Monday, October 18, 2010

Guantanamo detainees human guinea pigs?

Startling revelations in a 3,200 word investigative report by Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye into human experimentation at Guantanamo's Camp X-ray:
In 2002, as the Bush administration was turning to torture and other brutal techniques for interrogating "war on terror" detainees, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz loosened rules against human experimentation, an apparent recognition of legal problems regarding the novel strategies for extracting and evaluating information from the prisoners.

Wolfowitz issued his little-known directive on March 25, 2002, about a month after President George W. Bush stripped the detainees of traditional prisoner-of-war protections under the Geneva Conventions. Bush labeled them "unlawful enemy combatants" and authorized the CIA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to undertake brutal interrogations.

Despite its title - "Protection of Human Subjects and Adherence to Ethical Standards in DoD-Supported Research" - the Wolfowitz directive weakened protections that had been in place for decades by limiting the safeguards to "prisoners of war."
The Wolofwitz directive addresses experimentation on POWs as follows:
4.4.2. The involvement of prisoners of war as human subjects of research is prohibited.
This is essentially the same as Casper Weinberger's superseded 1983 directive which reads:
The use of prisoners of war as human subjects of research is prohibited.
Which explains why Leopold and Kaye neither quote from nor link to Weinberger's superseded directive – that is, the old and new directives are essentially the same as regards prisoners of war.

Also, Leopold and Kaye ignore the following provision in the Wolfowitz directive specifically offering protections to prisoners, as opposed to prisoners of war:
4.4.1. Research supported or conducted by the Department of Defense that affects vulnerable classes of subjects shall meet the additional protections of 45 CFR Part 46, Subparts B, C, and D (reference (f)) (e.g., fetuses, pregnant women, human in vitro fertilization, prisoners, or children). For purposes of this paragraph, actions authorizing or requiring any action by an official of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with respect to any requirements of reference (f) shall be under the authority of the Director, Defense Research and Engineering.
And a further protection ignored by Leopold and Kaye:
4.2. Informed Consent. In general, as required by reference (b), no DoD Component may conduct or use appropriated funds to support research involving a human being as an experimental subject without the prior informed consent of the subject.
Thus is the Truthout investigative report shown to be a complete and total load of crap. Which makes me wonder why Google references Truthout as a news source when it is anything but.


Blogger Valtin said...

You are most mistaken about what you feel was ignored. We specifically addressed the prisoner of war prohibition. In earlier and much longer drafts, we had a mention and link to the 1983 version of the document, signed by Weinberger, but cut it along with a lot of other interesting material, for sake of length. Nevertheless, you appear to have missed our whole discussion of this in the article, where we note that the reference to prisoners other than POW was linked to the Bush administration taking POW status away from the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and how the HHS definition of prisoner allowed wiggle room for the use of experimentation on "prisoners" that would otherwise be denied for use on POWs.

Furthermore, you mention the provision of the need for informed consent in section 4.1 of the Wolfowitz directive. True enough, but you fail to mention that that provision can be WAIVED, per section 4.2.2, by the heads of the various DOD components, without need for consent by the subject or their legal representative. This is totally different from the Weinberger directive, which makes no such waiver, and in fact states (Section 2 (e) of the 1983 doc) that no human subject research can even be initiated without all necessary approvals and informed consent of the subject.

You furthermore ignore the entire history of the lax oversight of the human subject protections that we briefly enumerated, the statements of experts in the field we offered, and the accounts of government sources in the article that specifically linked the Wolfowitz directive to a secret experimental program at Guantanamo.

In summary, your account of our article is incomplete and misleading. I urge you to read it again, and I would be happy to argue or discuss the finer points or differences you might have.

-- Jeffrey Kaye

4:50 AM  

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