More on the Torture Memos: the Role of Medical Professionals

Further to the points I wrote about in my previous post on the CIA torture memos, Mike Dunford of The Questionable Authority has previously raised another important issue: the complicity of medical professionals in CIA torture:

Reading these memos, it's very clear that there are quite a few CIA employees who are allegedly medical professionals. Those people need to find new professions. I would strongly suggest that you take a few minutes - particularly if you're a doctor or a psychologist - to suggest to your colleagues at the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association that it might be good to take some formal steps along those lines.

This is related to another topic I've written about in past posts: the complicity of medical professionals in the death penalty. In either case, people will argue that medical professionals should actually participate in these procedures to make sure they're carried out as humanely as possible. I can understand why people would put forth such an argument, but the fact of the matter is that neither the death penalty nor torture is a humane practice, even with the participation of medical practitioners.

In fact, the presence of these medical professionals does nothing but lend these horrible practices legitimacy. If medical professionals totally abstained from these practices, as the Hippocratic Oath compels them to, these practices would be much more difficult to carry out in the future.

Check out Mike's post for more.

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There are no great technical issues in performing a quick execution. Those were worked out in centuries past. The guillotine or a firing squad will dispatch the convicted quickly. No doctor required. Even hanging is reasonably quick if done by a practiced executioner using the drop method.

The move to lethal injection has nothing to do with any humane concern for the convicted. It may be the most cruel form of execution the US has used, other than the gas chamber. It is a strange set of cultural factors that has put it in favor. Perhaps to better shield the audience from what is being done. Perhaps because we have become so accustomed to death happening in a medicalized setting. Don't know.