Uwe Jacobs, the Director of Survivors International, which provides treatment for torture victims, has also responded to the recent letter from Michael Gelles on the subject of psychologists’ participation in national security interrogations. Dr. Jacobs points out that Dr. Gelles failed to respond to any of the specific questions he earlier posed. This response joins that of Steven Miles, posted earlier as well as my own response:
Dr. Michael Gelles
cc Dr. Stephen Behnke
Ethics Office of the APA
Dear Dr. Gelles,
I have received your reply to my letter from March 23rd. I appreciate your statement of wanting to find common ground but I also expect that you will recognize the need for a second, more detailed reply. Otherwise, I’m afraid the court of public opinion will find your reply nonresponsive. Of the many specific questions I asked, you answered none and the answer to a more general question about the reflections of Alberto Mora came at no expense. You also stated that my questions were based on a misunderstanding of interrogations but neglected to explain what misunderstanding you were referring to. If you feel that you cannot answer the questions I asked you, then it is important to explain the reasons for that. As I indicated before, I have no reason to quarrel with colleagues who are actively striving to do the right thing. However, many of us remain in need of explanations and we cannot trade them in for the assurance that we ought to let the experts handle this and needn’t worry. I look forward to learning more when you address said questions in detail.
Thank you very much!
Uwe Jacobs, PhD
Director, Survivors International
703 Market Street, Suite 301
San Francisco, CA 94103
Dr. Jacobs is pointing to the fact that it is time, or past time, for Dr. Gelles to explain in detail exactly what he witnessed during his time at Guantanamo, and what he did to stop it. As Steven Miles pointed out, he also has to explain why his efforts failed to stop the abuse and why he thinks that future efforts, of essentially the same nature, would have any different result.
April 6th, 2007
Bioethicist Steven Miles, who was one of those who Michael Gelles was responding to in his letter yesterday [Michael Gelles condescends to APA critics]. Dr. Miles has, in turn, responded to Dr Gelles:
April 6, 2007
Dear Dr. Gelles,
Thank you for a copy of your letter.
I think we agree that the human rights abuses in US Armed Forces’ war on terror prisons has profoundly damaged human rights law, the perception of the United States, the reputation of our Armed Forces. It also, even in the view of members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, possibly fatally damaged our ability to be a catalyst for a civil society in Iraq. Colin Powell predicted
these disastrous consequences before the ill-considered interrogation and imprisonment policies were put into place.
I believe that it is short-sighted and parochial to argue that “Psychologists should not defer to lawyers on the question of what constitutes torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.”
International law is at stake. The key phrasing of the President’s and Secretary of Defense’ 2002 memoranda directed that the “provisions” of the Geneva Conventions be set aside while respect for the Conventions’ “principles” would somehow still guide our policy. I do not doubt your claim that you “didn’t go through a legal analysis” to arrive at your conclusion that the prisoners were being abused although you did make extensive use of legal consultants and legal standards in pressing your complaint. Your moral compass however was insufficient to protect Mon Adel Al Jamadi in Iraq, Dilawar in Afghanistan, or Al-Qhatani at Guantanamo [the last of whom, as we both know, was systematically abused by your colleagues in psychology and
mine in medicine]. We both know that numerous Defense Department Criminal Investigations concluded that abhorrent behavior should be exempted from censure or sanction largely because of policies which did not define abusive treatment. Furthermore, definitions of torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment are needed and provided in international law to
authoritatively speak to regimes such Liberia or Myrnamar. The current administration and Defense Department policies were crafted to erase explicit benchmarks; they have been a disaster.
Your assertion that psychologists will not be forced into engaging in unethical behaviors is also off the mark. The depressing history on this subject shows that 60 percent of torture survivors see clinicians during their abuse. Such clinicians are rarely coerced; they are willing participants. Some are zealous patriots; some are go-along bureaucrats; some lose their way in an alien milieu that lacks proper command accountability.
In sum, explicit definitions, firm accountability, and bright lines separating behavioral scientists from coercive interrogation (as the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit tried to provide the Defense Department at Guantanamo) are necessary. The APA lacks all of these and its guidance therefore is insufficient to protect prisoners, psychologists, or the reputation of the Association.
April 6th, 2007
Jeff3, a diarist at Daily Kos, has a post exploring the role of the raqi Federation of Oil Unions in opposing the law authorizing the sell-off of Iraqi oil to foreign corporations:
The members of union maintain the oil infrastructure, they know how it works, where it’s weaknesses are, where the strengths are. And, given the fact that just about every article I’ve read on the oil infrastructure in Iraq, indicates that the pipelines/terminals are jury-rigged/worn out, if you bring in new workers to fix the problems, you have to replace everything. So, if they decide to, say, creatively, ‘fix’ the system, who knows what might happen…
April 6th, 2007
The United States is planning on a massive increase in the number of Iraqi prisoners held in US detention centers, the Christian Science Monitor reports:
For the past several years, the United States itself has held about 13,000 individuals captive and now holds about 18,000 captives. But as the Baghdad security plan also known as Fard Al Kanoon moves forward, Petraeus is planning for the possibility of holding as many as 40,000 captives. Most are being held at two facilities, one at Camp Cropper in Baghdad and another at Camp Bucca, south of the city.
American commands will hold many of those detainees indefinitely to collect intelligence about local networks and terrorist or insurgent activity, providing regular reviews of their cases to assess the security risks they would pose if put back on the street. Many others will be transferred to the Iraqis, where they would become the subjects of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.
Thus, the US will expand its Iraqi Guantanamos where Iraqis can be held indefinitely, with no real rights. They claim to want to avoid new Abu Ghraib-style abuses, but the reality of this claim remains to be seen, as as the despised occupation grinds on month after month.
April 6th, 2007