In an article in the New Republic in December, 1998, former UNSCOM leader Scott Ritter decried Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons experiments on human subjects. Wrote Ritter,
“We had received credible intelligence that 95 political prisoners had been transferred from the Abu Ghraib Prison to a site in western Iraq, where they had been subjected to lethal testing under the supervision of a special unit from the Military Industrial Commission, under Saddam’s personal authority.”
The stance of the United States and her allies has always been that such experiments bear the watermark of a brutal dictatorship and are never engaged in by the free world.
So when Abu Ghraib again hit the news in 2004, concerning the ongoing torture of prisoners by US forces, the US was swift to act in condemning the reports as constituting isolated incidents and not reflective of US policy.
And then the floodgates opened, with more revelations of torture, CIA “black sites” waterboarding and prisoner rape. And torture became a topic of heated debate.
Those who torture would like you to think that they do not, or that torture is necessary for reasons of “National Security.” However, any first year medical student can tell you that torture is unnecessary to gain confessions, which is the fall- back used by government officials to explain its necessity. All that is needed to obtain such ostensibly highly valued confessions is a good dose of sodium pentothal or another such chemical in the array of truth serum drugs.
What one gains by the use of torture is false confessions. False confessions would be highly valued in the continuing “war on terrorism,” to provide proof that acts of terror are being perpetrated by those who are detained.
Abu Ghraib may or may not have been the locus of experiments by the Iraqi leadership. What is certain is that the US is engaged in experiments on its own people, without informed consent, some of which achieve the definition of torture.
The US Continues to Evade the Mandates of Informed Consent
The issue of informed consent was central to the The Doctors Trials at Nuremberg, where twenty German doctors who experimented on Jews and others, often fatally, were tried and sentenced. What emerged from the Trials was the Nuremberg Code, which mandates that experimental subjects be given information about the nature of the experiment and the right to refuse.
The Nuremberg Code, however, remains a recommendation, not a law.
Some of these current experiments run by the United States are taking place within the borders of the US and some are taking place in foreign countries, with pharmaceutical and defense agencies as primary perpetrators.
As an act of apparent damage control following the 1994 disclosures of US radiation experiments during the Cold War, President Bill Clinton produced a memo, lodged in the Federal Register, calling for strengthened protections for human subjects.
These radiation experiments exposed US citizens to high levels of radiation, without informing them of the risks. According to reports, the radiation caused the deaths of a number of the experimental subjects.
Clinton subsequently established an Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments to review reports and recommend ways to prevent further unethical research from taking place in the future.
The Advisory Committee’s recommendations included mandating informed consent of all human subjects, among other recommendations. However, the Committee´s recommendations were never acted upon. And informed consent, which constitutes the core of the Nuremberg Code, was never codified into law.
Obama Perpetuates the Myth of Legal Protections for Test Subjects
Fast forward to 2010, when another embarrassing experimental project, this time launched by the US Public Health Service in Guatemala, hit the front pages of newspapers. US researchers were reported as deliberately infecting over 1500 human subjects in Guatemala with sexually transmitted diseases. This study took place back in the 1940’s and was effectively covered up for over sixty years.
In response to this disclosure, President Obama directed the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to “determine if Federal regulations and international standards adequately guard the health and well-being of participants in scientific studies supported by the Federal Government.”
The Commission reported back in December of 2011 with their conclusions that the current US rules would deter such abuses from taking place again.
The Commission failed to take note that research protocols, classified and otherwise, are lacking an informed consent requirement. What this means is that if, for example, an intelligence agency decides to run an experiment using human subjects, that intelligence agency can waive any necessity to inform the subjects and to gain their consent.
The Commission’s report is largely a whitewash. In light of the following facts, it is clear that US nonconsensual human experimentation is rampant. Some of these experiments appear to be classified and some not. In many cases, neither the classified research nor non classified protocols appear to be abiding by the stated need for informed consent.
Children as Lab Rats
On January 4, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act, which provides incentives for using children in drug trials. The Act offered pharmaceutical companies a six-month exclusivity term in return for their agreement to conduct pediatric tests on drugs. This Act was quickly followed in 2003 by the Pediatric Research Equity Act (PREA). PREA authorizes FDA to require manufacturers of new drug and biologics products to conduct pediatric studies in certain circumstances.
As a result, drug trials on children have gone through the roof.
An article at medicalkidnap.com states that: “In 2006, they found that there were approximately 45,000 children participating in experiments.”