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Former detainee blames trauma on US captors
"Some of these men really are, several years later, very severely scarred," said Barry Rosenfeld, a psychology professor at Fordham University who conducted psychological tests on six of the 11 detainees covered by the study. "It's a testimony to how bad those conditions were and how personal the abuse was."
All the prisoners were freed without charge, either innocent or not valuable enough to the military to hold.
Al-Qaisi and the other detainees were examined in intensive two-day sessions. Physicians for Human Rights alleges it found evidence of U.S. torture and war crimes, and said some U.S. military health professionals allowed the abuse of detainees, denying them medical care and providing confidential medical information to interrogators that was later exploited.
The report came as the Senate Armed Services Committee revealed documents showing military lawyers warned the Pentagon that some of the methods it used to interrogate and hold detainees after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks violated military, U.S. and international law. Those objections were overruled by the top Pentagon lawyer, who said he was unaware of the criticism.
President Bush said in 2004, when the prison abuse was revealed, that it was the work of "a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values." He and other U.S. officials have consistently denied that the U.S. tortures detainees.
Seven of the former detainees in the study were held at Abu Ghraib between late 2003 and the summer of 2004, a period that coincides with the known abuse of prisoners at the hands of some of their American jailers. Four of the former detainees were held in the detention center at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, beginning in 2002 for one to almost five years.
Besides al-Qaisi, the other 10 men also gave accounts of being tortured and abused, including sexually, and described being shocked with electrodes, beaten, shackled, stripped of their clothes, deprived of food and sleep, and spit and urinated on.
The abuse of some prisoners by their U.S. captors is well documented by the government's own reports. Once-secret documents show that the Pentagon and Justice Department allowed, at least for a time, forced nakedness, isolation, sleep deprivation and humiliation both at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
Because the medical examiners did not have access to the 11 patients' medical histories prior to their imprisonment, it was not possible to know whether any of their ailments, disabilities and scars predated their confinement. The U.S. military says an al-Qaida training manual instructs members, if captured, to assert they were tortured during interrogation.
However, doctors and mental health professionals stated they could link the prisoners' claims of abuse while in U.S. detention to injuries documented by X-rays, medical exams and psychological tests.
"I'm spending sleepless nights thinking about the agony I went through," al-Qaisi said.
"I even have recurring nightmares that I'm in my cell at Abu Ghraib, cell 49 as they called it, being tortured at the hands of the people of a great nation that carries the torch of freedom and human rights," he said.
Associated Press writer Pamela Hess contributed to this report from Washington.
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