Long-secret Red Cross Report Says Medical Workers Helped US Torture Terror Suspects

A 2007 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross concluded that medical professionals helped the CIA torture detainees held at Guantánamo Bay prison and other "black sites" overseas, and said their participation in the abuse amounted to a "gross breach of medical ethics. The report was kept secret until recently. Snip from New York Times story:
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 C.I.A. monitored prisoners undergoing waterboarding, apparently to make sure they did not drown. 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, the report said.

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. But 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. It was obtained by Mark Danner, a journalist who has written extensively about torture, and posted Monday night with an article by Mr. Danner on the Web site of The New York Review of Books. Much of its contents were revealed in a March article by Mr. Danner and in a 2008 book, "The Dark Side," by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, but the reporting of the Red Cross investigators' conclusions on medical ethics and other issues are new.

Report Outlines Medical Workers' Role in Torture (NYT)


  1. I want their names. They should lose their medical licenses (after due process) and be ostracized from society. Let them work at Wal-Mart.

  2. Let them be the Christmas season casuals who have to open the door on sale day at Wal-Mart!

  3. Xopher: Hear hear!

    Beyond atrocious. That any doctor could break a solemn vow to do no harm by participating in one of the most barbaric human practices ever conceived of shatters my faith in humanity. There truly are no words for this.

  4. “The report quoted one medical official as telling a detainee: “I look after your body only because we need you for information.”

  5. Tip: When you torture someone, _always_ have a medical professional on hand to monitor them. This is to make sure you can go as far as you like without killing them.

  6. Geekman: Enlightened self-interest is admittedly beyond some peoples’ comprehension.

    And per the Nuremberg Defense, we can prosecute anyone in the chain of command now…

  7. There’s been public debate about this for some time, with some physicians wanting to get all up in there so that they could try to help the prisoners. Presumably the CIA only hired the sociopathic applicants.

  8. I’m disappointed this didn’t make the front page of the NYT website, not that I can say I’m surprised,T Magazine scoops being much more crucial and all..

  9. The Red Cross report is based on information from Guantanamo detainees who were Al Qaeda members. I wonder where are those disgusting medical “professionals” now, and how long we have before one or two start confessing, perhaps in exchange for immunity from prosecution?

  10. Any way to get our donations back?

    The Red Cross made the report; they didn’t torture people. RTFA

  11. “Facilitating such practices, which the Red Cross described as torture…”

    Can we please stop using such soft, passive waffle language around torture? That phrase should have been written “Facilitating torture was a violation of medical ethics”. I thought once the new guy got in we would be allowed to call it what it is.

    (PS – new comments system seems to be a bit flakey.)

  12. Rather than targeting a single group of people who were involved in the torture, and venting your spleen at them, a more positive approach would be to call your Congress person and demand that positive action to:

    A) Get Gitmo closed.
    B) Bring everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) who was involved into the public eye.
    C) Regardless of the actions of the ‘enemy combatants’ there are clear rules that the US has signed up to (Convention Against Torture being just one) and these has now been proven to have been broken.
    D) Those who committed the acts of torture should be made to face up to these and be punished according to the law.
    E) No action would mean a social acceptance of this and would allow this to occur again.

    So? What are you waiting for?

  13. do you really think those who own America will let you put Bush and Cheney in a prison cell?

    Did you know that Jerry Ford genuinely believed he was in danger of eternal hell for pardoning Nixon?

  14. The headline is ambiguous.

    I first read it, thinking ‘Good! Medical workers helped the people who were being tortured.’

    On reading the article I see that they were helping to torture. :-( Not at all what medical personnel are supposed to do.

    I suggest: “Long-secret Red Cross Report Says Medical Workers Helped To Torture US Terror Suspects”.

  15. Whats new. I dont even like getting started on things like this. Where did they first go wrong, why didnt they speak up, etc. The fact is that their is disturbing corruption and cruelty from the bottom up and the top down. The worst part is that there is no end in sight. The only thing that an honest man has left is hope. The hope that its absolute stupidity and corruption will cause the inevitable downfall of those in control. The world has enough problems without a bunch of money grubbing know-nothings running around raping the last bit of sanity for cash. Arent you tired of being peddled fear? If they keep you guessing and looking outside the United States for where the problem is, then they can go on doing whatever they please right here at home.

  16. Takuan,
    Isn’t it time to take America away from those who “own it”?
    After that,
    Indict and prosecute
    ( I think it would e difficult to indict/prosecute Bush but it would be great punishment for him to watch this go down )
    If guilty, then
    Incarcerate them.
    They are the true source of this evil. I’m waiting for the day to read of the delivery of justice. I wish there was more we could do to expedite it.

  17. It’s not just the torture but the illegality of it all, that stinks to high heaven:


    To quote the Judge: “Unjust and outrageous…How can this court have any confidence whatsoever in the United States government to comply with its obligations and to be truthful to the court?”

    With W. and Cheney, the Court simply can not have any such: they are after all on the record as stating that the US Gov (as embodied in themselves) is a system of elective tyranny, so far as those not US Citizens are concerned: they declared that they could torture and order the killing of any individual on the planet, in their unfettered and unreviewable discretion.

    And those “guardians of the world’s liberties”, the people of the USA, do not see a problem with this.

  18. Following up to Geekman:

    You misunderstood my comment. Using doctors to keep the victims alive is the BEST EVIDENCE we have of INTENT to torture.

    And, no, the Bush name brand does not own America any more. Dubya ruined it for them, by being too incompetent to even get fascism right.

  19. I’m not the least bit surprised. People think that those who work in the medical industry have some sort of superior ethics over other people. Having been intimately involved in that industry, I can tell you that that assumption is dead wrong. Drug use, unethical practices and sexual harassment–among other things, like what is mentioned here–are all rampant behind the scenes at medical facilities.

  20. What really troubles me is that this particular “cottage industry” may scale into a true industry, as it did in that industrial and economic powerhouse of the 1930s: Germany.

  21. It wasn’t a secret if you’ve been listening to “Pacifica’s Democracy Now” — some time ago, there was a big rift in the American Psychological Association about this.

  22. #13-360photo

    “Any way to get our donations back?”

    Imagine if there was a convenient way to get donations back. Just think of all the donations the Red Cross would have to return.

  23. there is no reason to believe any of this is all safely in the past,either. Closing — or planning to close — Guantanamo is a PR move; there is no indication that Bagram in Afghanistan,and other, secret, US prison/torture centers are being closed.

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