Physicians for Human Rights is calling for a federal commission to investigate, document and hold accountable all health professionals who took part in CIAtorture. Last week, the group released a report titled "Doing Harm: Health Professionals’ Central Role in the CIA Torture Program." The report finds medical personnel connected to the torture program may have committed war crimes by conducting human experimentation on prisoners in violation of the Nuremberg Code that grew out of the trial of Nazi officials and doctors after World War II. We speak with Nathaniel Raymond, a research ethics adviser for Physicians for Human Rights, who co-wrote the new report. "We now see clear evidence of the essential, integral role that health professionals played as the legal heat shield for the Bush administration — their get-out-of-jail-free card," Raymond says.
“There has often been this narrative that Mitchell and Jessen were the lone gunmen of torture, that they were doing this out of their garage,” Raymond explains. “They were operating inside a superstructure of medicalized torture. It was not just them alone. It includes physicians’ assistants, doctors and it may include other professionals. What they were doing was everything from ‘care’ to actual monitoring, calibration and design of the tactics.”
Since the release of Senate findings earlier this month, the assumption that the CIA’s torture program’s sole motive was post-9/11 self-defense has gone virtually unchallenged. There has been almost no recognition that the George W. Bush administration also tortured prisoners for a very different goal: to extract information that could tie al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein and justify the invasion of Iraq. While the Senate report and other critics say torture produced false information, that could have been one of the program’s goals. We are joined by retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005. Wilkerson helped prepare Powell’s infamous February 2003 speech to the United Nations wrongly accusing Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction. The claim was partially based on statements extracted from a prisoner tortured by Egypt on the CIA’s behalf, who later recanted his claim. Wilkerson says that beginning in the spring of 2002 — one year before the Iraq War and just months after the 9/11 attacks, the torture program’s interrogations "were as much aimed at contacts between al-Qaeda and Baghdad and corroboration thereof as they were trying to ferret out whether there was another attack coming like 9/11. That was stunning to me to find that was probably 50 percent of the impetus."
Calls are increasing for the prosecution of George W. Bush administration officials tied to the CIA torture program. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor who would investigate the crimes detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the program. On Monday, The New York Times editorial board called for a full and independent criminal investigation. We put the question about prosecution to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005.
This month marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Panama. On December 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Just Cause to execute an arrest warrant against Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, once a close U.S. ally, on charges of drug trafficking. During the attack, the United States unleashed a force of 24,000 troops equipped with highly sophisticated weaponry and aircraft against a country with an army smaller than the New York City Police Department. We discuss the Panama invasion and how it served as a template for future U.S. military interventions with three guests: we are joined by Humberto Brown, a former Panamanian diplomat, and Greg Grandin, a professor of Latin American history at New York University and author of "The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World." His new article for TomDispatch is "The War to Start All Wars: The 25th Anniversary of the Forgotten Invasion of Panama." We also speak with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.