Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) recently released a report raising serious questions of whether medical professionals monitoring CIA interrogations conducted illegal and unethical human research on detainees in U.S. custody. The report highlights troubling evidence from publicly released documents which suggest that health professionals may have monitored and collected information on detainee interrogation techniques in order to develop and design policies and procedures of the Bush Administration’s “enhanced” interrogation program as well as provide legal coverage for interrogators. These grave allegations if proved to be true are violations of federal and international law.
These claims, moreover, are a somber reminder of the U.S. government’s failure to fully account for past policies of torture and official cruelty. To date, a few low-level pawns have been held accountable for a policy and program of systemic torture. The United States’ record of conducting investigations into detainee cruelty is abysmal; its prosecutions even bleaker; and its failure to hold a single commander or senior official accountable is an absolute travesty. Human Rights First issued a report years ago raising the question of Command’s Responsibility…and we’ve yet to see answers.
The time for reckoning is long past due. Let’s be clear – history tells us and the rule of law mandates that in order to move forward we must account for our past transgressions. It is not only our legal and moral obligation to do so, but it is also in our national security interest to do so. Accountability for detainee abuses is necessary to ensure we don’t repeat past mistakes.