Steven Reisner discusses new ethics complaints against Guantanamo intelligence psychologists on Democracy Now!
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll move on then to our top story.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Two U.S. military psychologists are facing complaints with their state licensing boards over their actions at Guantanamo Bay. The psychologists Major John Leso and Colonel Larry James are accused of helping perpetrate the abuse and torture of prisoners in violation of standards of professional conduct. On Wednesday, Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic filed a complaint against Larry James in Ohio where he now serves as Dean of Wright State’s School of Professional Psychology. Meanwhile, the Center for Justice and Accountability filed a complaint against John Leso here in New York. But James and Leso played key roles in interrogations at Guantanamo. Leso served at Guantanamo from June 2002 to January 2003. He led the Behavioral Science Consultation Team involved in the interrogation and torture of Mohammed al-Qahtani. In 2003 James arrived at Guantanamo to head a group of up to five psychologists who assisted in intelligence gathering and interrogations. James would later serve in Iraq where he became the first psychologist stationed at the Abu Ghraib Prison.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined in New York by the psychologist Dr. Steven Reisner. He filed the complaint against Major John Leso here in New York with the assistance of the Center for Justice and Accountability. Steven Reisner is senior faculty and supervisor at the International Trauma Studies Program. He also teaches at New York University Medical School and Columbia University and is a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. He also ran for president of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Steve Reisner, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you lay out your complaint?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, there is a lot of evidence that has been made public showing that the torture programs in the CIA and at Guantanamo, the Department of Defense, were created and overseen by health professionals, particularly psychologists. Since most of these programs were classified and most of the names are also classified, we have been focusing on the few psychologists whose names we know and whose roles have been made pretty clear. And two of them, Major John Leso and Colonel Larry James, were in charge of the behavioral science consultation teams, the advisers on interrogations and on the enhanced techniques at Guantanamo.
AMY GOODMAN: Known as BSCT teams.
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Known as BSCT teams, yes. Those teams oversaw the implementation of a particular type of abusive interrogation techniques from the SERE Program and they were overseen at two different times by particular psychologists whose names we know. One is Major John Leso. He was the first BSCT psychologist, BSCT number one, at Guantanamo. He and a psychiatrist named Major Bernie created the protocols for the psychological abuse of detainees, to use psychological means to force or to coerce detainees into ostensibly revealing their information. But basically why we are bringing the cases against each of them, is that they’re using their psychological knowledge, their professional expertise, to do harm.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And how, specifically, since they were obviously in the employ of the military at the time, why are you going here in New York State to challenge their licensing by the state licensing board here in New York?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, there are two reasons. First,—neither the government nor the military has yet to hold anybody involved in the torture accountable. The government refuses to police itself, the military refuses to police itself, so there is no accountability, there is no guarantee that this would not happen again under similar circumstances. And, so, looking for a way to hold people accountable has been a difficult job.
Second, and even more important for us, health professionals are held to even higher standards than interrogators or military men and women. The health professional is held to an ethical code and the ethical code stems from the fact that people are more vulnerable to health professionals. Health professionals are privy to private information, to weaknesses, to psychological and physical compromises, and they are privy to that information because they take an oath not to abuse that information to cause harm. So when health professionals use that very information, their very knowledge to cause harm, we want to hold them to ethical responsibility and make sure that those people are held accountable and have the licenses revoked if necessary.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you exactly know that Dr. Leso did?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Dr. Leso, as I said, he was the first BSCT, but there—was no clear program to use these enhanced techniques with the with detainees yet at Guantanamo. It had been used in the CIA, but there was no clear program but there was a mandate from Washington as well as the higher-ups at Guantanamo to take the gloves off and use harsh techniques. Major Leso and the psychiatrist, Major Bernie, created a protocol to use these harsh techniques, three levels of increasingly aversive types of techniques starting with just lying to the detainee and ending with hypothermia, stress positions, sleep deprivation and all of the techniques we know as torture. So, Major Leso was responsible for creating the protocols, and then they used these protocols, first with Mohammed al-Qahtani who they interrogated for 49 days straight, 20 hours a day, using and implementing these very techniques, and Major Leso is known, because the log of that interrogation was released, to have been present certain for some, if not all, of that abusive interrogation and participated.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what “Time” released and the significance of that.
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Yes, well, there is a log that was kept. Very often in cases of abuse, interrogation and torture, the agency that does the abuse keeps very close logs of what they have done because they have an idea justified by, in our case, the Justice Department that there are laws that permit such things. So there was a log kept very close details of al-Qahtani’s torture and interrogation. It was leaked to “Time” magazine and published. Major Leso appears in the log as Major L and comes in and sometimes makes suggestions on how to better use the techniques.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And now with your complaint, what would be the next steps? Is there a hearing mandated or is that up to the licensing board to decide?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: It is always up to the licensing board to decide what they are going to do. Very often in the past licensing boards have tried to find some way not to look these cases, but The Center for Justice and Accountability has been extraordinarily thorough in laying out exactly which standards of New York licensing law Major Leso has violated. It is a long and detailed and quite well documented piece of work, and I do not think they have any recourse but to bring this case and to investigate.
AMY GOODMAN: In 2007, Colonel Larry James spoke at The American Psychological Association’s annual convention in San Francisco. We have been covering these controversies very closely and had gone out to cover the annual meeting of the APA. James said he had been flown in from Guantanamo to oppose an APA resolution that would have prohibited psychologists from participating in interrogations at Guantanamo and other U.S. prisons.
Colonel Larry James: “This is my second tour at GITMO, Cuba. I was also the first psychologist at Abu Ghraib. I am going to repeat what I said earlier. If we remove psychologists from these facilities, people are going to die. If we remove psychologists from these facilities, people are going to get hurt. There is one other thing I want to add, we’ve had young, 27, 28, 29 year old psychologists on the battlefield right now. If you support this amendment, those young psychologists are going to feel as though we have abandoned them and they need our support right now. Thank you very much.”
AMY GOODMAN: So that was in 2007 and you heard him say, “people will die” and someone shouted, “people are dying.”
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, Colonel James was helping to disseminate the false view that psychologists in interrogations were there to keep the detainees safe. They were not there to keep the detainees safe. They were there first and foremost to use their professional expertise to break down the detainees and this whole idea of keeping them safe is really new speak for the fact that they were there to do that breaking down within the Justice Department’s legal definition of torture so that they could claim that they were keeping the detainees safe and in that way protect the interrogators. The whole idea here is a program of protection for the people doing the abusive interrogations. It had nothing to do with the protection of the detainees. And Larry James was the chief BSCT starting in January 2003. When you read the standard operating procedures for mental health, for behavior protocols for detainees, during the time that Larry James was the chief psychologist, you find institutionalized abuse and torture. Isolation for 30 days at a time with absolutely no contact. Prohibition of the International Committee of the Red Cross to see these detainees, no access even to religious articles, to the Quran, unless they cooperate with interrogations, not to mention frequent interrogations.
JUAN GONZALEZ: James is now the Dean of Wright’s State School of Professional Psychology. Where is Leso, do you know?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, it’s not known where Major Leso is. He was out of the country for a few years, as far as I know, as an attaché in an embassy, I think in Europe; but he hasn’t appeared in the United States to speak, for example, before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He hasn’t appeared to respond to these charges, so I can’t answer that question. I don’t know where he is.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, the APA’s stance right now? The American Psychological Association stance?
DR. STEVEN REISNER: Well, I wanted thank you for the coverage you’ve given to the American Psychological Association’s inaction on this issue. The APA continues to claim, just as the Bush administration did, that it is against torture, that psychologists have this role to play for the protection of the detainees, much like Larry James has said. But in fact, the APA continues to refuse to implement even its own policies to prohibit psychologists from being present at these sites that violate international law. The APA has a policy on the books that psychologists cannot be at places that violate international law and we know that Guantanamo is still in violation of international law. We know that Bagram is in violation of international law. This is plain, nobody is denying they violate the Geneva Conventions and the APA refuses to implement its own policies because, I believe, because of their long history of working closely with the military and the influence of the military psychology and the APA. Not that they’re shouldn’t be collaboration, but there should be to be ethical standards that the APA upholds universally.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you for being with us, Dr. Steven Reisner, New York psychologist, senior faculty and supervisor at the International Trauma Studies Program, teaches at both NYU and Columbia.
July 11th, 2010
In the years since the roles of psychologists and other health professionals in U.S. torture and detainee abuse became public, other psychologists and human rights activists have been seeking accountability from the American Psychological Association and from state licensing boards. Yesterday, complaints were filed in two states against two psychologists who served on the Behavioral Science Consultation Team [BSCT] at Guantanamo in 2002 and 2003.
These complaints follow a complaint filed in Texas a few weeks ago against James Mitchell, reportedly one of the two designers and key implementers of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program.
In all previous cases, the state boards have refused to even open cases. It is to be hoped that this time will be different, that these supposed guardians of professional ethics will actively investigate what are potentially some of the most egregious violations of professional ethics in our lifetime.
Will Gitmo Shrinks Lose Their Credentials?
Human rights groups target two military psychologists with ethics complaints for complicity in torture.
By Daniel Schulman
Wed Jul. 7, 2010 1:00 PM PDT, Mother Jones
If their aim was to break him, his interrogators apparently succeeded. By late November 2002, Mohammed al-Qahtani—a suspected Al Qaeda operative sometimes described as the 20th hijacker—was hearing voices, talking to imaginary people, and spending hours on end cowering in a corner of his Guantanamo cell with a sheet draped over him.
Qahtani had been subjected to months of extreme isolation in a cell that was floodlit 24-7. And that was before military officials approved an interrogation plan designed to wear down his resistance. The blueprint for his interrogation program—which included 20-hour daily sessions, sensory deprivation tactics, and a campaign of sexual humiliation—was drawn up by a pair of military mental health professionals who first arrived at Gitmo thinking they were going to counsel troubled US soldiers. Instead, the two men were corralled into service as members of a Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT), developing strategies that pushed detainees to the psychological brink—and sometimes beyond.
The role of doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists in interrogations has been a source of considerable controversy, since it seemingly violates the medical professions’ central tenet: “Do no harm.”
Over the years, a handful of efforts to hold caregivers accountable for complicity in detainee abuse have come up empty. But human rights advocates are hoping this track record will soon change. On Wednesday, the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic filed separate complaints against two former Gitmo shrinks with their state licensing boards.
CJA’s complaint targets Maj. John Francis Leso, an army psychologist who from June 2002 to January 2003 led the Gitmo BSCT involved in Qahtani’s interrogation. It accuses Leso, who is licensed in New York, of “gross incompetence,” “gross negligence,” and “conduct exhibiting a moral unfitness to practice the profession.” According to the document, Leso “used his training in psychology to design interrogation techniques that manipulate the psychological condition of a detainee, induce Stockholm syndrome in the detainee, and modify the detainee’s behavior.”
The complaint, a year in the making, was filed in conjunction with New York psychologist Steven Reisner—an outspoken critic of peers who have assisted in interrogations. CJA’s aim is to force an investigation by the state board, which could choose to strip Leso of his credentials.
Leso arrived at Gitmo in 2002 as a member of an Army Combat Stress Control Team. Soon after, he and two other members of his unit learned they would not, in fact, be caring for soldiers but rather consulting on interrogations—something they knew little about. “Nobody really knew what we were supposed to do,” Army psychiatrist and Leso team member Maj. Paul Burney acknowledged to the Senate Armed Services Committee during its later inquiry [PDF] into detainee treatment.
Burney has said that during his Gitmo stint, detainees were repeatedly grilled about links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein—the apparent result of pressure by top Bush administration officials in search of a smoking gun. When the interrogators were unable to produce any such evidence, pressure mounted to “resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
Ultimately, Leso and his team were dispatched to Fort Bragg to learn from the Army’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program, which teaches soldiers to withstand harsh physical and psychological interrogations if captured. One evening in October 2002, Leso and Burney took what they’d learned from SERE—plus tactics they just “made up,” according to Burney—and wrote a memo that would become the basis for Gitmo’s standard interrogation procedure.
They prefaced the memo with a cautionary note, writing that the “most effective interrogation strategy is a rapport-building approach” and that physical or fear-based methods were likely to produce inaccurate information. (Indeed, Qahtani would later claim that he lied during brutal interrogations.) They also warned that the some of the techniques they were outlining could cause “irreversible” emotional or physical harm.
The memo described three categories of tactics of escalating brutality, including isolation, stress positions, temperature extremes, daily 20-hour interrogations, exposure to nerve-shattering white noise, and devising scenarios to make a detainee believe he would be tortured or killed if he didn’t give up information. All of the above were applied copiously to Qahtani, who was hospitalized multiple times as a result. On one occasion, his interrogation recommenced while he was being transported by ambulance from the hospital.
In addition to Leso’s role in recommending some of the techniques applied to Qahtani, the CJA complaint charges that he also supervised and participated in some of the sessions. One of the most significant pieces of evidence, says CJA lawyer Kathy Roberts, is an entry in Qahtani’s interrogation log (leaked to Time magazine in 2005) that is “without question a moment of misconduct. He’s actively in the room, actively working on applying abusive tactics.”
During that session, Leso (referred to as “Maj. L” in the logs) instructed Qahtani’s interrogators to place him in a swivel chair “to keep him awake and stop him from fixing his eyes on one spot in the booth.” Leso was reportedly present for other sessions, too, including one in which a military dog was brought in to intimidate the detainee. “Dr. Leso’s personal participation in this interrogation not only indicates that he promoted the use of these methods, but also itself constitutes a clear violation of minimum standards of professional ethics,” the complaint charges. Adds Roberts: “He knew he was doing harm. And I think it’s really incredible if you think about the condition [Qahtani] was in and that he was overseeing that interrogation.”
The second complaint [PDF] filed Wednesday targets retired army Col. Larry James, Leso’s onetime boss at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, who succeeded him at Guantanamo Bay and went on to become the chief behavioral scientist at Abu Ghraib prison. The Harvard group, on behalf of four clients, is going after James’ license in Ohio—he is also credentialed in Louisiana, where the state psychology board’s refusal to investigate an ethics complaint sparked a legal battle. (This week’s actions follow a complaint last month in Texas. In that case, lawyers representing a Texas psychologist targeted James Elmer Mitchell, a CIA-contracted psychologist who took part in brutal interrogations—these included the questioning of Abu Zubaydah, a detainee who was waterboarded at least 83 times in a single month at a secret Thai prison.)
James, now dean of the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology in Dayton, Ohio, recalls his experiences at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib in his book Fixing Hell. Leso, he writes, told him he “had received increasing pressure to teach interrogators procedures and tactics that were a challenge to his ethics as a psychologist and moral fiber as a human being. He was devastated to have been a part of this.” For his part, James has strongly denied complicity in abusive tactics—his presence at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib was to ensure that detainees were treated humanely. “It was psychologists who fixed the problems and not caused it,” he has said. But his critics counter that brutal physical and psychological interrogation methods were in widespread use during James’ time at Guantanamo, where he served in 2003 and again in 2007.
“There is absolutely no question that men and boys were physically and psychologically abused as a matter of policy in Guantanamo during, between, and following his deployments,” notes the Harvard program’s 55-page complaint. It accuses James of complicity in “causing psychological devastation to people he was duty-bound to protect” and alleges that “Dr. James and/or the BSCT members allegedly under his command and supervision helped to develop interrogation plans designed to exploit detainees’ particular psychological weaknesses in order to ‘break’ them.”
The Harvard complaint also claims James has made a range of misrepresentations, including the contention that his Gitmo team was “concerned primarily with protecting detainees from harm.” Potentially more serious, it says he omitted his controversial deployments to Gitmo and Abu Ghraib when he applied for licensing in Ohio in 2008—and left this information off the curriculum vitae he submitted to Wright State University as well. (His bio on the school’s website makes no mention of his experience on the Army’s behavioral science teams.)
James declined to comment, but Wright State University spokesman George Heddleston said in a statement to Mother Jones: “A similar complaint filed in Ohio in 2008 was dismissed by the Ohio Board of Psychology. And in June of this year a complaint filed with the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists in Louisiana, in which Dr. James is also licensed, was adjudicated in appeals court after the Board declined to act following an investigation.”
Deborah Popowski, a legal fellow in Harvard’s human rights program involved in drafting the complaint, points out that past complaints have been compiled by individuals (including one of her oganization’s clients, Ohio psychologist Trudi Bond), not lawyers. “There’s plenty that should concern the board,” she says, describing the complaint as “a second wave of accountability on this issue.”
The human rights lawyers chose their targets carefully. They honed in on psychologists, says Roberts, because of the field’s ethical ambivalence around interrogation—the result of psychology’s historical ties to the military. By now, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have drawn a clear ethical line on interrogations, barring members from taking part. But the American Psychological Association—whose membership includes both therapist types and research-oriented behavioral scientists—has been reluctant to follow suit. In 2008, following a vote by a deeply divided membership, the association merely moved to bar members from participating in interrogations that are “in violation of international and U.S. laws.”
Holding individuals to account is just part of the plan. “The larger hope is to really change the role of psychologists in these kinds of interrogations,” says Roberts. “Psychologists are not supposed to be harming people.”
Daniel Schulman is Mother Jones’ Washington-based news editor. For more of his stories, click here. To follow him on Twitter, click here. Email him at dschulman (at) motherjones.com.
July 8th, 2010
Adbusters covers the involvement of health professionals in torture:
Ignored and Forgotten
Professional ethics in the War on Terror
By Blake Sifton
Though their actions invoke less dramatic imagery than the interrogators and prison guards who tortured and humiliated Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, equally guilty are the legions of professionals who facilitated the abuse.
Although the principal maxim of medical ethics is “First do no harm,” psychologists and doctors working for the military and CIA actively assisted in the torture of human beings. Psychologists helped fine-tune techniques such as sleep deprivation, stress positions and waterboarding, and doctors often monitored harsh interrogations, intervening when necessary to keep struggling prisoners alive and alert so the questioning could continue.
How could medical professionals demonstrate such little empathy in the presence of human suffering?
“People are capable of incredible cruelty. It’s increased in circumstances where there aren’t clear rules and boundaries,” says psychoanalyst Dr. Stephen Soldz. “We dehumanized the enemy after 9/11. We did it as a culture and the military did it spectacularly well. Like many others, military doctors felt a duty to serve their country.”
In 2007 Dr. Soldz urged the American Psychological Association to ban psychologists from participating in the interrogation of terror suspects.
“Professional ethics are always weak,” he says. “We have wonderful statements by professional associations about what the ethics are, but many people don’t internalize them.”
Justice Department memos revealed that doctors with the CIA’s Office of Medical Services declared that depriving prisoners of sleep for upwards of 180 hours was not classified as torture, nor was hosing down detainees with freezing cold water for up to two-thirds of the time it takes hypothermia to set in.
“They signed up to be part of the CIA’s covert operations, so presumably their commitment to medical ethics was long gone,” Dr. Soldz explains.
Another group whose human empathy lost out to zealous patriotism and cold, hard professionalism were the lawyers who crafted the framework for the authorization of torture. It was their technical expertise in legal jargon that allowed the United States to follow the path of every oppressive state before it and justify its disregard for human rights through a mantra of security.
“A few bad apples” did not cause the degradation and anguish of thousands of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and an untold number of secret prisons around the world. Their pain was the product of system-wide moral failures by individuals whose conduct is supposed to be held to the highest professional standards.
The Justice Department recently determined that the lawyers who devised the technical justification for torture “exercised poor judgment” but were not guilty of professional misconduct. To this day there has been no investigation into the behavior of the medical personnel involved.
Kishore Mahbubani wrote, “In 1989, if anyone had dared to predict that within 15 years the foremost ‘beacon’ of human rights would become the first Western developed state to reintroduce torture, everyone would have shouted ‘impossible.’ Yet the impossible has happened!”
The speed with which the United States abandoned its principles and resorted to torture was startling. Centuries of progress were essentially abandoned overnight in a fit of fear and blind rage as the darkest potential of human nature was allowed to infect even the most venerable professions.
For there to be any chance of America reclaiming its moral legitimacy, President Obama’s government of hope and change must prosecute those responsible and refuse to allow the crimes of the recent past to be ignored, forgiven and forgotten.
June 29th, 2010
Steven Reisner and I have a column in the online San Francisco Chronicle on the recent report we are coauthors of, Experiments in Torture, and its relevance to the American Psychological Association:
June 26, is the United Nations’ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
By Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner
The CIA engaged health professionals to pursue unethical and illegal research and experimentation on detainees held by the agency in their secret “black site”prisons. Our report for Physicians for Human Rights documents that health professionals, including psychologists, used detainees as research guinea pigs, inflicting and then studying the effects of varying levels and combinations of harmful “enhanced interrogation” techniques, such as stress positions, slaps, sleep deprivation and waterboarding, to assess their effects. The resulting data was used by the CIA and Justice Department lawyers to permit the use of tactics that our government had always previously regarded as torture.
Legal prohibition against unethical research was weakened during the period that these egregious practices were implemented. The 2006 revisions to the War Crimes Act, made retroactive to 1997, reduced protections for research on military and CIA detainees.
But U.S. statutes were not the only prohibition against unethical experimentation that were changed during this period. In 2002, our professional association, the American Psychological Association, the world’s largest mental health organization, weakened its ethics code provisions requiring informed consent for psychological research. These revisions permit psychologists to dispense with informed consent when following laws or governmental or institutional regulations, no matter how dangerous the research may be to those studied. Even after government and news reports of widespread involvement of psychologists in the enhanced interrogation program were declassified, and the role of psychologists in designing and implementing the enhanced interrogation program was made public, the association ignored repeated calls to remove this loophole from its ethics code.
Ethical and legal protections for human subjects were a response to atrocities by Nazi doctors on unwitting prisoners. The 1947 Nuremberg Code begins “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.” This code went on to specify that researchers “avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.”For decades the association’s ethics code and professional policies reflected the lessons of Nuremberg and other abuses. But in 2002, all this began to change. The ethics code was amended not only to dispense with informed consent, but also weakened were protections against deception in research. Changes also permitted psychologists to follow law and military regulation, even if these conflicted with basic ethical principles.
In 2002, APA held a joint conference with the CIA where the two psychologists who designed the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program were present. In 2005, the association appointed psychologists from military and CIA commands accused of these very abuses to formulate the APA’s ethics policy regarding participation in Bush administration interrogations at GuantÃ¡namo, the CIA’s secret prisons, and elsewhere.
The APA has long resisted changing its policies or explaining its actions, leaving the psychological profession tarnished as report after report have documented the central role of psychologists in designing and implementing the CIA torture tactics. At this point, not only should the APA remove the informed consent exception from the ethics code, but an independent investigation of the APA’s connections with the military-intelligence establishment is needed to assure that psychologists prioritize essential ethical principles over political expediency.
The struggle within the APA is not simply an internal issue. Psychologists in particular and health professionals in general, can only function in an environment of trust. We are trusted not to betray confidence, to do good and not harm, to keep our patients’ best interests at heart. We are trusted to take care of all people, even those accused of crimes, even those accused of terrorism.
Stephen Soldz is the president-elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility and professor at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. Steven Reisner is a clinical assistant professor at New York University Medical School and adviser on psychology and ethics to Physician for Human Rights. They are co-authors of a Physicians for Human Rights report detailing evidence that the Bush administration conducted experiments and research on detainees.
June 26th, 2010
Over the last year there have been an increasing number of accounts suggesting that, along with the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program, there was a related program experimenting with and researching the application of the torture.
For example, in the seven paragraphs released by a British court summarizing observations by British counterintelligence agents of the treatment of Binyan Mohamed by the CIA, the first two of these paragraphs stated:
It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2002 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer….
BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed. [emphasis added]
The suggestion was that a new strategy was being tested and the results carefully examined. Several detainees have provided similar accounts, expressing their belief that their interrogations were being carefully studied, apparently so that the techniques could be modified based on the results. Such research would violate established laws and ethical rules governing research.
Since Nazi doctors who experimented upon prisoners in the concentration camps were put on trial at Nuremberg, the U.S. and other countries have moved toward a high ethical standard for research on people. All but the most innocuous research requires the informed consent of those studied. Further, all research on people is subject to review by independent research ethics committees, known as Institutional Review Boards or IRBs.
In the US, there was a major push toward more stringent research ethics when the existence of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study was publicly revealed in the early 1970s. In that study nearly 400 poor rural African-American men were denied existing treatment for their syphilis, and indeed, were never told they had syphilis by participating doctors. The study by the US Public Health Service was intended to continue until the last of these men died of syphilis. When the study became public the resulting outcry helped cement evolving ethical standards mandating informed consent for any research with even a possibility of causing harm. These rules were codified in what has become known as the Common Rule, which applies to nearly all federally-funded research, including all research by the CIA.
Experiments in Torture
A new report of which I am a coauthor, Experiments in Torture: Evidence of Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the “Enhanced” Interrogation Program, just released by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) confirms previous suspicions and provides the first strong evidence that the CIA was indeed engaged in illegal and unethical research on detainees in its custody. The report, the result of six months of detailed work, analyzes now-public documents, including the “torture memos” from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the CIA’s Inspector General Report and the accompanying CIA Office of Medical Services (OMS) guidelines for monitoring of detainees.
The report points to several instances where medical personnel -– physicians and psychologists –- monitored the detailed administration of torture techniques and the effects upon those being abused. The resultant knowledge was then used both as a legal rationale for the use of the techniques and to refine these abusive techniques, allegedly in order to make them safer.
For example, the OMS guidelines contain this note emphasizing how important it is “that every application of the waterboard be thoroughly documented” by medical personnel, and clarifying the nature of this documentation:
“how long each application (and the entire procedure) lasted, how much water was applied (realizing that much splashes off), how exactly the water was applied, if a seal was achieved, if the naso- or oropharynx was filled, what sort of volume was expelled, how long was the break between applications, and how the subject looked between each treatment.”
This type of documentation was not part of routine medical care as it was not being done in the interests of the person being waterboarded. Rather, the OMS made clear that this was being done
“[i]n order to best inform future medical judgments and recommendations” [regarding how to torture people.]
The purpose of this systematic monitoring was to modify how these techniques were implemented, that is, to develop generalizable knowledge to be utilized in the future. As Renée Llanusa-Cestero demonstrated in a recent paper on CIA research in the peer-reviewed journal Accountability in Medicine, the medical personnel conducting these observations were primarily present as researchers to observe and monitor, not as treating doctors.
Other examples in the PHR report describe instances in which OMS staff investigated the degree to which severe pain that may meet the legal definition of torture arose from the applications of a specific technique (sleep deprivation) or from combinations of individual techniques. In the combined techniques example, they apparently experimented with different combinations of abusive techniques -– “for example, when an insult slap is simultaneously combined with water dousing or a kneeling stress position, or when wall standing is simultaneously combined with an abdominal slap and water dousing” -– and studied the suffering that each combination created. The Office of Legal Counsel drew upon this research in one of the torture memos to argue that, because they claimed the individual “enhanced techniques” were not harmful, combining these varied techniques also would not cause interrogators to slip over the line allegedly separating legal techniques from illegal “torture.”
It is hard not to conclude that the CIA was conducting research upon detainees. These observations and experiments were not conducted for the benefit of the individuals being brutally interrogated but for the purpose of creating generalizable knowledge and thus constituted research subject to the laws and ethical rules regulating research, including the Common Rule.
Evidence Techniques Are Harmful
The PHR report also argues that literature existing in 2002 when the torture program began provides strong reason to believe that these “enhanced interrogation” torture techniques might well cause severe harm to those subjected to them. In an appendix, the report summarizes a set of studies on the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) program that demonstrated a whole panoply of potentially serious effects that occurred when these techniques were administered to U.S. service members over a few days. The Resistance portion of the SERE program attempts to inoculate special forces and others at high risk of capture against breaking if subjected to techniques banned by the Geneva Conventions, that is, to torture. In SERE, soldiers are subjected to brief periods of “enhanced interrogations” in order to prepare them for the real thing if captured and tortured. It was to SERE that the CIA and Bush administration turned when they decided to adopt torture as official policy.
Despite the fact that those subjected to SERE were volunteers, had a ‘safe word’ to end their abuse, and knew that their torment would end in a few days, an extensive program of research demonstrates that those subjected to the techniques even to a very limited degree suffered a whole range of potentially serious physical and psychological effects, including severely increased stress hormone levels and high rates of psychological dissociation, which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite this body of published research, when the Bush Justice Department worked on the torture memos, they argued — ignoring this SERE research as well as many accounts from torture survivors — that the SERE experience demonstrated that the techniques were not harmful. In later memos, however, Justice Department lawyers apparently tried to strengthen their case by citing the CIA research derived from its torture implementation as further evidence that the techniques did not cause serious harm. Thus, one of the main finding in the PHR report is that one set of potentially criminal acts, illegal and unethical research, was used, incorrectly, to justify another set of potentially criminal acts, torture of detainees.
Reason for CIA Torture Research
The language of the documents might be interpreted as suggesting that the CIA engaged in this research to avoid harming the detainees, to keep the interrogations “safe and ethical.” This was far from the truth. Rather, the Justice Department torture memos argued that torturers could be protected from prosecution for their acts of torture if they demonstrated a “good faith” effort to avoid causing the “severe pain” involved in legal definitions of torture irrespective of how much suffering and harm the torturers actually caused.
One way they could demonstrate such a good faith effort was to consult with health professionals, the researchers, who could assure them that their actions would not cause harm. Another way to demonstrate good faith was to collect and analyze evidence of prior interrogations demonstrating, allegedly, that they did not cause severe harm. Thus, the quality of the research did not matter. Its very existence would provide the CIA torturers and responsible officials with a get-out-of-jail-free card.
The SERE studies described in the PHR report provided good reason to suspect that the CIA’s torture would cause harm. That is likely why they were ignored by the CIA and the lawyers writing the torture memos.But the CIA’s torture research claiming that the “enhanced interrogation” tactics were safe could be used as a legal defense for the torturers, possibly counteracting the body of legitimate research demonstrating the opposite. The CIA’s research was junk science. But that was no problem because its purpose wasn’t increasing understanding, but ass-covering, CYA, for the CIA.
Call for Investigation
This PHR report provides evidence that the CIA likely violated federal ethics rules as well as a prohibition in the War Crimes Act on biological experiments on prisoners “without a legitimate medical or dental purpose.” Thus PHR calls for both a criminal investigation of this research and these experiments, which may well constitute a war crime, and an investigation by the Office of Human Research Protections of research ethics violations.
Regarding the call for a criminal investigation, it is important to realize that the logic used by the Obama administration to refuse an investigation of torture claims -– that the torture memos allowed the torturers to believe their actions were legally sanctioned -– does not apply to potential research on detainees. As far as is publicly known, there exist no “torture research” memos authorizing ignoring laws and regulations prohibiting research on torture techniques.
American Psychological Association
In addition to criminal and federal penalties, another necessary response to these reported torture experiments is professional sanctioning of any health professionals found to have participated in the research. Physician organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association have adopted clear ethical rules prohibiting their members’ participation in either the “enhanced interrogation” program or in research such as that described here. The exception among major health professional organizations is the American Psychological Association (APA).
In 2002 the APA modified its ethics code to allow psychologists to dispense with informed consent
“where otherwise permitted by law or federal or institutional regulations. ” [ethics code standard 8.05.]
Whatever the reason for the APA making this modification, it could be interpreted as allowing psychologists to follow CIA (or military) directives authorizing exemption from the informed consent requirement. This lowered standard does not change psychologists’ legal or ethical obligations in terms of causing harm, but it does unacceptably weaken research standards. This modification should be removed.
In February 2010, after eight years of stalling, the APA removed from its ethics code a related loophole, ethics code standard1.02, often described as the “Nuremberg Defense,” that allowed dispensing with any section of the code when it was in conflict with “the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.” But even with the long-delayed correction to 1.02, changes permitting psychologists to perform research on subjects without their consent remain in the ethics code. To date, there has been no explanation offered by the APA for reducing the standard on informed consent, nor has there been any response to longstanding calls from PHR, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, and numerous other psychological and human rights groups to restore psychologists’ informed consent ethical obligations the standards that all other health professional associations have instituted since Tuskegee and Nuremberg. Psychologists and others should demand that the APA immediately remove this ethics code section.
Note: Work such as the production of this report takes extensive resources. It is only possible because of the generosity of those who contribute to PHR. Readers who value this information might consider going to PHR’s web site for the report and making a contribution.
June 7th, 2010
In a recent article H. P. Albarelli, author of A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, and Jeffrey Kaye have reminded us of the sordid past of CIA behavioral science research in the CIA’s Project Artichoke. They make a case that the CIA deliberately exposed their much better known MKULTRA program as a way of distracting attention from the much more pernicious, and operational, Project Artichoke:
Contemporary torture’s earliest, deepest and most influential roots are found in the CIA’s Artichoke Project. Indeed, it is Project Artichoke that encapsulates the CIA’s real traveling road show of horrors and atrocities, not MK/ULTRA which, although responsible for its own acts of mindless cruelty, pales in comparison.
That MK/ULTRA received, and continues to receive, the lion’s share of the media’s attention and public outrage over CIA mind control programs was a deliberately planned outcome on the part of the Agency. This outcome was the central objective of a never before revealed covert operation launched in 1975 and informally code-named Dormouse.
Dormouse, operated out of the CIA’s Security Research branch, had its genesis in the 1975 Rockefeller Commission report and in the subsequent Congressional hearings into CIA illegal activities chaired by Senators Frank Church and Teddy Kennedy. Following the initial revelation of Frank Olson’s alleged “suicide” by the Rockefeller Commission, a number of high-level meetings occurred between President Gerald Ford’s White House and CIA General Counsel Lawrence Houston.
Houston, who had served the Agency as its doyen general counsel for over 25 years, secretly huddled on at least two occasions in June 1975 with Ford’s chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld, and his chief assistant, Richard Cheney. Houston impressed upon both men that any prolonged and intense media scrutiny of Project Artichoke would lead to opening a Pandora’s box of legal, institutional, international and public relations problems that could destroy the CIA.
Houston explained that the Agency’s MK/ULTRA program was far less problematic for the CIA because it had been a research-based program that initiated 153 contracts to colleges, universities and research institutions nationwide. These contractors, all stalwart and prestigious institutions like Harvard, Columbia, and Tulane Universities, could serve as viable buffers to any harsh outside attacks.
Houston stressed that deliberate exposure of the MK/ULTRA program by essentially offering it to the press would serve to placate the brewing feeding frenzy over so-called mind control projects, and would divert any investigative attempts into the multi-faceted Artichoke Project.
Houston additionally explained to Rumsfeld and Cheney that, along with the release of MK/ULTRA details to the media, the names of a few former CIA employees, such as Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, would also be released to the press. Incredibly, when the subject of possible federal prosecutions of CIA officials for capital crimes and felonies, such as murder and drug trafficking, came up in their discussion, Houston informed Rumsfeld and Cheney that there was little cause for concern.
Explained the Agency’s General Counsel, since early 1954, following the death of Army biochemist Frank Olson, a secret agreement between the CIA and the U.S. Department of Justice had been put in place whereby the violation of “criminal statutes” by CIA personnel would not result in Department of Justice prosecutions, if “highly classified and complex covert operations” were threatened with exposure. The agreement had been struck between Houston and Deputy Attorney General William P. Rogers in February 1954, not long after Frank Olson’s death, and still remained solidly in place.
Lastly, and worth noting here, was a brief adjunct discussion between Houston, Rumsfeld, and Cheney regarding related concerns about records on former Nazi scientists who had been secretly imported into the United States in the early Fifties by the State Department and Army, as part of Project Paperclip. These German scientists performed highly-classified research at the Army’s Fort Detrick and Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, some of which involved field operations in Europe.
Without doubt, as the extant record clearly reveals, the CIA’s Dormouse Operation, as expressed by Houston, was remarkably effective. Information released on the Agency’s MK/ULTRA program more than sated the media’s curiosity for mind control details, and even a few random Artichoke Program citations in a couple released documents failed to draw any concerted examination by anyone in the press. For example: documents revealing that Dr. Frank Olson had been part of the CIA’s ongoing “Artichoke Conference” were near completely overlooked. Within a few short months, Artichoke was widely believed by the media and public to be but a small, innocuous project that had been replaced by the MK/ULTRA behemoth. Still today, numerous publications state that Artichoke was absorbed and replaced by MK/ULTRA, when actually Artichoke operated independently for nearly 17 years beyond the dawn of MK/ULTRA.
They then go on to discuss Project Artichoke in detail, with evidence that its fanciful plans were frequently implemented in operations. The article is long but it is well worth a careful read.
Jeffrey Kaye then accompanies this article with another at Firedodlake providing additional detail on former APA Research Scientist turned top counterterrorism official Susan Brandon who I mentioned in my recent article on the US-run “black jail” in Afghanistan.
May 29th, 2010
the former Chief Justice of the South African Supreme Court discussed psychologist involvement in torture and APA complicity in a London lecture Friday. According to this account, he appears to have advocated British prosecution of the torture psychologists under universal jurisdiction. Here is an account from a Guardian blog post:
Torture inquiry should look beyond role of usual suspects
Apartheid-era South Africa shows inquiry into complicity in torture should extend to those who developed interrogation techniques
By Afua Hirsch
Earlier this year, parliament’s joint committee on human rights described the case for an independent inquiry into allegations of complicity in torture as “irresistible”, based on evidence it had seen about the role of MI6/MI5 and intelligence officials.
The government has indicated its agreement last week, waiting only a week in office before announcing an inquiry into the intelligence services’ role in the torture of terrorist suspects. The promise of new scrutiny has rightly attracted praise. But facilitating torture takes more than the complicity of law enforcement and intelligence officials. It also requires the involvement of others and the institutions that support them.
Much has been said about the role of lawyers in facilitating so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”, used to extract information from terrorist suspects. The US justice department legal advisers, we now know, rewrote the definition of torture, so that only physical pain equivalent to organ failure or death, and mental pain causing significant psychological harm over long periods, were deemed illegal – a clear departure from international law.
But the professionals who developed the “interrogation techniques” themselves were, in fact, psychologists. And they too need to be held to account.
This was the thrust of a speech last week by Justice Arthur Chaskalson, a former chief justice of South Africa and member of Nelson Mandela’s 1963 defence team, to the Institute of Psychoanalysis in London. “Psychologists developed and recommended what are euphemistically called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ to be used against resistant detainees; a more appropriate name for this would be psychological torture,” he said.
Chaskalson drew on his experience of apartheid-era South Africa to highlight the danger of complicity by professionals in acts that were clearly wrong, citing the doctors responsible for the medical supervision of activist Steve Biko when the activist died in police custody, or the courts which sided systematically with the police when detainees were tortured and held incommunicado in solitary confinement.
Similarly, he argued, the American Psychological Association sanctioned its members’ participation in the design and implementation of torture, and amended its ethical code to allow military psychologists to carry out orders, even if they were contrary to recognised medical ethics. This institutional failure is a serious failing in itself. But the individuals who followed the tide should also be held to account. As Chaskalson pointed out, it was established during the trials of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg that “the question is not whether there was an order, but whether a moral choice was in fact possible”.
There have already been calls from organisations like Physicians for Human Rights for a full investigation into the role of health professionals in torture, opening up the possibility of criminal prosecution if necessary. Although there is no evidence British psychologists took part, others could still be prosecuted here under universal jurisdiction, which allows UK courts to prosecute perpetrators of torture wherever it occurred.
Chaskalson’s view is that the lesson of history in apartheid South Africa and elsewhere is that holding professionals to account is key to deterring future transgressions from legal and moral standards on an institutional scale. So if the illegal acts of the Bush era are really to be consigned to history, then future inquiries may need to go further than simply examining the role of secret service and intelligence officials.
[Irrelevant material deleted.]
May 23rd, 2010
I have covered here the dogged, albeit so far unsuccessful, efforts of Trudy Bond and a cadre of attorneys to bring some measure of accountability to psychologist Col. Larry James for his possible involvement in abuses at Guantanamo in 2003. Bond has filed ethics complaints against James with the American Psychological Association and the Louisiana psychology board. Both have refused to even open an investigation.
Bond, with the help of pro bono attorneys has been suing the Louisiana board to get them to conduct an investigation before dismissing the case. In cash-strapped Louisiana, the state has spent untold amounts hiring private attorneys to fight this attempt at accountability for Dr. James, and for the board itself.
Columnist James Gill, tin the New Orleans Times-Picayune describes the tortured logic of the torturer protectors.
By James Gill
It is the greatest catch since Joseph Heller.Say you lodge a complaint with a professional oversight board, which illegally refuses to consider it. Naturally, you decide to appeal to the courts.
But you get the bum’s rush there too. Why? Because the board did not reach a decision on the substance of your complaint, a district judge rules there is nothing to appeal.
We are waiting to see if the court of appeal in Baton Rouge, which heard arguments last week, can find a flaw in the elegant circularity of such reasoning.
Fortunately, the protagonists here are no strangers to insane thought processes. The complainant, Trudy Bond, is a shrink in Ohio, where the object of her ire, Larry James, chairs the psychology department at Wright University.
Bond wants James held to account for alleged misdeeds at Guantanamo Bay and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. That their dispute should play out in Louisiana is not as crazy as it sounds, for James, a native of New Orleans, is licensed to practice here.
Bond filed a complaint against James in Ohio and also asked the Louisiana Board of Examiners of Psychologists to investigate claims that he was complicit in torture.
James’s alleged offenses included tipping off interrogators about prisoners’ phobias.
James, who was the army’s top psychologist at the prisons, denies any wrongdoing. Indeed he depicts himself in a memoir, entitled “Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib,” as a hero who put a stop to prisoner abuse.
He has, however, legion detractors within his own profession and at the Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program and the Center for Constitutional Rights, for example. Various non-profits filed an amicus brief in support of Bond after the state board summarily rejected her complaint in 2008.
The board ruled that Bond had waited too long to file her complaint, much to the bafflement of her attorneys, who pointed out it had been received comfortably within the statutory five-year deadline. They didn’t fare any better in state court, where district judge Michael Caldwell in 2009 agreed with the board that Bond had no right to appeal because the case had not been adjudicated. “A decision not to conduct a hearing into any disciplinary proceeding, whether based on an issue of law, or an issue of fact, is not an appealable decision,” Caldwell found.
At last week’s appeal court hearing, the board’s attorney, Amy Groves Lowe, continued to maintain that Bond had waited too long to file her complaint but said there was no need to address the issue because the law forbade an appeal regardless. In any case, a Louisiana court was not an appropriate forum for a Rhode Island attorney, representing an Ohio psychologist, to seek retribution for the alleged sins of the U.S. military in foreign parts.
Bond’s attorney, Linn Freedman, does indeed work in Rhode Island, but a couple of the judges said they wouldn’t hold that against her. In any case, she used to live in New Orleans and is a member of the Louisiana bar. But it should surely be regarded as outlandish, anywhere in the union, to conclude that an administrative tribunal is entitled to avoid judicial review by simply refusing to hold a hearing on any pretext, rational or otherwise. There isn’t much point in having laws to protect the public from professional incompetence or misconduct if state boards can arbitrarily decline to invoke them. If practitioners have an ethical obligation to report their peers’ misdeeds, moreover, licensing boards must be prepared to administer discipline.
Indeed, if there is a moral obligation to investigate the role of doctors and psychologists in the torture of military prisoners, state boards may provide the only opportunity.
Nobody so far as been held accountable for violating the obligation to do no harm, although it is impossible to believe that professional canons were not sometimes suspended at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib for the sake of preventing further acts of terror.
It will be regarded in some quarters as unpatriotic to inquire too deeply, and there may not be much stomach in Louisiana for establishing what James’ role was. He professes himself nonplussed by all the fuss.
James Gill is a columnist for The Times-Picayune.
May 19th, 2010
Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic has received confirmation of the existence of the secret torture center at Bagram Air Base that the Washington Post, New York Times, and BBC have been reporting on. [Ambiner has a picture of the facility here.] He reports that the center is run, not by the Joint Special Operations Command, aws previously reported, but by the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA) Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC) in course of proving intelligence services for task Force 714. For those with long memories, DCHC is essentially where the Defense Department stuffed the old Counterintelligence Field activity (CIFA) after the latter was “disbanded” due to several major scandals.
It isn’t clear if it really makes a difference if the “black prison” is run by JSOC or DCHC. After all Task Force 714 is itself a JSOC special ops force:
McRaven runs a secretive detachment of Special Forces known as Task Force 714 — once commanded by McChrystal himself — that the NSC staffer described as “direct-action” units conducting “high-intensity hits.” In an email, Sholtis said that because Task Force 714 was a “special ops organization” he “can’t go into much detail on authorities, etc.” But the NSC staffer — who called McRaven “McChrystal Squared” — said Task Force 714 was organized into “small groups of Rangers going wherever the hell they want to go” in Afghanistan and operating under legal authority granted at the end of the Bush administration that President Obama has not revoked.
As Ambinder reports, the Defense Department now admits that this secret Afghan prison uses interrogation techniques from the Army Field Manual’s infamous Appendix M. This appendix authorizes abusive techniques, including sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and “environmental manipulation [think freezing someone or blinding light] that often amount to torture.
Perhaps most disturbingly, Ambinder reports that there is a Top Secret Special Action Program authorizing DCHC interrogations. As Jeff Kaye pointed out in an emptywheel comment, if only Appendix M-based techniques — which are covered by the Army Field Manual — are used, why the need for a special SAP? Thus, we must wonder what, exactly, DCHC is doing at Bagram and other sites. Whatever it is, it isn’t something they want us, the public, to know about.
For those who think that President Obama banned torture centers like this, think again. Obama’s Executive Order only banned CIA secret prisons. This administration thus intended from the beginning to maintain its torture facility, only under a Defense Department label. Obama apparently was thinking ahead.
An additional aspect of this new revelation is that the fact that the prison is run by DCHC is of special interest to psychologists. Over the years, the American Psychological Association (APA) has devoted considerable lobbying resources to maintaining Congressional funding for CIFA. Now that CIFA has been folded into DCHC in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the APA is lobbying Congress for money for “behavioral science” to support the DIA’s military intelligence activities. Here is a section from their written testimony to the US Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense regarding appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2010 budget:
APA… is concerned with maintaining invaluable human-centered research programs formerly within DoD’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) now that staff and programming have been transferred to the Defense Intelligence Agency. Within this DIA program, psychologists lead intramural and extramural research programs on counterintelligence issues ranging from models of “insider threat” to cybersecurity and detection of deception. These psychologists also consult with the three military services to translate findings from behavioral research directly into enhanced counterintelligence operations on the ground.
APA urges the Subcommittee to provide ongoing funding in FY10 for counterintelligence behavioral science research programs at DIA in light of their direct support for military intelligence operations.
APA support for CIFA and DIA is at least partly because the DCHC employs many psychologists. The APA apparently never cared what it was that these psychologists might be doing. Thus, we shouldn’t hold our breathe expecting the APA to change its position on DIA/DCHC funding now that the defense department admits that DCHC runs a detention facility using techniques like sleep deprivation that the APA itself has proclaimed unethical and amounting to either torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. After all, to the APA leadership, professional opportunities for psychology always trump professional ethics, at least in the national security sector.
May 14th, 2010