Enhanced interrogation techniques: CIA Doctors Violated Medical Ethics

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CIA doctors who oversaw enhanced interrogation techniques violated medical ethics, researchers say.
A report out this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association claims that physicians in the CIA Office of Medical Services (OMS) violated medical ethical standards by approving and overseeing enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding.

"According to OMS guidelines, physicians and other health care professionals performed on-site medical evaluations before and during interrogation, and waterboarding required the presence of a physician," say researchers Leonard S. Rubenstein, of Johns Hopkins, and retired Brigadier General Dr. Stephen Xenakis, of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.

"Exercising these functions violated the ethical standard that physicians may never use their medical skills to facilitate torture or be present when torture is taking place."

Rubenstein and Xenakis based their commentary on documents released by the Obama administration in 2009.

OMS physicians who advised the agency and the Justice Department approved most techniques for use as long as certain limitations were observed, such as decibel levels for noise exposure, weight loss or malnutrition from starvation techniques, and time limits for cold exposure and confinement.

These limits, the authors claim, allowed OMS doctors to certify that no one practice would lead to "severe mental of physical pain or suffering," but say the doctors failed to take into account the effect these methods in aggregate could have on detainees.
Rubenstein and Xenakis also claim the physicians did not follow standard protocols in making their recommendations.

"The OMS failed to take account of pertinent medical and nonmedical literature about the severe adverse effects of enhanced methods," including waterboarding....

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