Doctors participated in torturing terrorists at military detention centers: Report

A group of detainees kneels during an early morning Islamic prayer at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Doctors and psychologists working with the CIA and US Department of Defense participated in torturing suspected terrorists, violating their professional oaths, a report concluded.

A two-year investigation by the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers found that medical staff "designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees."

This included participating in the force-feeding of detainees, which is prohibited by the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association.

The doctors and psychologists also broke doctor-patient confidentiality to share medical information about detainees with interrogators, did not report incidents of prisoner abuse, and consulted on ways to make interrogation methods more successful with sensory deprivation and stress positions, the taskforce reported.

Military and intelligence officials told doctors that they were exempt from their ethical code of “first, do no harm” to patients because they were not treating people who were ill.

"Putting on a uniform does not and should not abrogate the fundamental principles of medical professionalism," David Rothman, president of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession, the Columbia University-based think tank that supported the study, said. "'Do no harm' and 'put patient interest first' must apply to all physicians regardless of where they practice."

A spokesman for the Department of Defense, Lt. Col. J. Todd Breasseale, called the allegations “wholly absurd.” He added, “the health care providers at the JTF who routinely provide not only better medical care than any of these detainees have ever known, but care on par with the very best of the global medical profession, are consummate professionals working under terrifically stressful conditions, far from home and their families, and with patients who have been extraordinarily violent.”

The review panel claims medical staff continue to violate their ethical code at military detention centers today.