WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — A new report claims that medical personnel with the Defense Department and the Central Intelligence Agency were ordered to help with the torture of detainees in U.S. custody since 9/11.
According to the Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers, medical officials took part in “designing, participating in, and enabling torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.”
“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,” Dr. Gerald Thomson, Task Force member and Professor of Medicine Emeritus at Columbia University, said in a press release. “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.”
The 19-member panel issued the report based on two years of review of records in the public domain. The report claims that military and CIA doctors and psychologists breached ethical standards to promote well-being and took part in inflicting harm upon the detainees.
The report details that medical personnel were involved “in abusive interrogation; consulting on conditions of confinement to increase the disorientation and anxiety of detainees; using medical information for interrogation purposes; and force-feeding of hunger strikers.”
The panel also indicated that the CIA’s Office of Medical Services reviewed and approved forms of torture, including waterboarding, as well as advising the Justice Department on “enhanced interrogation” methods that were medically acceptable.
“Putting on a uniform does not and should not abrogate the fundamental principles of medical professionalism,” Institute on Medicine as a Profession President David Rothman said. “‘Do no harm’ and ‘put patient interest first’ must apply to all physicians regardless of where they practice.”
Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright denied any allegations of mistreatment that was outlined in the report.
“The Joint Task Force-Guantanamo medical staff continuously monitors and provides exemplary medical care to detainees at Guantanamo,” Wright told Medical Daily. “The health and well-being of detainees is their primary mission, and they take this duty as seriously as they take their duty to provide medical treatment to U.S. service members or any other patient in their care.”
Wright added that the Pentagon remains committed to President Barack Obama’s goal of closing down Guantanamo Bay.
“It is wildly expensive, it is inefficient and it operates outside America’s best interests,” Wright told Medical Daily.
The task force is calling on a full investigation into these alleged practices.
“We now know that medical personnel were co-opted in ways that undermined their professionalism,” said Open Society Foundations President Emeritus Aryeh Neier. “By shining a light on misconduct, we hope to remind physicians of their ethical responsibilities.”