A new report from a taskforce of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession has outlined how doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers for the federal government violated their ethical agreements when dealing with terror detainees. As the report outlines, "Military and intelligence-agency physicians and other health professionals, particularly psychologists, became involved in the design and administration of that harsh treatment and torture—in clear conflict with established international and national professional principles and laws."
The report, based on public record, outlines how the government agencies facilitated medical workers to violate ethical standards, the first and foremost being to do no harm. Among their policies, the Department of Defense classified medical staff members as "safety officers" to avoiding explicitly acknowledging their healthcare role, established policies that necessitated doctors to violate doctor-patient confidentiality so that interrogators could utilize such information, made physicians and nurses force-feed hunger strikers, and failed to implement a system that allowed the reporting of detainee abuses.
The report also says that the C.I.A.'s Office of Medical Services played an essential role in devising enhanced interrogation techniques and that medical officers were present when torture such as waterboarding did happen.
Gerald Thompson, a member of the task force, told The Guardian, "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."
According to the report, the government "continues to follow policies that undermine standards of professional conduct." Recently, a hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay over the summer resulted in prisoners being force-fed.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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