By Pamela Eapen:
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has had a past riveted with stories of torture and inhumane interrogation techniques on terrorists. However, a previously classified CIA document released by The Guardian on 15th June, shows that the CIA violated its own rules on “human subject research” by forcibly implementing their “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” (EITs) on detainees, despite the fact that any form of human experimentation required “the subject’s informed consent“.
What we can understand from this is that the CIA was willing to sidestep its own rules in order to subject “suspected terrorists” (out of 119 detainees, 26 had been wrongfully held) to horrific torture methods. The CIA director, George Tenet, was allowed to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research” despite the fact that he was not a medical doctor. This consisted of everything from waterboarding to “rectal rehydration” – which they then proceeded to call “well acknowledged medical techniques“.
There is a frightening level of desensitisation that we sense from this institution. They were given the power to interrogate possible criminals, but violated not only basic human rights, but their own policies protecting those rights. Medical doctors, who are in their profession to heal people, stood worriedly by and watched while detainees were subjected to torture – and then revived them if they passed out during the process. The CIA used the presence of the medical staff to justify that their torture techniques fell within acceptable boundaries, and also to determine whether it was possible for the detainees to endure further torture.
It was later shown that the EITs – or torture, as we say in Sanityville – didn’t really prove useful in any way. In fact, they blamed the ineffectiveness of their EITs on the actual federal limitations on torture, proving they were willing to go even further than they had already. It pushes us to ask what exactly the CIA’s motive was in continuing to carry out “experiments” that had already proven futile. What, besides retrieval of elusive information, would have prompted these officials to put other human beings through sadistic procedures?
After the methods were unsuccessful the first few times, did they really think that they would get results if they just kept going? Could we even consider the possibility that the CIA officials conducting these human subject experiments carried on with them because they enjoyed putting these people through pain? Was there a subconscious level of xenophobic hatred channelling these procedures? Or did they truly believe that they were acting for the greater good and protecting their fellow countrymen by dehumanising their detainees?
It’s terrifying to think about it – because the facts are telling us everything we don’t want to hear.