Medical Ethics Lapses Cited in Interrogations, James Risen, NYT, June 6, 2010.
Medical professionals who were involved in the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogations of terrorism suspects engaged in forms of human research and experimentation in violation of medical ethics and domestic and international law, according to a new report from a human rights organization.Why do mistakes of our government get the kid gloves: lapsed ethics, not broken laws, gets picked out of the first graf by the editors for the headline. This is a great example where blogs are important, calling a spade a spade: Bush-era CIA Human Experimentation Program Revealed, Scott Horton, No Comment at Harper's, June 7, 2010. (h/t for the other two quotes)
Doctors, psychologists and other professionals assigned to monitor the C.I.A.’s use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques gathered and collected data on the impact of the interrogations on the detainees in order to refine those techniques and ensure that they stayed within the limits established by the Bush administration’s lawyers, the report found. But, by doing so, the medical professionals turned the detainees into research subjects, according to the report, which is scheduled to be published on Monday by Physicians for Human Rights.
The data collected by medical professionals from the interrogations of detainees allowed the C.I.A. to judge the emotional and physical impact of the techniques, helping the agency to “calibrate the level of pain experienced by detainees during interrogation, ostensibly to keep it from crossing the administration’s legal threshold of what it claimed constituted torture,” the report said. That meant that the medical professionals crossed the line from treating the detainees as patients to treating them as research subjects, the report asserted.
Perhaps the most astonishing and perverse fact about the CIA’s human guinea pig program is that it was set up on the advice of the Department of Justice as a tactic for evading accountability for other crimes. Once again, we see strong evidence that the Bush Justice Department counseled other actors in the government to commit serious crimes and assured them that they would face no threat of prosecution for their criminal conduct. Under accepted norms of criminal law, this would implicate the Justice Department itself in the crimes of conspiracy or joint criminal enterprise connected both with the underlying torture and the human experimentation.Mother Jones, for Hard Right's sake, goes with the saying-it-but-not-really-saying-it approach: Did the Bush Administration Experiment on Detainees?, Nick Baumann, Mother Jones, June 6, 2010.
By monitoring post-9/11 interrogations and keeping records on the effectiveness of various techniques, medical professionals could also provide Bush administration lawyers with the information they needed to set guidelines for the use of so-called "enhanced" interrogation tactics. For instance, attorneys in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) who were devising the legal rationale for the interrogation program could use the research to determine how many times a detainee could be waterboarded. Or, based on the observations of the medical personnel monitoring the interrogation sessions, they could assess whether it was legally justifiable to administer techniques like stress positions or water dousing in combination or whether these methods needed to be applied separately.The full report, Experiments in Torture: Evidence of Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program, and more can be found at a new website.
Physicians for Human Rights makes the case that since human subject research is defined as the "systematic collection of data and/or identifiable personal information for the purpose of drawing generalizable inferences," what the Bush administration was doing amounted to human experimentation.
Lots more links at Jeff Kaye's blog.