Physicians helped refine interrogation methods, group says

Associated Press / June 7, 2010

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WASHINGTON — A prominent physicians group is alleging that medical personnel were used to test and refine the effectiveness of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques for terror detainees in US custody under the guise of safeguarding their health.

Physicians for Human Rights, a Cambridge, Mass., nonprofit organization, outlined the allegations stemming from a Bush-era interrogation program and called on the White House to investigate.

Its report was based on a reexamination and new interpretation of records that had been previously released.

US government officials denounced the report, saying the government did not conduct research on detainees.

The officials said such allegations and documents have already been made public and were examined in multiple government investigations.

The author of the report, Nathaniel Raymond, said the declassified documents had never been examined with an eye on laws including the Nuremberg Code, established to ban Nazi Germany medical experimentation.

“We’re not writing the indictment here,’’ Raymond said before the report’s release at midnight yesterday. “We’re saying there needs to be a search warrant. If the White House does not act on this, it’s turning its back on something that could be perceived as a war crime.’’

According to the report, “Medical personnel were required to monitor all waterboarding practices and collect detailed medical information that was used to design, develop, and deploy subsequent waterboarding procedures.’’

For example, the report said, doctors recommended adding salt to the water used for waterboarding, so the patient wouldn’t experience hyponatremia, “a condition of low sodium levels in the blood caused by free water intoxication.’’

The report interprets that doctor-recommended practice of using saline solution as “Waterboarding 2.0.’’

Paul Gimigliano, CIA spokesman, rejected the assertions. “The CIA did not, as part of its past detention program, conduct human subject research on any detainee or group of detainees,’’ Gimigliano said.