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Thursday, August 19, 2004


There is no excuse, none at all, for health care professionals to pretend that the crimes they commit are part of a "War on Terror", or that they are finishing some legacy experiments from Joseph Mengele. No excuse at all, this article sickens me.

yes, Abu Ghraib, Joseph Mengele, Nazis and the United States military should never be linked in one story, but here it is.
Disgusting. I think the doctors names should be publicized, and they should be ashamed to show their face within civilized nations. I can't really excuse actions of soldiers when torture is involved, but I can understand it. Doctors should have a higher moral standard, even if they are army doctors, even if they are U.S. army doctors. Especially if they are U.S. doctors. What happened to the "Shining City on the Hill"? that Saint Reagan always was blabbing about?

The Globe and Mail:
Some U.S. military doctors in Iraq and Afghanistan betrayed their duty to patients by participating in and covering up the abuse of prisoners, a report in the British journal Lancet argues.

Written by Dr. Steven Miles, a bioethicist at a U.S. university, the article calls for an urgent investigation to assess the extent to which U.S. military doctors, nurses and medics abandoned the ?moral obligations? of their profession.

Published Thursday, the same day reports emerged that an U.S. army inquiry will lay blame on commanders at Abu Ghraib for creating conditions that allowed abuses to occur at the jail, the article says the testimony which has emerged paints a picture of medical professionals allowing, assisting and participating in the abuse of prisoners.

They are accused of falsifying death certificates, tampering with bodies and, in at least one case, reviving someone beaten unconscious and then leaving him again to the mercy of his interrogators. In at least two cases, Dr. Miles notes, military officials released innocuous information explaining away prisoner deaths, only to later admit that they had died because of mistreatment.

Dr. Miles said that military medicine reform needs to be enshrined in international law and has to include more clout for military medical staff in the defence of human rights.

?The detaining power's health personnel are the first and often the last line of defence against human rights abuses. Their failure to assume that role emphasizes to the prisoner how utterly beyond humane appeal they are,? he said.

In his harsh submission to Lancet, Dr. Miles criticizes the inaction of medical staff who did not report abuses but also charges that, in a far worse transgression, ?the [military] medical system collaborated with designing and implementing psychologically and physically coercive interrogations.?

Dr. Miles acknowledges that military medical staff can feel pulled between loyalty to country and adherence to their professional codes, but has little sympathy. He argues that The Geneva Conventions address this ethical dilemma, stipulating that medical personnel cannot be compelled to carry out any work other than that concerned with their medical duties.

?The role of military medicine in these abuses merits special attention because of the moral obligations of medical professionals with regard to torture and because of horror at health professionals who are silently or actively complicit with torture,? he writes.

In an editorial accompanying Dr. Miles' article, the journal argues that military medical professionals must not allow misguided loyalties to trick them into abandoning their duty to patients.

?Guidelines and codes of practice state that doctors, even in military forces, must first and foremost be concerned about their patients and bound by principles of medical ethics.?


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