Face-to-face with Dr. Steven Miles: Tracking doctors who torture

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When graphic photos of Iraqi prisoners collared to dog leashes and strung up with electrical wires went public in 2004, all Dr. Steven Miles could wonder was, “Where were the doctors?” A professor of Medicine and Bioethics at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Dr. Miles has spent the past decade trying to answer his own question — investigating doctors who participate in torture, and attempting to bring them to account.

Miles has become a leading international voice against the unethical and illegal involvement of doctors in torture — including American doctors — and an expert witness in high-profile torture prosecutions. He is the author of many academic papers on the subject, as well as the book, “Oath Betrayed: America’s Torture Doctors.” Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh praised that 2009 book, calling it “the most devastating and detailed investigation into a question that has remained a no-no in the current debate on American torture in George Bush’s war on terror: the role of military physicians, nurses and other medical personnel. Dr. Miles writes in a white rage, with great justification—but he lets the facts tell the story.”

Dr. Miles’ most recent anti-torture effort is the Doctors Who Torture Accountability Project, a web site intended to bring attention to physicians around the globe who are culpable in acts of torture. Using an interactive world map, Dr. Miles has placed color-coded pins on countries that have systematically punished doctors abetting torture, and highlighted the nations that have only prosecuted a handful of “token” bad actors or who have not taken any action against medical professionals involved in torture.

Launched early last month, DoctorsWhoTorture.com reached 10,000 page downloads in its first two weeks.

Dr. Miles sat down recently with The UpTake to discuss the role of doctors in torture, his personal dedication to keeping medical professionals accountable worldwide, and his goals for launching this new online project. Click on the video above to watch the interview.

(See Dr. Miles’ biography by clicking here)

UpTake Interview by Kathryn Nelson, video by Bill Sorem

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