Wednesday, September 2, 2009
UPDATE From DN on Doctor's Role in Torture: Liberty at Last for Mohamed Jawad!
Democracy Now! on health professionals’ complicity in CIA torture
Democracy Now! had on Steven Reisner today discussing the new Physicians for Human Rights report on health professionals’ involvement in CIA torture. You can watch or listen here [Transcript below]:
Physicians for Human Rights: Doctors’ Role in CIA Waterboarding “May Amount to Human Experimentation”
A new report by Physicians for Human Rights has found that physicians and psychologists played a greater role than previously known in designing, implementing and legitimizing the Bush administration’s torture program. The recently declassified CIA Inspector General’s report detailed how medical professionals collected data on the reaction of prisoners to interrogation methods in order to help the CIA assess and refine the use of waterboarding and other techniques. The group says this “may amount to human experimentation.” [includes rush transcript]
Dr. Steven Reisner, co-author of the report “Aiding Torture.” He is the adviser on psychological ethics for Physicians for Human Rights. He is an adjunct professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and a clinical assistant professor at NYU.
AMY GOODMAN: A new report by Physicians for Human Rights has found that physicians and psychologists played a greater role than previously known in designing, implementing and legitimizing the Bush administration’s torture program.
A team of doctors analyzed the details of the CIA’s Inspector General report on prisoner interrogation that the Justice Department released last week. Among other revelations, the report detailed how medical professionals collected data on the reaction of prisoners to interrogation methods in order to help the CIA assess and refine the use of waterboarding and other techniques. Physicians for Human Rights found this data collection and analysis, quote, “may amount to human experimentation” and calls for further investigation.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The group is calling for health professionals who have violated ethical standards or the law to be held accountable through criminal prosecution, loss of license and loss of professional society membership.
Dr. Steven Reisner is the co-author of the report, titled “Aiding Torture.” Dr. Reisner is the adviser on psychological ethics for Physicians for Human Rights. He’s also an adjunct professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and a clinical assistant professor at NYU.
Welcome to Democracy Now!
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Thank you for having me.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Summarize your findings of that report.
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, what we found is clear evidence of the role of health professionals in every aspect of the Bush administration’s torture program, from devising the program to implementing the program and to monitoring the program in a way attempting to justify it according to the Bush administration Justice Department’s narrow reading of the laws against torture. The Bush administration argued that if it doesn’t cause organ failure or death or prolonged psychological harm, it’s not torture, and therefore health professionals were present at every moment during these torture sessions to ostensibly validate that the prisoner wasn’t about to die or have organ failure.
AMY GOODMAN: Human experimentation?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, what happened is that the Office of Medical Services of the CIA didn’t have any data to go on to assess how dangerous to the life of the prisoner waterboarding actually was. So what they decided to do, according to the report, is to gather data through each session of the waterboarding in order to better assess how you implement waterboarding in the future. So they asked for data on the amount of water that was issued, how frequently the sessions were, whether there was a seal, you know, a nasal seal, making sure the water entered the cavity or didn’t enter the cavity, how many sessions per day, etc., etc. So, gathering of data in order to improve the functioning of a technique seems to us to come very close to, if not crossing the line, of experimentation on prisoners.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And presumably that data was then collected into scientific reports, right, that exist somewhere?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, presumably. We don’t have any documentation of that at this point, but that’s why Physicians for Human Rights is calling for a thorough investigation.
AMY GOODMAN: The eleven techniques, Dr. Reisner?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: The eleven techniques—well, the main thing about that is that we’ve discovered that there were techniques that we didn’t know about before: diapering—
AMY GOODMAN: What’s diapering for?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Diapering is for humiliation. You put a diaper on the detainee, and especially with—they combine that with a purely liquid diet, so that the detainee was likely to lose control of his bowels and experience this terrible regressive humiliation. The aim of all of these techniques primarily was psychological regression.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Reisner, can you put this in the context of what’s happening at the American Psychological Association? I mean, we’ve had you on a number of times. You ran for president of the APA. You didn’t win, though you got the most nominating votes for your candidacy. And you’ve led this movement, along with a few other psychologists, supported by thousands within the APA, to challenge its allowing psychologists to participate in coercive interrogations. You just came out of a meeting in Canada, the APA’s annual meeting. What has come of this movement?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, the protest against the APA’s position has been pretty widespread. And the APA has been claiming that they’re against torture, just like the Bush administration claims that it’s against torture. But when it comes to actually putting teeth into their proposals, into their policy, they have yet to implement their own policy.
We got the—we forwarded a referendum. The APA membership voted overwhelmingly to keep psychologists out of environments that violate Geneva Conventions or the UN Convention Against Torture. That’s APA policy.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, has stated, and wrote a letter to the president of the APA, that Guantanamo still violates the Geneva Conventions and violates the UN Convention Against Torture, but the APA continues to refuse to implement its own referendum policy and ask for the withdrawal of psychologists from that site—at that site and other similar sites.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And have any of the—I assume that the report did not identify any of the medical professionals who participated, but have any of the medical professionals who participated in these programs been identified or come forward at all?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, a number of them have been identified. The two psychologists that created the CIA’s torture program, oversaw it, implemented the waterboarding with a number of high-value detainees, Mitchell and Jessen, these were private contractors who had their own corporation. On the board of that corporation was a former president of the American Psychological Association. The Obama administration has terminated their contract, but so far there have been no ethical investigations. There have been no conclusions drawn for any of the psychologists or health professionals that were involved.
AMY GOODMAN: In your report with Physicians for Human Rights, the group is calling for health professionals who have violated ethical standards or the law to be held accountable through criminal prosecution, loss of license and loss of professional society membership. Do you see that happening right now?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: I don’t see it actually yet happening. And we’ve been pushing state licensing boards. We’ve been pushing the professional associations. And the way to really hold the professional associations to their own standards is to see whether they successfully investigate the ethical violations of their members. And so far, they have not.
AMY GOODMAN: We will leave it there. Dr. Steven Reisner, co-author of the report “Aiding Torture,” adviser on psychological ethics for Physicians for Human Rights, an adjunct professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University and a clinical assistant professor at New York University.
Go to Democracy Now! to see Comments September 3rd, 2009
Also google: Guardian: Doctors and CIA human experiments
SEE Andy Worthington dot co dot uk for COMMENTS after the following...and more...
EXCERPT from originally posted article: President Hamid Karzai, who offered to help the former refugee readjust to his new-found freedom by providing him with a house. The Associated Press reported that “Turbaned men, many who had traveled to Kabul from villages in a nearby province, greeted him with a flurry of hugs and wide smiles,” and added that Jawad, standing in a courtyard surrounded by family members, stated, “I am bursting out of my clothes."
Reflections On Mohamed Jawad’s Release From Guantánamo By Andy Worthington
Long-time readers of my work will know that I championed the cause of Mohamed Jawad, the Afghan prisoner released from Guantánamo on August 24, for nearly two years, from the moment that he was, ludicrously, put forward for a trial by Military Commission in October 2007. Jawad was charged with throwing a grenade that wounded two US soldiers and an Afghan translator in a marketplace in Kabul in December 2002, even though it was clear from his testimony alone that he was a teenager at the time of the attack, that he had been duped into joining an insurgent group, that he was drugged at the time of the attack, and that a confession had been coerced out of him while in Afghan custody. His case was also, at the time, the most obvious example of how the Bush administration, in its “War on Terror,” had warped existing war crimes legislation, and was attempting to claim that anyone who opposed US forces in a wartime situation was engaged not in legitimate warfare, but in a criminal enterprise.
Since then, I have assiduously covered the various twists and turns in his story, including, in particular, the crisis in the Commission system that was precipitated in September 2008, when his military prosecutor, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, resigned, declaring that the Commission system was unable to deliver justice, and explaining how he had gone from being a “true believer to someone who felt truly deceived,” the incidents in October and November 2008, when his military judge, Army Col. Stephen Henley, refused to accept the confessions made by Jawad shortly after his capture (both in Afghan and US custody), because they had been extracted through threats of torture, an explosive statement by Lt. Col. Vandeveld in January this year, to accompany Jawad’s habeas claim, in which the former prosecutor delivered an even more comprehensive denunciation of the Commissions’ systemic failures, his lawyers’ discovery in May that Jawad may have been as young as 12 when he was first seized, the savage denunciation of the government’s case that was delivered by Judge Ellen Segan Huvelle during his habeas corpus hearing in July, when she condemned the Justice Department for its persistent obstruction, and repeatedly stressed that the government did not have a single reliable witness, and that the case was “lousy,” “in trouble,” “unbelievable,” and “riddled with holes,” and statements to a Senate and House Committee in July by Lt. Col. Vandeveld and by Jawad’s military defense attorney, Lt. Col. David Frakt.
These not only provided the final word on the whole of the sordid story of Jawad’s imprisonment and ill-treatment, but also provided — in Frakt’s electrifying testimony, in particular — a comprehensive account of the fatally flawed genesis and development of the Commissions, which should have convinced the administration and the politicians that their proposal to revive the Commissions in a revised form is doomed to failure, and that they should be consigned to the scrap heap of history, along with every other innovation dreamt up by former Vice President Dick Cheney and his close advisors.
I extend my belated congratulations to these brave and principled men and women for securing Mohamed Jawad’s release and for defending the values on which the United States prides itself, and am delighted to note that, on Jawad’s return, he was reunited with his family, and was even granted an audience with President Hamid Karzai, who offered to help the former refugee readjust to his new-found freedom by providing him with a house. The Associated Press reported that “Turbaned men, many who had traveled to Kabul from villages in a nearby province, greeted him with a flurry of hugs and wide smiles,” and added that Jawad, standing in a courtyard surrounded by family members, stated, “I am bursting out of my clothes. I spent a long time in prison and now I am very happy to be back with my family.” The London Times also reported that the Defence Minister, Abdul Rakhim Wardak, “offered to pay for him to study overseas,” following a statement by Jawad, in which he announced that he would like to study to become a doctor...
Read the rest at Andy Worthington's amazing site! GO here
Posted by CN at 12:58 PM