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"President Barack Obama has said the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay will be closed within a year. That's great, but what are WE as the United States of America, the people who kidnapped and tortured these people going to do for them? Just send them home like nothing happened?
Neeley’s testimony included horrifying accounts of abuse by U.S. health professionals – a well-documented yet often unreported facet of the torture and mistreatment of the men held at Guantánamo and other US prisons.
Despite the health profession's widely recognized duty to do no harm, more physicians around the world participate in torture than treat the millions who survive it. Sadly, the torture and abuse inflicted on prisoners in Guantánamo, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the U.S.' so-called "war on terror" is no exception.
Current and former prisoners held in U.S. custody report being subjected to forced or unwarranted medical procedures for interrogation and punishment purposes, such as enemas, drugging, IVs, and surgery – even amputation. Under President Obama’s watch, health personnel and prison guards continue to strap men painfully to 6-point restraint chairs for hours at a time, forcefully insert thick tubes down their noses, and pump their stomachs full of unwanted liquid, often until they bleed and vomit.
Notoriously, psychologists have participated in devising and recommending torture and abusive interrogation for detainees. Some psychologists reversed tactics that were used to train U.S. soldiers to resist torture by foreign states into ones that could be used to torture prisoners in our own custody. As members of Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (or "BSCTs"), some mental health professionals have sat in on abusive interrogations, observed prisoners undergoing abusive interrogation, and advised interrogators on how to exploit vulnerabilities, often using medical records to do so. They may still be doing this today.
Neeley describes numerous incidents of medical abuse from 2002: he tells of a medic force feeding and then punching a detainee, shortly after that same man had been beaten by a military riot squad for refusing to take nutrition; a medic who was charged with providing physical therapy to a prisoner but instead purposefully caused the prisoner severe pain, and then mocked him as he cried out; a naval physician who used his authority to conduct “cavity searches,” purportedly for security purposes, to forcefully penetrate his patients’ rectums, seemingly with intent to hurt and degrade them; and others who permitted obviously mentally ill men to go without treatment and injure themselves for days at a time.
The change in administration notwithstanding, brutal force feeding and psychological abuse continues at Guantánamo today, and some of our health personnel remain complicit.
But President Obama's executive order of January 22, 2009 requires "humane treatment" for the men held at Guantánamo, including compliance with the Geneva Conventions and all applicable law, and this includes freedom from medical abuse and torture.
Furthermore, as illustrated by Spc. Neeley's comments, we have a responsibility not only to put an end to medical abuse and torture, but also to hold accountable those responsible and to help restore those harmed. Please write today to your members of Congress and to President Obama and call upon them to: