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Earlier today, an independent task force of medical experts released the results of a two-year study on the treatment of suspected terrorists held at Gitmo and other locations around the world since the September 11 attacks.  The results?  Doctors affiliated with the military and CIA, in flagrant violation of both their oath and basic standards of decency, designed, sanctioned and took part in the torture of detainees.

The medical personnel involved — physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists who work in military branches or for U.S. intelligence agencies — allowed “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of prisoners while acting at the direction of military leaders under both the Bush and Obama administrations, reports a 19-member independent task force of doctors, lawyers and ethics experts.

“This is a big, big striking horror,” said Dr. Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and a member of the task force. The panel is supported by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP), a health care policy think tank based at Columbia that identifies itself as nonprofit and nonpartisan.

“This covenant between society and medicine has been around for a long, long time — patient first, community first, society first, not national security, necessarily,” Thomson said. “If we just ignore this and satisfy ourselves with the (thought that), ‘Well, they were trying to protect us,’ when it does happen again we’ll all be complicit in that.”

Read the full report here (warning, self-downloading PDF).  It makes for horrifying reading. The experts found that an unknown number of military and CIA doctors were involved in inhumane treatment of prisoners.  Among other things, the doctors were consulted on the best methods on how to make life miserable for the detainees.  The military and CIA later used that information in their interrogations.
In one instance, the CIA contracted with a psychologist who earlier had been part of the military's in-house program to train U.S. troops to withstand abusive detention and torture. The agency and the psychologist collaborated to use those same training techniques to design "enhanced interrogation" methods for suspected terrorists — tactics meant to "induce hopelessness" and to “psychologically ‘dislocate’ the detainee, maximize his feeling of vulnerability, and reduce or eliminate his will to resist" as part of efforts to extract intelligence secrets, the task force wrote.

These strategies, the medical ethicists added, included sensory deprivation, isolation, and forcing detainees into "stress positions for long periods of time."

The report also found that doctors were actively involved in the force-feeding of hunger-striking detainees at Gitmo.  The hunger strikers were tied to a chair and had a tube run up their nose through which food was pushed into the body.  According to a former girlfriend who's a CNA, force-feeding is a BFD among medical regulators--even ONE incident can cost you your license.

Through a spokesman, the Pentagon dismissed the report as "wholly absurd."  But given the ramifications, this isn't something that can be just baldly dismissed.  It cannot be said enough--this was done in our name.

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