PHR Analysis: CIA Health Professionals’ Role in Torture Worse Than Previously Known
Cambridge, MA — The extent to which American physicians and psychologists violated human rights and betrayed the ethical standards of their professions by designing, implementing, and legitimizing a worldwide torture program is greater than previously known, according to a report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).[...]It's long disgusted me that American public servants were authorized to torture during the Bush administration. It's not surprising but no less disturbing to find out that there were doctors, sworn to heal, taking part in these sessions.
The required presence of health professionals did not make interrogation methods safer, but sanitized their use, escalated abuse, and placed doctors and psychologists in the untenable position of calibrating harm rather than serving as protectors and healers. The fact that psychologists went beyond monitoring, and actually designed and implemented these abuses – while simultaneously serving as 'safety monitors' – reveals the ethical bankruptcy of the entire program,
This is Dr. Josef Mengele. He is rightly remembered with loathing by all members of the medical profession. He has become the symbol of the medical professional corrupted by power, the apostate healer who abandoned the Hippocratic oath. It would be wrong to equate the American physicians who monitored the prisoners being tortured under President Bush with Dr Mengele; his crimes and depravity were far worse. Yet they are his modern-day brethren, and the comparison is apt.
Bear in mind: physicians have an ethical obligation not to take part in practices which harm. It's not an accident of history that doctors are ethically forbidden to assist in executions. That some do participate in judicial executions is a matter for their own consciences, they are generally cloaked in anonymity and shielded from public view. And so it likely shall be for the physicians who participated in President Bush's torture program; the likelihood of accountability seems low. But the public position of the profession of medicine is clear: doctors are medical professionals and dedicated to helping their charges. To take part in activities intended to hurt or to kill is beyond the pale and shameful in the extreme, and cannot be condoned in any way.