March 28

Nov. 2006: Navy Secretary Instruction permits waivers from informed consent

The Instruction memo, (3900.39D) titled “Human Research Protection Program” was issued by Secretary of the Navy, Donald Winter. While explicitly prohibiting the use of prisoners – including “unlawful enemy combatants” – for research, the memo states that waivers of informed consent for research, and suspension of protections are possible under conditions of “operational contingency or during times of national emergency.” The memo indicates that the Undersecretary of the Navy is the “approval authority” for research conducted on prisoners, which may include: “Severe or unusual intrusions, either physical or psychological, on human subjects (such as consciousness-altering drugs or mind control techniques)” and “Potentially or inherently controversial topics (such as those likely to attract significant media coverage or that might invite challenge by interest groups).”

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