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U.S. Hiding its Malfeasance behind the Cloak of ICRC Visits (Extracts)

From The Guantanamo Blog
by Candace Gorman
March 9, 2008

I have met with ICRC representatives on two occasions, once in April 2006 and a second time in November 2006, to express my concern over Al-Ghizzawi’s health and to ask the ICRC to put pressure on the medical team at Guantanamo to treat Al-Ghizzawi. I have also exchanged emails with the Guantanamo representatives for the ICRC. The ICRC personnel that I have met are all hard working individuals who believe in the humanitarian mission of the ICRC and truly want to provide the services mandated by the Geneva Conventions, but the ICRC mission has been hopelessly obstructed by the US government.

My April 2006 meeting took place just before the then current Guantanamo representative was leaving his Guantanamo Post [...] The representative was a long time ICRC employee and when we finally met he admitted to me that Guantanamo was the most difficult placement in his many years at the ICRC. In fact, he stated that working at Guantanamo was worse than working in Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war (where he was previously placed) because of the constant meddling and obstruction by the United States military to the ICRC mission, in clear derogation of this nation’s treaty obligations and customary international law […]

My second meeting with the ICRC was in November 2006. This time I met with one of the ICRC medical doctors who was assigned to Guantanamo at that time. Prior to the meeting I sent court documents to the doctor outlining my attempts to obtain Al-Ghizzawi’s medical records and a copy of the release for the medical records signed by Al-Ghizzawi. At the beginning of the meeting the medical doctor mistakenly thought that I had obtained Al-Ghizzawi’s medical records and started the conversation by expressing his disgust with the United States military for the lack of medical care being provided for Al-Ghizzawi (whom he had recently seen) and the steady decline of Al-Ghizzawi’s health as shown by the then recent test results in his medical file (unlike me, the ICRC has access to al-Ghizzawi’s medical file and maintains detailed notes regarding his failing health). The ICRC doctor specifically described certain tests that showed the deterioration of Al-Ghizzawi’s health and expressed his frustration and anger at the position taken by the military in refusing to treat Al-Ghizzawi despite the ICRC doctor’s own stated concern and specific request.

I explained to the medical doctor that I had not, in fact, actually obtained copies of Al-Ghizzawi’s medical records, nor had I even been permitted to see those records at all. The ICRC doctor was quite concerned about this and told me that he would not have discussed the tests had he realized I had not seen the records. The doctor asked me to keep what he said confidential (something I did for a short time). The tests that the doctor was referring to related to Al-Ghizzawi’s hepatitis and liver condition. The ICRC doctor candidly stated that the affidavits of Guantanamo’s medical doctor that were filed in Al-Ghizzawi’s case appeared to be drafted to conceal or downplay the test results, rather than explain them. When the meeting concluded the ICRC doctor said that he would try to check in on Al-Ghizzawi periodically but he admitted that his hands were tied because he simply could not force the military to provide the necessary medical care. The ICRC doctor also admitted that it was difficult to see everyone who was ill at Guantanamo because of the medical deterioration of so many of the prisoners, in addition to those prisoners involved in the hunger strike who were being cruelly forcibly fed.

Until later in 2007 I kept the ICRC information confidential hoping that the ICRC medical doctors would succeed in pressuring the military at Guantanamo to treat Al-Ghizzawi. Eventually, I went public with the truth […]

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