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CIA may have conducted human experiments

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Secret memo shows the CIA Director was given freedom to modify proposals pertaining to human subject research.

A secret internal document of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contains guidance on “human experimentation” for Agency officers, it has emerged, and experts have challenged the Agency’s claim that it abided by limitations set for such experimentation even as it engaged in “brutal” psychologist-designed torture programmes.

The document, titled ‘Law and Policy Governing the Conduct of Intelligence Activities’, was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the American Civil Liberties Union .

Procedural guidelines

It still is an active set of procedural guidelines, covering the “enhanced interrogation techniques” regime that was promulgated after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Under a section outlining limitations on human experimentation, the document requires that the CIA “shall not sponsor, contract for, or conduct research on human subjects” outside of instructions on responsible and humane medical practices set for the entire U.S. government by the Department of Health and Human Services.

However the document goes on to provide a measure of discretion to the CIA Director, a post held by George Tenet during the Bush years, to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research.”

Experts such as Harvard University’s Nathaniel Raymond were quoted in The Guardian saying that in the case of interrogation of some detainees such as terror suspect Abu Zubaydah “the presence of medical personnel…was difficult to reconcile with both the CIA’s internal requirement of ‘informed consent’ on human experimentation subjects and responsible medical practices.”

Senate report

The Agency came under immense pressure last year when a Senate Intelligence Committee report laid bare the extent of its torture programme and found that it were ineffective in locating major terrorists despite the CIA’s repeated claims to the contrary.

Some internal e-mails from the CIA were published in the media, including one on Zubaydah’s interrogation, in which an attending medical officer said the inmate “seems very resistant to the water board… No useful information so far.” When the Senate report came out it was evident that a wide range of brutal techniques was used including keeping detainees in complete darkness and depriving them of sleep for up to 180 hours.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 4:05:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/cia-may-have-conducted-human-experiments/article7319450.ece

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