They explained away the bone fractures, didn’t ask what caused the lacerations, and called the hallucinations routine. Rather than blowing the whistle, medical professionals entrusted with the care of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay turned a blind eye when there were clear indications of abuse.
That’s according to a newly published report from two physicians with unprecedented access to the medical records of nine Gitmo detainees.
Writing in the online journal PLoS Medicine, Physicians for Human Rights senior medical adviser Vincent Iacopino and retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist now in private practice, found that medical personnel at Guantanamo concealed mental and physical ailments that signaled abusive treatment.
The report — which represents the first independent review of any Guantanamo detainee’s medical record — is the clearest evidence yet that members of the base’s medical staff were complicit in the torture regime there.
“Medics have an independent, professional responsibility to identify and report incidences of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture,” Xenakis tells Danger Room. “They had a responsibility to speak up.”
“Personality disorders” and “routine stressors of confinement” were catch-all explanations for psychological disturbances, according to the report. “Temporary psychotic symptoms and hallucinations did not prompt consideration of abusive treatment.”
Neither did apparent physical symptoms. Three of the detainees showed evidence of physical maltreatment: contusions, bone fractures, lacerations, peripheral nerve damage and sciatica. But the medical staff turned a blind eye in their reports. “There was no mention of any cause for these injuries,” Iacopino and Xenakis write.