Doctors aided US torture at military prisons, report says

Guantanamo Bay detention centre. (File image) Washington insists detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere are well treated

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Doctors and nurses working under US military orders have been complicit in the abuse of terrorism suspects, a new independent US report says.

The study says medical professionals helped design, enable and participated in "torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" of detainees.

The report was compiled by an independent panel of military, health, ethics and legal experts.

Both the CIA and the Pentagon have rejected the report's findings.

The two-year study was carried out by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

The report says the collusion began at US prisons in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and at CIA secret detention sites after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US.

Co-author Leonard Rubenstein told the BBC's Newsday programme that the report revealed "the legacy of torture and detainee abuse at Guantanamo and elsewhere on the medical community".

"What we found was that the department of defence and the CIA actually changed core ethical standards to facilitate participation by health professionals in the abuse of detainees. And those distortions still exist," he said.


The report says that while some practices such as waterboarding have now been banned, medical professionals are still being required to force-feed detainees, including those at Guantanamo Bay.

"One [example] is the use of physicians to force-feed detainees and using very coercive restraint chairs in a way that violates the ethical standards of the World Medical Association and American medical groups," said Mr Rubenstein, Senior Scholar at the Center for Human Rights and Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"Another is participation in interrogations where health professionals search for vulnerabilities which interrogators can exploit."

The report calls on the US Senate Intelligence Committee to fully investigate medical practices at the detention sites.

However, the CIA and the Pentagon rejected the report's findings.

CIA public affairs chief Dean Boyd said the report "contains serious inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions".

"It's important to underscore that the CIA does not have any detainees in its custody and President [Barack] Obama terminated the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program by executive order in 2009," he said.

Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale said that none of the critics of prisoner care had access to the detainees, their medical records, or the procedures at Guantanamo.

He described the doctors and nurses working at Guantanamo as "consummate professionals".

Mr Breasseale said they routinely provided "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".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    THe last comment quoted in this article was chilling. When being tortured, you will invariably want to die but the health professionals professionals were keeping these victims alive so as to endure more torture. No doubt, their "professionalism" was being used to ensure that the victims were conscious so as to feel the pain. Have these people got no shame?

  • Comment number 21.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    While I'd like to say I'm surprised - I'm not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The US lost the right to lecture others on torture, you can imagine them lecturing Putin, or Kim Jong Un and they reply we are only doing what you did at Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I don't see the problem?

    If the deteinees are getting really hurt by the torture the doctors can fix them so that the soldiers can start torturing again. Simples

    Also good on the US of A for protecting us from these terrorising folks

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    From the AMA med ethics decl:
    "Physicians must oppose and must not participate in torture for any reason. Participation in torture includes, but is not limited to, providing or withholding any services, substances, or knowledge to facilitate the practice of torture. Physicians must not be present when torture is used or threatened".
    Any US MD who participated should be stripped of license.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    #10 The other reason is that all the detainees left in Gitmo basically come from Saudi, Yemen & I believe a handful from China.If they're given back to Saudi or Yemen their own govts will promptly execute them. I doubt HYS will be too kind to the US if that happens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    7. PS "Medics do this in British psychiatric hospitals. Ian Brady has been force fed for a decade or more. Whats the alternative? Letting them starve to death?"
    Brady can be force fed only because he has been deemed to be nuts. Otherwise it's people's choice whether to eat or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    The USA under the last 2 presidents has lost the moral high ground on most issues associated with dealing with other nations.
    But it goes back further in every country in which they intefere.
    Then they demand immunity.

  • Comment number 13.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    On the face of it, a scary report until you start looking at the examples.

    Beheading someone, Electric shock therapy, physical abuse are all examples of torture.

    Forced Feeding may be undesirable but torture? Hardly!

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    For anyone to even conceive the idea that the USA are involved in any sort of torture programme should seriously consider submitting themselves to a psychiatric ward.

    USA is the most transparent nation on the planet, anyone who thinks otherwise needs themselves checking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The only reason that this camp has not been shut down is embarrassment . the fear of what ex internees will say when released must fill the US government with fear and embarrassment for the world to know they are as bad as all the rest .
    Shame on you USA you as bad as your enemies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    An "independent US" report against the US government? Complete joke. Reports by these so-called independent bodies are only relevant when the US and Europe want some alibi to take political, military or economic actions against some banana republics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    "...the CIA and the Pentagon rejected the report's findings."
    Why should we believe people whose job it is to lie?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Medics do this in British psychiatric hospitals. Ian Brady has been force fed for a decade or more. Whats the alternative? Letting them starve to death?

    #3 They should be either treated as POWs (debatable as they're not soldiers with a rank & number etc) or charged as criminals, tried and jailed. This limbo in guantanamo is extremely unpleasant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    As long as no British doctors were involved, we can breathe a sigh of relief. US medical regulation is pretty slack compared to the GMC and BMA in the UK. THis type of criminal activity wold not be possible in this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    The Unethical States of America.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    All terrorists are like POWs and should be treated by world as enshrined in the charter. As we are in the 21st century, there is no room for barbaric, and uncivilized treatment. We should analyze as to why a terrorist has become one, instead of behaving in the same way. What action being taken against the financial terrorists who caused scores to die and taking the world into a terrible recession?


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