In Light Of American Nazi-Like Experiments and Rendition, Just What Are Our Values

Contrary to America’s core values, this country has endorsed torture, and has performed biological experiments on unsuspecting human beings. The latest is Guatemala and the revelation of American rendition of prisoners to Libya. What are America‟s values? Many Americans cannot readily give an answer. America‟s values are dependent on the region of the country in which the question is asked. For example, a person from the Bible belt may deem religion as an important value. Moreover, an answer from a politician might be framed around the views of constituents or the constitution. Ethnicity also will play a role in one‟s view of America‟s values. In addition, if you are a lawyer, scientist or researcher there will be yet again another answer. However, there are core constitutional values that will always persist. They are the values that unite all Americans: an individual‟s right to life, to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness. What is implicit in these values is the right to be treated justly. No one for a minute would associate American values with that of Nazism. But, the fact is America‟s conduct can be compared to Nazi-styled medical experiments of World War II. In the years following World War II, the United States government and CIA recruited Nazi and Japanese doctors who had previously conducted horrific biological experiments in concentration camps. And in the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, conducted between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service studied the progression of untreated syphilis in poor, and rural black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the government. In researching the Tuskegee experiment, Wellesley College Professor Susan Reverby uncovered

information on syphilis experiments in Guatemala. The experiments were funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Between 1946 and 1948, doctors infected soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and patients with mental health disorders with sexually transmitted diseases. The experiments resulted in at least 83 deaths. Dr. Thomas Parran, Jr., the U.S. Surgeon General at the time of the experiments, acknowledged that the Guatemalan work could not be done domestically. According to the BBC, a commission ordered by President Obama for the Study of Bioethical Issues reported that some 5,500 Guatemalans were involved in the research. It involved injecting concentrations of syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid into the eyes, the central nervous system, and male genitals. Carlos Mejia, a member of the commission established by the Guatemalan government to investigate the experiments, said, “This was behavior very similar to that of the scientists in Nazi Germany. It took place in the context in which they [the United States] were judging the German doctors who had been experimenting with typhus and malaria on prisoners of war. The Nazis used Poles, Russians and Jews, while the Americans made almost the same use of Guatemalans.” There are examples after example of America‟s values being betrayed by government. To understand the mindset one must understand the view of government, and of many Americans, who will tell you that America‟s values only apply to Americans, that the Geneva Convention only applies to prisoners of war from a nation-state, and that due process rights such as habeas corpus don‟t apply to prisoners captured in the war on terror. That mindset allows government‟s lawyers to find ways to make torture legal and therefore supersede America‟s fundamental values. Moreover, it allows the United States to employ extradition of prisoners to another country because our laws won‟t allow extraordinarily enhanced interrogation locally, and likewise, scientist go to Guatemala and other countries because their “work could not be done domestically.” And the latest is from Gadhafi‟s Libya: CNN reports, “Documents seized at the Libyan intelligence headquarters have revealed a surprisingly close relationship between the CIA and their counterparts in the Gadhafi regime. “Reports of cases of U.S. rendition to Libya have emerged. It occurred amid regular State Department reports of Libyan abuse of prisoners, underscoring concerns of human rights advocates about the practice.

“For example, the State Department's 2005 report on human rights in Libya said, “Security forces reportedly subjected detainees to cruel, inhumane, or degrading conditions and denied adequate medical care, which led to several deaths in custody.” And yet, “The New York Times, said documents suggested that the United States „sent terror suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country's reputation for torture.‟” Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch said, the documents “establish conclusively what we've been saying for a long time -- that the CIA was capturing and rendering people to Libya so they could be interrogated by Libyan security.” President Obama apologized to his Guatemalan counterpart, Alvaro Colom, saying the acts ran contrary to American values. However, he should also apologize to the American people for America‟s betrayal of her values as well. More importantly, how do we get beyond the American values rhetoric, start living up to who we say we are, and recognize that all of the world‟s people have the right to be treated justly.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful