cross concluded: "The alleged participation of health personnel in the interrogation process and, either directly or indirectly, in the infliction of ill-treatment constituted a gross breach of medical ethics and, in some cases, amounted to participation in torture and/or cruel inhuman or degrading treatment."
As well as the monitoring of specific methods of ill-treatment, the report said, other health personnel were alleged to have directly participated in the interrogation process. One detainee alleged that a health person threatened that medical care would be conditional upon cooperation with interrogation.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of the September 11 attacks, alleged to the ICRC that on several occasions the waterboarding was stopped "on the intervention of a health person who was present in the room each time this procedure was used".
Mohammed, who pleaded guilty last year to the September 11 attacks, said he gave a lot of false information during the harshest period of his interrogation.
"Im sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the US," he told the Red Cross.
Besides descriptions of how the men were tortured, the report conveys the impatience and frustration of the Red Cross in trying to extract information from the Bush administration. The Red Cross made its first written interventions to the US authorities in 2002, requesting information on the whereabouts of people allegedly held by the Americans in the context of the fight against terrorism.
"Despite repeated requests at various levels of the US government, the ICRC has not received a response to most of these written interventions," the report said.
It took four years once the Red Cross first raised the issue with the Bush administration before it was given access to 14 detainees at Guantánamo, including Mohammed. The report welcomed the decision to grant access to the men, but "deplores the fact that these persons were held in undisclosed detention during a prolonged period by the US authorities and the conditions of treatment to which they were subjected during the time"
Those who were shackled "had to urinate and and defecate on themselves and remain standing in their own bodily fluids for periods of several days".
A dim light at the end of the tunnel of truth.