May 26, 2018
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Maine religious leaders condemn alleged experiments on detainees

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

Three of the state’s top religious leaders have joined clergy from around the nation in denouncing health care professionals who allegedly were involved in experiments on detainees.

The Rev. Jill Saxby, executive director of the Maine Council of Churches, and Bishop Stephen T. Lane, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, issued statements through the National Religious Campaign Against Torture on Monday. A spokesman for Maine’s Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone also commented on the is-sue.

The report, “Experiments in Torture: Human Subject Research and Evidence in the ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program,” was released Monday. The report, prepared by Physicians for Human Rights, alleges that the U.S. military and intelligence health professionals performed experiments on detainees without their consent.

“The revelations in the new report are profoundly disturbing in and of themselves,” Saxby said in the press release. “But they also point to the need for a full investigation by a nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry into U.S. detention and interrogation practices since Sept. 11, 2001. The report shows how quickly we can find our-selves on the moral slippery slope of the ends justifying the means, even to the point of refining the meaning of ‘torture’ to excuse practices such as severe sleep deprivation and water-boarding.”

The Portland-based, 70-year-old Maine Council of Churches is made up of mainline denominations and churches including Roman Catholics, Protestants and Unitarian-Universalists.

“The Episcopal Diocese of Maine is a member of the Maine Council of Churches and along with many other religious groups in Maine and nationally, condemns the use of torture under any circumstances,” Lane said in the release. “We urge our public officials to enact policies to prevent the use of torture and extraordinary ren-dition both domestically and abroad.”

Mark Mutty, director of public affairs for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, said as a member of the Maine Council of Churches, the diocese and the bishop agreed with Saxby’s statement.

In its press release, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture called on Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree to “do everything in their power to establish a comprehensive investigation into the use of torture, including its use in medical experiment on detainees. We ur-gently call on them to pursue the steps, required, including changes to the law, to ensure that U.S.-sponsored torture will never again be sanctioned and practiced.”

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