The most important part of the oath taken by every doctor upon entering the medical profession goes like this: “First, do no harm.”
Apparently, according to the United States government, that only applies if the person a doctor is treating is actually ill. If you’re treating a healthy person, harm away! Have a field day.
That, anyway, is the conclusion reached by the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers — a group within the Institute on Medicine as a Profession — which on Monday released a report detailing its two-year study of how the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and military used doctors to treat detainees suspected of terrorist ties after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
They treated the detainees by torturing them, the report concludes.
The report states that medical professionals, under direction of the CIA and military, "designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees.”
The Institute on Medicine as a Profession is an independent group formed to promote professionalism in the medical profession “as the primary motivation for physician self-regulation,” the group’s web site says.
The task force looking into the role of doctors post-9/11 was comprised of 19 members and was based on an extensive review of public record documents.
“U.S. military and intelligence agencies directed doctors and psychologists working in U.S. military detention centers to violate standard ethical principles and medical standards to avoid infliction of harm,” the Institute said in a press release describing the study.
Among the ethical violations committed by doctors under CIA and military command were, “involvement 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,” according to the Institute’s statement.
"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," commented one member of the task force, Dr Gerald Thomson of Columbia University, interviewed by The Guardian newspaper.
“It's clear that in the name of national security the military trumped that covenant,” Thomson said. “Physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice.”
SOURCES: The Guardian, Institute on Medicine as a Profession