A number of new reports have, in recent weeks, highlighted evidence of illegal human experimentation on US-held "terrorism" prisoners undergoing torture. Those reports come on the heels of a "white paper" by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), "Aiding Torture: Health Professionals' Ethics and Human Rights Violations Demonstrated", in the May 2004 inspector general's report.
This article looks at those recent charges, and reveals that experiments by a CIA researcher on human subjects undergoing SERE training went unreported in the legal memos the Bush administration drafted to approve their torture program. It will also connect major military and intelligence figures to the SERE experiments and tie some of them to major science and "experimental" directorates at the CIA and Special Operations Command.
An article by veteran journalist William Fisher, looking at PHR's white paper, asks, "Did physicians and psychologists help the US Central Intelligence Agency develop a new research protocol to assess and refine the use of waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques?"
A column at Scientific American quotes PHR's medical adviser on the subject:[PHR] also raises questions about the ethics of medical note-taking during some of the interrogations. "Medical doctors and psychologists colluded with the CIA to keep observational records about waterboarding, which approaches unethical and unlawful human experimentation," Scott Allen, lead study author and PHR medical advisor, said in a prepared statement.
Finally, a story in Wednesday's Guardian UK discussed the significance of the charges of unlawful human experimentation:Human experimentation without consent has been prohibited in any setting since 1947, when the Nuremberg Code, which resulted from the prosecution of Nazi doctors, set down 10 sacrosanct principles. The code states that voluntary consent of subjects is essential and that all unnecessary physical and mental suffering should be avoided.
The Geneva conventions also ban medical experiments on prisoners and prisoners of war, which they describe as "grave breaches."
After describing how "[h]ealth professionals in the Office of Medical Services and psychologist contractors engaged in designing and monitoring" torture, as "selecting and then rationalizing" the use of various harmful interrogation techniques, the PHR report goes on to say:By requirement, all interrogations were monitored in real-time by health professionals. Previous reports, including the ICRC report, document allegations that a medical device called a pulse oximeter (a device to measure oxygen saturation in a subject's blood) was placed on the finger of a detainee to monitor the effectiveness of his respiration during waterboarding. In this way, medical professionals were used to calibrate physical and mental pain and suffering....
The possibility that health professionals monitored techniques to assess and improve their effectiveness, constituting possible unethical human experimentation, urgently needs to be thoroughly investigated.
An Experimental "Battle Lab"
From CIA Experiments on US Soldiers Linked to Torture Program, Jeffrey Kane, 13.09.2009