When Doctors Became Torturers

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An important new study came out today. It's from the Journal of the American Medical Association about the deep and unethical involvement of CIA doctors and psychiatrists in pioneering torture techniques for the Bush-Cheney administration. Money quote:

The CIA Office of Medical Services

* purported to subject some techniques to "medical limitations," but those claimed limitations imposed no constraint on use of torture, e.g., allowing weight loss up to serious malnutrition, noise up to level of permanent hearing damage, exposure to cold water right up to development of hypothermia, shackling in upright sitting or horizontal position for 48 hours (and longer with medical monitoring);

* placed no medical limitations at all on the use of isolation, hooding, walling, cramped confinement or stress positions except in some cases avoidance of aggravation of pre-existing injury;

* ignored medical and other literature on effects of these forms of torture, and instead cited sources like NIH web site, wilderness manuals and WHO guidelines.

* recognized dangers of certain enhanced methods but nevertheless approved them, e.g., that waterboarding risks drowning, aspiration pneumonia, and laryngospasm; sleep deprivation can degrade cognitive performance, lead to visual disturbances and reduce immune competence acutely; prolonged standing can induce dependent edeme, increased risk for DVT, cellulitis.

These individuals need to be stripped of their medical licenses and prosecuted under the Geneva Conventions. Fat chance under Obama.

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