Fuller’s School of Psychology has an ethics review board that monitors all experiments on people, as the law requires for all psychological and medical experiments. I have served on it. All of us who have served on Fuller’s review board know you can’t do experiments on people without their free and informed consent.

Physicians for Human Rights released a study, titled “Experiments in Torture,” on June 7 showing that some medical professionals monitored and analyzed the responses of at least 25 prisoners to “enhanced interrogation techniques” (including sleep deprivation, stress positions, abdominal slaps and waterboarding). The sleep deprivation lasted for various lengths of time, with the longest being 180 hours (7.5 days).

The results of the experimentation were used to refine the pain-inducing methods used during the “war on terror” and also used by the government lawyers who wrote memos justifying these violations of the Geneva Convention and the Nuremburg Code.

This is medical experimentation, not for the sake of protecting the persons experimented on, but to refine illegal techniques.

My nurse wife says medical experimentation on people is never okay unless it has their free and informed consent and is for the purpose of developing a cure for a disease. Every one of those rules was violated here. She is right.

These doctors were not trying to develop cures for diseases. They were helping to refine techniques for causing pain. They were not serving patients. They were helping a few government lawyers write justifications for human degradation that violated international law that the United States has ratified, and that is the law of our land. There was no therapeutic purpose.

This violates America’s identity as the land of human rights and liberty and justice for all.

Torture corrupts America’s moral identity.

In fact, torture enormously increased people’s anger and recruitment to terrorism.

As a result of the torture of Muslim prisoners and the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, the number of international terrorist attacks increased from 208 in 2003 to 14,500 three years later. That is a 70-fold increase.

According to the official report of the U.S. Department of State Counterterrorism Agency:

· 208 terrorist attacks caused 625 deaths in 2003.

· 3,168 attacks caused 1,907 deaths in 2004.

· 11,111 attacks caused 14,602 deaths in 2005.

· 14,500 attacks caused 20,745 deaths in 2006.

· 14,506 attacks caused 22,508 deaths in 2007.

· 11,770 attacks caused 15,765 deaths in 2008.

Torture works: It works to increase recruitment to terrorism. It feeds the terrorists’ narrative that that they use in recruiting more terrorists – that America is out to destroy Muslims. And it tarnishes America’s reputation worldwide.

By contrast, the human rights that America has embodied for American Muslims works to prevent terrorism. American Muslims oppose terrorism. We need to emphasize America’s identity as committed to human rights and oppose violations of the human rights of anyone, including defenseless prisoners.

My father resigned as governor of Minnesota and volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II to fight against the Axis Powers who were doing medical experimentation on people. The Nuremburg Code, which prohibits such experimentation, was promulgated to prevent such unethical actions.

My grandparents emigrated from Germany and immigrated to the United States in search of human rights. I think Dad’s, and our family’s, commitment to human rights is a major reason why Dad volunteered. I hope we don’t undermine that national commitment and identity. It is our strength.

The CIA spokesperson said, “The CIA did not, as part of its past detention program, conduct human subject research on any detainee or group of detainees.”

But the report of Physicians for Human Rights is based on declassified government documents and on the report of the International Red Cross.

Is the CIA saying they did not do it? The doctors did it? Or are they saying it was not “part of its past detention program” but part of some other program? Or are they saying it was conducted under some other government agency? Or is this the CIA policy of denial?

We need an impartial commission of inquiry to investigate this, establish the truth and help our nation recover from this morally corrupting practice.

Glen Stassen is Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Editor’s note: For specific information on the report, click here and here. You can also contact Ben Greenberg at Physicians for Human Rights for answers to questions at bgreenberg@phrusa.org.

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