At least one newscaster has some sense of what’s important. “MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski refuses to talk about Paris Hilton as a *Lead Story* on the Morning Joe show.”
June 30th, 2007
At least one newscaster has some sense of what’s important. “MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski refuses to talk about Paris Hilton as a *Lead Story* on the Morning Joe show.”
June 30th, 2007
Robert Dreyfus writes in the Nation of the last best hope for Iraq, the nascent nationalist bloc uniting Sunni forces, the Sadrists, the Fadhila party, and, perhaps, Allawi’s secular forces. The United States, of course, is resolutely opposed to any successful Iraqi national grouping, as they would demand the end of the occupation.
lmost unnoticed in the American media, these nationalist forces have been groping toward an accommodation that could oust Maliki. In fits and starts, and under the worst possible conditions–literally under fire–they are looking for a way out of the ethnic and sectarian crisis. It is an effort that has been under way for nearly a year. But they are doing so not only without American support but with determined opposition from the Bush Administration.
Even though the nationalists represent what is probably Iraq’s last chance to avoid civil war, collapse and fragmentation, the Bush Administration continues to support the Maliki government, the Kurdish warlords–America’s closest allies in Iraq–and, most inexplicably, the Shiite fundamentalists in SICI. According to recent reports, Washington may be toying with the idea of replacing Maliki with Adel Abdul Mahdi, currently the Iraqi vice president and a leader of SICI. Last week Abdul Mahdi threatened to resign his post, and he appears to be angling for Maliki’s job. (In 2006, during the prolonged negotiations following the December 2005 elections, the US Embassy quietly backed Mahdi over Maliki, but Maliki triumphed–by one vote–with the support of Muqtada al-Sadr.)
Why isn’t Washington backing the nationalists, despite its growing frustration with Maliki’s inability to meet the so-called “benchmarks” of political reconciliation that the United States wants? Because what holds together the emerging nationalist coalition, more than anything else, is militant opposition to the US occupation of Iraq.
Over the past two months, the nationalists in Parliament have won two landmark votes: the first in support of a bill calling for the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal and the second in a vote demanding that the Iraqi government submit any plan to extend the US occupation past 2007 to Parliament. Most (but not all) of the support for those votes came from deputies associated with the Sunnis (fifty-five seats), Sadr (thirty seats), Fadhila (thirty seats) and Allawi (twenty-five seats).
June 30th, 2007
Employees and volunteers of torture treatment programs have issued an extremely powerful Open Letter to American Psychological Association President Sharon Brehm and APA Director of Ethics Stephen Behnke. Not surprisingly, those who work with torture victims are not happy with APA’s refusal to take firm action against psychologists who aid those who engage in torture and abuse in America’s detention facilities.
Sharon Brehm, PhD
Stephen Behnke, PhD
Director, Ethics Office
American Psychological Association,
750 First Street, NE
Washington, D 20002-4242
June 25, 2007
Dear Drs. Brehm and Behnke:
The undersigned are 58 psychologists and members of APA who are also employees and volunteers for organizations affiliated with the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP). NCTTP is a growing consortium with 36 member organizations. As practitioners who work to alleviate suffering resulting from torture, we know from our professional experience that such suffering is often severe and lasts a lifetime. We have learned from our work that this suffering is mainly psychological in nature and that it is no less severe when it is inflicted by means of non-physical torture, i.e. in the form of isolation, sensory deprivation and disorientation, self-inflicted pain techniques, sleep deprivation, humiliation and other forms of mental cruelty. While some of us have had exchanges with you on the subject of psychologists’ participation in coercive interrogations, the time has come that we now speak clearly and in a unified voice.
Torture is corrosive to the society that practices it and destroys its institutions. Citizens lose faith in their institutions and no longer trust their neighbors or their appointed leaders. We are witnessing this corrosive effect on our own professional organization because psychologists have participated in the interrogation of enemy combatants by means amounting to torture. To make matters worse, it is appearing increasingly likely that some of the same colleagues and their allies were then appointed as a majority to the investigating body into the ethics of these interrogation practices, the PENS Task Force. The Task Force’s proceedings have now been called into question. A case book was promised but never issued. Specific factual inquiries into psychologists’ participation in abuses have been sidestepped time and again. The perception is becoming widespread that APA’s leadership has employed a strategy of listening and recording the voices of dissent without any intention of letting it affect de facto policy.
Some of us have already left APA, others are withholding dues, and still others are simply growing more impatient and frustrated. We all believe, however, that you must initiate a reversal of the current collaboration with abusive interrogation practices, which violate APA policy as ratified in the 2006 Resolution Against Torture. It has been alleged that the 2002 Ethics Code revision, found in standard 1.02, permits psychologists to follow any law or regulation, including military regulations, even if these otherwise violate the Ethics code. If this is the case, it must be changed; if it is not the case, we urge you to say so publicly and unambiguously. We urge you to hold hearings on the exact nature of the collaboration that has been reported, and until then to unambiguously declare an end to all cooperation with detainee interrogation practices. Otherwise, we foresee an indelible stain on our profession’s reputation, amounting to the exact opposite of Dr. Brehm’s goal of raising the positive profile of psychologists. At stake is an exodus of membership and a lasting split of the profession. As long as APA offers only resolutions against torture but remains unwilling to make a change, such resolutions will ring hollow. Having worked on the subject of torture for many combined years, we have learned this: the ghosts will not go away until a full reckoning and a change in course have been accomplished. Nothing that is built on cruelty can last. Please let us know if you would like our help in bringing about the change that must occur.
Adeyinka M. Akinsulure-Smith, Ph.D.
Manuel Balboa, Ph.D.
Pamela Braswell, Psy.D.
Jules Burstein, Ph.D.
Jane Christmas, Psy.D.
Mary Cogan, Ph.D.
Nancy Colburn, Ph.D.
Esther Ehrensaft, Ph.D.
Mary Fabri, Psy.D.
Erika Falk, Psy.D.
Ruth Fallenbaum, Ph.D.
Mohammad Farrag, Ph.D.
Gaithri Fernando, Ph.D.
Steve Frankel, Ph.D.
David Gangsei, Ph.D.
Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, Ph.D.
Mary Gardner, Psy.D.
Carlos Gonsalves, Ph.D.
Paul Good, Ph.D.
William Gorman, Ph.D.
Sonali Gupta, Psy.D.
Monika Gutkowska, Psy.D.
Karen L. Hanscom, Ph.D.
Sam Hamburg, Ph.D.
Robert Heavner, Ph.D.
Maria Hess, Ph.D.
Kip Hillman, Psy.D.
Maria Holden, Psy.D.
Uwe Jacobs, Ph.D.
Cheryl Jacques, Psy.D.
Jeffrey Kaye, Ph.D.
Kiana Keihani, Ph.D.
Alex Kitzes, Ph.D.
Loren Krane, Ph.D.
Daniel Litowski-DuCasa, Ed.D.
Adrienne McFadd, Ph.D.
Antonio Martinez, Ph.D.
Laura Mayorga, Ph.D.
Larry Miller, Ph.D.
Katja Mohr, Psy.D.
Susan Morton. Ph.D.
John Neafsey, Ph.D.
Ana Noles, Psy.D.
Katherine Norgard, Ph.D.
Judy Okawa, Ph.D.
Harvey Peskin, Ph.D.
Maria Prendes-Lintel, Ph.D.
Ginger Rhodes, Ph.D.
Suzanne Rosen, Psy.D.
Jaime Ross, Ph.D.
Alice Shaw, Ph.D.
Judith Wilson, Ph.D.
Lucy Wilson, Ph.D.
Jeanne Wolff-Bernstein, Ph.D.
Larry Wornian, Ph.D.
Sandra G. Zakowski, Ph.D.
So far President Brehm has not seen fit to respond to the nearly 600 psychologists who have written the June 6 Open Letter to her. I wonder if she will have the common courtesy to respond to these brave torture treatment providers.
June 29th, 2007
The Spokesman Review has an article providing further details about psychologists James E. Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen who were described last week by Mark Benjamin in Salon [CIA's Torture Teachers] as being implicated in the CIA’s torture activities. The article also refers to the controversy around APA’s position on psychologists in interrogations:
Senate probe focuses on Spokane men
Two Spokane psychologists are the focus of a congressional inquiry into the use of harsh techniques to interrogate terrorist suspects in Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan and other secret military and CIA detention centers.
In an article published last week, the online magazine Salon.com identified psychologists James E. Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen as key developers of the interrogation program — which the magazine said was linked to the CIA and likely violated the Geneva Conventions against the torture and mistreatment of prisoners.
The interrogation methods, according to a recently declassified Pentagon report reviewed by The Spokesman-Review, are “reverse engineering” of techniques taught in the military’s SERE program, set up to train U.S. special forces and flight crews in the principles of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape.
The SERE program is used by the Army at Fort Bragg, where Green Berets train, and at the U.S. Air Force Survival School near Spokane, where thousands of other trainees are instructed annually.
The theory behind the Cold War-era program is to expose soldiers to extremely harsh treatment during training — including sleep deprivation, pain and “waterboarding,” or simulated drowning — so they’ll be better equipped to resist if captured by forces that don’t adhere to laws on the humane treatment of prisoners, according to the report by the Pentagon’s Inspector General.Mitchell and Jessen have worked as contractors for the CIA since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and previously worked for the military’s SERE program, Salon.com reported.
The Spokane psychologists’ names surfaced after Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Pentagon in May not to destroy any documents mentioning them or their consulting firm, Mitchell Jessen & Associates.
The Department of Defense responded by sending a “document preservation” order on May 15 to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top Pentagon officials, according to Salon.com.
Levin’s Senate investigation will cast a new spotlight on the psychologists’ work and controversial human rights abuses in the interrogation program.
“It’s an issue he’s been interested in for quite awhile,” said Dave Pollock, a spokesman for Levin in Washington, D.C. The armed services committee isn’t ready to release additional details about the scope of its investigation, Pollock told the newspaper this week.
Mitchell Jessen & Associates lists its corporate headquarters in the American Legion Building, 108 N. Washington, in downtown Spokane.
A company profile posted on the online Techexpo Internet site for people seeking national security sector jobs says the firm has 120 employees, and a city of Spokane business license indicates it opened for business in March 2005.
Officers of the company are Mitchell, Jessen, Randall W. Spivey and Roger L. Aldrich, according to the city business license.
The company also lists a mailing address in Alexandria, Va., not far from CIA headquarters and the Washington, D.C., beltway.
Mitchell and Jessen did not respond to requests for interviews with The Spokesman-Review, including a list of questions submitted by e-mail.
The CIA sent an e-mailed response Wednesday to an inquiry from the newspaper about the agency’s relationship with the Spokane consulting firm.
“For reasons of security and individual privacy, the agency does not, as a rule, publicly deny or confirm employment or contractual relationships,” said CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano in the e-mail.
At the company’s Spokane office, light jazz plays in the public hallway outside Suite 205. Behind a large dark wooden door, there is no one to greet visitors who step inside a small entrance room, illuminated with bright track lighting. A wall phone is available to call a secretary.
“We’ll pass the request along,’’ the secretary said when asked about the availability of Mitchell or Jessen or any representative of the company.
Spivey, another officer of Mitchell Jessen, also operates Safe Travel Institute, RS Consulting and the National Hostage Survival Training Center one floor above in the same Spokane building. He worked previously for Tate Inc., a Germantown, Md., firm with a U.S. Air Force contract to train soldiers and airmen in survival techniques. He, too, declined interview requests.
Encountered in the hallway of the American Legion Building and asked about Mitchell Jessen’s work with the CIA, Spivey would only say, “I can’t talk about it.”
Spivey was a survival instructor for 12 years before becoming involved in the now-defunct Fort Sherman Institute at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene. The college spent $700,000 before closing the institute that was to teach anti-terrorism and hostage survival courses.
In 2005, he became involved in Mitchell Jessen.
Like Spivey, Aldrich served in the Air Force at Fairchild and then joined the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, a federal agency that provides the core training used at the Fairchild Air Force Base Survival School.
As recently as April, Mitchell Jessen & Associates was advertising for a $76,000 a year instructor “in the fields of anti-terrorism measures,” according to an Internet job posting. The job, which required the successful applicant to relocate to Spokane, required a “Top Secret – Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (SCI)” security clearance. An SCI clearance is attached to a job considered so sensitive that a Top Secret classification alone isn’t sufficient.
Mitchell, the company’s CEO, spent years with the military training U.S. soldiers to cope with harsh interrogation when captured, according to several published reports.
Jessen, the consulting firm’s president, is an expert in how hostages cope with isolation, according to a 2003 Washington Times article. He was the Pentagon’s senior SERE psychologist until 2002, according to Salon.com.
Mitchell and Jessen advertised their CIA credentials at a 2004 conference of the American Psychological Association in Honolulu, the online magazine said.
SERE methods ‘reverse engineered’
The SERE program, established after the Korean War, studied the psychological reaction of humans to warfare and captivity and is a “storehouse of knowledge” about coercive methods of interrogation, according to a July 2005 article by reporter Jane Mayer of The New Yorker.
Mayer’s article, titled “The Experiment,” described how the military began to use SERE psychologists for advice on how to question suspected terrorists after the September 11 attacks.
The New Yorker article was among the first to describe in detail how teams of “non-treating” psychiatrists and psychologists, called Behavioral Science Consultation Teams or “biscuits” in military language, were used at Guantanamo, the detention site established in January 2002 to hold “suspected enemy combatants” in the war on terror. Those teams are trained in SERE methods, the article said. One source told the New Yorker that the teams “took good knowledge and used it in a bad way.”
Many of the coercive techniques fit the international description of torture, according to a 2006 report by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
The recently declassified Pentagon report, considered a military secret last year but made public in May by the Inspector General of the Defense Department, confirms that the SERE techniques were “reverse engineered” in 2002 for use against suspected al-Qaeda loyalists in Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan and other CIA “black,” or secret, detention centers.
The techniques include hooding and starving detainees, sleep deprivation, isolation in darkness, mocking their religious beliefs and subjecting them to other forms of extreme stress, including sexual humiliation, the report says — evoking the leaked photographic images of detainee abuse from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq taken from October to December 2003.
The New Yorker identified Mitchell as a psychologist who worked for years for SERE and who was present inside an interrogation room where the CIA was holding a “high value”al-Qaeda suspect at an undisclosed location.
Mitchell argued for rougher tactics to be used on the man, including electric shock treatments similar to the treatment of dogs in previous behavioral psychology experiments. The shocks caused a condition known as “learned helplessness” in the dogs, according to The New Yorker.
Mitchell neither denied nor confirmed to the New Yorker that he worked with the CIA, lending his expertise as a psychologist to interrogation of so-called military combatants.
Such work is sparking controversy among medical professionals.
Members of the American Psychological Association are urgently debating whether psychologists should be assisting in any way with detainee interrogations.
While the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have already voted to oppose any participation of their members in similar interrogations, the psychologist’s association “has been silent” on whether its members should participate in the questioning of detainees, said Brad Olson, a community psychologist and assistant research professor at Northwestern University. In a May, 2007 statement, the APA says having psychologists consult with interrogation teams helps keep the interrogations “safe and ethical.”
That’s not good enough, Olson told The Spokesman-Review in an interview this week.
“Principle A in our ethics code is that we do good and don’t do harm. Psychologists are acting in these settings. They are doing absolutely no good for the detainee,” Olson said.
Olson, president of the Divisions for Social Justice within the APA, was among 40 psychologists who wrote an “open letter” on June 7 to APA President Sharon Brehm, a professor at Indiana University, urging the group to boycott any work at the detention centers.
“We write you as psychologists concerned about the participation of our profession in abusive interrogations of national security detainees at Guantanamo, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at the so-called CIA ‘black sites,” the letter says.
It urges the APA to “encourage, support, and cooperate” with the Senate investigation of detainee treatment.
The open letter doesn’t fully reflect the APA’s position, said Stephen Behnke, director of the APA’s Ethics Directorate. He has argued for the presence of APA members at the interrogation sites so they can flag any unethical or illegal conduct.
The association has repeatedly condemned torture and leading APA members have protested the harsh SERE techniques used at Guantanamo and other detention sites, Behnke said in an interview.
Those “unethical and ineffective” techniques include waterboarding, sexual shaming, mock executions, forced nudity, exploitation of phobias, hooding, the use of dogs to threaten or intimidate, induced hypothermia and cultural or religious humiliation, Behnke added.
The recently-released Pentagon Inspector General’s report “made it clear” that there were some people in the military and intelligence agencies who thought it was a good idea to reverse-engineer the SERE techniques to use against terrorist detainees, but APA members weren’t among them, Behnke said.
He emphasized repeatedly during the interview that Spokane psychologists Mitchell and Jessen are not APA members and have not been part of the group’s nationwide debate over the interrogation methods.
“APA has had no contact whatsoever with these individuals concerning interrogations or interrogation techniques,” Behnke said.
However, the Spokane company is claiming an APA affiliation. On the TechExpo Internet posting, the company describes its work in “high-risk programs” and says it is “additionally approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing professional education for psychologists.”
Informed Thursday by The Spokesman-Review of that claim, APA spokeswoman Rhea Farberman said: “Mitchell Jessen & Associates is NOT an APA-approved sponsor of continuing education for psychologists.” APA will follow up with the Web site and the company to make sure they no longer make that claim, Farberman said.
Karen Dorn Steele can be reached at (509)459-5462 or email@example.com. Bill Morlin can be reached at (509)459-5444 or firstname.lastname@example.org
June 29th, 2007
Talk Nation Radio‘s special on torture today includes an interview with me, constituting the firs half of the show. Listen, or read a transcript: Ending Torture and Restoring Detainee Rights with Prof. Stephen Soldz and Laurie Hasbrook. This is Part I of a two-part special. Part II is next week, I believe. Here is the description of the show:
n this part one of a two part special we look at the progress being made by activists working to stop torture. Members of a growing group within the APA, American Psychological Association, discuss their ongoing efforts to get their organization to fully renounce torture and bring about an end to the involvement of psychologists in US Military interrogations.
As they gear up for the APA’s annual meeting August 10-13 in New Orleans where a crucial debate on this issue will take place, Professor Soldz outlines some of the new information that is coming out about the role of psychologists in USM and CIA interrogations. He his research into the history of US torture. What are the implications? Have detainees in the so-called ‘war on terror’ been subjected to forcible injections of drugs? Are research studies going on and are reports being written about how various drugs work?
In part two we look at the likely social impact of America’s use of torture at home and abroad and how Americans can unite to stop torture.
Laurie Hasbrook, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence talks about ongoing actions designed to stop torture, shut down Guantanamo, restore Habeas Corpus for all US detainees and reverse the Military Commissions Act.
–She offers an opinion on Mitt Romney’s statement that Guantanamo should be doubled and ‘enhanced interrogation techniques should be used’ and then describes what activists are doing in Chicago to call attention to the issues.
–She explains an action led by Christian Peacemaker Teams where a group in prison garb and hoods led by ‘handlers’ were able to approach a judge. The judge agreed with the protestors but refused to issue a writ of Habeas Corpus for prisoners at Guantanamo.
–In part two Laurie discusses the impact of changes to laws governing interrogations and looks at the affect of rhetoric on torture on Americans and people in other countries.
What will it take to end torture and reverse Bush administration laws that provide immunity from prosecution for those who engage in it? Laurie speaks as a mother and activist about her reasons for taking on this painful issue.
Our music is by composer and musician Fritz Heede and was also used in the film, The Oil Factor.
I also was interviewed on NPR’s To the Point on May 30, 2007; I never got around to editing and posting it before posted before. This interview took off from claims that torture doesn’t work and discussed the broader social context of US torture. The interview can be listened to available here.
June 28th, 2007
From Scott Horton’s No Comment:
Lautréamont on Plagiarism
Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It holds tight an author’s phrase, uses his expressions, eliminates a false idea, and replaces it with just the right idea.
– Comte de Lautréamont (Isidore Ducasse), Poésies II (1870)(S.H. transl.)
Recent claims of plagarism, where a few phrases in a many hundreds page book are copied almost exactly, without quote marks, especially when the original source is copiously cited, perfectly illustrate this point,
Note to my students: This does not mean you can copy your paper from the internet, or your fellow students!
June 27th, 2007
As a long-time researcher and proselytizer among my clinical colleagues for the value of research, I love examples where researchers start out with an hypothesis only to be told by the data that they were wrong. Yesterday’s New York Times provides one of these examples.
Those concerned with improving doctor patient interaction have encouraged doctors to loosen up how they talk to patients, in order to build a relationship that can facilitate communication and compliance with medical advice. Some thought that doctors being willing to reveal personal details about themselves might contribute to improved communication.
Researchers studied doctors in Rochester who agreed to have two unidentified pseudo patients come to their office and surreptitiously record the consultation. the researchers were surprised by the results. When the doctors revealed personal details, rather than aid communication, it seemed to hijack the discussion to the doctor’s concerns and away from the patient’s.
Study Says Chatty Doctors Forget Patients
by Gina Kolata
A new patient comes into a doctor’s office weighing 204 pounds. He’s six feet tall. The following conversation ensues:
Doctor: Is that up a little bit for you, weightwise?
Patient: It might be up a few pounds. I used to jog and I just haven’t …
Doctor: See, ’cause I’m weighing more like 172, 173 and I’m six foot. And I’m still running. I’m doing the 5 and 10 and 15 K’s. The half marathons and …
Patient: So, I’m 30 pounds heavier than you?
Doctor: Right now, yeah.
That, a group of researchers say, is part of an actual conversation they recorded in the course of a study that showed that many doctors waste patients’ time and lose their focus in office visits by interjecting irrelevant information about themselves.
Their paper, published yesterday in The Archives of Internal Medicine, involved 100 primary-care doctors in the Rochester area. As part of a study on patient care and outcomes, the doctors agreed to allow two people trained to act as patients come to their offices sometime over the course of a year. The test patients would surreptitiously make an audio recording of the encounter. The investigators analyzed recordings of 113 of those office visits, excluding situations when the doctors figured out that the patient was fake.
To their surprise, the researchers discovered that doctors talked about themselves in a third of the audio recordings and that there was no evidence that any of the doctors’ disclosures about themselves helped patients or established rapport.
Nor, in the vast majority of cases, did the doctors circle back to the personal conversation or try to build upon it.
“I think all of us on the team thought self-disclosure is a potentially positive aspect to building a doctor-patient relationship and that we ourselves were quite good at it,” said Susan H. McDaniel, a psychologist who is associate chairwoman of the department of family medicine at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study.
“We were quite shocked,” Dr. McDaniel added. “We realized that maybe not 100 percent of the time, but most of the time self-disclosure had more to do with us than with the patients.”
Dr. Howard B. Beckman, medical director of the Rochester Individual Practice Association and an internist and geriatrician who was an author of the study, analyzed conversations before and after the doctors started talking about themselves.
“I’d been saying for many years that disclosure was a form of patient support,” Dr. Beckman said. “If someone says, ‘I have a problem,’ and you say, ‘I understand because I have it, too,’ that would be comforting.” But, he added, “in truth that never happens.”
Patients were not comforted, he said, and conversations got off track. Four out of five times when a doctor interjected personal information, the doctor never returned to the topic under discussion before the interruption.
“We found that the longer the disclosures went on, the less functional they were,” Dr. Beckman said. “Then the patient ends up having to take care of the doctor and then the question is who should be paying whom.”
The researchers studied the conversations looking for any hint that patients were helped when the doctors talked about themselves.
“We looked for any statement of comfort, any statement of appreciation, any deepening of the conversation,” Dr. Beckman said.
They found none.
Dr. Jeffrey Borkan, who is a professor and chairman of the department of family medicine at Brown University, said it was easy to see why doctors thought it was helpful to talk about themselves. Doctors are told that they must make a connection with patients. But, Dr. Borkan said, “the instruction is often imprecise — how do you make a connection?” Many think the way to do it is by talking about themselves.
“What’s shocking about this article is how often they moved from the patient’s concerns to their own,” Dr. Borkan said.
But Dr. Richard Frankel, a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Indiana University, hopes that doctors do not conclude that the best course is to clam up completely about themselves.
Patients, for example, may ask a female physician who is pregnant when she is due or whether she is having a boy or a girl. “It would not be appropriate not to say anything,” Dr. Frankel said.
The Rochester researchers, though, say their results opened their eyes to their own transgressions and made them change their ways.
They also made them see that they, too, had been the victims of doctors’ time-wasting disclosures.
Dr. McDaniel said, “I went to my doctor recently, and I realized after I left, when I was in the parking lot, that I had only asked one of my two questions because my doctor was telling me about his trip to Italy.”
But not all doctors informed of the results saw themselves in the data.
Dr. John K. Min, an internist at the Kernodle Clinic in Burlington, N.C., said he had always been circumspect when he talked to patients.
Then, however, he recalled a patient who came to see him five years ago for a physical exam. Dr. Min is avid about building furniture and the patient was skilled at furniture building. The patient spent 40 minutes with Dr. Min. When he left, Dr. Min looked at his notes.
“I realized that I didn’t even examine him,” Dr. Min said. The man, he added, was gracious when Dr. Min called to apologize.
“He said, ‘We’ll just wait for next time,’ ” Dr. Min recalled.
This study has potential relevance for psychotherapy as well. In the therapy world, as in medicine, there has been discussion of whether therapist self-disclosure might facilitate an improved therapist-patient relationship and increased patient sel-disclosure. This study would suggest that examination of this possibility should carefully distinguish between cases where the therapist makes brief personal comments in an attempt to further patient talk and cases where the therapists ends up hijacking the conversation.
2 comments June 27th, 2007
The American Psychological Association (APA) Division of Peace Psychology (Division 48) passed a resolution affirming their support for a Moratorium on psychologists’ participation in national secuity interrogations. [I am lat in posting this. When it first came out, we were asked not to pass it around further until the Division membership was notified. It then slipped off my radar. I'm sorry to have missed such an eloquent document for two months.]
Call for an APA Moratorium Resolution
Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Peace Psychology Division 48
The Executive Committee of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Peace Psychology Division 48 of the APA (American Psychological Association) calls on the APA to adopt a Moratorium Resolution on Psychologist’s Involvement* in Interrogations at US Detention Centers for Foreign Detainees and Individuals Identified as “Enemy Combatants” under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
The Executive Committee affirms that:
In August 2006, the APA passed the Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which reaffirmed the APA’s long-standing commitment to basic human rights including its position against torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The 2006 APA Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment reaffirmed APA’s support of the McCain Amendment (specifically its reference to United States Reservation I.1 of the Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture(1)) and defined cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment as actions that constitute violations of the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States(2). The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States include guarantees that no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The inclusion of an internationally documented definition of “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” in additional to the internationally accepted definition of “torture” is of critical importance. It underscores the broad and inclusive scope of the 2006 Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Executive Committee further affirms that:
The American Psychological Association (APA) is an accredited NGO at the United Nations (UN) and as such is committed to the spirit, purposes, and principles of the UN and other relevant UN instruments (e.g., Universal Declaration of Human Rights(3), Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners(4), the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment(5), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)(6)). The United Nations Human Rights Council in 2006 stated, “the United States has the obligation to fully respect the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. The Special Rapporteur on torture notes the reservations to the Convention and ICCPR made by the United States, indicating that it considers itself bound by the prohibition of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment only to the extent that it means the cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States” (p. 14-15).
The 2006 United Nations Human Rights Council has determined that indefinite detention constitutes “inhuman” treatment. The report states “uncertainty about the length of detention and prolonged solitary confinement, amount to inhuman treatment and to a violation of the right to health as well as a violation of the right of detainees under article 10, paragraph 1, of ICCPR to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person” (p. 24).
The 2006 United Nations Human Rights Council has called for the immediate closure of the U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay and called for an immediate cessation of “all special interrogation techniques authorized by the Department of Defense” (p. 25).
The Executive Committee further affirms that:
As stated in the APA Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, torture victims and victims of other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment may suffer from long-term, multiple psychological and physical problems (e.g., Carlsson, Mortensen, & Kastrup, 2005; Gerrity, Keane, & Tuma, 2001; Hermansson, Timpka, & Thyber, 2003; Kanninen, Punamaki, & Qouta, 2003; Somnier, Vesti, Kastrup, & Genefke, 1992). Prisoners held without due process of law, particularly indefinite detention, may suffer long-term psychological harm and related harms (Morishima, 1982; Potts, 1994; Robbins, MacKeith, Davison, Kopelman, Meux, Ratnam, Somekh, & Taylor, 2005)
The Executive Committee further affirms that:
In October 2006, the United States government through the Military Commissions Act(7) declared that certain people held at detention centers are “enemy combatants.” As such, these detainees are not guaranteed human rights protections, particularly in relation to due process, and possibly humane interrogation techniques, as established under the Geneva Conventions and other UN documents, treaties, conventions, and protocols that protect the human rights of people without exception. Current interrogation methods at U.S. detention centers may now legally include techniques defined as torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment under the 2006 APA Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment due to changes in the Federal Code resulting from the Military Commissions Bill of 2006.
Psychologists working in U.S. detention centers may be at risk due to an expectation that they can make judgments outside of their area of expertise. The legality of interrogation techniques and whether a particular technique constitutes a violation of law (e.g., whether a technique is abusive or not) is the role of legal counsel. Currently, psychologists are asked to insure that interrogation techniques are non-abusive, safe, and legal. This represents a position outside of their area of training and expertise and is a by-product of the lack of detainee due process of law.
Psychologists working in U.S. detention centers may be at risk (ethically and psychologically) for involvement in interrogations interpreted as legal under U.S. law but inclusive of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment as defined under international law and the 2006 APA Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Therefore, the Executive Committee affirms:
Whereas U.S. detention centers are currently in violation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, and the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by denying due process of law to prisoners. Additionally, U.S. detention centers are currently in violation of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment specifically, United States Reservation I.1 of the Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions. Whereas U.S. detention centers currently deny prisoners due process of law (e.g., legal representation and subjected to indefinite incarceration) as defined by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Whereas, as defined by the 2006 APA Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the existing context of U.S. detention centers currently constitutes cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of prisoners.
Whereas, under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, interrogation techniques may now legally be used against detainees that represent violations of the 2006 APA Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Be it resolved that the Executive Committee of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Peace Psychology Division 48 of the APA (American Psychological Association) calls on the APA to adopt a Moratorium Resolution on Psychologist’s Involvement in Interrogations at US Detention Centers for Foreign Detainees and Individuals Identified as “Enemy Combatants” under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
Be it resolved that the Executive Committee calls on the APA to more broadly publicize and highlight the full import of the 2006 APA Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Gerrity, E., Keane, T. M., & Tuma, F. (Eds.). (2001). The mental health consequences of torture. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Mental Health.
Hermansson, A., Timpka, T., & Thyber, M. (2003). The long-term impact of torture on the mental health of war-wounded refugees: Findings and implications for nursing programmes. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 17, 317-324.
Kanninen, K., Punamaki, R., & Qouta, S. (2003). Personality and trauma: Adult attachment and posttraumatic distress among former political prisoners. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 9, 97-126.
Morishima, J. K. (1982). American Psychological Association statement on wartime relocation and internment of civilians. AAPA Journal, 7(1), 6-12.
Potts, M. K. (1994). Long-term effects of trauma: Post-traumatic stress among civilian internees of the Japanese during World War II. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 50, 681-698.
Robbins, I., MacKeith, J., Davison, S., Kopelman, M., Meux, C., Ratnam, S., Somekh, D., & Taylor, R. (2005). Psychiatric problems of detainees under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001. Psychiatric Bulletin, 29, 407-409.
Somnier. F., Vesti. P., Kastrup. M., & Genefke, I. K. (1992). Psycho-social consequences of torture: Current knowledge and evidence. In M. Basoglu (Ed.), Torture and its consequences: Current treatment approaches (pp. 56-71). New York: Cambridge University Press.
United Nations Human Rights Council (2006). Economic, social and cultural rights, civil and political rights, situation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Retrieved April 10, 2007, from http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=E/CN.4/2006/120&Lang=E.
* The Executive Committee of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence wants it to be clear that this Call for a Moratorium is not intended as an indictment of psychologists currently working within military settings. Rather, this Call for a Moratorium is an expression of concern for the well-being of prisoners at U.S. Detention Centers for foreign detainees identified as “enemy combatants” under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and also the well-being of psychologists in such settings. The Call for a Moratorium is furthermore, and most importantly, based on the reality that the setting alone is one defined by the UN Human Rights Council, the United States Reservation I.1 of the Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and the 2006 APA Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as “cruel, inhuman, or degrading.”
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Opinions expressed by the voting members of the Executive Committee of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence (Division 48, APA) may not reflect the opinions of other members of the Society or the American Psychological Association (APA). This is not a general membership-vote policy or position statement for either the Society or the APA.
June 27th, 2007
Fifty high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program gave President Bush a letter asking him to stop torture and respect human rights:
President Bush was presented with a letter Monday signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program urging a halt to “violations of the human rights” of terror suspects held by the United States.
The White House said Bush had not expected the letter but took a moment to read it and talk with a young woman who handed it to him.
“The president enjoyed a visit with the students, accepted the letter and upon reading it let the student know that the United States does not torture and that we value human rights,” deputy press secretary Dana Perino said.
The students had been invited to the East Room to hear the president speak about his effort to win congressional reauthorization of his education law known as No Child Left Behind.
The handwritten letter said the students “believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions.”
“We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions, and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants,” the letter said.
The designation as a Presidential Scholar is one of the nation’s highest honors for graduating high school students. Each year the program selects one male and one female student from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Americans living abroad, 15 at-large students, and up to 20 students in the arts on the basis of outstanding scholarship, service, leadership and creativity.
1 comment June 26th, 2007
Democracy Now! today featured Salon reporter Mark Benjamin talking about his article last Friday: The CIA’s Torture Teachers. In addition to discussing psychologists’ role in teaching SERE-based [Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape] techniques to the CIA, the article also discusses the struggle in the American Psychological Association, including our Open Letter to APA President Brehm. A few excerpts from the interview:
ARK BENJAMIN: The two psychologists are named James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, and these are psychologists who have been affiliated with this training program — again, called the SERE program — for years. What we have learned is that the Senate Armed Services Committee — this is a committee run by Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan — is now looking into the activities of these two psychologists, in particular.
What our sources on Capitol Hill and, in fact, some of Mitchell and Jessen’s own colleagues say is that these guys, these psychologists who are affiliated with the military’s SERE training, were then employed by the CIA as contractors to do the same thing that the military was doing, which was to flip these tactics around and use them on real terrorists. And, in fact, Jane Mayer from the New Yorker, who’s done some wonderful reporting also on this issue, put one of these guys, James Mitchell, in the room with a high-level CIA detainee in early 2002, and, according to Mayer, he was urging some very rough stuff.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the letter that psychologists have written to the American Psychological Association and the controversy that’s brewing within this organization of close to 150,000 psychologists?
MARK BENJAMIN: There is a major rift in the American Psychological Association, a professional association for psychologists. In 2005, the American Psychological Association came up with ethics guidelines that essentially say that a psychologist can help participate in a military interrogation. This is a big deal, because the American Psychiatric Association for psychiatrists said no, we won’t have any part of it. It turns out that six of the ten individual psychologists who helped draft those ethics guidelines for the American Psychological Association were affiliated with the military. And, in fact, several of them were affiliated with this SERE school.
This issue has been really tearing apart the American Psychological Association for years now, and there is an expanding group of psychologists who are very, very concerned that the American Psychological Association’s own ethical guidelines are allowing psychologists, like these guys Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, to reverse-engineer training tactics into really brutal interrogation techniques. And there’s a bunch of letter-writing back and forth, frankly, to the head of — the president of the American Psychological Association, objecting to these ethic guidelines and perhaps the use of these tactics.
AMY GOODMAN: You write about the dozens of psychologists who made public a joint letter to the American Psychological Association President Sharon Brehm, fingering another CIA-employed psychologist. He was one of the ten on that committee in 2005 that was convened to look at psychologists’ involvement in these interrogations. Explain who he is.
MARK BENJAMIN: That’s a guy whose last name is Shumate. He’s a psychologist for the Counter Terrorism Center at the CIA. This is the center that reported — at the time of 9/11 was a guy named Cofer Black was in charge of that unit. You may recall Cofer Black is very well known for going up to Congress early in the war on terror and saying, you know, “There’s a before-after-9/11 and there’s an after-9/11; after 9/11 the gloves come off.”
What the psychologists are concerned about is that their fellow psychologists who are associated with that center, the Counter Terrorism Center, seem to be also, you know, crucial in reverse-engineering these tactics, these training tactics in the brutal interrogation techniques, or at least that’s the concern among these psychologists. And what they’re doing is alerting their organization that there could be a real problem here.
AMY GOODMAN: Of course, Cofer Black now involved with Blackwater, the private security company based in North Carolina, and an offshoot of that around intelligence. Now, R. Scott Shumate was one of the ten people involved in this PENS Task Force, this advisory task force that ultimately advised that the psychologists could continue in these military interrogations, despite the fact that three of the members — we had two of them on on Democracy Now! — have expressed great concern about them, one of these members handing over all of her notes leading up to the meeting and afterwards, the email listservs, over to the Senate Armed Services Committee, as they conduct their investigation.
MARK BENJAMIN: That’s right. And some of the psychologists, as you mentioned, these civilian psychologists, sort of feel like they were railroaded or misled or, you know, in other words, the military folks who were on that panel which came up with these ethics guidelines sort of ran the show. I think that’s sort of what you’re referring to there. And, yes, there’s very serious concern about these psychologists, that their own fellow professionals may have played a vital role in flipping these techniques around, both at the Pentagon and, now we’ve learned, also at the CIA, into some really brutal interrogation techniques….
AMY GOODMAN: When we had the psychologists on, two of the ten people who ran this task force for the American Psychological Association, nine of them voting members, six of them military, Nina Thomas, psychologist based in New York who was a part of that, said, though she knew about the military connection, she didn’t realize how involved some of the members were in this presidential task force, who was making their recommendation to the APA, how involved they were in the SERE program and in the interrogations. Among those she talked about was Colonel Morgan Banks.
MARK BENJAMIN: That’s right. Morgan Banks is a guy who’s affiliated with the Special Operations Command’s Psychological Directorate, so these are the top psychologists associated with the Special Operations units in the military. What we learned last month, the Department of Defense Inspector General declassified a report that showed that that department, the Special Operations Command’s Psychological Applications Directorate, early in the war came up with a plan specifically to do this. In other words, when I say “this,” I mean take these training tactics, these brutal mock interrogations, and flip them around into real interrogation techniques. Because this guy, Morgan Banks, was in charge of that portion of Special Operations, it certainly seems to strongly suggest — it doesn’t say Morgan Banks by name, but it says his organization did this. So if you’ve got a guy who is involved and who is part of the original planning to turn these techniques into real interrogation tactics and then he’s sitting on a task force at the American Psychological Association drawing up ethics guidelines that say that can be done, I think that’s raising some real alarm bells among psychologists.
1 comment June 25th, 2007
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