Bush Admin. Used Torture as Human Experimentation

Bush Admin. Used Torture as Human Experimentation June 22, 2017

Physicians for Human Rights has a new report based on a review of thousands of documents related to the torture regime put in place by the Bush administration. The report says that the two psychologists who designed the program used it as human experimentation to perfect their techniques.


Based on an analysis of thousands of pages of documents and years of research, Physicians for Human Rights shows that the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program constituted an illegal, unethical regime of experimental research on unwilling human subjects, testing the flawed hypothesis that torture could aid interrogators in breaking the resistance of detainees. In “Nuremberg Betrayed: Human Experimentation and the CIA Torture Program,” PHR researchers show that CIA contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen created a research program in which health professionals designed and applied torture techniques and collected data on torture’s effects. This constitutes one of the gravest breaches of medical ethics by U.S. health personnel since the Nuremberg Code was developed in the wake of Nazi medical atrocities committed during World War Two.

Delving into the role health professionals played in designing and implementing torture, the report uses newly released documents to show how the results of untested, brutal torture techniques were used to calibrate the machinery of the torture program. The large-scale experiment’s flawed findings were also used by Bush administration lawyers to create spurious legal cover for the entire program.

PHR calls on all medical and scientific communities to convene a commission to lay out what is known about the torture program, including the participation of health professionals, and urges the Trump administration to launch a criminal investigation to get a full accounting of the crimes committed by the CIA and other government agencies.

The two psychologists who designed the program, who made nearly $100 million for their efforts, are being sued by some of their victims, innocent people caught up in dragnets and tortured for information they didn’t even have. Both the Obama and Trump administrations have tried to deny those victims their day in court through abuse of the State Secrets Privilege.

But the men behind the torture program, and any medical professional who helped in any way, should be stripped of their license to practice in their fields, immediately and forever. If torturing people is not a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, what on earth possibly could be?

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