Medical and Psychological Analysis of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report on torture

December 18, 2014

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Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) recently published an analysis of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on use of torture by the CIA. This analysis  of the 500-page SSCI executive summary was conducted by a team of PHR experts and published under the title “Doing Harm: Health Professionals’ Central Role in the CIA Torture Program”.

The torture report’s executive summary describes in detail the acts and omissions of CIA health professionals who violated their professional ethics, undermined the critical bond of trust between patients and doctors, and broke the law.

Core ethical principals

Based on PHR’s detailed review of the SSCI summary, health professionals who participated in the CIA torture programme violated core ethical principles common to all healing professions, including the following obligations:

  • To do no harm;
  • To protect the lives and health of patients under their care from harm and brutality;
  • To prevent and report torture;
  • To uphold standards of professionalism, be honest in professional interactions, and report incompetence, fraud, and deception;
  • To never engage in unethical research on human subjects;
  • To receive the informed consent of the patient before providing medical treatment;
  • To only perform roles consistent with their ethics and professional competencies; and
  • To find an ethical resolution when health professionals’ obligations to persons under their care and to society conflict with the agenda of state institutions.

Investigate, document and hold accountable

PHR calls for a federal commission to investigate, document, and hold accountable all health professionals who participated in the CIA torture programme. To put pressure on the government, PHR also started a letter campaign recently, in which people are requested to send an e-mail letter to President Obama, urging him to eradicate the use of torture and punish all perpetrators.

Read the full analysis