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Head of Hospital at Guantánamo Faces Complaint

New York Times
by Neil A. Lewis
July 15, 2005

WASHINGTON, July 14 - Lawyers for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have filed an ethics complaint with the medical licensing board of California asking that the commander of the Guantánamo detainee hospital be disciplined on the ground of providing improper care.

The complaint was brought in Sacramento on Thursday against Capt. John S. Edmondson, a Navy officer who is licensed as a doctor in California. It maintains that Captain Edmondson has supervised a system in which doctors sometimes withhold medicine from prisoners if they are deemed not cooperative enough with their interrogators. The complaint does not assert that Captain Edmondson has been a direct participant in that effort, but says he is responsible for its occurrence.

The letter of complaint, filed by lawyers from the firm of Allen & Overy, notes that the military does not have an internal system for licensing of medical professionals but instead relies on a civilian board in each state. Military doctors are required to maintain their licenses with those boards.

The complaint stems from the lawyers' interviews with four detainees alleging poor treatment. One of them, Abdul Khaliq Ahmed Saleh al-Baidhani, said in an affidavit: "Once I was complaining of constipation, and I was not able to go to the bathroom for 3-4 days. The doctor said that he will treat me when I talk to the interrogators."

Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment on the complaint. But he noted that an investigation by the Army's surgeon general had concluded, in findings made public a week ago, that there were no significant problems in the health care given to detainees.

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