Policy ForumEthics

Bad Science Used to Support Torture and Human Experimentation

Science  07 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6013, pp. 34-35
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194437

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Summary

In the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. government authorized “enhanced interrogation” techniques (EITs) (i.e., prolonged sleep, sensory deprivation, forced nudity, and painful body positions) that were routinely applied to detainees in U.S. custody in at least three theaters of operation and an unknown number of secret “black sites” operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). They did this despite the fact that each EIT was considered torture by the United Nations (1), and the United States recognized them as such in its reports on human rights practices (2). Although legal sources and trained interrogation experts warned of the unreliability and questionable legality of coerced confessions (3), EITs were authorized by the CIA in January 2003 (4) and the Department of Defense (DoD) in April 2003 (3).