Monday, June 07, 2010
Paging Dr. Mengele: Medical Experimentation and the CIA Detainees
The PHR report appears to confirm the detailed accounts given in Dr. Steven H. Miles' book, Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2nd ed., 2009).
That is a good book, probably not the only one, discussing physicians involvement (complicity) in the torture, interrogation and homicides. This includes helping to cover them up.
The American Psychological Association "membership [later] voted overwhelmingly to keep psychologists out of environments that violate Geneva Conventions or the UN Convention Against Torture."
This business had many parents.
"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."
That seems like a stretch. Collection of clinical data isn't the same as "experimentation." Here's an analogy. A doctor in a regular U.S. prison collects data on results of solitary confinement. He discovers that inmates who are held more than six months in solitary confinement suffer a dramatic decline in life expectancy. He publishes the results, and urges prison administrators to cap stretches in solitary confinement at six months. Is he guilty of "experimenting on human subjects without their consent"? That's laughable.
I have to agree with Sean. It seems that this all depends on whether the EITs were torture. I'm not familiar with the Nuremburg Codes, but I can't imagine that, under them, a lawful act would become unlawful just because a doctor was watching. That seems like an absurd result.
Health professionals working for and on behalf of the CIA monitored the interrogations of detainees, collected and analyzed the results of those interrogations, and sought to derive generalizable inferences to be applied to subsequent interrogations.
And the point is?
Physicians and medics routinely monitor SERE, Special Forces, Ranger, SEAL and other military training, intervene when the health of the trainee is endangered and provide ongoing after action reports to be applied to future training.
The purpose of both the medical supervision in military training and the CIA interrogation derived nearly entirely from SERE training is to protect the health of the trainee/prisoner.
Rather than being "illegal or unethical," this supervision and feedback would appear to conform to the ethical standards of the medical profession.
Is PHR suggesting that CIA should be freed from medical supervision and restrictions during interrogation? We saw the results of that approach when CIA contractors ended up killing some prisoners in Afghanistan early in the war.
The comparison between CIA doctors and Joseph Mengele is nothing less than obscene.
Justify the analogy or retract it.
"a doctor was watching"
It is suggested other accounts, including the interview over at Democracy Now! today, be looked into. This is not just about doctors "watching," but actively being involved in various respects. The book cited by Patrick O'Donnell is an in depth earlier resource.
But, yes, the reference to Dr. Mengele is ill advised. The Nazi precedent set firm limits, but any comparison is an ill fit, even if we agree wrongdoing or unethical behavior was in place.
Am I correct that the body of Prof. Vladeck's post makes no mention whatsoever of Dr. Mengele; that the only reference to Dr. Mengele appears in the title to the post? Yes, titles serve to get the attention of potential readers. Can any of the unnamed physicians described in the post establish that they have been defamed by the attention getting title by being compared to Dr. Mengele? Maybe there is a lawyer is Colorado prepared to take on such a claim, but I would suspect that he would be influenced by second hand fumes from his clientele as well as by his adulation of everything Bush/Cheney, John Yoo, Glenn Beck, etc.
Steve, there's no need of the demand for a retraction made by a NOAGN.*
*Nit on a gnat's nut
I'm not familiar with the Nuremburg Codes, but I can't imagine that, under them, a lawful act would become unlawful just because a doctor was watching. That seems like an absurd result.
It's not that the lawful act itself becomes lawful; it's that there are issues of medical ethics that may apply even if the act is lawful. There is an analogous debate over whether doctors may assist in executions (which are, of course, lawful).
It seems that this all depends on whether the EITs were torture. I'm not familiar with the Nuremburg Codes, but I can't imagine that, under them, a lawful act would become unlawful just because a doctor was watching
Well, since there's no debate that EITs WERE in fact torture, than we can just move on to the next question about the doctors, right?
Really, the only reason there's a "debate" about EITs is because we are the most powerful nation in the world.
If we were Panama, Bush, Cheney et al would be enjoying lunches at the Hague as we speak.
Is PHR suggesting that CIA should be freed from medical supervision and restrictions during interrogation?...
How about the CIA shouldn't torture, and medical personnel shouldn't aid and abet such, including providing assistance of any kind? No one here is complaining that they didn't try to provide treatment for any injuries sustained by the detainees. What they did provide is feedback on how to make the torture more effective.
... We saw the results of that approach when CIA contractors ended up killing some prisoners in Afghanistan early in the war.
How many of the dozens of murders while in captivity have been prosecuted? In how many of these have actual murder charges been brought? I think the problem here lies elsewhere.
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