The Horrifying Way Doctors Were Used In the War On Terror

In fields like medicine, where doctors handle sensitive information about individual human beings, there are strict ethical codes that determine professional behavior. The most fundamental medical principles are "do no harm" and "put patient interest first."

The CIA, however, apparently flout these rules whenever it's convenient.

The Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres released a report that summarizes two years of research on our nation's treatment of suspected terrorists post-9/11. What they found is horrifying.

Doctors and nurses were instructed to act as "agents of the military," tasked with designing and implementing "cruel, inhuman and degrading" methods of torture from waterboarding to force-feeding. Many were told to breach patient confidentiality in order to tailor the torture to individuals. They were scolded if they attempted to treat the patients' torture wounds. Some doctors even acted as interrogators and torturers themselves.

Those who expressed discomfort were told that medical principles like "do no harm" did not apply because those being tortured were not ill, and therefore not patients. They were also told to ignore guidelines from the army surgeon general to report abuse of the detainees. What's still worse is that these doctors, if they can even be called that, acted as consultants to the Department of Justice, informing them that the methods being used were "medically acceptable," when all the literature in the world —and common sense — indicates otherwise.

Even if you somehow believe that terrorists deserve such treatment, remember that we are talking about suspected terrorists. In the aftermath of 9/11, military officials were given little information and even fewer resources. They resorted to racial profiling and circumstantial evidence when determining who to detain. The majority of suspected terrorists rounded up post-9/11 were innocent.

The U.S. government carelessly sacrificed the most basic ethical principles to detain hundreds of innocent civilians, deny them rights and torture them. What we are left with are hundreds of broken innocent people, a reputation in shambles and little intelligence.

Twelve years after 9/11, nothing has changed. We still have over 100 detainees in Guantanomo, many who were cleared for release three years ago. They are being tortured by doctors and denied the most basic human rights.

If we can sacrifice our medical integrity and hundreds of civilians in the name of ever-elusive "national security," what will we justify next?


How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Medha Chandorkar

As a junior at Georgetown University in Washington DC, I'm studying Government, Women's and Gender Studies, and Justice and Peace Studies. I'm interested in social justice issues, particularly women's rights in the developing world, and politics. Outside of school, I love dancing and reading, and I'm a huge TV / movie buff. In the future, I hope to become a lawyer but right now, I'm just focused on the moment.

MORE FROM

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.

Minneapolis might get a $15 minimum wage, but restaurant workers aren't celebrating

Discord has been brewing in Minneapolis over whether tipped work will be counted toward a $15 minimum wage.

These abysmal new poll numbers for House health care bill don't bode well for Senate version

Only 34% of Republicans approve of the new proposed law.

'Pizzagate' shooter gets 4-year prison sentence, lawyers urged judge to deter vigilantism

Welch stormed a Washington, D.C., pizza place and shot off a firearm because of the internet.

American Health Care Act by the numbers: What to know about Senate Republicans' secret health plan

After drafting the ACA repeal and replace plan behind closed doors, the AHCA is out — and Senate Republican leaders are hoping to vote on it in a week.

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.

Minneapolis might get a $15 minimum wage, but restaurant workers aren't celebrating

Discord has been brewing in Minneapolis over whether tipped work will be counted toward a $15 minimum wage.

These abysmal new poll numbers for House health care bill don't bode well for Senate version

Only 34% of Republicans approve of the new proposed law.

'Pizzagate' shooter gets 4-year prison sentence, lawyers urged judge to deter vigilantism

Welch stormed a Washington, D.C., pizza place and shot off a firearm because of the internet.

American Health Care Act by the numbers: What to know about Senate Republicans' secret health plan

After drafting the ACA repeal and replace plan behind closed doors, the AHCA is out — and Senate Republican leaders are hoping to vote on it in a week.