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Wednesday, 8 August, 2007

AMA turning blind eye to 'medicalization of torture': Harper's

Or should we say "enhanced interrogation," to use the new US administration parlance.

A in the August issue of Harper's Magazine looks at a claim by the US's director of national intelligence Admiral Mike McConnell on NBC's that "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on prisoners are conducted "under medical supervision."

In the commentary - provocatively entitled "The Ongoing Medicalization of Torture" - Harper's senior editor Luke Mitchell reports that he tried to get the American Medical Association (AMA) to comment on the claim and asked if they'd investigate the doctors who are taking part in the "enhanced interrogation." After dismissing the claim as a psychologist/psychiatrist mix-up, common among non-physicians, the AMA finally told Mr Mitchell that it has no plans to investigate the allegation that its members are involved in torture.

This seems strange since, a year ago, the AMA released that prohibit doctors from participating in interrogations:

"Physicians must not conduct, directly participate in, or monitor an interrogation with an intent to intervene, because this undermines the physician’s role as healer."
Meanwhile, a new investigation into the US government's insistence that "enhanced interrogation" does not constitute torture by Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights First concludes the the government's got it all wrong. Dr Scott Allen, co-author of the report and co-director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University said in August 2:
"These 'enhanced' interrogation techniques can cause severe and often irreversible harm to their victims. The report's full and independent review of the medical literature and case studies concludes that these methods are likely to cause significant physical and mental harm to detainees, and they should be immediately and explicitly prohibited by the Bush Administration and by Congress."
Added Human Rights First's Elisa Massimino:
"The Administration's argument that doctors will oversee the program to ensure that interrogators don't go too far gives new meaning to the term 'calculated cruelty'."

Photo: A prisoner at Abu Ghraib - torture or 'enhanced' interrogation? (
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