Doctors and psychologists as torturers

In the development and implementation of "innovative interrogation techniques" of the CIA, psychologists and doctors were also actively involved

Even though U.S. President Obama at least had the guts – or even felt obligated – to publish some of the legal opinions in which lawyers willing to serve redefined torture until it appeared acceptable (Pain and Luge), sharp criticism was rightly voiced that he does not want to take action against either those responsible or those who export it. Obama invoked "national security, which apparently allows anything and seems to become a proven means of suspending the rule of law and human rights with the new president. And he said that it was "time for reflection, not retaliation". But he did not make clear to what extent reflection would take place.

As it now turns out, the "harsh methods of persecution", as one liked to paraphrase torture, partly also against the resistance of the exporting secret service staff from above to have been enforced. As reported by New York Times, for example, Abu Subaida, who was particularly brutally tortured, was maltreated with all the means allowed by the shysters on the instructions of senior CIA staff at headquarters, although those who had interrogated him said he had already told everything he knew.

The CIA leadership, on the other hand, had truncated itself to an assessment that vastly overestimated the importance of Subaida. Finally, torture has led to no further results; CIA employees who had actually advocated a crackdown are reported to have told the NYT, according to a whistleblower, that they were not tortured due to "traumatized by the outpouring of human suffering and humiliation" traumatized. As always in such scandals, everyone did only what they were ordered to do and what was lawful.

It has been known for a long time that doctors and psychologists were involved in torture (Abu Ghraib, torture and the responsibility of doctors, The Pentagon and torture). This has now been confirmed again. The torture and injustice system set up under Bush and Cheney certainly exerted considerable pressure on everyone in the chain of command, but it is always frightening to see how people – all the way up to the intellectual "Elite" (The intellectual pioneers of torture and arbitrary justice) – fugue, write expert opinions to justify injustice, obey orders, and "creatively" how doctors and psychologists offer advice to strengthen torture and break the victims psychologically and physically (A System of Torture in Guantanamo).

This became clear again in the case of Subaida, who after his handover to the CIA had contact only with a CIA agent, who interrogated him, and a psychologist. The psychologist, however, apparently stood out in particular, as the Washington Post writes on the basis of the published documents, who now seemed to have found a subject for experimentation. He offered – in collaboration with others – ideas, methods, and justifications to subdue the man, resulting in the ten "hard methods of interrogation" – also "unique and innovative" called – originated: extreme sleep deprivation, beating, slamming against a wall, waterboarding, exposure to insects to induce fear, confinement in tight cages, nudity to undermine the sense of self-worth, diet that tastes terrible, loud music ("This secret service does not torture"). The ends justify the means – and of course everything in the service of freedom, democracy, the rule of law. And because the psychologist approved of these measures and assured that they did not cause any serious physical or psychological suffering, the lawyers did not find anything wrong with them either. The experts work towards each other and cut each other down.

The role of the doctors and psychologists, most of whom were employed by the CIA, is probably particularly condemnable because they were not primarily concerned with the welfare of the people, but some also made sure that they survived the torture in order to continue it. Moreover, their presence was supposed to prove that there was no torture, as the U.S. President repeatedly affirmed. It all depends on the understanding of torture – and who carries it out.

Frank Donaghue of Physicians for Human Rights, the medical personnel who participated in the CIA’s torture interrogations broke the law and violated the "ethical traditions of medicine and psychology" violated. Those involved in torture should lose their licenses and never practice again. The Association of American Psychologists has also condemned the participation of members in the CIA program, but does not seem to be willing to exclude them. Other professional associations also excluded participation in torture (US Army uses psychologists in verhor).

The fact that now, according to the will of the White House, no one should expect to face consequences for ordering, legitimizing, supporting and carrying out torture is an indictment and does not bode well for the future. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, says the U.S. Government is also violating international law:

The U.S., like all other states parties to the U.N. Convention against Torture, has committed itself to a criminal investigation of torture and to bringing to justice anyone found to have valid evidence of torture. It was the same in Austria: we couldn’t just say without violating this convention, "but for certain tortures we want to make an exception, there is no criminal prosecution".

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