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22 Organizations Support PHR’s Complaint to the Office of Human Research Protections

On June 9, Physicians for Human Rights had 7 organizations joining us as co-signers of our complaint to the Office of Human Research Protections regarding evidence of CIA violations of the Common Rule. Today, nine days later, the number of supporting organizations has swelled to 22! Here is the current list:

  • Physicians for Human Rights
  1. AfterDowningStreet
  2. Amnesty International USA
  3. Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  4. Center for Constitutional Rights
  5. Center for Victims of Torture
  6. CodePink
  7. Friends Committee on National Legislation
  8. Human Rights Watch
  9. Interfaith Communities United for Justice & Peace (ICUJP)
  10. International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
  11. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  12. National Accountability Action Network
  13. National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
  14. National Religious Campaign Against Torture
  15. Network of Concerned Anthropologists
  16. Program for Torture Victims (PTV)
  17. Progressive Democrats of America
  18. Psychologists for Social Responsibility
  19. Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
  20. The Provincial Council of the Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians)
  21. United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
  22. WarIsACrime

We know this list will continue to grow, so we’ve added a page on The Torture Papers that we’ll keep up to date with all of the groups demanding an investigation into evidence of illegal CIA experimentation on detainees.

Don’t forget that individuals can sign onto the complaint, too!

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Experiments in Torture: Action and Media Recap

Last Monday, June 7, PHR released Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the “Enhanced” Interrogation Program to immediate, overwhelming response.

Upon release of the report, PHR issued a statement and held a press conference. In the first 24 hours, PHR received over 467 press mentions. Major press covering the story on day 1 included the New York Times, Nature, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, Washington Independent, Scientific American and Alternet. The report was featured on the front page of the Daily Kos and Boing Boing—two of the most heavily trafficked blogs on the internet—as well as on the prestigious legal affairs blog, Balkinization, on the highly influential blog Hullabaloo, and on numerous other notable blogs, including, Firedoglake (multiple bloggers), Religion Dispatches, The American Prospect, On Faith (Washington Post) and Political Animal.

News of the report also ran on numerous major network local TV and radio news shows around the country. [display_podcast]

nyt eit ed

On Tuesday, June 8, PHR’s report was the subject of the lead editorial of the New York Times. Day 2 coverage also included The Nation, New York Observer, LA Times, New Scientist, Inter Press Service and fulsome treatments by bloggers Andrew Sullivan (at The Atlantic) and Glenn Greenwald (at Salon.com), who are both widely read and highly influential for new media and mainstream news, alike.

On Wednesday, PHR, along with 9 other groups submitted a formal complaint to the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP). We issued a new statement and held another press conference—and attracted a new round of press coverage, with at least 200 press outlets covering the story, including wire stories on AFP and AP and detailed reporting on The Great Beyond blog from Nature.com.

Our OHRP complaint was co-signed by Amnesty International USA, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, Human Rights Watch, International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Network of Concerned Anthropologists and Psychologists for Social Responsibility.

Anyone can file an OHRP complaint, so we’ve opened ours to the public in cooperation with a number of our partner organizations. If you haven’t signed on yet, please do.

Also on Wednesday, the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a statement to blogger Jeff Kaye: “the findings of the new report from Physicians for Human Rights will be considered,” Feinstein said, in the Committee’s review of the CIA detention and interrogation program.

By the end of the week on Friday, PHR was mentioned nearly 900 times in press source and had over 9000 total downloads of Experiments in Torture. The report authors have been interviewed numerous times for print, radio and TV. We’ve posted a few of their appearances on The Torture Papers.

A number of outside academic experts have spoken supportively on the record about PHR’s evidence and the allegation of experimentation, including, Olivier Ribbelink, researcher at the Asser Institute in The Hague; Jonathan D. Moreno, a professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania; Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia; and Nancy Berlinger, a research scholar who studies clinical ethics at The Hastings Center in Garrison, New York.

Many thanks to all who have blogged, reported, tweeted, signed onto the OHRP complaint, sent our links to colleagues and otherwise responded to the pressing nature of our findings in Experiments in Torture.

Stay tuned for more developments.

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Senate Intelligence Committee Considers PHR Report

The Senate Intelligence Committee has announced that the allegations in PHR’s report that the CIA may have engaged in illegal experimentation on detainees will be evaluated as part of its inquiry into  the CIA’s interrogation and detention program. In a written statement to blogger Jeff Kaye, the office of Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stated:

The Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting a review of the CIA detention and interrogation program. This review includes both the use of CIA medical personnel in administering coercive interrogation techniques and the effects of prolonged detention on the individuals in CIA custody. This is the most detailed and comprehensive review of the CIA detention and interrogation program ever conducted. The findings of the new report from Physicians for Human Rights will be considered in our review, and I will have further comment on this when the report is completed.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has oversight responsibility for the activities of the CIA and has been conducting a review of the “enhanced” interrogation program and other detention practices for a number of months.

PHR welcomes this scrutiny of our report and sees it as a promising sign that the Senate Intelligence Committee is committed to a serious and thorough assessment of all aspects of the CIA interrogation program.

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Did the CIA Experiment on People? Demand an Investigation!

PHR’s new report, Experiments in Torture, has sent shock waves through the conscience of America this week. This report reveals evidence indicating that the Bush administration may have conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody.

This research, if proven to have occurred, could violate the Geneva Conventions, The Common Rule, the Nuremberg Code and other international and domestic prohibitions against illegal human subject research and experimentation. Not only are these alleged acts gross violations of human rights law, they are a grave affront to America’s core values.

Elected officials have failed in their duty to investigate potential CIA wrongdoing. It’s time to get the experts involved.

Join PHR as we file a complaint with the Office of Human Research Protection, demanding an investigation into these alleged abuses.

Physicians for Human Rights, together with Amnesty International, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Victims of Torture, Human Rights Watch, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Network of  Concerned Anthropologists and Psychologists for Social Responsibility, has filed a complaint based on evidence of  CIA experimentation with the Office of Human Research Protection (OHRP). The complaint demands that OHRP launch a full investigation into possible human experimentation by the CIA.

The OHRP, which is part of the US Department of Health & Human Services, is responsible for ensuring that federally funded research involving human subjects complies with scientific and human rights-based regulations. OHRP has a long history of sanctioning powerful institutions that violate US law protecting human subjects in research.

Take action now by joining the OHRP complaint. Anyone world-wide can officially join the complaint just by signing the petition. You will add your name to a list of thousands of people calling for justice. You will not be asked to come to court, nor will you need to take further action. By signing your name, you will have demanded an official investigation into deeply disturbing allegations of illegal CIA experimentation on detainees.

The integrity of America’s commitment to human rights and rule of law stands in the balance. Sign on to the OHRP complaint today.

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Podcast: Press Conference on Joint Complaint to Office of Human Research Protections

Yesterday, on Wednesday, June 9, PHR and seven partner organizations held a press conference to announce our joint filing of a complaint to the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) at the Department of Health and Human Services. We requested that OHRP investigate alleged CIA human experimentation on detainees.

PHR CEO Frank Donaghue opened the briefing:

Today Physicians for Human Rights is joined by colleagues from seven leading health, human rights, religious and legal groups to demand federal investigation of alleged human experimentation on detainees.

Representatives are on the call from Amnesty International, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, Human Rights Watch, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Psychologists for Social Responsibility.

Thank you to each of you for standing with Physicians for Human Rights at this critical juncture in the fight for accountability for torture.

These groups represent hundreds of thousands of Americans who want accountability for torture committed by the United States since September 11th, 2001, and want to ensure that these abuses never happen again.

The complaint being filed this morning with the Office of Human Research Protection at the Department of Health and Human Services, known as OHRP, is an important response to one specific and chilling aspect of the Bush administration’s program of torture: Evidence of human research and experimentation on detainees.

The other speakers were:

  • Nathaniel Raymond, Director of Campaign Against Torture, PHR
  • Stephen Soldz, President-elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility
  • Steven H. Miles, MD, Board member, Center for Victims of Torture
  • Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Tom Parker, Policy Director, Terrorism, Counterterrorism and Human Rights at Amnesty International
  • Rev. Richard L. Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture
  • Shahid Buttar, Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Andrea Prasow, Senior Counterterrorism Counsel, Human Rights Watch

You can hear their remarks and answers to questions form the press in the podcast, below.

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Human Rights, Health, and Religious Groups File Federal Complaint Against CIA Based on New Evidence Indicating Human Experimentation on Detainees

June 9, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Ben Greenberg
bgreenberg at phrusa dot org
617-510-3417 (mobile)
Contacts for partner organizations appear below.

A broad coalition of human rights, health, and religious groups filed a formal complaint today with the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) against the Central Intelligence Agency. This action is in response to new revelations by Physicians for Human Rights that the CIA allegedly engaged in illegal human subject research and experimentation on detainees as part of Bush-era interrogation practices. The CIA has denied the allegations and has refused to investigate evidence of experimentation presented by Physicians for Human Rights in a report entitled Experiments in Torture: Evidence of Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the “Enhanced” Interrogation Program. The report is available at http://phrtorturepapers.org

The following groups have joined the OHRP complaint so far:

  • Physicians for Human Rights
  • Amnesty International USA
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Center for Victims of Torture
  • Human Rights Watch
  • National Religious Campaign Against Torture
  • Network of Concerned Anthropologists
  • Psychologists for Social Responsibility

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Complaint to Office of Human Research Protections Regarding Evidence of CIA Violations of Common Rule

Today, Physicians for Human Rights has filed the following complaint to the Office of Human Research Protections at the Department of Health and Human Services. Joining PHR in filing this complaint are: Amnesty International USA, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, Human Rights Watch, National Religious Campaign Against Torture and Psychologists for Social Responsibility.

UPDATE 6/15: By an unfortunate oversight, the Network of Concerned Anthropologists was left off the original complaint though they were one of PHR’s first partners in this campaign. It is a pleasure to acknowledge NCA’s support.

UPDATE 6/10: International Rehabilatation Council for Torture Victims has joined the complaint.

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Human Rights, Medical and Religious Groups to File Federal Complaint Seeking Investigation of CIA Experiments on Detainees

UPDATE 6/9: Human Rights Watch has joined the coalition of groups submitting the OHRP complaint today.

Media Advisory for: 11 AM EDT on Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Contact:

  • Benjamin Greenberg, Physicians for Human Rights, 617-510-3417, bgreenberg at phrusa dot org
  • Margot Friedman, 202-332-5550, mfriedman at dupontcirclecommunications dot com

Telephone Press Briefing at 11 AM EDT on Wednesday

Evidence Indicates Experiments Were Conducted to Provide Legal Cover for Torture

Washington, D.C. – A coalition of human rights, medical and religious organizations will hold a telephone press conference at 11 a.m. EDT on Wednesday to announce the filing of a complaint with the federal Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) seeking an investigation into human experimentation on detainees by the CIA.

The action follows the release Monday of a report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) that provides new evidence that health professionals on the CIA payroll performed experiments on detainees in U.S. custody following Sept. 11, 2001 to apparently provide legal cover for torture. That report, Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program is available at http://phrtorturepapers.org/

The press conference will include representatives from Physicians for Human Rights and the following organizations, as well as other national human rights, medical and religious groups joining PHR in filing the complaint, including:

  • Amnesty International
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Center for Victims of Torture
  • National Religious Campaign Against Torture and
  • Psychologists for Social Responsibility

The OHRP, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, is responsible for ensuring that federally funded research by federal agencies including the CIA involving human subjects complies with regulations collectively known as the Common Rule. The CIA can not obstruct an OHRP investigation on the basis that evidence may be classified. OHRP has previously taken actions to suspend research activities at major research universities for violation of the Common Rule. Since the Obama administration has not responded to the request to investigate possible incidents of human experimentation on detainees, the groups are seeking an official investigation by the OHRP.

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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

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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Evidence Indicates that the Bush Administration Conducted Experiments and Research on Detainees to Design Torture Techniques and Create Legal Cover

June 7, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Illegal Activity Would Violate Nuremberg Code and Could Open Door to Prosecution

Media Contacts:

Ben Greenberg
bgreenberg at phrusa dot org
Mobile: +1-617-510-3417

Valerie Holford
Mobile: +1-301-926-1298

(Cambridge, MA) In the most comprehensive investigation to date of health professionals’ involvement in the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program (EIP), Physicians For Human Rights has uncovered evidence that indicates the Bush administration apparently conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody. The apparent experimentation and research appear to have been performed to provide legal cover for torture, as well as to help justify and shape future procedures and policies governing the use of the “enhanced” interrogation techniques. The PHR report, Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program, is the first to provide evidence that CIA medical personnel engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture.

This evidence indicating apparent research and experimentation on detainees opens the door to potential additional legal liability for the CIA and Bush-era officials. There is no publicly available evidence that the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel determined that the alleged experimentation and research performed on detainees was lawful, as it did with the “enhanced” techniques themselves.

“The CIA appears to have broken all accepted legal and ethical standards put in place since the Second World War to protect prisoners from being the subjects of experimentation,” said Frank Donaghue, PHR’s Chief Executive Officer. “Not only are these alleged acts gross violations of human rights law, they are a grave affront to America’s core values.”

Physicians for Human Rights demands that President Obama direct the Attorney General to investigate these allegations, and if a crime is found to have been committed, prosecute those responsible. Additionally, Congress must immediately amend the War Crimes Act (WCA) to remove changes made to the WCA in 2006 by the Bush Administration that allow a more permissive definition of the crime of illegal experimentation on detainees in US custody. The more lenient 2006 language of the WCA was made retroactive to all acts committed by US personnel since 1997.

“In their attempt to justify the war crime of torture, the CIA appears to have committed another alleged war crime – illegal experimentation on prisoners,” said Nathaniel A. Raymond, Director of PHR’s Campaign Against Torture and lead report author. “Justice Department lawyers appear to never have assessed the lawfulness of the alleged research on detainees in CIA custody, despite how essential it appears to have been to their legal cover for torture.”

PHR’s report, Experiments in Torture, is relevant to present-day national security interrogations, as well as Bush-era detainee treatment policies. As recently as February, 2010, President Obama’s then director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, disclosed that the US had established an elite interrogation unit that will conduct “scientific research” to improve the questioning of suspected terrorists. Admiral Blair declined to provide important details about this effort.

“If health professionals participated in unethical human subject research and experimentation they should be held to account,” stated Scott A. Allen, MD, a medical advisor to Physicians for Human Rights and lead medical author of the report. “Any health professional who violates their ethical codes by employing their professional expertise to calibrate and study the infliction of harm disgraces the health profession and makes a mockery of the practice of medicine.”

Several prominent individuals and organizations in addition to PHR will file a complaint this week with the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) and call for an OHRP investigation of the CIA’s Office of Medical Services.

The PHR report indicates that there is evidence that health professionals engaged in research on detainees that violates the Geneva Conventions, The Common Rule, the Nuremberg Code and other international and domestic prohibitions against illegal human subject research and experimentation. Declassified government documents indicate that:

  • Research and medical experimentation on detainees was used to measure the effects of large- volume waterboarding and adjust the procedure according to the results. After medical monitoring and advice, the CIA experimentally added saline, in an attempt to prevent putting detainees in a coma or killing them through over-ingestion of large amounts of plain water. The report observes: “‘Waterboarding 2.0’ was the product of the CIA’s developing and field-testing an intentionally harmful practice, using systematic medical monitoring and the application of subsequent generalizable knowledge.”
  • Health professionals monitored sleep deprivation on more than a dozen detainees in 48-, 96- and 180-hour increments. This research was apparently used to monitor and assess the effects of varying levels of sleep deprivation to support legal definitions of torture and to plan future sleep deprivation techniques.
  • Health professionals appear to have analyzed data, based on their observations of 25 detainees who were subjected to individual and combined applications of “enhanced” interrogation techniques, to determine whether one type of application over another would increase the subject’s “susceptibility to severe pain.” The alleged research appears to have been undertaken only to assess the legality of the “enhanced” interrogation tactics and to guide future application of the techniques.

Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program is the most in-depth expert review to date of the legal and medical ethics issues concerning health professionals’ involvement in researching, designing and supervising the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program. The Experiments in Torture report is the result of six months of investigation and the review of thousands of pages of government documents. It has been peer-reviewed by outside experts in the medical, biomedical and research ethics fields, legal experts, health professionals and experts in the treatment of torture survivors.

The lead author for this report was Nathaniel Raymond, Director of the Campaign Against Torture, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the lead medical author was Scott Allen, MD, Co-Director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University and Medical Advisor to PHR. They were joined in its writing by Vincent Iacopino, MD, PhD, PHR Senior Medical Advisor; Allen Keller, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU School of Medicine, Director, Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture; Stephen Soldz, PhD, President-elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility and Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis; Steven Reisner, PhD, PHR Advisor on Ethics and Psychology; and John Bradshaw, JD, PHR Chief Policy Officer and Director of PHR’s Washington Office.

The report was extensively peer reviewed by leading experts in related medical, legal, ethical and governmental fields addressed in the document.

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