Doctors participated in torturing terrorists at military detention centers: Report


GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - OCTOBER 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by U.S. Military prior to transmission) A group of detainees kneels during an early morning Islamic prayer in their camp at the U.S. military prison for "enemy combatants" on October 28, 2009 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although U.S. President Barack Obama pledged in his first executive order last January to close the infamous prison within a year's time, the government has been struggling to try the accused terrorists and to transfer them out ahead of the deadline. Military officials at the prison point to improved living standards and state of the art medical treatment available to detainees, but the facility's international reputation remains tied to the "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding employed under the Bush administration. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)


John Moore

Doctors and psychologists working with the CIA and US Department of Defense participated in torturing suspected terrorists, violating their professional oaths, a report concluded.

A two-year investigation by the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers found that medical staff "designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees."

This included participating in the force-feeding of detainees, which is prohibited by the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association.

The doctors and psychologists also broke doctor-patient confidentiality to share medical information about detainees with interrogators, did not report incidents of prisoner abuse, and consulted on ways to make interrogation methods more successful with sensory deprivation and stress positions, the taskforce reported.

Military and intelligence officials told doctors that they were exempt from their ethical code of “first, do no harm” to patients because they were not treating people who were ill.

"Putting on a uniform does not and should not abrogate the fundamental principles of medical professionalism," David Rothman, president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, the Columbia University-based think tank that supported the study, said. "'Do no harm' and 'put patient interest first' must apply to all physicians regardless of where they practice."

A spokesman for the Department of Defense, Lt. Col. J. Todd Breasseale, called the allegations “wholly absurd.” He added, “the health care providers at the JTF who routinely provide not only better medical care than any of these detainees have ever known, but care on par with the very best of the global medical profession, are consummate professionals working under terrifically stressful conditions, far from home and their families, and with patients who have been extraordinarily violent.”

The review panel claims medical staff continue to violate their ethical code at military detention centers today.