Ethics Group Claims CIA Doctors Used "Human Experimentation" During Torture Sessions

About those doctors who attended the CIA interrogation sessions at which enhanced technigues, aka torture, were used:

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a non-profit group that has investigated the role of medical personnel in alleged incidents of torture at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and other US detention sites, accuses doctors of being far more involved than hitherto understood.

....The most incendiary accusation of PHR's latest report, Aiding Torture, is that doctors actively monitored the CIA's interrogation techniques with a view to determining their effectiveness, using detainees as human subjects without their consent. The report concludes that such data-gathering was "a practice that approaches unlawful experimentation".

The report cites the recently released 2004 CIA Inspector General's report. [More...]

In an appendix to the CIA's IG report, there are medical guidelines for attending physicians.

Medical workers are given the task of "assessing and monitoring the health of all Agency detainees" subjected to enhanced techniques. These techniques include facial slaps, sleep deprivation, walling – where their padded heads are banged against walls – confinement in boxes, and waterboarding or simulated drowning.

On waterboarding:

In a highlighted note at the end of the guideline, medical staff are instructed to keep detailed notes of every time waterboarding is used, "in order to best inform future medical judgments and recommendations". Doctors are told to record "how long each application lasted, how much water was used in the process, how exactly the water was applied, if a seal was achieved, if the naso- or oropharynx was filled ... and how the subject looked between each treatment."

What to do about it?

PHR is calling for an official investigation into the role of doctors in the CIA's now widely discredited programme. It wants to know exactly how many doctors participated, what they did, what records they kept and the science that they applied.

The full report is here.(pdf.)

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    There is a difference (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jen M on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 02:23:09 PM EST
    between a doctor participating and taking notes and a doctor outlining different approaches and taking notes in order to analyze the results.

    The first is still unethical, the second is inexcusable.

    And I would like names too (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 04:00:54 PM EST

    good lord (none / 0) (#1)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 01:35:38 PM EST
    what next?

    Whose idea was this? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Fabian on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 01:53:57 PM EST
    medical staff are instructed

    I agree that this was unethical behavior, but it appears that this wasn't the medical staff's idea or initiative.

    Tangentially, the idea of quantifying what happens during water boarding is ludicrous.  It doesn't produce reliable intelligence.  About the only thing it is good for is causing extreme mental trauma and irreversible physical and mental damage.

    Doesn't matter thought this up. (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Elizabeth Blackwell on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 05:05:00 PM EST
    "Medical staff are instructed" is a non sequiter at least where physicians and those responsible for diagnosis and treatment are concerned.

    At that level of expertise one gives instructions; one does not blindly follow them. At that level of professional training one is responsible not responsive.

    And every one of the the medical staff knew that.  Any one who participated in this violation of all professional standards and any oath he/she might have taken should be stripped of all professional licenses and dignity.  

    They are demonstrably  unworthy of the trust society has placed in them.


    Enough (none / 0) (#3)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 02:04:40 PM EST
    Another reason why all of this junk needs to be brought to light. American's have a right and an obligation to know what has been done in their name.

    Appoint a special prosecutor or whatever is needed, but lets clear the air of this stench. These are tactics one would have thought were from the KGB not the US government.

    WH will cover this up too (none / 0) (#5)
    by shoephone on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 03:11:03 PM EST

    "approaches" (none / 0) (#8)
    by diogenes on Wed Sep 02, 2009 at 05:52:32 PM EST
    The line "approaches unlawful experimentation" is  weasel words.  Was it a scientific experiment or not?  Somehow I doubt that all this was done to advance science in a way unavailable ethically (as was done in Tuskegee syphillis experiments).