Report: Doctors Participated in Torture of Detainees

We’ve actually known this for years, but a new report concludes that doctors and psychologists routinely participated in the torture of detainees being held by the CIA and the Department of Defense, in flagrant violation of their hippocratic oaths.

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.

And every single one of them should be stripped of their license to practice. There is no greater violation of professional ethics.

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  • Guess what Ed? Nothing will happen. Nada. Zilch.

    It’s a sad world we’re living in.

  • rory

    No greater violation of professional ethics? Aren’t there still doctors in the U.S. who participate in executions?

  • chilidog99

    Hey, Ed. What about the buttock clenching story out of New Mexico?

  • It’s a sad world we’re living in.

    Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have believed torture would become a controversial topic in the US. Boy, was I naive.

    Ironically, I find a lot of the arguments defending torture to be perversely naive. They just assume it works and never stop to think that innocents can be coerced into giving false confessions or that the guilty can exploit the torturer’s naivete by pretending to break and lie, confident that they’ll fall for it because the lie was achieved through torture. Even if I ignore the blatantly unethical nature of the act, I can’t help but look at torture as anything but aiding the enemy by using an investigative technique known for producing false investigative leads more often than producing the truth. The only question I’d have is if that incompetence is intentional.

  • What about psychologists who use their skills in the service of political and corporate propaganda campaigns? That lot should be next to be investigated.

  • To be fair, they were already dentists.

  • Abby Normal

    “Do no harm” is not part of the modern Hippocratic Oath. And taking the oath is not a requirement for becoming a doctor, though 98% of doctors take it anyway. The doctors working for the military certainly violated standard ethical principles and the medical standards set down by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association. I’m just debunking the common myth that doctors are required to take an oath to do no harm.

  • Ichthyic

    Hey, Ed. What about the buttock clenching story out of New Mexico?

    you mean this one?

    yeah, that’s a doozy alrighty.

    the medical “professionals” at the second hospital can’t even claim ignorance, since the cops TOLD them that the first hospital had turned them down flat.

    again, a clear case where all the doctors involved should have their licenses revoked.


    Eckert’s story wasn’t an isolated incident. According to police reports, a young man named Timothy Young was also stopped by police after a minor traffic violation. The same K-9 dog, Leo, sniffed drugs on his seat, causing police to seek a warrant to search Young’s body for illegal substances.

    Just like Eckert, Young was taken to Gila Regional Medical Center, located in a county not covered by the search warrant, where doctors performed medical procedures, including finger exams of his anus and an X-Ray of his stomach. Young did not consent to the examinations. Again, no drugs were discovered in his body.

    Further investigation by KOB has revealed that Leo the K-9’s drug dog certification expired back in 2011 and was never renewed. Certification for drug dogs must be renewed on a yearly basis.


    fascist state much?

  • uzza

    Ichthyic, the doctor at the first hospital refused to cooperate, so let’s give him props. Doesn’t Zimbardo’s research show that statistically one person out of 10? 20? will act to stop an atrocity?

  • Ichthyic

    the doctor at the first hospital refused to cooperate, so let’s give him props.

    not including that hospital of course… they weren’t involved. which is why i specifically mentioned “the doctors involved”.

    but yeah, the first hospital should get props. it’s pretty clear they had been asked to do this before as well, and had refused, and the same thing had occurred.

    this was not a one off.

  • We’ve actually known this for years,

    Indeed. In fact, Oath Betrayed, the book by task force* member Steven Miles (which I recommend), was published in 2006. The AMA doesn’t come out of this looking very good. The American Psychological Association, somewhat better.

    *(a task force of 17 men and 2 women – annoying)