GTMO Doctors Are Examining Omar Khadr Now

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Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 6:17 pm

GUANTANAMO BAY — Navy Commander Brad Fagan, a spokesman for the military command running the detention facility here, told reporters that Omar Khadr “is being looked at right now by a doctor.” Khadr is experiencing an “urgent” medical condition, according to Dr. Stephen Xenakis, who briefly checked him out earlier this afternoon, owing from a combination of residual shrapnel in his eyes, conjunctivitis and elevated blood pressure.

Fagan explained that Khadr has an appointment to see an optometrist tomorrow. There’s a full-time optometrist at Guantanamo’s Naval Hospital, but there isn’t a proper ophthalmologist, an actual eye doctor who can operate. The optometrist’s examination of Khadr will be transferred to an ophthalmologist off-base. It’s doubtful that Khadr actually saw a doctor this morning, although a Marine captain testified this morning that he visited an infirmary in Camp Delta and received some pain-relieving eyedrops.

Asked if the command would entertain the idea of permitting Khadr not to wear the blacked-out goggles that Xenakis said “aggravate” Khadr’s condition during transport from his cell to court, Fagan replied, “That’s hard to say. We’d have to see what the Joint Medical Group doctor has to say and what the optometrist has to say.” The goggles are a security measure to protect guards from the prospect of a detainee assault during transport. They do not touch the detainees’ eyes, ski-goggle style, Fagan clarified.

Fagan additionally challenged the defense’s claim — which clearly comes from Khadr himself — that Khadr had not previously been forced to wear the goggles and accompanying noise-dampening earmuffs while in a vehicle. It’s “standard operating procedure for the transport of detainees,” he said, adding that “there hasn’t been any deviation from the procedure,” in Khadr’s case or others. As far as Fagan is aware, this is the first time Khadr objected to wearing the goggles.

“At any time, if the detainees have discomfort in this area, all they have to do is say something to a guard,” Fagan said, “and they’ll be looked at.”

Update: This post has been corrected to reflect a more sensible distinction between opthamologists and optometrists. Forgive me — I’m in Guantanamo and am trying to get stuff out to my editors before the internet fritzes on me here.

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