Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PHR Office of Human Research Protections Complaint on Illegal CIA Use of Human Subjects in Torture Research [text]

The following is the text of the complaint filed with the Office of Human Research Protection by Physicians for Human Rights and a host of co-sponsors. The complaint concerns evidence compiled by PHR of illegal and unethical human research experimentation by the CIA, in the latter's quest to form a new torture program implementing the reverse-engineered components of the Armed Forces' Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape schools, known as SERE.

You can sign onto the complaint by clicking here.


Recent reports by Physicians for Human Rights and a paper by Renée Llanusa-Cestero in "Accountability in Research" raise concerns that the CIA's Office of Medical Services (OMS) conducted research and experimentation on detainees in US custody and, in the process, likely violated federal regulations governing human subject research carried out by United States Government entities. These regulations are known as The Common Rule (45 CFR 46). The CIA is one of seventeen federal agencies required by law to adhere to The Common Rule when conducting federally funded research on human beings.

The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) should initiate immediately an official investigation into experimentation by the CIA on detainees in its custody based upon the following evidence of wrongdoing detailed in declassified government documents:

(1) The collection by OMS health professionals of data from detainees in order to derive generalizable knowledge of the effects on detainee subjects of "enhanced interrogation" techniques. These techniques, which have serious potential to cause harm, included sleep deprivation, waterboarding, sensory deprivation and overload. It appears that data also was collected on the impact of techniques both when used individually and when applied in combination;

(2) The collection of data from detainees subjected to the technique of the waterboard in order to develop new methods and procedures for its application, including the experimental use of potable saline in place of water to reduce the risk of hyponatremia;

(3) The CIA's apparent failure to comply with The Common Rule's regulations (a) requiring all human research subjects to provide informed consent, (b) assuring that subjects of research have the right and ability to stop their participation in the research at any time, and (c) requiring the conduct of prior review of the proposed human subject research by an Institutional Review Board.

We request the OHRP to conduct a For-Cause Compliance Oversight Evaluation of the CIA OMS for research targeting detainee subjects.

If the OHRP concludes that OMS research on detainees subjected to "enhanced interrogation" techniques commonly viewed as torture violated The Common Rule and internationally accepted standards of health professional ethics, the CIA must be immediately sanctioned by the Department of Health and Human Services. Any personnel found to have violated the law should be referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution. Professionals determined to be in violation of their ethically mandated responsibilities should be referred to state licensing bodies and professional associations for appropriate professional sanctions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

- Written Comments to the President’s Council on Bioethics Concerning Mind Enhancing Technologies and Drugs, 2002 (specially pg. 3, referring to the terrorist detainees) at:

- CCLE Amicus Brief on the Merits in Supreme Court (PDF) & press releases at

- Human Enhancement and the Emergent Technopolitics of the 21st Century (excerpt)

- On proponents pushing to use this technique as an anti-terrorist screening device, see: Lawrence Farwell, "Brain Fingerprinting as Counter-Terrorist System."; Steve Kirsch, "Identifying Terrorists Using Brain Fingerprinting"

- (NBIC) Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Sciences: Environmental Opportunities and Risks of Converging Technologies, February, 2008 at:

- The Presidential Commission
for the Study of Bioethical Issues, next meeting:
September 13-14, 2010
The Inn at Penn (at the Univ of Penn)
3600 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

- Federal Oversight of Synthetic Biology at:

- Why the future doesn't need us at:

- CIA Secret Experiments, Next airing: Sunday, September 12, 4PM (ET) from the National Geographic Channel at:

- The Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet (1/12) - Was The Unabomber A Targeted Individual?

- Unabomber: The Secret History, Next airing: Sunday September 12, 5PM. See:

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