US docs participated in detention torture
US army doctors apparently helped intelligence officers carry out abusive interrogations at military detention centres, perhaps participating in torture, a report by New England Journal of Medicine claimed.
Medical personnel helped tailor interrogations to the physical and mental conditions of individual detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the report, in its Wednesday's edition, alleged.
Alleging that doctors violated their professional ethics and the Geneva Conventions, it said 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.
"The conclusion that doctors participated in torture is premature, but there is probable cause for suspecting it," the report alleged.
However, Pentagon officials said yesterday that the report is inaccurate and misrepresents military officials' positions and acts.
Doctors did not violate the Geneva Conventions, said William Winkenwerder Jr, assistant secretary of defence for health affairs. Some functioned as consultants to intelligence officers but never acted unethically, he said.
"We have no evidence of maltreatment by physicians, or of physicians participating in torture or torturous activity," he said. "We just do not have evidence of that."