A report released today has made disturbing allegations that doctors and psychologists working with the US military designed methods for – and became involved in – the systematic torture of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
The Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers found that, in the decade after 9/11, US military physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists allowed ‘cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment’ of prisoners while acting at the direction of military leaders under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.
Described as a ‘big, big, striking horror’ by one member of the 19-man panel, the report suggests that doctors who had taken the Hippocratic Oath advised the military on how best to deploy waterboarding, sleep deprivation and sensory overloading to get information out of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
The two-year report from Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism And Detainee Abuse In The War On Terror – supported by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and the Open Society Foundations – lays the blame squarely at the door of the Department of Defense and the CIA.
The 19-man panel claims that the DOD and the CIA ordered their physicians to engage in ‘abusive interrogation’ techniques, including ‘consulting on conditions of confinement to increase the disorientation and anxiety of detainees’.
The report claims that CIA medical personnel were in the presence of terror suspects being waterboarded, and that doctors were asked to breach patient confidentiality.
The report aserts that in direct breach of the rules of the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association, doctors were also required to force-feed patients who were engaged in a hunger strike.
In another example of what the taskforce claims is a corruption of medical ethics, the CIA allegedly contracted a psychologist who had previously trained US troops to hold up against torture.
Using his findings the CIA designed ‘enhanced interrogation’ designed to ‘induce hopelessness’ and also to ‘psychologically dislocate’ the suspect.
Methods used to induce these feelings included isolation and squatting positions for ‘long periods of time.’
‘The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve,’ said Dr Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and member of the taskforce to the Guardian.
‘It’s clear that in the name of national security the military trumped that covenant, and physicians were transformed into agents of the military, and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice.
‘We have a responsibility to make sure this never happens again.’
A spokesman for the Department of Defense, Lieutenant Colonel J. Todd Breasseale, reviewed the allegations and told NBC News that they were ‘wholly absurd’.
IMAP president David Rothman said that doctor’s who took part were violating their oath to ‘do no harm’. He has called for a publication of a Senate intelligence committee’s inquiry into CIA practices.
Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told Medical Daily the report contained unsubstantiated conclusions based on limited evidence discounted by previous investigations.
Mr Wright said the military wanted the US Congress to close the detention center in Cuba.
‘We remain committed to President Obama’s goal of closing the detention facility,’ he said. ‘It is wildly expensive, it is inefficient, and it operates outside America’s best interests.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2486998/CIA-ordered-US-military-doctors-design-new-torture-methods-use-Guantanamo-Bay.html#ixzz2jgZkl1Ku
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