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 42.

    I do not believe this is true, all medics throughout the work act in the best interests of the injured and I believe this is just another attempt to place a slur and bad image upon the American service men and women that are making the world a better place, answer me his what rights do those captured or kidnapped by the Taliban, this report slurs the good name of serving soldiers and medics

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Rules , Rules and More Rules

    We talk about how we should treat Terrorists, Why not put them up in a 5* hotel, show them what they are missing, LOL

    They have no problem returning the kind of care that the report complains about. So why the HO HA, we have rules of engagement? We expect humane treatment?

    Get real, these people go out to kill as many people No problem killing there own,

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Also if all the people on here whinging about American tactics, you should listen to the Dylan song With GOD on our side. America are the blessed

    USA, USA, USA, USA!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    @12 "Forced Feeding may be undesirable but torture? Hardly!"

    What about pouring water over somebody's face? That can also be torture, has even been known to lead to death.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I am not surprised that this happens.
    I am surprised however that a report actually made it to the surface and that the BBC is presenting it and having comments on this topic.
    The comments here ... some are great and some just show how the USA continues to be the way it is...

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Sadly this is not news to those who keep track of human rights issues worldwide. Guantanamo bay - which Obama promised to close, sadly a broken promise - and numerous reports of interrogation technicques and incarceration regimes in many parts of the world where US has been engaged have told us of such atrociities over many years, to America's shame.

  • Comment number 36.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    24. Sally the Rothbardian
    If true, these doctors have violated their Hippocratic oaths, assuming they took them.
    The hippocratic oath also prohibits removing kidney stones and carrying out abortions and requires doctors to teach their lecturers kids medicine. Its a bit outdated, not legally binding (unless you believe in Apollo) and is rapidly going out of fashion even in UK medical schools.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    The level of Hypocrisy highlighted here is staggering... and we are supposed to live in a democratic society.. the will of the people hey?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Do gooders at it again. I say do to others what they would do to you. If this saves one US soldiers life then get on with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    @25. Popojo: this was an American report, so it could hardly be described as anti-US propaganda. And the USA is clearly not better and less corrupt than the rest of the world combined. Which other Western country routinely uses force to further its political aims? Which other Western country routinely tortures people? If it weren't for reports like these the US would still be waterboarding people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    18.Mega Awesume Pooster
    I don't see the problem?
    I see the problem with torture.

    I also see why terrorists hate the USA. It's not because "they're free". If that were true, they should hate USA less now as they're less free.

    They hate USA because they occupy their distant lands, and tell them how to live their lives. USA kicks the bees' nest, then look surprised when the bees come out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    No surprises here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Popojo @25,
    It must be comforting to know that somewhere an NSA official will feel even more patriotic after reading your message.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    There's some over here in the UK i'd like to send over to the U.S.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

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

    That is the problem with independent reports, they can end up finding the truth. Which can be a little embarrassing.

    Could we consider Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden to also be "independent reports"

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    @ 22.Hibernian

    Rarely have I seen an attempt to twist the true meaning of a statement before. It's all in your head - you know that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Yet more anti-U.S. propaganda. Absolutely pathetic. I for one will never be influenced by these attempts at manipulation.Even assuming the USA are not perfect (who is ?) and they have made some mistakes somewhere along the line, the USA is a thousand times better, and less corrupt that the sum total of all the other countries put together. Mislead people if you wish,it’s the reality that counts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    If true, these doctors have violated their Hippocratic oaths, assuming they took them. This is a dark day for America, I can only think what George Washington et al would think of what has happened to their once great republic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Anything funded by Soros would be suspect of an attempt to discredit the US in anyway possible, but which of the many institutes of Medicine was involved in this "report?"


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