Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Paul Wolfowitz Authorized Human Experimentation at Guantánamo

Andy Worthington, October 24, 2010


Last week, Truthout published an important article by Jason Leopold, Truthout’s Deputy Managing Editor, and psychologist and blogger Jeffrey Kaye, revealing, for the first time, a secret memorandum dated March 25, 2002, approved by deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, which authorized human experimentation on detainees in the “War on Terror.” The release of the memo followed some little-noticed maneuvering in Congress in December 2001, when the requirement of “informed consent” in any experimentation by the Defense Department (introduced in 1972) was quietly dropped.

The article — which involved over a year of research, as Leopold and Kaye persuaded former officials to open up to them — not only adds to Leopold’s important work and to Kaye’s formidable track record as a chronicler of the development of human experimentation in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” torture program (which he has also revealed as part of an obsession with human experimentation reaching back to the 1950s), but also confirms the existence of an important new front in the struggle to raise awareness of the horrors of torture, and the requirement that those who authorized it be held accountable for their crimes.

Leopold and Kaye delivered a presentation about their article the day after its publication, as part of “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week, and their work on human experimentation added to a compelling catalog of the many reasons why the acceptance of torture must continue to be opposed, which I developed during the week: namely, that it is not only illegal, morally corrosive, counterproductive and unnecessary, but also that, at its heart, the Bush-era torture program continued work in the field of human experimentation that the US took over from the Nazis, and also involved treasonous lies on the part of senior officials, who pretended that the program was designed to prevent future terrorist attacks, when, from the very beginning (in late November 2001, according to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff), it was actually being used to extract false confessions about connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that could be used in an attempt to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

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