Ethical Loss of Prisoner Medical Human Rights in the "Fog of War": Documentation Resource
I have written on previous posts about the ethical conflicts which can exist by the "wearing of two hats" by medical professionals when they are part of the military. Steven Miles, a physician and ethicist from the University of Minnesota, has looked carefully into this subject and has written about the recent and current medical treatment of prisoners who are held in various locations by the United States in the current "war on terror" and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He would like to make everyone aware of a resource for documentation regarding what is happening in the prisons where those individuals are being held. Here is his announcement of the website resource. ..Maurice.
U of M’s Center for Bioethics and
Human Rights Library post online archive
of documents on prisoners of the war on terror
Documents focus on medical operations in prisons
MINNEAPOLIS / ST.PAUL (April 23, 2007) -- The University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics and Human Rights Center have created a comprehensive archive of government documents describing medical operations in U.S. prisoner of war facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The archive, launched today, can be accessed from the homepage of the Human Rights Library (www.umn.edu/humanrts) or directly at www1.umn.edu/humanrts/OathBetrayed/index.html
The archive’s purpose is to enable scholars, journalists, policymakers, and interested citizens to study and understand the medical operations in these prisons. It contains more than 60,000 pages of indexed White House and Defense Department policies, prison medical records, autopsy reports, criminal investigations, sworn witness statements and e-mails involving the Armed Forces and the FBI.
This project was organized by physician-ethicist, Steven Miles, M.D., professor of medicine at the University. In articles and a book, Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror (Random House, 2006), he has tried to answer the question, “Where were the doctors and nurses at Abu Ghraib while the notorious abuses were taking place?”
Web archivist, Leah Marks, of the Human Rights Library, built the archive.
This is not a dry compendium of documents. Examples of documents available to the public include:
White House and Defense Department policies and memoranda showing how medical and behavioral clinicians were organized to exploit prisoners’ emotional and physical vulnerabilities for interrogation.
Death files describing 148 prisoner deaths, including that of a child who died after having untreated tuberculosis.
Interrogation documents showing how medical personnel cleared prisoners, even with signs of abuse, for interrogations; how the behavioral science consultation teams operated; and, how the FBI objected to harsh Army interrogation techniques. One interrogation document tells how a pregnant prisoner's baby was delivered and sent to an orphanage or her family so that she could be interrogated.
Silence files documenting medical personnel who remained silent about abuses, failed to record injuries, or “lost” records of prisoners who made allegations of abuse.
Health documents describing the physical, sanitation, and mental care in the prisons.
The comprehensive nature of this archive will facilitate historical research of this prison system. For example, the thousands of pages of medical records are available, and easily searchable, for researchers who want to study prison health care.
The construction of this special archive was supported by a grant from the University of Minnesota's Office of Public Engagement. The Human Rights Center and its Human Rights Library are supported by private gifts and foundation grants. Most, but not all, of these documents were obtained and posted by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The mission of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics is to advance and disseminate knowledge concerning ethical issues in health care and the life sciences. The Center carries out this mission by conducting original interdisciplinary research, offering educational programs and courses, fostering public discussion and debate through community outreach activities, and assisting in the formulation of public policy
The Human Rights Library http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/ houses more than twenty-five thousand human rights documents and several hundred human rights treaties and instruments and is available in eight different languages. It has more than four thousands links and a unique search engine for human rights sites. This resource is accessed by 200,000 scholars, educators, and human rights advocates from more than 150 countries every month. The Human Rights Library is a major initiative of the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center located in the Law School.