September 1, 2009

Report: Doctors Were Involved In CIA Interrogation Abuses

Health experts are being accused of playing a "central role" in advising and implementing the CIA's abusive interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects, The Associated Press reported.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a U.S.-based medical rights advocacy group, issued its report on Monday after shocking details about the range of techniques used by interrogators -- including the simulated drowning known as water-boarding -- came to light one week ago with release of a 2004 CIA inspector general's report.

Such revelations have recently been made about the George W. Bush administration's "war on terror" and debate over these interrogation tactics continues to heat up.

PHR said that health professionals played a central role in developing, implementing and providing justification for torture.

"Health professionals in the (federal government) and psychologist contractors engaged in designing and monitoring harmful interrogation techniques. Such medical participation in torture is a clear violation of medical ethics," the report said.

The report also accused several medical experts of being "complicit in selecting and then rationalizing these abusive methods, whose safety and efficacy in eliciting accurate information have no valid basis in science."

Physical threats, mock executions, choking to the point where detainees lost consciousness and even using a stiff brush to scrub a detainee's skin raw were among the range of techniques used on suspected Al Qaeda members.

"Such spy agency techniques -- and monitoring by doctors to gauge their effectiveness -- approaches unlawful experimentation on human subjects, " PHR warned.

PHR medical advisor Scott Allen, the lead author of the report, said on the organization's website that "medical doctors and psychologists colluded with the CIA to keep observational records about water-boarding, which approaches unethical and unlawful human experimentation."

He said that for health professionals to be standing by to monitor the effects of acts such as water-boarding on detainees, they were "laying a foundation for U.S. government lawyers to rationalize the CIA's illegal torture program."

The PHR report also suggested those who violated medical ethics rules should lose their license.

The report also urged a separate investigation of the medical experts involved to determine whether "criminal and unprofessional conduct" took place.


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