Tag Archives | Medical Ethics

The Military and CIA Interrogation Program Has Not Stopped

The Senate report on torture created a tsunami of media coverage this week. The American public hasn’t been so shocked by evidence of the U.S. torture program since the Abu Ghraib photos of 2004. The program is far worse than previously disclosed. Greater numbers of victims have been tortured for longer periods and in ways that rival the most infamous tortures in history (“rectal feeding”). But one falsehood gets repeated as fact by even in the most serious reporters, namely, that the torture program stopped years ago. It has not. The Appendix M of the 2006 Army Field Manual on interrogation methods allows military and CIA interrogators to continue torturing detainees, and the current force feeding of Guantanamo hunger strikers is so brutal it rises to the level of torture.

The Senate torture report has stunning news about the two psychologists who first devised and demonstrated the torture protocols. Until now we knew only that the CIA had provided Drs.… Read the rest

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Big Pharma Plays Hide-the-Ball With Data

newsweek big pharmaThe post-Barry Diller/IAC Newsweek is getting back into the business of serious journalism, apparently, with a scathing report on how drug companies are hiding research data that could harm their more dubious drug products:

…The consequences of exclusion or delay of trial data have ranged from frustration to mass fatalities. When one doctor in Italy was diagnosed with bone cancer, he wanted to know whether a stem cell transplant would offer hope of a cure. Four clinical trials had been conducted, but none had been fully published. “Why was I forced to make my decision knowing that information was somewhere but not available?” he wrote in the BMJ. “Was the delay because the results were less exciting than expected?”

The most infamous case of publication bias is a 1980 study in which heart attack patients were split into two groups: One group received a drug called lorcainide, while the other group received a placebo.

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The Elvis Presley Coverup: What America Didn’t Hear About The Death Of The King

Can you believe the quantity of prescription drugs Elvis was taking, as described in this Salon excerpt from Joel Williamson’s book Elvis Presley: A Southern Life:

…Four years later it would be established in court that during the seven and a half months preceding Elvis’s death, from January 1, 1977, to August 16, 1977, Dr. Nichopoulos had written prescriptions for him for at least 8,805 pills, tablets, vials, and injectables. Going back to January 1975, the count was 19,012. The numbers defied belief, but they came from an experienced team of investigators who visited 153 pharmacies and spent 1,090 hours going through 6,570,175 prescriptions and then, with the aid of two secretaries, spent another 1,120 hours organizing the evidence. The drugs included uppers, downers, and powerful painkillers such as Dilaudid, Quaalude, Percodan, Demerol, and cocaine hydrochloride in quantities more appropriate for those terminally ill with cancer. In fact, at about 2:00 a.m.

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Medical, Military, and Ethics Experts Say Health Professionals Designed and Participated in Cruel, Inhumane, and Degrading Treatment and Torture of Detainees

The documentary “Doctors of the Dark Side” revealed the issues highlighted in the report.

The Institute on Medicine as a Profession’s press release, below, summarizes the report “Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror” that is causing a massive stir in the media. Let’s hope it ends up affecting policy…

New York, NY — An independent panel of military, ethics, medical, public health, and legal experts today charged that U.S. military and intelligence agencies directed doctors and psychologists working in U.S. military detention centers to violate standard ethical principles and medical standards to avoid infliction of harm. The Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers (see attached) concludes that since September 11, 2001, the Department of Defense (DoD) and CIA improperly demanded that U.S. military and intelligence agency health professionals collaborate in intelligence gathering and security practices in a way that inflicted severe harm on detainees in U.S.

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Doctors Grow Nose On Man’s Forehead

Reuters (Fair Use)

Reuters (Fair Use)

This is one of those “I have to see it to believe it” headlines, so helpfully this ABC News story has a very convincing photo (at right):

After a Chinese man’s nose was irreparably damaged from infection, his doctors decided to “grow” a second nose on the man’s forehead to replace the original nose.

The patient, identified only as Xiaolian according to Reuters, has his nose damaged from an infection following a car accident. His doctors decided the only way to reconstruct his nose was to surgically form a new one on the 22-year-old’s forehead.

Tissue expanders were placed under the skin and then cut to resemble a nose. According to local media, doctors expect to implant the new nose soon…

[continues at ABC News]

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We Don’t Torture People

Psychologists for Social Responsibility is an independent, non-profit organization that applies psychological knowledge and expertise to promote peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability. Members are psychologists, students, and other advocates for social change in the United States and around the world. Appalled by the torture program at Guantanamo Bay, they are appealing to other health care professionals to join them in signing a letter of protest addressed to President Obama (below).

One of the main signatories is Martha Davis, director of Doctors of the Dark Side, who has just released this video of actress Mercedes Ruehl and attorney Kristine Huskey in a reprise of ex-CIA Director George Tenet’s extraordinary argument about torture with Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes:

Dear Colleagues,

Attached and pasted below is a letter to President Obama that is being sponsored by Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR).

Because the hunger strike at Guantanamo is a medical emergency, and the result of intolerable delays in closing the detention facility, health care professionals and human rights advocates bring a special voice to this crisis.

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The President’s Hunger Strike

Still from "Doctors of the Dark Side"

Still from “Doctors of the Dark Side”

With 100 detainees on hunger strike, some near organ failure or death, the President and media have renewed talk of closing Guantanamo.   This is not the first time detainees have struck to protest their abuse and indefinite detention.   Some, like Ahmed Zuhair (detained without charge 2002-2008), spent years on hunger strike.   In 2005 officials used force and isolation to break the solidarity of the hunger strikers.  Then and now, the reactions of Guantanamo officials have been predictable.   What is different today is the resolve of the hungers strikers and the greater number of Americans sadder and wiser about administration spin on who the detainees are, how they are being treated, and what they deserve.

You wouldn’t know from media coverage of the 2005 hunger strike that there was a crisis in Guantanamo.  Judging from official comments just a few “bad apples” were causing the trouble, and the Command had everything under humane control.… Read the rest

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“It is Indisputable that the United States Engaged in the Practice of Torture”

Still from "Doctors of the Dark Side"

Still from “Doctors of the Dark Side”

For those who have any doubt that the United States government has sanctioned the use of torture in recent years, Ritika Singh, a research assistant at the Brookings Institution, reports for Lawfare that,

The Constitution Project has released the results of its Task Force on Detainee Treatment in the form of this 577-page report—which concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” and that “the nation’s highest officials bear some responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of torture.”

The people who create and run the torture programs are oftentimes doctors, as depicted in the new documentary Doctors of the Dark Side.

Lawfare provides the Statement of the Task Force:

This report of The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment is the result of almost two years of intensive study, investigation and deliberation.

The project was undertaken with the belief that it was important to provide an accurate and authoritative account of how the United States treated people its forces held in custody as the nation mobilized to deal with a global terrorist threat.

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Guantanamo Hunger Striker Tells His Story

SamirThis may be the most important report out of Gitmo ever. If it doesn’t cause Americans to seriously question the indefinite detention of prisoners without trial, what will? (Not to mention the brutal “medical” treatment at the hands of American doctors.) Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay since 2002, told this story to his lawyers at the legal charity Reprieve in an unclassified telephone call (in Arabic, translated to English):

One man here weighs just 77 pounds. Another, 98. Last thing I knew, I weighed 132, but that was a month ago.

I’ve been on a hunger strike since Feb. 10 and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity.

I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.

I could have been home years ago — no one seriously thinks I am a threat — but still I am here.

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Guantanamo Detainees Brutally Force Fed During Hunger Strike

Forced feeding (still from 'Doctors of the Dark Side')

Up to 130 of the 166 detainees left in Guantanamo are reported to be taking part in a hunger strike with at least 11 being force fed (see also this piece by Chris Hayes at MSNBC).

What is not widely reported is the brutal way that detainees have been force fed by the Guantanamo medical staff, a protocol that appears to be in use now.

As detainee lawyer Ramzi Kassen explains in Doctors of the Dark Side, detainees are strapped in a 5-point restraint chair–dubbed by some detainees the “torture” chair–and large tubes that may be left in for days are jammed down their noses without anesthesia or lubricants. When detainees resist the brutal procedure, they are forcibly extracted from their cells by soldiers in full riot gear at the direction of the medical staff.

Lawyers for the despairing detainees, of whom 86 were approved for release over two years ago, are very worried that their clients will die or be permanently injured in the hunger strike.… Read the rest

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