Guantanamo Docs Neglected, Concealed Medical Evidence of Torture, Study Finds

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Gitmo Docs Called into Question

It may be that the environment of Guantanamo discouraged doctors from seeking out signs of torture, says Dr. Ramin Asgary, director of the Program in Health and Human Rights at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

"I don't think these doctors were bad people. It's a mindset of a military base and the system doesn't support their independence as physicians. But it is our oath, as doctors, to treat, irrespective of who we are treating," he says.

"When you're an insider, the group think can take over and you begin seeing things as others do. In a sense, that's more of a process of denial, that you yourself don't see the truth," adds Dr. Stevan Hobfoll, chair of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Il.

Interrogators would not have necessarily had to break with the revised definitions of torture in order to cause PTSD, Hobfoll says.

"If I have a Muslim man stand naked or even in his underwear with women in the room, that is horribly shaming. Now if he's sleep deprived and someone is yelling at him, that could cause PTSD. At the same time, it's difficult to link PTSD as the outcome of those events, because they could have PTSD from their experience in battle or when they were captured. These are things that are difficult to separate but hence easy to hide behind," he says.

The Joint Task Force Guantanamo website documents the many "life-improving" medical services provided to detainees such as tuberculosis screening, dental care, and access to state-of-the-art equipment and one medical staff for every two detainees.

The study was published in the online journal PLos Medicine.

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