Study: CIA doctors ‘gave green light to torture’

Muriel Kane

Raw Story 

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that physicians with the CIA’s Office of Medical Services (OMS) played an even greater role in facilitating the torture of detainees than was previously recognized.

As described in the (subscription required) study, “In 2003, partially in response to a CIA Inspector General investigation that questioned the use of enhanced interrogation methods and criticized the agency’s failure to consult with OMS about the risks to detainees of waterboarding, OMS physicians assumed another role, providing opinions to the agency and lawyers whether the techniques used would be expected to cause severe pain or suffering and thus constitute torture.”

This advisory function came in addition to the physicians’ previous involvement in the torture of detainees through performing medical evaluations before and after interrogation, monitoring waterboarding sessions, and collecting information on the effectiveness and risks of various techniques.

The study, titled “Roles of CIA Physicians in Enhanced Interrogation and Torture of Detainees,” was authored by Leonard S. Rubinstein, the president of Physicians for Human Rights, and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Stephen N. Xenakis, a former Army psychiatrist who is now with the Center for Public Health and Human Rights. It is based on a previously secret documentfrom 2004, laying out OMS guidelines for detainee interrogation, which was released by the Obama administration.

In an article for Harper’s, human rights lawyer Scott Horton notes that the JAMA study makes it apparent that the OMS physicians did not merely offer a medical opinion as to what constituted torture but “gave their bosses exactly what was expected of them: a green light to torture.”


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