Back in October, I traveled to the Bay Area for a fascinating week-long series of events, “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week (covered in detail here), and I’m pleased to report that videos of one of the panel discussions that week, “Torture, Human Experimentation and the Department of Defense,” have just been made available via YouTube, and can be seen below. The panel featured the journalist Jason Leopold and the psychologist and blogger Jeffrey Kaye, and coincided with the publication on Truthout of a ground-breaking article by Jason and Jeff, “Wolfowitz Directive Gave Legal Cover to Detainee Experimentation Program,” which I cross-posted here, with commentary.
As I explained at the time, the panel discussion was one of the final events in “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week, and, appropriately, took place in Boalt Hall, the home of torture professor John Yoo. Jason and Jeff’s presentation focused on their discovery of a memorandum dated March 25, 2002, approved by deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, which authorized human experimentation on detainees in the “War on Terror,” and which followed some little-noticed maneuvering in Congress in December 2001, when the requirement of “informed consent” in any experimentation by the Defense Department (introduced in 1972) was quietly dropped.
As I also explained, I cross-posted the article, because it deserved to be read as widely as possible, and its publication during “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week was a wonderful boost to the week’s events, adding, as I noted in an introduction to the cross-post of Leopold and Kaye’s article, to “a compelling catalog of the many reasons why the acceptance of torture must continue to be opposed, which I developed during the week: namely, that it is not only illegal, morally corrosive, counterproductive and unnecessary, but also that, at its heart, the Bush-era torture program continued work in the field of human experimentation that the US took over from the Nazis, and also involved treasonous lies on the part of senior officials, who pretended that the program was designed to prevent future terrorist attacks, when, from the very beginning (in late November 2001, according to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff), it was actually being used to extract false confessions about connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that could be used in an attempt to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003.”
The seven videos of the panel discussion (and the ensuing Q&A) are posted below, and I’m delighted to post them at this particular time, to coincide with the publication of the second of two articles by Jason and Jeff, examining how, in the early days of Guantánamo, every single prisoner was forced to “take a high dosage of a controversial antimalarial drug, mefloquine, an act that an Army public health physician called ‘pharmacologic waterboarding.’” That article is cross-posted here, and the previous article, published three weeks ago, is available here (and is cross-posted here).
Part One: Jason Leopold introduces the themes discussed in the article, “Wolfowitz Directive Gave Legal Cover to Detainee Experimentation Program,” which involved seven months’ research.
Part Two: Jason concludes his introduction, and Jeff explains his research and the background to the program, warning the audience that the human experimentation story is an “octopus” that has infected US institutions, reaching far beyond the military.
Part Three: Jason talks more about the program, including some worrying suggestions that it may not have been fully abandoned by the Obama administration.
Part Four: In response to criticism of former SERE intelligence officer Michael Kearns by an audience member (included at the end of Part Five), Andy Worthington spoke in his defense, and also ran through the catalog of reasons why torture must continue to be opposed (as discussed above), with a particular focus on the use of torture to manufacture false confessions about connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, which were used to justify the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Part Five: In response to a question from the audience, Jeff Kaye explained the reasons why the American Psychological Association (APA) has been discredited for its involvement in the Bush administration’s torture program, plus other questions/comments from the audience, including misplaced criticism of Michael Kearns (see Part Four above).
Part Six: Further questions from the audience, including discussion of the crimes of Henry Kissinger.
Part Seven: The final round of questions from the audience, including a discussion of the use of electro-shock treatment.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason Leopold, Andy Worthington. Andy Worthington said: Video: “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week — Jason Leopold and Jeff Kaye Discuss Human Experimentation at Guantanamo: http://bit.ly/gwJfWX […]
On Facebook, Kathleen Stout wrote:
Great discussion…. hope the focus keeps up on all its implications and how deep and wide-spread this goes. I remembered reading an ex-prisoner from Bagram (?) describing what to him was like hearing someone’s soul break as he listened to a fellow prisoner being tortured. We’ve come to this horror ….but it didn’t just appear and won’t disappear without this type of investigation and understanding. Jason and Jeff have uncovered some important stuff, i.e., recent article on antimalaria drugs and its use. It looks like your sense of humanity has finally hit our shores with some great results.
Thanks, Kathleen. And I’ll be back again in a couple of weeks (in NY and DC) trying to remind people that ignoring Guantanamo won’t make it go away – and that, in fact, the longer it stays open and men are held without trial, or without being released, the longer the Bush administration maintains its malignant grip on America from beyond the electoral grave.
Kathleen Stout wrote:
Well said, Andy. I am in the DC area. Will you post on your site where and when?? I look forward to seeing you.
Yes, absolutely, Kathleen. I hope to put something up very soon — and look forward to seeing you too.
Sylvia Martin wrote:
Thank you for calling attention to this. Reminds me a bit of The Constant Gardener, too.
MaryAnn Thomas wrote:
@Kathleen – A web site to keep an eye on is http://www.worldcantwait.net/. For more on the Week “Berkeley Says NO to Torture” check out http://www.wesaynototorture.net/. – I wish I could be in DC for the events around the 11th of January. It was great to meet you Andy when you were in the Bay Area !!! Come back soon !!!
Thanks, Sylvia and MaryAnn.
And MaryAnn, it was great to meet you too and I hope to find a way to come back to the Bay Area sometime next year.
Thanks for posting this, and with the very sharp photo captions. I can’t bring myself to watch myself, but I hope others find the talks and discussion interesting and stimulating. The issues, as you know, couldn’t be more timely and important.
I also thought your contribution from the audience also raised the level of the discussion yet another notch.
Thanks again, and I hope you make it to the Bay Area again soon.
Thanks, Jeff. You can watch yourself, you know. You’re very good!
As for visiting, I too hope to make it out to the Bay Area again, but in the meantime I’ll be thinking of you when I’m in New York next week — and D.C. the week after.
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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