- Nazi and imperial Japanese doctors performed horrific
human experiments on unwilling subjects. At Auschwitz and other death camps,
Josef Mengele, Carl Clauberg, Herta Oberheuser, Karl Brandt, Aribert Heim
and others conducted ones involving freezing temperatures, toxic chemicals
and gas, sterilizations, high altitudes, radiation, electroshock, starvation,
amputations, bone, muscle and nerve transplants, and numerous other atrocities
called crimes of war and against humanity at Nuremberg.
- At its infamous Unit 731, Japanese doctors and scientists
did their own, involving vivisections, germ and other forms of biological
warfare, toxic chemicals, and other atrocities causing severe pain, disease
and certain death. Yet in 1945, General Douglas MacArthur agreed secretly
with Dr. Shiro Ishil to turn over 10,000 pages of human experimentation
information in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Justice for their
victims was denied.
- Today and since the early 1950s, CIA operatives conducted
physically harsh and psychologically crippling mind control experiments,
turning human beings into mush, a topic this writer addressed earlier,
accessed through the following link:
- In addition, for decades, CIA and other US agencies experimented
illegally with human subjects, including:
- -- in 1931, Dr. Cornelius Rhoads conducted radiation
and cancer cell injection experiments;
- -- in 1932, Tuskegee Syphilis Study doctors infected
200 black men with the disease, followed their progression, and let them
- -- in 1940, 400 Chicago prisoners were infected with
malaria to test experimental drugs;
- -- numerous human radiation experiments have been conducted
on unwitting subjects;
- -- VA hospital patients were used as human guinea pigs;
- -- chemical and biological agents were released in US
cities, and other similar experiments were conducted;
- -- US military personnel have been given experimental
vaccines and other drugs, known to be toxic;
- -- numerous experiments with human subjects tested mustard
and nerve gas, ionizing radiation, psychochemicals, hallucinogens, and
other dangerous substances;
- -- others injected radiation into newborns, placed mentally
ill patients in giant refrigerators, infected children with hepatitis,
performed surgeries without anesthesia, subjected prisoners to plague,
infected them with cholera, injected soldiers with plutonium (the most
toxic known substance) as part of the Manhattan Project, used children,
prisoners, and the mentally ill for ghastly experiments; and
- -- at US torture prisons, horrific tortures and illegal
medical experiments continue being used on unwilling subjects.
- New Physicians for Human Rights Report
- Founded in 1986, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) "mobilizes
health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice and promotes
the right to health for all. (It also) investigates human rights abuses
and works to stop them" in conflict zones, US prisons, and offshore
detention facilities where torture is routinely practiced.
- Its newly released report, "Experiments in Torture:
Evidence of Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the 'Enhanced'
Interrogation Program" examines Bush administration practices post-9/11,
- In its aftermath, new "human intelligence collection
programs" were initiated, using "an unknown number of people
suspected of having links to terrorist organizations."
- Most all accusations were bogus, yet detainees were subjected
to horrific waterboarding, forced nudity, sleep deprivation, temperature
extremes, stress positions, prolonged isolation, and other horrific abuses,
regarded as illegal under international and US law at all times, under
all conditions, with no allowed exceptions. Nonetheless, Bush administration
officials claimed procedures used were "safe, legal and effective"
enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs).
- Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)
lawyers redefined practices "by establishing legal (torture) thresholds....which
required medical monitoring (to ensure ones) for severe physical and mental
pain" weren't crossed...."
- In other words, medical professionals participated in
illegal torture experiments by monitoring, collecting and analyzing results,
to be used in subsequent interrogations, in violation of unequivocal US
and international law, including Geneva's Common Article 3 prohibiting:
- -- "violence to life and person, in particular murder
of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture:
- -- outrages of personal dignity, in particular humiliating
and degrading treatment;"
- -- carrying out sentences or executions "without
previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording
all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized
- -- caring for the wounded and sick, including by an impartial
body like the ICRC "offer(ing) its services to the Parties to the
- Condoning or participating in torture grievously breaches
medical ethics and the 1975 World Medical Association (WMA) Declaration
of Tokyo "Guidelines for Physicians Concerning Torture and other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Relation to Detention and
- -- in all cases, at all times, "physician(s) shall
not countenance, condone or participate in" torture or any other forms
- -- they "shall not use nor allow (their) medical
knowledge or skills, or health information" to be used to aid interrogations
in any way;
- -- they "shall not be present during any procedure
during which torture or any other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment (are) used or threatened;"
- -- they "must have complete clinical independence"
in treating persons for whom they're medically responsible; and
- -- WMA encourages the international community and fellow
physicians to support medical professionals who face "threats or reprisals
resulting from a refusal to condone" all forms of torture and abuse."
- Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions states:
- "Persons engaged in medical activities shall neither
be compelled to perform acts or to carry out work contrary to, nor be compelled
to refrain from acts required by, the rules of medical ethics or other
rules designed for the benefit of the wounded and sick, or this Protocol."
- PHR's report examined three illegal and unethical medical
- -- monitoring to "design, develop, and deploy (new)
- -- the effects of "simultaneous versus sequential"
interrogation procedures to determine the "susceptibility of the subjects
to severe pain;" and
- -- the effects of "sleep deprivation (to establish)
enhanced interrogation....sleep deprivation policy."
- Research purposes were to gain increased information,
ostensibly assure pain levels remained within legal thresholds, and most
important to provide legal cover against possible incrimination, using
doctors to verify no harm was done.
- PHR's report shows health professionals weren't just
complicit in torture, they also participated in research and experimentation
on detainees in US custody. In other words, human beings were (and still
are being) used as guinea pigs. Public documents prove it, including memoranda
from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and the CIA's Office of Inspector
General Special Review of the Agency's Enhanced Interrogation Program.
- Relevant Laws Governing Research and Experimentation,
Using Human Subjects
- US 45 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 46.1029d (2005)
defines research to mean:
- "....a systematic investigation, including research
development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute
to generalizable knowledge. Activities which meet this definition constitute
research for purposes of this policy, whether or not they are conducted
or supported under a program which is considered research for other purposes."
- The same regulation defines human subject research as:
- using "a living individual about whom an investigator
(whether professional or student) conducting research obtains:
- 1. data through intervention or interaction with the
- 2. identifiable private information."
- In all cases, subject protections, informed consent,
direct benefit to the participants, and an institutional review board (IRB)
approval are required. Otherwise, human subject experimentation breaches
the Nuremberg Code and other internationally recognized regulations and
ethical guidelines. In addition, doing so constitutes a crime of war and/or
against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
- No information indicates that the Bush administration
sought or received formal authorization for its practices. Also, neither
the CIA or DOD ever filed a waiver for informed consent, as required by
- In addition, the CIA's Office of Medical Services (OMS)
made public a formal research protocol. However, DOJ memos and other government
documents reveal a classified medical monitoring program, involving "the
meticulous collection and analysis of data to derive generalizable knowledge,"
relating to the "safety" and effects of torture techniques.
- However, under US and international law and accepted
medical ethics, non-clinical human experimentation, with or without subjects'
consent, is impermissible. "In fact, the 'enhanced' interrogation
techniques are premised on the infliction of mental (and physical) harm,
so" experiments to make them safe and effective are legally and ethically
groundless and indefensible.
- Instances of Illegal and Unethical Human Subject Research
- Medical personnel involvement in waterboarding was undertaken
to "disguise a universally recognized torture tactic as a 'safe, legal
and effective' interrogation" technique. One CIA guideline directs
participants to record:
- "....how long each application (and the entire procedure)
lasted, how much water was applied (realizing that much splashes off),
how exactly the water was applied, and if a seal was achieved, if the naso-or
oropharynx was filled, what sort of volume was expelled, how long was the
break between applications, and how the subject looked between each treatment."
- In his 2005 "combined techniques" memo, Principal
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven G. Bradbury told Acting CIA General
Counsel John A. Rizzo that experimentation determined that waterboarding
healthy subjects, subject to defined limitations, is "medically acceptable."
- A later version, "Waterboarding 2.0," came
after CIA developed and tested an intentionally harmful practice, using
medical monitoring for cover.
- Health professionals also analyzed data based on observed
enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) on 25 detainees, performed to
determine subjects' susceptibility to severe pain.
- "This investigation had no direct clinical health
care application, nor was it in the detainees' personal interest nor part
of their medical management." It was conducted solely to argue that
the EITs in combination wouldn't make subjects more susceptible to pain,
to justify their use.
- Human Research and Experimentation Purposes
- PHR cited three:
- (1) to learn how EITs should be deployed as interrogation
torture techniques designed to be "safe (and) effective," or,
in other words, an impossible combination.
- (2) to calibrate the pain level caused by techniques
used to keep it from crossing the threshold defined as torture, the idea
being to defend interrogators against possible crimes. OLC lawyers defined
torture as causing "long-term" mental or physical "pain
and suffering," enough to cause organ failure or death.
- (3) to craft legal defenses against charges of torture,
arguing that medical monitoring removes the element of intent, necessary
to prove to pursue successful torture prosecutions under US law.
- "But in attempting to legitimize the crime of torture,
the lawyers left those who authorized and performed the research open to
the charge of illegal human experimentation," as well as an unconscionable
medical ethics breach.
- Human Experimentation and Human Subject Protections
- Under George Bush, torture became official US policy,
a topic this writer addressed in July 2008, accessed through the following
- By executive orders, presidential findings, memoranda,
memos, and other documents, Bush's "doctrine of presidential prerogative"
made everything permissible, supplemented by Congress enacting laws like
the Military Commissions Act - called the "torture authorization act"
by exempting CIA torturers from prosecution.
- The law amended the 1966 War Crimes Act (defining them
as breaches of Geneva that unequivocally prohibits torture), made it retroactive
to 1997, with language banning:
- "The act of a person who subjects, or conspires
or attempts to subject, one or more persons within his custody or physical
control to biological experiments without a legitimate medical or dental
purpose and in so doing endangers the body or health of such person or
- The new language lowered the bar on experimentation through
a loophole permitting so-called "legitimate" kinds, unrelated
to detainees' well being.
- Yet human subject protections are codified in US law
(45 CFR 46.101-46.124 - 2005) as well as codes of professional conduct
- collectively called the Common Rule, applying to all federally funded
human experimentation, including CIA and DOD practices.
- None may be conducted without subjects' consent and unless
safe and beneficial to their welfare. Research and experiments amounting
to torture clearly are not, and thus violate US and international law as
well as established medical ethics.
- Despite Obama's January 22, 2009 executive order prohibiting
most "enhanced interrogation techniques" and his rhetoric at
the time, he's continued the most extreme Bush administration abuses, (including
so-called "safe, legal and effective" ones) - what PHR concluded
are crimes of war and against humanity. Claiming health professionals protect
detainees through systematic monitoring "is not only inherently contradictory
but also a perversion of centuries of health professional ethics."
- PHR calls on the White House and Congress to investigate
thoroughly and hold those involved accountable. It also recommends restoring
previous War Crimes Act language, and urges strict policies be adopted
that prohibit all forms of torture and improper treatment as well as ensuring
the human rights of all those in US custody.
- Final Comments
- Under George Bush, torture became official policy. It
remains so under Obama throughout America's offshore gulag on US bases,
ships, facilities of complicit allies, and other secret locations worldwide.
- He also absolved CIA torturers from prosecution, saying
he wants to look forward, not back, so will do anything to protect them
and the worst of their practices, denying their victims justice like his
predecessor and those before him.
- It's America's longstanding practice - exonerate the
guilty, punish the innocent, and trash the rule of law and common decency.
Obama succeeds with the best of them in upholding an unprincipled, degenerate
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays
at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs
are archived for easy listening.