Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Doctors Who Tried To Resuscitate Benazir Bhutto Were Pressured To Keep Quiet: Here's Their Report

Emily Wax and Griff Witte of the Washington Post report news from Pakistan that theoretically should be shocking but somehow isn't even surprising:

Doctors Cite Pressure to Keep Silent On Bhutto
Pakistani authorities have pressured the medical personnel who tried to save Benazir Bhutto's life to remain silent about what happened in her final hour and have removed records of her treatment from the facility, according to doctors.

In interviews, doctors who were at Bhutto's side at Rawalpindi General Hospital said they were under extreme pressure not to share details about the nature of the injuries that the opposition leader suffered in an attack here Dec. 27.

"The government took all the medical records right after Ms. Bhutto's time of death was read out," said a visibly shaken doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Sweating and putting his head in his hands, he said: "Look, we have been told by the government to stop talking. And a lot of us feel this is a disgrace."
It is a disgrace, and there's a lot more here -- all very reminiscent of the JFK assassination (believe it or not!)
The doctors now find themselves at the center of a political firestorm over the circumstances of Bhutto's death. The government has said Bhutto, 54, was killed after the force of a suicide bombing caused her head to slam against the lever of her vehicle's sunroof. Bhutto's supporters have pointed to video footage, including a new amateur video released Monday, as proof that she was killed by gunfire.

The truth about what happened has serious implications in Pakistan. The ability of a gunman to fire at Bhutto from close range, as alleged by her supporters, would suggest that an assassin was able to breach government security in a city that serves as headquarters of the Pakistani military, bolstering her supporters' claims that the government failed to provide her with adequate protection.

If a gunman were to blame, it would also raise questions as to why the government has for days insisted otherwise. Bhutto's supporters have called for an international investigation.
Disgraceful though it already looks, this report is spinning in favor of the government, because it's quite immaterial whether or not Bhutto was hit by the bullets fired at her. The fact that someone was firing at her from close range is enough to dishonor the government, regardless of whether the shots found their target.

Next they'll be saying "if a suicide bomber were to blame, it would also raise questions..."
Jameel Yusuf, a lead investigator in the 2002 disappearance of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi, said the Pakistani government had blundered badly by not sealing off the crime scene. Moments after Bhutto was killed, workers hosed down the blood at the blast site before any evidence could be collected.

"When you're dealing with a murder of this nature, you need to have forensics," Yusuf said.
You certainly do ... unless you're trying not to solve the crime!
Several witnesses say they had yet to be interviewed by police.

Kamran Nazir, 19, was badly injured by shrapnel at the rally where Bhutto was killed. On Monday, he was at Rawalpindi General, with his father at his bedside. His breathing was labored, and the top layer of skin on his face was singed off. He said he was shocked that police had not questioned him.

"Why is no one asking me what happened? It's important to know the truth," he said as his father's eyes went wet.
It's important for some people to know the truth.

For others it's more important that the truth not become widely known.
"The truth is, there really is no investigation at all," said Babar Awan, a top official in Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party who said he saw Bhutto's body after the attack and identified two clearly defined bullet wounds -- entry and exit points.

He said that the principal professor of surgery at the hospital, Muhammad Mussadiq Khan, was "extremely nervous, but eventually told me that Bhutto had died of a bullet wound."

"Why was this man so nervous?" Awan said. "He told me firsthand he was under pressure not to talk about how she died."
It's really quite pathetic but in comparison to the JFK case it is very advanced. Here we are talking openly about such things as destruction of evidence, police neglecting to question witnesses, and doctors under pressure in Rawalpindi, just days after the assassination.

It took years before similar kinds of stories -- about destruction of evidence, police intimidation of witnesses, and doctors under pressure in Dallas -- began to seep out, and those stories have never made a dent in the American mainstream. But I digress.
Over the weekend, Athar Minallah, a board member at Rawalpindi General, e-mailed journalists Bhutto's medical report. The report, which was separate from documents that doctors say have been confiscated, describes a deep wound in Bhutto's head that was leaking brain matter.
The three images included in this post are the pages of that report. Click on them to see more detail.

The report describes the wound the government now says was not there.

I wasn't kidding when I mentioned the parallels between the Bhuttos and the Kennedys. They are positively eerie, and getting more so every day.

The text of the medical report follows. I have added a bit of space, a few notes [in square brackets] and some emphasis. I also claim credit for the typing errors, if any.

Here's the first page:

On 27-12-2007 at approximately 5:35 p.m. a female patient was brought in Accident & Emergency Department of Rawalpindi General Hospital [RGH], Rawalpindi. She was brought to the Resuscitation Room and received by Dr. Aurangzeb Khan [registrar] and Dr. Saeeda [post-graduate resident] of Surgical Unit-II. The patient was identified as Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

Dr. Habib Ahmad Khan, Medical Superintendent RGH arrived immediately.

The condition appreciated at the time of receiving the patient was as follows:-

The patient was pulseless and not breathing. She was markedly pale. Her pupils were fixed, dilated and non reacting to light. A wound was present on the right temporoparietal region through which blood was tricking down and whitish material which looked like brain matter was visible in the wound. Her clothes were soaked with blood.

Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation was started. She was ventilated by Ambu bag and within a minute was intubated with endotracheal tube, blood mixed with secretions was noticed in the throat, that was suctioned out before intubation. External cardiac compressions were started. A cannula was passed in her right hand and intravenous fluids were pushed in. Inj. [an injection of] adrenaline was given.

No response was seen. Patient was shifted to emergency operating theatre while resuscitaion was continued.

In operation theatre Dr. Arshad, Anaesthetist joined the team. Prof Mussadiq Khan [Professor of Surgery] also joined the team at 5:50 PM. As external cardiac massage was not leading to any success therefore open cardiac massage was started via left antero-lateral thoracotomy No blood was seen in the left thoracic cavity or the pericardium. There was no cardiac muscular activity seen.

Artificial assisted ventilation, internal cardiac massage and intravenous fluids resuscitation was continued. She was given intra cardiac adrenaline, calcium gluconate. These drugs along with sodium bicarbonate were also repeated intravenously.

Though no cardiac activite was seen but in order to treat fine ventricular fibrillation, electrical defibrillation was carried out. No cardiac response was seen. Prof. Azam Yuusuf [Professor of Surgery and Head of Surgical Unit-II] and Dr. Qudsiya [Anaesthetist] had also joined the resuscitation team.

Pupils were fixed and dilated, no evidence of any cardiac or respiratory activity was observed. ECG showed no electrical activity.

At 6:16 p.m. it was decided to stop resuscitation and patient was declared dead. The thoracotomy wound was closed. Fractured rib due to thoracotomy was noticed.

Prof Arik Malik and Prof Saleem also reached by then.
Page 2 contains a detailed description of the wound.

There was a wound in the right Temporoparietal region. Shape was irregularly oval, measuring about 5 x 3 cms, just above the pinna of right ear. Edges were irregular. No surrounding wounds or blackening was seen. There was a big boggy swelling around the wound. Blood was continuously trickiling down and whitish material that looked like brain matter was seen in the wound and on the surrounding hair. Sharp bone edges were felt in the wound. No foreign body was felt in the wound.

Wound was not further explored. Gentle aseptic dressing was used to cover the wound.

Bleeding from both the ears was seen, more so from the right ear. Slight trickle of blood was seen from right nostril also. Blood mixed with secretions was seen in the oral cavity also.

Detailed external examination of the body did not reveal any other external injury.

X-rays of the skull AP [anterior-posterior] and Lateral views were done after she had been declared dead. Findings are as below:-

Comminuted depressed skull fracture involving right temporoparietal bone is observed with inwards depressed fracture fragment measuring approx. 35 mm (on-X-ray measurement). Depressed fracture fragment distant from intact bony skull measures 12mm from outer to outer skull table and 12 mm from inner to inner skull table. Two to three tiny radio-densities underneath fracture segment are observed in both projections. Associated scalp soft tissue swelling & moderate degree of pneumocephalus is observed. Rest of the bony skull is intact. Radio-opaque dental fillings are evident.


Open head injury with depressed skull fracture, leading to Cardiopulmonary arrest.
Page 3 contains the signatures of seven doctors.
Prof. Mohammad Mussadiq Khan
Principal/Professor of Surgery
RMC/Allied Hospital, Rawalpindi

Dr. Habhb Ahmad Khan
Medical Superintendent
Rawalpindi General Hospital

Prof. Azam Yusuf, FRCS, FCPS
Professor of Surgery
Head of Surgical Unit-II
Rawalpindi General Hospital

Dr. Aurangzeb Khan FCPS
Registrar S. U. II
Rawalpindi General Hospital

Dr. Saeeda Yasmin
Post graduate Resident
Surgical Unit-II
Rawalpindi General Hospital

Dr. Qudsiya Anjum Qureshi FCPS
Rawalpindi General Hospital

Dr. Nasir Khan FCPS
Assistant Professor Radiology
Rawalpindi General Hospital
As you can see if you read the report, they spent 40 minutes trying to revive her, even though they hadn't seen a single sign of life. Why? Because nobody wanted to admit that she was dead.

And then, according to the doctors, the government came along and scooped up all the records and warned them not to talk about what they saw. How depressingly familiar.

Could terrorists have done all this? Depends on what you mean by "terrorist", doesn't it?