The raft of information outlining human rights abuses perpetrated by the CIA and other US Government agents continues to be exposed. What is more disturbing are the allegations that medical professionals, who swore an Hippocratic oath, took an active role in the torture and ill-treatment of those detained as part of the 'war on terror'. The organisation Physicians for Human Rights has just released a report into the role of health professionals in the torture of those unlawfully detained by the CIA. Read the report PHR Analysis: CIA Health Professionals’ Role in Torture Worse Than Previously Known (6 pages).

In a letter to the Guardian, two doctors raised the concern about the lack of action taken by the AMA to hold those who were involved to account. Here is what they had to say:

In 2006 I, along with over 260 other physicians, reported in the Lancet the abuses that were occurring in Guantánamo as a result of force-feeding prisoners at the camp. Among other things, prisoners had feeding pipes forced into nasal passages, a practice condemned by Amnesty. Despite this, several Guantánamo doctors were later awarded medals "for inspiring leadership and exemplary performance".

In 2007 myself and numerous other medical health professionals accused the American Medical Association (AMA) of being complicit in this abuse by failing to take action against an AMA doctor involved in such unethical behaviour.

To date no doctor has been investigated, still less struck off, for misconduct in the "war on terror". The current international medical ethical guidelines, which were developed as a direct consequence of the Nuremberg trials, are not worth the paper they are written on unless and until bodies such as the AMA boot the torturers out of their organisations.

Dr David Nicholl

Department of neurology, City hospital, Birmingham

• As a forensic psychologist I can identify the interrogation techniques used on the order of the then government of the US as a direct application of well-known animal experimentation techniques based on aversive conditioning. The fact that medical doctors and psychologists monitored these techniques and studied their effectivity certainly means that they were engaged in human experimentation. All evidence suggests that criminal human experimentation was and probably still is common practice in detention places such as Guantánamo Bay.

Dr Guido Gebauer

Hannover, Germany>

Many former detainees have reported being forcibly injected with substances1. They did not know what they were, but reported a number of side effects including, hallucinations, feeling groggy, drooling and being unable to visually focus. The US administration has repeatedly denied that detainees were drugged, but said that they were given 'therapeutic drugs' such as vaccines and vitamin supplements.


  1. See Washinton Post article "Detainees Allege Being Drugged, Questioned" and "US May Have Drugged Detainees in Violation of Nuremberg Code"

For more information see:

Physicians for Human Rights

Centre for Constitutional Rights: When Healers Harm

Report: Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact

Article: “Secret Report Reveals Role of Medical Personnel in Torture at CIA Black Sites”