Calling out the doctors who abetted CIA torture


Dr Atul Gawande (whose Reith lecture on systems thinking I featured last week) took to Twitter to express his shock and disgust at the medical professionals who participated in the crimes documented in the CIA torture report.

The torture could not proceed w/o medical supervision. The medical profession was deeply embedded in this inhumanity.

It was doctors who devised the rectal infusions “as a means of behavior control.”

Doctors suggested the water temperature for waterboarding and use of saline instead of free water to avoid water intoxication. (p86, 419)

Doctors watched as stress positions inflicted pain, lacerations, and only stopped them when producing, e.g., shoulder dislocation (70)

Psychologists, who were supposed to stop damaging interrogation, actually served as interrogators. (72)

The Office of Medical Services provided consultation on when fractures and wounds were healed enough to resume torture. (p113)

The Office of Medical Services wrote guidelines approving up to 3 waterboard sessions in 24 hours per prisoner. (p87)

When torture caused Abu Zubaydah’s eyes to deteriorate, MDs only intervened to insure ability to see was saved to aid interrogation.(112)

Doctors found prisoners with broken feet and still approved putting them into standing positions for up to 52 hours (p112)

Doctors were long the medical conscience of the military. The worst occurred because gov't medical leaders abdicated that role. (p87)

Medical profession aided CIA torture

(Image: Richard Wilkinson original illustration for limited edition Little Brother 08, CC-BY-SA)

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