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The American Medical Association condemns CIA torture

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Today, the American Medical Association condemned the US's torture of suspected terrorists, after three days of silence on the Senate report. According to the report, doctors, nurses, and psychologists — professionals sworn to help other people — participated in the torture of prisoners. CIA doctors were responsible for "rectal hydration;" suggested using saline in waterboarding (to avoid water intoxication) and an ideal temperature for the procedure; and approved standing positions for 52 hours for people with broken feet.

"The torture could not proceed without medical supervision," said Atul Gawande, a surgeon and writer for The New Yorker, on Twitter. "The medical profession was deeply embedded in this inhumanity."

After The Verge's report on medical professionals' involvement, the AMA issued the following statement, from the group's president, Robert Wah:

The AMA has taken a clear stand that the participation of physicians in torture and coercive interrogation is a violation of core ethical values. We firmly believe that U.S. policies on detainee treatment must comport with the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics and the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Tokyo, which forcefully state medicine’s opposition to torture or coercive interrogation and prohibit physician participation in such activities.

The physician's most important role is that of healer, and that role is seriously compromised in situations of torture and coercive interrogation. The AMA will continue to advocate that no doctor is asked to go against the ethics of the profession, to remind physicians of their ethical obligations, and to ensure that medical professionals are never involved in the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody.