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Professional News
Army Document at Odds With Ethics
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 19 page 27-27

The following statements are excerpted from the Army's OTSG/MEDCOM Policy Memo 06-029, dated October 20, 2006. The memo sets out Department of Defense standards for actions by psychologists and psychiatrists during interrogation of detainees. APA and the AMA have stated their opposition to such activity by psychiatrists and other physicians (see Ethics Experts Challenge Army's Interrogation Participation Memo), but the memo indicates "... that the Department of Defense still wants doctors to be involved in interrogations and continues to resist the positions taken by medicine's professional associations," according to a recent Perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine. The full memorandum is posted at the journal's Web site (see URL below).

Also, the document quotes guidelines in the AMA's 2006 report" Physician Participation in Interrogation" and then adds commentary from the Army memo. Here are excerpts from that portion of the document.

Memo Commentary: Although physicians who provide medical care to detainees should not be involved in decisions whether or not to interrogate because such decisions are unrelated to medicine or the health interests of an individual, physicians who are not providing medical care to detainees may provide such information if warranted by compelling security interests.

Memo Commentary: The presence of a physician at an interrogation, particularly an appropriately trained psychiatrist, may benefit the interrogates because of the belief held by many psychiatrists that kind and compassionate treatment of detainees can establish rapport that may result in eliciting more useful information.

The Department of the Army's "Behavioral Science Consultation Policy" is posted on the Web site of the New England Journal of Medicine at<http://content.nejm.org/cgi/data/359/11/1090/DC1/1>.

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