Health

Gitmo Prisoners Seriously ill, U.S. Says They Get Great Medical Care

| by Michael Allen

Some of the prisoners being held by the U.S. government at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are reportedly in failing health.

President Obama has been trying to close "Camp Delta" since his first day in office, but Republicans have refused to fund the closing of the notorious prison.

Tarek El-Sawah, 55, weighs 420 pounds and is barely able to walk 10 feet. He has diabetes and a range of other serious medical problems. He has been locked up at Gitmo for 11 years and continues to be even though he is no longer facing charges.

"We are very afraid that he is at a high risk of death, that he could die at any moment," Marine Lt. Col. Sean Gleason, the lawyer appointed to represent him, told the Associated Press.

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A schizophrenic Sudanese man has spent about a decade medicated in the Gitmo psych ward. His ailments are so serious that the U.S. government withdrew its legal opposition to his release, but he still remains jailed.

Saifullah Paracha, who is Pakistani, has a serious heart condition, but refused a $400K treatment by U.S. doctors because he doesn't trust U.S. military medical personnel.

Two other prisoners in Gitmo were locked up so long, without a trial, that they died of natural causes.

"There are a whole slew of people with a whole slew of serious health problems," claims Cori Crider, a lawyer for "Reprieve," a U.K. human rights group.

However, Navy Capt. Daryl Daniels, the chief medical officer at Gitmo, proudly claims that no one is in critical condition at the moment.

A similar claim was made by the U.S. Department of Defense back in 2005:

In every case, enemy combatants held here receive medical care that is "as good as or better than anything we would offer our own soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines," the general in charge of the U.S. detention facility here said.

...The Navy medical personnel who treat the detainees pride themselves on the quality of care they provide, said Capt. Barry Barendse, a Navy nurse and the deputy command surgeon for JTF Guantanamo. "The standard of care here is the best possible standard of care [the detainees] could get," he said.

Sources: U.S. Department of Defense and Associated Press