Violations of Nuremburg Code and Role of Health Professionals in Secret Torture Program Require Criminal Investigation
CCR Demands New Intra-Agency Interrogation Unit Disclose Nature of “Scientific Research” Into Questioning of Suspects
Contact: press at ccrjustice dot org
June 7, 2010, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement in response to a new report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the 'Enhanced' Interrogation Program. Download the report at http://phrtorturepapers.org.
Physicians for Human Rights has produced a powerful analysis of declassified documents which provide evidence that doctors and officials performed human experimentation and research on individuals in CIA detention, in violation of the Nuremberg Code. From calibrating sleep deprivation to refining waterboarding practices, the released documents indicate that health professionals illegally experimented on individuals in CIA secret detention. Looking at the evidence through this lens opens new and important avenues for the prosecution of torturers, particularly health professionals implicated in the creation of the torture program.
The health professionals monitored and adjusted various methods such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and the combined use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques as interrogators performed them repeatedly on individuals in the CIA's secret detention program. Part of the health professionals' work appears to have been researching the individuals' susceptibility to severe pain. By doing so, the health professionals appear to have used their medical expertise to attempt to immunize interrogators from future criminal liability by allowing interrogators to claim they did not to cross the line of “severe physical and mental pain.” The health professionals helped in the effort to provide legal cover for U.S. torture practices.
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010
CCR endorses new report showing evidence of Bush administration human experimentation on men in CIA secret detention
Violations of Nuremburg Code and Role of Health Professionals in Secret Torture Program Require Criminal Investigation
By Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t
High-value detainees captured during the Bush administration's "war on terror," who were subjected to brutal torture techniques, were used as "guinea pigs" to gauge the effectiveness of various torture techniques, a practice that has raised troubling comparisons to Nazi-era human experimentation. according to a disturbing new report released by Physicians for Human Rights, an international doctors' organization.
PHR, based in Massachusetts, called on President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and the US Congress to launch investigations into the role of physicians and psychiatric experts in the monitoring and assessments of the brutal interrogations.
"Health professionals working for and on behalf of the CIA monitored the interrogations of detainees, collected and analyzed the results of [the] interrogations, and sought to derive generalizable inferences to be applied to subsequent interrogations," said the 27-page report, entitled "Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the 'Enhanced' Interrogation Program." "Such acts may be seen as the conduct of research and experimentation by health professionals on prisoners, which could violate accepted standards of medical ethics, as well as domestic and international law. These practices could, in some cases, constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity."
The report is based on extensive research of previously declassified government documents that shows the crucial role medical personnel played in establishing and justifying the legality of the Bush administration's torture program. Many of the details contained in the document has already been painstakingly documented by Marcy Wheeler at her blog Emptywheel, and Truthout's own Jeffrey Kaye on his blog Invictus and in articles published on this web site and at Firedoglake.
Written by medical and psychological experts, some of who have worked with victims of torture, the report said the research and experimentation on detainees violate medical professional standards, the Geneva Conventions on treatment of detainees, and international law based on the Nuremberg principles that were embraced by the civilized world after it was revealed that the Nazis engaged in medical atrocities on prisoners during World War II.
“The essence of the ethical and legal protections for human subjects is that the subjects, especially vulnerable populations such as prisoners, must be treated with the dignity befitting human beings and not simply as experimental guinea pigs,” the PHR report said.
Frank Donaghue, PHR's chief executive officer, said the report appears to demonstrate that the CIA violated "all accepted legal and ethical standards put in place since the Second World War to protect prisoners from being the subjects of experimentation."
Waterboarding and Combined Techniques
For example, CIA medical personnel obtained experimental research data by subjecting more than 25 detainees to individual and combined torture techniques, including sleep deprivation and stress positioning, as a way of understanding "whether one type of application over another would increase the subjects' susceptibility to severe pain," the report said, adding that the information derived from that research informed "subsequent [torture] practices."
The study of combined and individual torture tactics “appears to have been used primarily to enable the Bush administration to assess the legality of the tactics, and to inform medical monitoring policy and procedure for future application of the techniques," the report said.
Drawing from the study of torture tactics, Steven Bradbury, then head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), prepared a memo in 2005 that approved combinations of torture tactics, including forced nudity, “wall-slamming,” stress positions and repeated periods of sleep deprivation.
PHR's analysis on sleep deprivation concluded that "government lawyers used observational data collected by health professionals from varying applications of sleep deprivation to inform legal evaluations regarding the risk of inflicting certain levels of harm on the detainee, and to shape policy that would guide further application of the technique."
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Working in a shabby public cemetery, anthropologists are pulling skeletons from an enormous well, hoping the bones will provide clues to what happened to thousands of ``disappeared'' people during the longest and bloodiest Central American civil war.
In what looks like a giant crime scene, the anthropologists -- from the Foundation of Forensic Anthropology of Guatemala, a private group founded in 1994 -- are sifting skulls, femurs and ribs to find signs of violence. The bones are nearly three decades old, dumped here during the height of the civil war, but they still carry signs of trauma: a gunshot or machete hack to the skull.
An estimated 200,000 people were killed in the 36-year-old civil war, a truth commission later found. Among the dead were 45,000 people said to be ``disappeared'' -- abducted, then killed, their bodies never again seen. Many were urban residents, including public university students, activists, writers and poets who opposed the military dictatorships.
While anthropologists have dug up hundreds of graves around the country, this is the first exhumation in the city.
``These people would be picked up, questioned and tortured. And their families couldn't go claim the bodies because they feared for their own lives,'' said Fredy Peccerelli, head of the forensic anthropologists. ``It's not just here. There are cemeteries around the country'' with the bodies of the disappeared.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, roughly 3,000 unidentified bodies ended up at this site -- Las Verbena -- a dusty cemetery marked by crumbling gravestones that sits next to a slum. They were buried with the name ``XX,'' a version of John or Jane Doe.
Ana Lucrecia Molina Theissen believes her brother's bones are there. Military forces abducted him from their mother's house while Theissen watched on Oct. 6, 1981. His family does not know why he was taken and they never saw him again.
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'The cognitive effects are measurable: We're turning into shallow thinkers, says Nicholas Carr.'
The Roman philosopher Seneca may have put it best 2,000 years ago: "To be everywhere is to be nowhere." Today, the Internet grants us easy access to unprecedented amounts of information. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the Net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is also turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.
The picture emerging from the research is deeply troubling, at least to anyone who values the depth, rather than just the velocity, of human thought. People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read traditional linear text. People who watch busy multimedia presentations remember less than those who take in information in a more sedate and focused manner. People who are continually distracted by emails, alerts and other messages understand less than those who are able to concentrate. And people who juggle many tasks are less creative and less productive than those who do one thing at a time.
The common thread in these disabilities is the division of attention. The richness of our thoughts, our memories and even our personalities hinges on our ability to focus the mind and sustain concentration. Only when we pay deep attention to a new piece of information are we able to associate it "meaningfully and systematically with knowledge already well established in memory," writes the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. Such associations are essential to mastering complex concepts.
When we're constantly distracted and interrupted, as we tend to be online, our brains are unable to forge the strong and expansive neural connections that give depth and distinctiveness to our thinking. We become mere signal-processing units, quickly shepherding disjointed bits of information into and then out of short-term memory.
In an article published in Science last year, Patricia Greenfield, a leading developmental psychologist, reviewed dozens of studies on how different media technologies influence our cognitive abilities. Some of the studies indicated that certain computer tasks, like playing video games, can enhance "visual literacy skills," increasing the speed at which people can shift their focus among icons and other images on screens. Other studies, however, found that such rapid shifts in focus, even if performed adeptly, result in less rigorous and "more automatic" thinking.
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Malcolm X appears on a television show in Chicago called "City Desk" on March 17, 1963.
"My father didn't know his last name. My father got his last name from his grandfather and his grandfather got it from his grandfather who got it from the slavemaster. The real names of our people were destroyed during slavery. The last name of my forefathers was taken from them when they were brought to America and made slaves, and then the name of the slavemaster was given, which we refuse, we reject that name today and refuse it. I never acknowledge it whatsoever."
Secretive and elite - the Bilderberg group, which unites some of the world's most powerful people, has been meeting behind closed doors for decades. An investigative journalist Daniel Estulin has just revealed to the European Parliament all he claims to have discovered about the 'Bilderbergers', and expects the results of his findings to have the 'effect of an atomic bomb'.
Playing video games before bedtime may give people an unusual level of awareness and control in their dreams, LiveScience has learned.
That ability to shape the alternate reality of dream worlds might not match mind-bending Hollywood films such as "The Matrix," but it could provide an edge when fighting nightmares or even mental trauma.
Dreams and video games both represent alternate realities, according to Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada. But she pointed out that dreams arise biologically from the human mind, while video games are technologically driven by computers and gaming consoles.
"If you're spending hours a day in a virtual reality, if nothing else it's practice," said Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada. "Gamers are used to controlling their game environments, so that can translate into dreams."
Gackenbach first became interested in video games in the 1990s, when she watched her son repeatedly kiss a new Nintendo gaming console on the way home from a Toys "R" Us. She had previously focused on studying lucid dreams, in which people have awareness of being in a dream.
The last decade of game-related research has since yielded several surprises, although the findings represent suggestive associations rather than definitive proof, Gackenbach cautioned. She is scheduled to discuss her work as a featured speaker at the Sixth Annual Games for Health Conference in Boston this week.
What dreams may come
Several intriguing parallels between lucid dreams and video games first emerged when Gackenbach examined past research on games. Both lucid dreamers and gamers seemed to have better spatial skills and were less prone to motion sickness.
The two groups have also demonstrated a high level of focus or concentration, whether honed through lucidity-training activities, such as meditation, or through hours spent fighting virtual enemies to reach the next level in a game.
That encouraged Gackenbach to survey the dreams of both non-gamers and hardcore gamers, beginning with two studies published in 2006. She had prepared by conducting larger surveys in-class and online to get a sense of where to focus questions.
The first study suggested that people who frequently played video games were more likely to report lucid dreams, observer dreams where they viewed themselves from outside their bodies, and dream control that allowed people to actively influence or change their dream worlds – qualities suggestive of watching or controlling the action of a video-game character.
A second study tried to narrow down the uncertainties by examining dreams that participants experienced from the night before, and focused more on gamers. It found that lucid dreams were common, but that the gamers never had dream control over anything beyond their dream selves.
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The first tranche of the “Non Conformist Registers” has been put online detailing the hundreds of thousands of people who shook up the established order with alternative ideas over the past 225 years.
The database, which goes live on Wednesday, discloses those who refused to conform to the doctrine of the established Anglican Church including Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists and Quakers.
The Quakers were the first religious group to denounce slavery while Methodists were great advocates of women's rights.
More than 224,000 names are included in the register, which dates from the late 17th century, which also detail baptisms, marriages and burial inscriptions.
The digitised papers originally come from the London Metropolitan Archives, which is run by the City of London authority and were compiled by Ancestry.co.uk, a family history website.
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...The 17-page document (.pdf), “Experimentation Programs conducted by the Department of Defense That Had CIA Sponsorship or Participation and That Involved the Administration to Human Subjects of Drugs Intended for Mind-Control or Behavior-Modification Purposes,” was prepared in 1977 by the General Counsel of the Department of Defense and released on May 6 after a Freedom of Information Act request.
Most of the details have been revealed in earlier CIA papers. And if anything, the Pentagon's recap is a reminder of how little the Department of Defense cops to knowing about the CIA projects.
Still, there are some tantalizing new details. Take the origins of MK-ULTRA, the notorious CIA program that dosed thousands of unwitting participants with hallucinogenic drugs.
Initially funded by the Navy, the project set out to study the effects of brain concussion. Soon after, scientists noted that a blow to the head prompted amnesia, leading to the pursuit of a drug-based technique to “induce brain concussion … without physical trauma.” Shortly thereafter, the project was transferred entirely to the CIA, because it involved “human experiments … not easily justifiable on medical-therapeutic grounds.”
Other programs, described briefly focused on mind control. MK-NAOMI was after “severely incapacitating and lethal materials … [and] gadgetry for their dissemination,” and MK-CHICKWIT was designed to “identify new drug developments in Europe and Asia,” and then “obtain samples.”
Edgewood Laboratories, where many of the programs were carried out, is also identified as having tested an incapacitating chemical on prisoners and military personnel without the agency's approval. The drug, EA#3167, was “appl[ied] to the skin” of subjects using an adhesive tape.
Another program, MK-OFTEN, started as a study on dopamine. But the scope was soon expanded to evaluate ibogaine, a hallucinogen, and then several more drugs, in hopes of creating “new pharmacologically active drugs affecting the central nervous system [to] modify men's behavior.”
And the Navy is reported to have “obtain[ed] heroin and marijuana” in an effort to develop speech-inducing drugs for use on defectors and prisoners of war. The drugs were eventually tested on 14 people: six volunteer research assistants, and eight unwitting Soviet defectors. ...
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From Mother of all gushers could kill Earth's oceans:
The original estimate was about 5,000 gallons of oil a day spilling into the ocean. Now they're saying 200,000 gallons a day. That's over a million gallons of crude oil a week!
I'm engineer with 25 years of experience. I've worked on some big projects with big machines. Maybe that's why this mess is so clear to me.
First, the BP platform was drilling for what they call deep oil. They go out where the ocean is about 5,000 feet deep and drill another 30,000 feet into the crust of the earth. This it right on the edge of what human technology can do. Well, this time they hit a pocket of oil at such high pressure that it burst all of their safety valves all the way up to the drilling rig and then caused the rig to explode and sink. Take a moment to grasp the import of that. The pressure behind this oil is so high that it destroyed the maximum effort of human science to contain it.
When the rig sank it flipped over and landed on top of the drill hole some 5,000 feet under the ocean.
Now they've got a hole in the ocean floor, 5,000 feet down with a wrecked oil drilling rig sitting on top of it spewing 200,000 [gallons] of oil a day into the ocean. Take a moment and consider that, will you!
First they have to get the oil rig off the hole to get at it in order to try to cap it. Do you know the level of effort it will take to move that wrecked oil rig, sitting under 5,000 feet of water? That operation alone would take years and hundreds of millions to accomplish. Then, how do you cap that hole in the muddy ocean floor? There just is no way. No way.
The only piece of human technology that might address this is a nuclear bomb. I'm not kidding. If they put a nuke down there in the right spot it might seal up the hole. Nothing short of that will work. [See Paul Noel's ideas above.]
If we can't cap that hole that oil is going to destroy the oceans of the world. It only takes one quart of motor oil to make 250,000 gallons of ocean water toxic to wildlife. Are you starting to get the magnitude of this?
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