Health professionals unethical involvement in CIA torture programme
- Wednesday, 21 June 2017
According to a new report released today by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), recently declassified documents confirm that the CIA conducted experimental research to test an unsupported hypothesis that torture could break the resistance of detainees and aid interrogation. It confirms that health workers were involved in illegal and unethical experiments to define the thresholds of pain and suffering of the torture subjects.
The report Nuremberg Betrayed: Human Experimentation and the CIA Torture Program shows that two psychologists contracted by the CIA (James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen) promoted the unsupported claim that "breaking" detainees psychologically could produce compliance and cooperation, and thus yield intelligence. They designed an interrogation program in which health professionals were charged with not only monitoring the application of torture, but also reviewing whether the tactics "worked" and would not injure detainees beyond thresholds established by the Bush administration.
According to PHR, these health professionals applied their professional skills and engaged in research to aid torture. "This was human experimentation on nonconsenting prisoners who were being tortured, a crime within a crime."
The report further shows that health professionals participating in the torture program were under pressure from the CIA to generate data to justify torture practices. Those health professionals were also used to determine the threshold of pain and suffering of the torture subjects. "Health professionals were used to give experimental torture practices a false mantle of safety and legitimacy," said PHR's Sara Dougherty, lead author of the report. "Any researcher or health professional even minimally versed in the basics of ethics and professionalism can tell you that such research without consent is completely outside the realm of the acceptable."
Source: press release Physicians for Human Rights, 21 June 2017
Download the report (PDF)