By November 5, 2013 3 Comments Read More →

CIA Forced Doctors To Torture

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It has recently come to light that doctors and psychologists under the employ of the United States military participated in routine torture in violation of the ethical codes their profession swears to. These violations occurred under the instructions of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the CIA according to a new report by the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres.

After 9/11, the report says, health professionals worked with the military and intelligence agencies, having “designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees”.

The Hippocratic oath of the medical profession to “first do no harm” was said to not apply, according to the report. The CIA directed them to ignore this oath since they were not treating sick people, but well ones, whom they were inflicting both physical and psychological harm upon.

The report spanned two-year review and was put together by a 19-member task-force. The title of the findings, Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror, was supported by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and the Open Society Foundations. All conclude that the DoD played fast and loose with the truth, dubbing doctors and psychologists “safety officers” rather than doctors, in order to circumvent medical oaths required by the professions.

Examples of torture they were involved in included force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike, which is in direct violation of the rules of the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association. Patient confidentiality was routinely breached. Doctors and psychologists also ignored the recommendations for the safety, health and wellbeing of “detainees” made by the army surgeon general, ignoring standard instructions on reporting abuse.

Dr Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and member of the taskforce, said that “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”.

“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.”

According to the task-force, the DoD and CIA “continue to follow policies that undermine standards of professional conduct”.

David Rothman, IMAP president, said, “putting on a uniform does not and should not abrogate the fundamental principles of medical professionalism. ‘Do no harm’ and ‘put patient interest first’ must apply to all physicians regardless of where they practice.”

The task-force is calling for publication of the Senate intelligence committee’s inquiry into CIA practices, as well as publicizing their findings. Their ultimate aim is to see rules implemented in order to ensure doctors and psychiatrists are allowed to maintain the ethical obligations of their profession.

What do you think? Weight in with your thoughts on the task-force’s findings and what you think should be maintained as the rights of such detainees, as well as the rights of those in the medical profession.

(Article by Isa Abu Jamal)

3 Comments on "CIA Forced Doctors To Torture"

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  1. Marina Brown says:

    Force does not excuse the act. Saving a career or even a medical license is a pretty lame excuse for violating everything medical ethics stands for.

  2. Kilpadikars says:

    Do’s and dont’s , rules and regulations are only on paper ,to show to the wold . US is the worlds biggest human right violater .

  3. Charles Giltner (@halfwitt) says:

    Where is the criminal accountability for these acts of cruelty and torture? The CIA is the agency, who are the persons giving these directives and why aren’t they being presented for indictment on these crimes? The psychiatrists and doctors are not excused for their actions, they should be held responsible. Our Constitution does not differentiate between American or otherwise, it states that all men are endowed by their Creator of certain rights. These detainees were exposed to the some of the lowest of human behaviors exhibited by a government and should be compensated. We are people of reason and ethics, not dogs and villains. We must demand that those who represent our nation and its people act in accordance with human rights and dignities becoming of free people with consciences and virtues. Justice without mercy and honor is tyranny.

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