Did American Doctors Perform Medical Experiments On Post 9/11 Tortured Prisoners?

BlogHer Original Post

This will not be fun or easy to read. But I beg you to read on anyway. There is evidence that medical experimentation may have been done by CIA-employed doctors on post 9/11 tortured detainees.

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - MARCH 30: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.) A U.S. Army soldier stands watch in a guard tower at Camp Delta in the Guantanamo Bay detention center on March 30, 2010 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to close the prison by early 2010 but the administration has struggled to transfer, try or release the remaining detainees from the facility, located at the U.S. Naval base on the Caribbean island. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The organization Physicians For Human Rights has just released a study document that should break any American's heart. In their report, they indicate that doctors were present during torture such as waterboarding, for example, and that they took extensive analysis of the results. On the one hand, it was felt that this was a way to prove that no great harm was done -- but when experiments and results were used by doctors to refine the "effectiveness" of torture and to devise more effective torture, something went horribly morally amiss.

Here is a video produced by The National Religious Campaign Against Torture that summarizes the issue. Brace yourself. Prepare to be shocked.

In its demand for an investigation, PHR states:

This report reveals evidence indicating that the Bush administration may have conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody. This research, if proven to have occurred, could violate the Geneva Conventions, The Common Rule, the Nuremberg Code and other international and domestic prohibitions against illegal human subject research and experimentation. Not only are these alleged acts gross violations of human rights law, they are a grave affront to America’s core values.

If you wish to read the report in its entirety, you may download it here. It has been written and reviewed and researched by an impressive array of physicians.

Here is an official statement from PHR:

A formal complaint has been filed. On June 9th, Physicians for Human Rights a complaint to the Office of Human Research Protections at the Department of Health and Human Services. Joining PHR in filing were: Amnesty International USA, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, Human Rights Watch, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Psychologists for Social Responsibility and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.

While the Bush administration and CIA would likely make (and have made) the case that physicians were there to make sure no one was really tortured, here is what the report states:

... lawyers apparently, therefore, used human experimentation
both as a justification for torture and as a way
of mitigating legal liability for torture. 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.

Katrien Devolver in Practical Ethics states :

Physician-assisted torturing clearly does not encompass the special duties of doctors. Reducing pain and suffering, and showing compassion just seems inconsistent with the practice of torturing. Moreover, what is consistent with these duties is that doctors, when witnessing cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of people, document, report and oppose such practices (The doctors in this case did not do any of these things.

Donna Shaper, a Christian blogger at the Huffington Post says:

Breaking news that physicians were involved in medical experiments on people already being tortured leads us again to a place beyond right and wrong. That place is called sin. Sin is strong enough to approximate dehumanization.

Stay At Home MD, a doctor staying at home for her daughter's first year comments on the medical rule "Do No Harm" and says:

So how did these doctors and nurses justify using their medical training to determine the best way to cause someone almost unbearable pain? Did they sleep well at night after they recommended that saline be used instead of water during waterboarding? Did they feel at peace when they looked in the mirror after recommending 48 hours of sleep deprivation over 72?

Gail at Gambits from Gail says:

Hey, do you know what one tidbit of torture information they found out? (This is really useful stuff, so pay attention!) If you administer a water boarding session, you should use salt water instead of fresh water. Fresh water increases the risk of hyponatremia, a condition of low sodium levels in the blood (too much water, not enough salt), which can lead to brain edema and herniation, coma, and death. Now, how did they figure that out?

Are you sick yet?

BlogHer does not take a political opinion. I do.

Here it is: Torture is wrong and evil. It is against international law, no matter who does it. Medical experimentation on detainees disgusts me and makes me think of the Nazi Dr. Mengele. It also makes me cry that my country, the country I love so much, had anything to do with this. I want us to be better than that.

~~ Contributing Editor, Mata H. also blogs at Time's Fool

Recent Posts by Mata H


In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.