Rights group claims medical personnel aided CIA in interrogation experiments

[JURIST] Medical personnel present as part of the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogations were collecting and analyzing data in order to develop more effective interrogation procedures, according to a report released Monday by the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

The techniques used by the interrogators, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and prolonged isolation, were recognized as legal if medical personnel were present and responsible for ensuring the legal threshold for “severe physical and mental pain” was not crossed in violation of the US War Crimes Act.

The report contends the collection of data was used not to protect the health of the person being interrogated, but rather in an experimental fashion to justify and shape future interrogation procedures. If proven, the use of humans as research subjects would be in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremburg Code, as well as other national and international laws.

PHR also contends that while the Bush administration’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos may provide a legal defense against claims of torture, that protection would not extend to claims of human experimentation.

The report lists a series of recommendations, including investigations by the US Attorney General, the US Office for Human Research Protection (OHRP), and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. PHR also calls on the US Congress to amend the War Crimes act to ensure its compliance with the Geneva Convention.

Read comments on the report by
Jason Leopold, “Human Experimentation at the Hearth of Bush Administration’s Torture Program“, Truthout
Steve Vladeck, “Paging Dr. Mengele: Medical Experimentation and the CIA Detainees“, Balkinization

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