Debates over Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Mental Health Evaluations at Guantánamo



Ethical debates over the use of mental health knowledge and practice at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility have mostly revolved around military clinicians sharing detainee medical information with interrogators, falsifying death certificates in interrogations, and disagreements over whether the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) “enhanced interrogation techniques” violated bioethical principles to do no harm. However, debates over the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the mental health evaluations of detainees have received little attention. This paper provides the first known analysis of such debates over MRI use in the case of Abd al-Rahim al- Nashiri. Through a close reading of open-source legal documents such as defense motions, prosecution motions, judge rulings, and al-Nashiri’s mental health evaluation, debates over MRI use become interpretive contests over the very meanings of mental illness and the extent to which MRI results can verify whether he was tortured in CIA custody. Such work can revitalize interest in the neuroethics of national security.


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