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Oregon Faith Leaders Urge a Public Accounting for Forced Experimentation on Human Subjects by CIASalem-News.com
‘Torture is a Moral Issue,’ Say Oregon Christian, Muslim and Jewish Leaders, Call on Sen. Wyden to Take Lead Role in Making Sure It Never Happens Again.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - More than 70 Oregon faith leaders today joined together, calling on Senator Wyden to help ensure that Congress not only investigates accountability for Bush-era torture, including new allegations of forced human experimentation on detainees, but also makes the findings public.
Religious leaders from throughout Oregon joined with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO), the Oregon Area Jewish Committee and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) in asserting that the American people need to know the truth about horrific acts of government-sponsored torture and human experimentation to make sure that it does not and cannot happen again. Cities and towns represented include Ashland, Bend, Dundee, Eugene, Forest Grove, Gresham, Hood River, Oregon City, Medford, Portland, Salem, The Dalles, and many more.
“The path to sincere redemption demands revelation of all that happened,” said Rev. Lynne Smouse López who is a United Church of Christ Pastor in Portland and the President of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, “So today we urge Sen. Wyden’s continued leadership in pursuing the truth about torture and about the new evidence that the CIA conducted forced research into interrogation techniques on unwilling human subjects.”
This summer, 20 national religious groups joined NRCAT and other human rights organizations in filing a complaint with the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) asking for an official investigation of the recent Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) report indicating that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) engaged in illegal and unethical human subject research and experimentation on detainees after 9/11.
Senator Wyden has previously expressed his support for declassifying information on Bush-era interrogation practices. In January of 2009, the SF Chronicle reported that Wyden “wants to declassify many top-secret documents that would reveal how the program came to be, whether severe methods have been effective in yielding useful intelligence, and what the legal arguments were for allowing them.” "I think the U.S. has got to come clean on this," Wyden said. "It's about a program that goes right to the heart of what's needed to keep America safe and keep our moral authority in the world."
The Oregon religious leaders expressed their appreciation for Senator Wyden’s earlier statements, but also called on Wyden to renew this commitment with regard to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report and to any findings related to CIA medical personnel conducting research and forced experimentation on human subjects. “We need a complete and thorough investigation of these new revelations,” said the Rev. Dr. Lowell Greathouse, who is an Assistant to United Methodist Bishop Robert Hoshibata, “and we need the results of that investigation made public in a timely way.” “We have sent a joint letter to Senator Wyden, which we are releasing today, calling for a full investigation and for the public release of the final report,” continued Greathouse. The letter, along with a complete list of signatories, is posted at www.nrcat.org/wyden-ltr.
The Oregon faith leaders’ initiative follows a recent decision by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to refer the investigation of the OHRP complaint to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) itself. The allegations that the CIA used forced human experimentation to legally justify and hone its torture techniques raise serious questions of potential additional legal liability for the CIA and Bush-era officials.
“In accepting the basic tenet of faith that all human life is created in God’s image and is thus inherently holy, we must also accept our primary obligation to speak out wherever, whenever and by whomever any life is debased or defiled—be it that of a friend, a loved one or a stranger in our land or in our custody,” says Rev. Richard Killmer, NRCAT’s Executive Director. “The cost of silence is one we know too well from history and one that we just cannot bear. Nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake.”
In the most comprehensive investigation to date of health professionals' involvement in the CIA's "enhanced interrogation program,” the PHR report last month uncovered evidence that indicates the Bush administration apparently conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in U.S. custody. The apparent experimentation and research appear to have been performed to provide legal cover for torture, as well as to help justify and shape future procedures and policies governing the use of the "enhanced" interrogation techniques. The PHR report, Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence of Experimentation in the 'Enhanced' Interrogation Program (www.nrcat.org/phrtorturepapers.org), is the first to provide evidence that CIA medical personnel engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture.
“Human experimentation abetted by medical professionals reminds us of the horrific acts committed by Nazis in the concentration camps, said Rabbi Yitzhak Husbands-Hankin, of Temple Beth Israel in Eugene, Oregon. “As nations condemned these human rights abuses after the Holocaust, we must again dedicate ourselves to ending torture and to act in a way that reflects the morality of our nation.”
“Our country’s horrific and immoral acts are hard to overcome and can only be overcome by shining light on these acts,” said Rev. Deacon Stephen Schafroth, an Episcopal Deacon from The Dalles, Oregon.. “We applaud Sen. Wyden in his commitment to shine a light on this sad time in our nation’s history and we encourage others to join with him in standing up for our nation’s values. The morality of our nation depends on it.”
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