CIA Compelled Doctors to Torture Suspected Terrorists Following 9/11

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

A report conducted by the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers concludes that in the wake of 9/11 health professionals operating with military and intelligence services “designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees”. This torture included force-feeding of prisoners on hunger strikes, breaching patient confidentiality, and failing to report abuse done to the detainees.

The CIA required staff participants not to think about their principles but rather intelligence gathering and security practices, often calling them “safety officers” rather than doctors. Taskforce member and Columbia University emeritus medical professor Dr. Gerald Thomson notes that Americans need to know a physician’s professional ethics should be consistent regardless of who they work for.  “It’s clear that in the name of national security the military trumped that covenant, and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice,” Thomson said. “We have a responsibility to make sure this never happens again.”


Sarah Bosley, “CIA Forced Doctors to Violate Ethics Code to Torture Suspected Terrorists,” The Guardian, November 4, 2013,

“Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror,” Institute for Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and the Open Society Foundation (OSF), November 2013, Library/Documents/IMAP-EthicsTextFinal2.pdf.

Student Researcher: Aramei Davis (Florida Atlantic University)

Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)