Bioethicist Steven Miles responds to the news in today’s New York Times that the Senate Armed Services Committee will investigate the SERE-abusive interrogation connection. While a start, this investigation doesn’t go nearly far enough, says Miles:
Today, Senator Cark Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he intends to hold hearings on how the SERE training methods [pertaining to the use of psychologists in designing methods to break people down] came to be used in the interrogation policies and procedures in the war on terror prisons. “They were put to a purpose that was never intended,” Mr. Levin said. (NYT today)
This is a start. We must not however allow the scope of these hearings to be restricted to SERE. This mistake of restricted investigations was the problem with the Taguba, Fay, Ryder and other investigations.
The United States needs an independent, comprehensive Truth and Reconciliation and Reform Commission to examine how we abandoned standards of international law, and the impact of this on prisoners and on the global civil society. This Commission must have subpoena power. It must have the authority to go all the way up the chain of command including to the Secretary of Defense and the Undersecretary of Military Intelligence. It must declassify all documents that do not have an immediate bearing on national security. It must collect evidence and hold hearings in a way the evidence and findings can be used by an independent prosecutor with authority to bring indictments against any person who holds or who has held a position of authority in the Defense Department, the Justice Department, the White House or in the Armed Services. It must also point to a transparent and accountable process of monitoring Defense Department and CIA detention and interrogation policies and practices.
Now, who will hold hearings on the disengagement and near silence of AMA, IOM, Correctional Health Care, American Society of Bioethics and Humanities et al as the soul of US health professionalism was traduced by corrupted appeals to national sovereignty, patriotism, national emergency?
Steve Miles, MD
I am in agreement with Miles. Whether or not the current SASC investigation into SERE can be expanded to a much broader investigation, the latter is clearly needed. Countries that become torturing societies need to go to extraordinary lengths to reassert the taboos on torture and abuse. Civilized norms need to be reestablished. Otherwise the entire society will suffer. We have learned from other societies in Latin America and South africa about the importance of an accounting of the abuses and an identification of the abusers. Now it is our turn.
1 comment May 30th, 2007