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WASHINGTON (RNS) Twenty religious organizations are calling for
Congress and President Obama to ensure a fair and thorough investigation
into allegations of forced human experimentation by the CIA on detainees
after 9/11.
In June, the group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) released
“Experiments in Torture” which detailed health professionals’
involvement in CIA interrogation programs.
The report alleged that the CIA used forced human experimentation
for several purposes, including calibrating “the level of pain
experienced … ostensibly to keep it from crossing the administration’s
legal threshold of what it claimed constituted torture.”
Religious groups affiliated with the Washington-based National
Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) and the doctors groups are
now asking government leaders to consider the findings and take steps to
ensure the practice is discontinued.
Ranging from the Hindu American Foundation and Islamic Society of
North America to Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and the Quakers,
the religious groups say investigations into the allegations have been
mishandled or ignored.
The Office of Human Research Protection in the Department of Health
and Human Services declined to investigate the allegations, instead
referring the complaint directly to the CIA.
“If OHRP receives an allegation … related to human subjects
research that is conducted or supported by a federal department or
agency other than HHS, OHRP will refer the matter to the other
department or agency for review and action as appropriate,” Assistant
HHS Secretary Howard Koh wrote in a July 1 letter.
Since the alleged research infractions “appear to be subject to the
oversight of the CIA,” HHS forwarded the complaint “to the CIA for
The religious groups are skeptical, however, at the CIA’s ability to
investigate itself.
“The CIA has already publicly denied these allegations and declined
to investigate,” said the Rev. Richard L. Killmer, executive director of
NRCAT, in a statement. “So it makes no sense to refer the complaint to
them alone.”
In addition to the 20 religious groups, some 3,000 individuals have
also signed on as complainants.
“The evidence is absolutely shocking and repulsive,” said the Rev.
Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches.
“Torture is an affront to God and the denial of the bedrock convictions
of all people of faith.”
— Alfredo Garcia
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of
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