CHEYNEYCARE: Task Force Report Condemns Routine Doctor Participation In CIA Torture & Abuse


THE GUARDIAN: Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defence department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists, an investigation has concluded. The report of the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres concludes that after 9/11, health professionals working with the military and intelligence services “designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees”.

Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra “first do no harm” did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.The report lays blame primarily on the defence department (DoD) and the CIA, which required their healthcare staff to put aside any scruples in the interests of intelligence gathering and security practices that caused severe harm to detainees, from waterboarding to sleep deprivation and force-feeding.

The two-year review by the 19-member taskforce, 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, says that the DoD termed those involved in interrogation “safety officers” rather than doctors. Doctors and nurses were required to participate in the force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strike, against the rules of the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association. Doctors and psychologists working for the DoD were required to breach patient confidentiality and share what they knew of the prisoner’s physical and psychological condition with interrogators and were used as interrogators themselves. They also failed to comply with recommendations from the army surgeon general on reporting abuse of detainees. MORE

REPORT: In 2003, the oMs drafted a first set of “medical guidelines” for interrogation that, while heavily redacted in the publicly released version, described a policy role for the CIA’s Office Of Medical Services (OMS) that entailed reviewing and approving the use of enhanced interrogation methods. The review included assessing the potential harms of enhanced interrogation methods and placing limits on their use. The OMS advised limits such as stopping exposure to cold just at the point where hypothermia
would likely set in, stopping loud noise before permanent hearing loss would occur, and restricting the use of stress positions to a maximum of 48 hours. The OMS guidelines also described an oversight role for medical personnel during interrogations; they would be present to ensure those interrogations would not cause serious or permanent harm. In the case of waterboarding, the guidelines advised keeping resuscitation equipment and supplies for an emergency tracheotomy on hand. the guidelines advised that an unresponsive subject must be righted immediately and a thrust just below the breastbone administered by the inter-rogator. tTe guidelines further stated: “if this fails to restore normal breathing, aggressive medical intervention is required. […]

The 2005 memorandum described periods of sleep deprivation of up to 180 continuous hours — more than a week — that could be followed by 8 hours of sleep and then repeated. Detainees were kept awake by being shackled in a standing position, hands to the ceiling and feet to the floor, fed by detention personnel and diapered so that nothing interfered with the standing position. The memorandum acknowledged that the position produced swelling of the legs. The detainees were nude. Ambient temperatures during sleep deprivation were not described, but nudity was described in the 2005 memorandum as a separate and often concurrent interrogation technique that was accompanied by air-conditioned ambient temperatures often as low as 68 degrees and on occasions as low as 64 degrees. Water-dousing was not included in the 2002 memorandum, but the 2005 memorandum described nude detainees who were kept in environments with temperatures as low as 64 degrees and doused with cold water of 41 to 59 degrees that was poured from containers or sprayed from hoses. Aside from producing extreme discomfort, such a procedure risked producing hypothermia, a dangerous and potentially deadly drop in body temperature.

DOWNLOAD: ETHICS ABANDONED: Mecial Professionalism And The Abuse Of Detainees In The War On Terror [pdf]