CIA authorized experimentation on human beings, document shows

By Thomas Gaist
18 June 2015

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) internal regulations empower the agency's director to override US and international laws restricting experimentation on human beings, a classified CIA document published by the Guardian on Monday, “AR 2-2, Law and Policy Governing the Conduct of Intelligence Activities,” shows.

Released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the secret CIA document makes clear that the agency has assumed sweeping powers under Executive Order 12333, a directive issued by the Reagan administration in 1981 that vastly expanded of the powers of the military-intelligence apparatus.

In addition to forming the ”legal” basis for CIA programs involving torture and involuntary human experimentation, EO 12333 and AR 2-2 have invested top intelligence officials with a whole spectrum of dictatorial powers to conduct espionage and covert operations against the US population.

Even after the redaction of several full pages of AR 2-2 covering “Intelligence Activities in the United States,” the document still makes clear that the CIA’s interpretation of EO 12333 empowers the agency to:

* spy on and seize communications and financial records of US persons which the agency determines may be relevant for intelligence purposes.

* conduct “generalized training” with US police forces and intervene covertly in the operations of both civilian and police domestic agencies at the federal, state and local levels

* establish secret contracts with academic institutions when it considers this necessary for intelligence purposes.

Perhaps most significantly, the AR 2-2 internal bylaws empower the leadership of the US intelligence apparatus to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research.”

The CIA's assertion of unconditional power to green light human experimentation is impossible to reconcile with the severe restrictions on such practices established in international law, including the clear demand of the Nuremberg Code, established in response to large-scale human experimentation practiced by the Nazis, that research on human beings proceed only on the basis of “voluntary, well-informed, understanding consent of the human subject in a full legal capacity.”

Overwhelming evidence has already established that, in practice, the CIA leadership has interpreted its power to “approve or modify all proposals” as a license to carry out illegal experimentation on humans.

Doctors employed by the CIA “conceptualized and designed” a range of methods intended to “inflict a combination of physical and psychological harm on detainees” beginning as part of efforts related to the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” initiated during the Bush administration, a Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) report released last December showed.

Medical professionals employed by the CIA played an “essential role” in developing the “extensive system of torture and ill-treatment run by the CIA,” the PHR report found.

Doctors hired by the CIA helped develop and refine methods such as dietary manipulation, sensory overload, and sleep deprivation, while directly observing and participating in CIA interrogations, and were paid more than $80 million in government money for their services.

The documents released Tuesday confirm that these grave crimes against humanity were carried out on the basis of legal and policy guidelines promulgated from the highest levels of the US government.

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