Thursday, June 11, 2015

Post-9/11 Torture at CIA “Black Sites” — Physicians and Lawyers Working Together — NEJM

Rather than reporting to their parole officers the two legal architects of the rationalization of torture by the U.S. post 9/11 report to their jobs at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the University of California School of Law in Berkeley.  Where does principal culpability lie for waterboarding and "rectal feeding" immunized by a President's reliance on the advice of Jay Bybee and John Yoo?  Protected by doctrines of legal immunity and the deference showed to high officials, neither has been disciplined or held liable for torture.  Were they incompetent? Malicious? So caught up in the post 9/11 fear that their powers of ratiocination eroded?  Sincere patriots convinced that "tough measures" were needed to protect the nation? - gwc

Post-9/11 Torture at CIA “Black Sites” — Physicians and Lawyers Working Together — NEJM

by G.J. Annas and Sondra S. Crosby

Department of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health (G.J.A., S.S.C.), and the Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine (S.S.C.)

Medical professionals, primarily private contractors, filled four basic roles at the [CIA] black sites: clearing terrorist suspects as “medically fit” for torture; monitoring torture to prevent death and treat injuries; developing novel torture methods; and actually torturing prisoners. All these actions were taken only after CIA and U.S. Department of Justice attorneys assured the medical professionals that they had immunity from prosecution and would not be held legally responsible for violating U.S. and international law against torture as long as they used the techniques approved in legal memos (since withdrawn) written to justify their actions.1 Lawyers agreed to provide immunity assurances that specific torture techniques were legal “enhanced interrogation” methods only if the physicians assured them that they would be present to prevent permanent harm to prisoners. The CIA opened more than a dozen black sites around the world after 9/11, in which at least 117 prisoners were held; 39 of these prisoners were subjected to one or more torture techniques.1

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