Monday, June 07, 2010

Illegal American Experimentation on Prisoners

Digby on a report from Physicians for Human Rights:

In the most comprehensive investigation to date of health professionals’ involvement in the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program (EIP), Physicians For Human Rights has uncovered evidence that indicates the Bush administration apparently conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody. The apparent experimentation and research appear to have been performed to provide legal cover for torture, as well as to help justify and shape future procedures and policies governing the use of the “enhanced” interrogation techniques. The PHR report, Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program, is the first to provide evidence that CIA medical personnel engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture.
To those of us who have been following the torture story from the beginning it has long been obvious that there were those in the government who used the "enhanced interrogation" regime as an opportunity to experiment. We had evidence that they were documenting the efficacy of various techniques from the OLC memos. But this was more systematic than previously suspected.

Some of the sick details are here:
The PHR report indicates that there is evidence that health professionals engaged in research on detainees that violates the Geneva Conventions, The Common Rule, the Nuremberg Code and other international and domestic prohibitions against illegal human subject research and experimentation. Declassified government documents indicate that:

• Research and medical experimentation on detainees was used to measure the effects of large- volume waterboarding and adjust the procedure according to the results. After medical monitoring and advice, the CIA experimentally added saline, in an attempt to prevent putting detainees in a coma or killing them through over-ingestion of large amounts of plain water. The report observes: “‘Waterboarding 2.0’ was the product of the CIA’s developing and field-testing an intentionally harmful practice, using systematic medical monitoring and the application of subsequent generalizable knowledge.”

• Health professionals monitored sleep deprivation on more than a dozen detainees in 48-, 96- and 180-hour increments. This research was apparently used to monitor and assess the effects of varying levels of sleep deprivation to support legal definitions of torture and to plan future sleep deprivation techniques.

• Health professionals appear to have analyzed data, based on their observations of 25 detainees who were subjected to individual and combined applications of “enhanced” interrogation techniques, to determine whether one type of application over another would increase the subject’s “susceptibility to severe pain.” The alleged research appears to have been undertaken only to assess the legality of the “enhanced” interrogation tactics and to guide future application of the techniques.
Of course they used detainees as guinea pigs and of course they documented it. The question is, are they still doing it?
PHR’s report, Experiments in Torture, is relevant to present-day national security interrogations, as well as Bush-era detainee treatment policies. As recently as February, 2010, President Obama’s then director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, disclosed that the US had established an elite interrogation unit that will conduct “scientific research” to improve the questioning of suspected terrorists. Admiral Blair declined to provide important details about this effort.
That doesn't sound good, does it?
No, it doesn't. It's terrible. It's unsurprising, but it's terrible. For all that I've been focusing on Israeli security and political issues lately, the fact remains that the United States really did go completely off the rails after 9/11, and the U.S. government has been responsible for reprehensible acts in the name of the "War on Terror".
(Which was won, by the by, by deciding not to use that phrase anymore. Which suggests it never really existed in the first place.)

The problem in Israel and America is fairly similar, though. It's about a lack of empathy. The Israelis have problems empathizing with their Palestinian counterparts as sentient, individual human beings. It's the same with many Americans attitudes the "terrists" with different countries of origin and cultural backgrounds to their own. And, critically, it's the same with the people that caused 9/11 in the first place. It's an issue with thinking of "America" or "Israel" or "the Jews" or "the Muslims" or anybody else...

...(China, anybody?)... some amorphous entity filled with nameless, lifeless, inhuman "cells", not a collection of thinking individuals.

It's that attitude that blew up the World Trade Center.

It's that attitude that caused all the events that preceded that attack.

It's that attitude that is losing Iraq and Afghanistan.

And it's that attitude that allowed Americans to build their own little Unit 731.

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