FM newswire for June 8, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis. If you find this useful, please pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1.  Recommended:  “Unruly Clients: The Trouble with Allies“, Steven  Metz, World Affairs, March/April 2010
  2. Best summary I’ve seen of the evidence that CO2 is rapidly rising:  “Some people claim, that there’s a human to blame …“, Willis Eschenbach, 7 June 2010 — The effects are debated, but not this factor.
  3. Today’s climate change nonsense (it’s not science):  “AGW=dead lizards?“, Anthony Watts, 7 July 2010
  4. Attorneys chipping away at our freedoms — since the cure is a law for all social ills (backed by the government’s police power):  “Should It Be Legal To Fire the Unattractive?“, Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, 7 June 2010 — “A review of Deborah Rhode’s The Beauty Bias”
  5. Recommended, echos of Japan:  “Riding the dragon“, Andy Xie (economist, formerly of Morgan Stanley), China International Business, 7 June 2010 — “Vested interests want to maintain China’s asset bubble. The consequences will be hard to handle.”
  6. The Brits’s military do info ops better than ours:  “Afghan troops appraisal flawed“, Financial Times, 7 June 2010 — Leaking the bad news about an about to be released report so they can spin the bad news.  This is different than releasing it to Wikileaks because its official.
  7. About the most-read article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:  “Art Laffer: Make Up Your Own Facts Here“, Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture, 8 June 2010

Today’s feature story

Fortunately for these doctors Nazi scientists worked out several defenses for this sort of thing.  For a summary see  “Medical Ethics Lapses Cited in Interrogations“, New York Times, 6 June 2010.

The actual report:  “Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program“, Physicians for Human Rights, 7 June 2010 — Excerpt from the press release:

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.

… “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.

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.

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