The director of America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was able to make the final call on "human experimentation", it has emerged.
According to The Guardian, which got the scoop, George Tenet has never been a medic yet was the person who signed off on waterboarding – a torture technique that simulates drowning – and what are euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation techniques".
What's striking about the document, which was the result of a Freedom of Information request by the American Civil Liberties Union, is that it sets out rules and guidelines for informed consent, something that waterboarding obviously wouldn't be consistent with.
Apparently experimentation has been explicitly outlawed since the Ronald Reagan era in the 1980s. CIA guidance says that the agency “shall not sponsor, contract for, or conduct research on human subjects”.
Weirder still, medically trained staff were apparently on hand during the torture, despite the act seemingly being a massive violation of medical ethics. So much for the Hippocratic Oath. Apparently staff from the Office of Medical Services would offer advice on how far individual terrorist suspects could be pushed by interrogators.
Whether the leak will lead to any changes in how the CIA operates remains to be seen. But we're guessing.... surprise! It likely won't.