by Robert Jay Lifton,
Author of "The Nazi Doctors": --- OpEdNews
the order for torture being acceptable and advised, comes from above, comes from the highest sources in the administration. That has to be uncovered by an investigation, and there has to be a legal context. At a minimum, there must be confrontation and revelation of what was done, who did it, what the consequences were and how to prevent it in the future.
Original at Democracy Now!
Robert Jay Lifton, the prominent psychiatrist famous for his study of the doctors who aided Nazi war crimes, speaks out on the role of the American Psychological Association in aiding government-sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. A new report alleges the APA, the world's largest group of psychologists, secretly coordinated with government officials to allign its ethics policy with the operational needs of the CIA's torture program. "What the APA did was a scandal within a scandal," Lifton says. ...[This] is something we have to confront as a nation."
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Neil Young, "Who's gonna to stand up." And a shout out to the students at Borough of Manhattan Community College, BMCC, the classes that are here at Democracy Now! today. I'm Amy Goodman with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: New details have emerged on how the American Psychological Association, the world's largest group of psychologists aided government sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. A group of dissident psychologists have just published a 60-page report alleging the APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House, and the Pentagon to change the APA ethics policy to align it with the operational needs of the CIA's torture program. The report also reveals that behavioral scientist researcher working for President Bush secretly drafted language that the APA inserted into its ethics policy on interrogations.
AMY GOODMAN: Much of the report is based on hundreds of newly released internal APA e-mails from 2003-2006 that show top officials were in direct communication with the CIA. In 2004, for example, the APA secretly took part in a meeting with officials from the CIA and other intelligence agencies to discuss ethics and national security. Still with us, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, leading American psychiatrist who has spoken out against the APA's practices. So the American Psychological Association has about 150,000 members, the largest association in the world, that's the APA. The little APA is the American Psychiatric Association, which I assume you are a part of. Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, your thoughts on what the APA did?
ROBERT JAY LIFTON: What the APA did, and I read that report, is what I call a scandal within a scandal. That is, I have been much concerned with the behavior of professionals and their ethics, not just in terms of how they conduct their everyday profession -- that is important enough -- but their relationship to the world ethically. I became interested in this in working with veterans of the Vietnam War. And in that war, military psychiatrists would be in a position when examining a soldier who was brought to them with anxiety and a sense of outrage at what was going on. Would be in the position of helping that soldier to be strong enough to return to duty, which meant daily atrocities. I asked myself, how did a psychiatrist find himself in that situation? And it had to do with a military structure of medicine and with the psychiatrist entering into what I called an atrocity-producing situation. In my work with Nazi doctors, it was even, of course, much more extreme, probably the most extreme example of any profession of any country engaging in extremely immoral behavior -- engaging directly in killing because Nazi physicians were in charge of the killing in Auschwitz, and that is what I studied in that research. But, you know --
AMY GOODMAN: What is interesting, both Nermeen and I saw you speak last time on a very different issue on the Armenian genocide and you talked about the significance of Dr. Josef Mengele dying without acknowledging what he did.
ROBERT JAY LIFTON: Yes, when Mengele, who was a notorious fanatical Nazi, quite unusual in that way among doctors, was found to be dead in a lake in Argentina, survivors of Auschwitz were upset that there wasn't the opportunity to bring him to the dock so he could confront his crimes. It wasn't so much a desire for revenge as it was for justice. So I mentioned that survivors of Holocaust or genocide or survivors in general are what can be called collectors of justice. They need a sense of justice for their own healing. But now here we have American psychologists -- there were psychiatrists involved early also in the enhanced interrogation, which spilled over into torture in American use. Fortunately, American psychiatric Association had slightly more enlightened leadership and we had the advantage of doctors Hippocratic oath, which is, do no harm, and there could be developed a resolution prohibiting any physician, any psychiatrist from being in the interrogation room.
The American Psychological Association took an opposite tendency. It's one thing -- and there were a couple of psychologists who were well known who helped create the torture and the whole psychological regimen for the torture, crudely and very unscientifically, but with the claim of psychological science. It's still another level when the professional organization supports torture by meeting with the administration and those people who were looking for some legitimation coming from a professional group for torture. And that's what the American Psychological Association did. And that's all too reminiscent of what the Nazis called Gleichschaltung. I'm not saying they're Nazis, we're not Nazis, we're still a sufficiently open society to confront this, criticize it and do something about it. But with the Nazis, there was this process of Gleichschaltung, meaning reordering or re-gearing all professional organizations -- not destroying them, but breaking them down and reconstructing them to serve the Nazi project. That's the kind of thing we must and can confront and avoid here.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Last December, psychologist James Mitchell who was contracted by the CIA while still a member of the American Psychological Association to design its interrogation program appeared on Fox News to talk about his role in the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah. He was interviewed by Megyn Kelly.
MEGAN KELLY: So were you the one actually conducting the techniques on Abu Zubaydah or were you in more of sort of a background role?
JAMES MITCHELL: It depends on when you're talking about. Initially, I was in a background role. Then after we shut down and the enhanced interrogations were approved, I was in an administration role.
MEGAN KELLY: OK, so did you personally waterboard him?
JAMES MITCHELL: Yes.
MEGAN KELLY: We're going to get to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a minute, but sticking with Abu Zubaydah for now, were all of the methods that were recited in the Senate report employed, like nudity, standing sleep deprivation, the attention grab, the insult slap, were those all used?
JAMES MITCHELL: The ones you mentioned were used.
MEGAN KELLY: The facial grab, the abdominal slap, the kneeling stress position, Walling?
JAMES MITCHELL: Walling was used, the others -- if they showed up on the list, they were used. We didn't typically use a lot of those stress positions -- we didn't use any stress positions with Zubaydah because he had an injury.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was James Mitchell speaking on Fox News last December. He was the psychologist who was asked by the CIA to design its interrogation program. Could you talk about that, Dr. Lifton, and in particular in a context of what you called earlier an atrocity-producing situation? What enabled this to occur?
ROBERT JAY LIFTON: Professionals are as prone to being socialized to the norm of a group, including being socialized to evil, as are any other groups in American society. What that means is that psychologists, in this case, and there are others from other professions, internalize what is considered to be acceptable and appropriate for them in carrying out their profession. So torture exists. There is the not from the administration, go ahead with torture, and psychologists then adapt to that. And in this case, become not just participants in torture, but the creators of the methods of torture. That's a shocking clip because it shows him kind of slightly reluctantly admitting that they do all of those things. Of course, it's denied that they're torture, and that's absurd. They're out and out torture. But the fact that they'll come on a network program and describe it as something legitimate is another level of scandal. After all, torture has been conducted, you know, from the time of the beginning of history. It's always been seen, especially in recent centuries, as something evil. You can judge a society as to whether it engages in torture. You condemn a society that engages in torture. In our case, looking at the sequence, one can praise the Obama administration for ending that torture but one must criticize the Obama administration for blocking any examination or confrontation of our role in torture. You showed an interesting clip about the city of Chicago confronting and at least recognizing that the police had engaged in torture of certain suspects. Well, that doesn't undo what they did, but it's a step towards some kind of ethical advance. And for the United States to have engaged in torture on such a widespread dimension, to have legitimated it among professionals like psychologists -- for psychologists and others to have created and participated in it -- is something that we have to confront as a nation to move ahead in something like an ethical way.
AMY GOODMAN: And when you talk about confronting, what exactly do you mean? You've just given a psychological, sociological explanation, understanding, for example, James Mitchell or Mitchell and Jessen, the company of the two psychologists that Pentagon funneled money into. Not to mention others who didn't even work for them, working at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. But should they be brought up on charges?
ROBERT JAY LIFTON: Of course they should. There are many situations that I can probe psychologically of psychohistorically, as we say, but have to be approached politically for some kind of resolution, and this is an example of that. A proper confrontation of what we did would mean a real investigation that didn't stop as we got to the top. Of course, the order for torture being acceptable and advised, comes from above, comes from the highest sources in the administration. That has to be uncovered by an investigation, and there has to be a legal context. Whether or not everybody who participated in torture is in some way condemned and put in jail, I don't know. But at a minimum, there must be confrontation and revelation of what was done, who did it, what the consequences were and how to prevent it in the future.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of this comment by CIA psychologist, former CIA psychologist, Kirk Hubbard who served as the CIA's chief of operations of the Operational Assessment Division before he joined Mitchell Jessen Associates? In 2012, Hubbard told the Constitution Project's Task Force on Detainee Treatment "Detainees are not patients, nor are they being treated by the psychologists. Therefore, the ethical guidelines for clinicians do not apply, in my opinion. Psychologists can play many different roles and should not be forced into a narrow doctor-patient role." Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, your response?
ROBERT JAY LIFTON: What you've heard, what you just recited is a rationalization for torture and for destructive behavior on the part of professionals. All professions require some sort of ethical code, as I said before, not just in everyday practice, but in what they do in society and to weasel out of any such ethical requirement because one is dealing not with patients, but with prisoners -- and of course, that administration didn't even give them prisoner rights, according to Geneva conventions -- to do that is simply a rationalization for destructive or even evil behavior.
AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a leading American psychiatrist, author of many books, including "Witness to Extreme Century: A Memoir." We will be back with him talking about a number of issues, including another of his books, "Who Owns Death?: Capital Punishment, the American Conscience and the End of Executions. Prosecutors, Judges Jurors, Wardens and the American Public in Conflict." Stay with us.
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American Psychological Association secretly helped justify torture under George W. Bush
by NATASHA BERTRAND
The report alleges that the APA violated its own policies when, in 2005, a task force comprised of AMA professionals and CIA and Department of Defense personnel published a joint report endorsing the continued participation of psychologists in national security interrogations.
Basically, the task force recommended that a psychologist oversee harsh interrogations and determine what could be considered 'cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment." It turned out that the APA task force recommendations coincided with the CIA's existing definitions.
James Risen of The New York Times first reported the new examination.
Bush's interrogation program came under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that Iraqi prisoners were being tortured at the Abu Ghraib detention facility in Baghdad, leading then-director of the CIA George Tenet to resign and suspend the use of interrogation techniques indefinitely.
Public and congressional criticism of the interrogation program prompted Tenet to write a memo to senior Bush officials pressing them to review their "previous legal and policy positions with respect to detainees to assure that we all speak in a united and unambiguous voice about the continued wisdom and efficacy of those positions."
Shortly thereafter, Stephen Behnke, Director of the APA Ethics Office, requested a meeting with top national security psychologists from the CIA to discuss the APA's "appreciation of the important work mental health professionals are doing in the national security arena, and in a supportive way offer our assistance in helping them navigate through thorny ethical dilemmas, if they feel that need," according to an email obtained by the authors of the report.
Behnke assured CIA personnel that the content of the meeting — and participants' identities — would remain confidential. This meeting, the report claims, prompted Behnke and two other APA officials to propose the creation of a "task force to explore the ethical aspects of psychologists' involvement and the use of psychology in national security-related investigations."
The members of the task force (dubbed the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security, or PENS) are still not publicly known, according to the report.
(Associated Press Protestors rally against the use of torture in prisoner interrogations at Guantanamo Bay - not shown)
It is clear from the following email exchange, however, that CIA and Department of Defense personnel played an integral role in the development of the PENS policy allowing for direct psychologist involvement in national security interrogations:
"I wanted to semi-publicly acknowledge your personal contribution as well as those of K2 [Kirk Kennedy] and Andy Morgan in getting this effort off the ground over a year ago," Dr. Geoffrey Mumford, thenAPA Director of Science Policy, wrote to a group of CIA psychologists in a 2005 email.
"Your views were well represented by very carefully selected Task Force members (Scott Shumate among them)," Mumford continued, referring to the CIA's then-Chief Operational Psychologist Scott Shumate.
After the PENS report was released, the Bush administration started relying more on psychologists than any other health professionals to monitor prisoner interrogations.
"Involvement of psychologists enabled the Justice Department to argue in secret opinions that the program was legal and did not constitute torture since the interrogations were being monitored by health professionals to make sure they were safe," James Risen writes in the New York Times.
In other words, having APA psychologists oversee interrogations was an easy way for a disesteemed program to reclaim some legitimacy.
An independent APA investigation was launched in November to review the association's role in detainee interrogations. For its part, the AMA continues to deny any secret complicity between senior APA and US government personnel.
How the World’s Largest Psychological Association Aided the CIA’s Torture Program
The APA’s collusion was crucial because other physicians were increasingly reluctant to participate in the interrogations.
Lisa Hajjar ---- The Nation --- May 7, 2015
The public exposure in mid-2004 of a government-sanctioned and highly bureaucratized program of torture and cruel treatment caused a political crisis that threatened to derail the Bush administration’s interrogation and detention policies. In the wake of that crisis, some American Psychological Association (APA) senior staff members and leaders colluded, secretly, with officials from the White House, Defense Department and CIA to enable psychologists’ continuing participation in interrogations at CIA black sites, Guantánamo, and other overseas facilities. One result of this collusion was a revision in 2005 of the APA’s code of ethics for interrogations in order to provide cover for psychologists working in these facilities.
The participation of psychologists was essential for the CIA’s torture program to continue during the Bush years. The legal authority for CIA interrogations was based on then-classified Office of Legal Counsel memos. The first set of memos, authored by John Yoo, signed by OLC head Jay Bybee and dated August 1, 2002, were withdrawn in late 2003 by Jack Goldsmith (who replaced Bybee when he became a federal judge). In June 2004, one of the Yoo/Bybee “torture memos” was leaked to the press, and public outcry about the legal reasoning—especially among lawyers—created pressure on the Bush administration to release some additional legal memos and policy directives relevant to prisoner policies. In December 2004, acting OLC head Daniel Levin revised the narrow definition of torture in the Yoo/Bybee memos but reaffirmed their legal opinions. In the spring of 2005, the CIA requested new legal opinions to validate the techniques in use, and OLC head Stephen Bradbury authored three new memos in May. All of these OLC opinions were a “golden shield” against future prosecutions of officials responsible for the CIA program. According to Bradbury’s 2005 memos, the involvement of health professionals in monitoring and assessing the effects of “enhanced” techniques was necessary in order for them to be considered legal.
Why was the APA’s secret collusion so essential for continuance of the program? A key reason was because other physicians and psychiatrists were increasingly reluctant to participate in national security interrogations. In June 2005, doctors in the CIA’s Office of Medical Services refused a new role required by the Bradbury memos to engage in monitoring and research to determine whether the treatment and conditions to which a detainee was subjected were cruel, inhumane, and degrading. In 2006 the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association passed directives barring their members from participating in such interrogations on professional ethical grounds. The APA, in collaboration with the Bush administration, was willing to allow psychologists to fill the role balked at by other health professionals.
Details of this collusion—which APA officials have concealed and denied for a decade—are the subject of a new report, All the President’s Psychologists, authored by Drs. Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner, and Nathaniel Raymond. The information comes from 638 e-mails from the accounts of a RAND Corporation researcher and CIA contractor, Scott Gerwehr, who died in 2008. James Risen, a New York Times journalist and author, most recently, of Pay Any Price, obtained the e-mails through Freedom of Information Act litigation and shared them with the report’s authors.
The trajectory of collusion and deception begins in July 2003, when the APA leadership, along with the CIA and the RAND Corporation, sponsored an invitation-only conference on the science of deception where “enhanced” interrogation tactics and related research were discussed, including the use of pharmacological agents and sensory overload. Two of the invitees were retired Air Force psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, which contradicted the APA leadership’s repeated denials about any relationship with or knowledge about the duo’s activities. Mitchell and Jessen had been hired by the CIA in late 2001 to design and implement the program of black-site interrogations, and had been engaged in such interrogations since April 2002 following the capture of the first so-called “High Value Detainee,” Abu Zubaydah. One of the e-mails responding to an APA request for post-conference feedback states that the two would be unlikely to reply because they were busy “doing special things to special people in special places.”
In July 2004, while the Abu Ghraib/torture memo scandal was in full swing, the APA convened a secret meeting to discuss “Ethics and National Security,” and invited psychologists directly involved in CIA and military interrogations. The APA’s aim was “to take a forward looking, positive approach, in which we convey a sensitivity to and appreciation of the important work mental health professionals are doing in the national security arena, and in a supportive way offer our assistance in helping them navigate through thorny ethical dilemmas.” In the invitation, Dr. Stephen Behnke, the ethics office director (a position he still holds), promised that the APA would not reveal the names of attendees or the substance of discussions, and pledged that if information about prisoner abuse were to come up at the meeting, no assessment or investigation would ensue.
That secret 2004 meeting laid the groundwork for the establishment of the APA Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) in 2005. The PENS task force, along with a number of unacknowledged “observers” from the White House and other government agencies, met over a weekend in June 2005, and one day later issued a report which the APA board approved by emergency vote. In July, Dr. Geoffrey Mumford, APA science policy director, sent an e-mail to Dr. Kirk Hubbard, a psychologist who formerly worked for the CIA and by then had taken a position consulting with Mitchell Jessen and Associates. Mumford wrote: “I thought you and many of those copied here would be interested to know that APA grabbed the bull by the horns and released this Task Force Report today.” The authors of All the President’s Psychologists argue that one PENS objective—achieved through this process—was to ensure that the specific language in the Bradbury memos was codified in APA ethics policy.
The APA had intended to keep the carefully selected members of the PENS task force and the substance of their discussions secret. However, when task force member Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo came to realize that she had been recruited to play a role in an elaborate charade in which the outcome of the process was predetermined, she decided to reveal the fact that six of the nine voting members at the PENS meeting were Defense Department employees with direct involvement in national security interrogations during that period. At the August 2006 APA annual meeting, Arrigo delivered an address that exposed the PENS task force collusions with government officials over the organization’s ethics policy.
In 2007, a resolution to impose a moratorium on psychologists’ involvement in interrogations at offshore facilities was voted on and roundly defeated by the APA council, whose members at the time apparently accepted the PENS argument that having psychologists involved in interrogations would ensure that they were conducted in a manner that was “safe, legal, ethical and effective.” However, in 2008 a referendum was passed by a sizable majority of the APA membership banning the presence of psychologists at facilities that operate in violation of international law and the US Constitution, except to treat US troops, and banned military psychologists from treating prisoners in these facilities. The APA adopted the referendum, but then argued that there was no way of knowing which facilities operate in violation of the law and therefore individual psychologists would have to decide for themselves, thus making the policy change meaningless.
Not until last December, following the publication of Risen’s Pay Any Price and the release of the executive summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on CIA torture, did the APA finally acknowledge—rather than deny and lie—that James Mitchell had been a member until 2006. This correction of the historical record was made in conjunction with the announcement that the board had finally ordered an independent investigation into complicity between the APA and the Bush administration’s “war on terror” interrogation programs. As All the President’s Psychologists documents, this complicity involved at least five senior staff members and four presidents, including the current president Dr. Barry Anton, who was a board liaison to the PENS task force.
To date, psychologists who are critical of the APA’s record on offshore national security interrogations—including report authors Soldz and Reisner—continue to be described as “dissidents” in the organization. This revealing report and the ongoing independent investigation of APA–Bush administration collusions may provide long overdue redress of this ignominious record of human experimentation and ethical malfeasance.
The Psychologists Who Taught the C.I.A. How to Torture
(and Charged $180 Million)
BY KATHERINE EBAN ---- Vanity Fair
With the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s release on Tuesday morning of the executive summary of its “torture report,” a five-year, $40 million probe into the C.I.A.’s use of extreme interrogation tactics, there should no longer be any doubt. The C.I.A. tortured detainees in ways more brutal, sustained, and gruesome than was previously known, and two medical professionals were integral to its efforts.
The report—which runs 6,700 pages in its entirety and relied on over 6 million internal C.I.A. documents—lays bare a jaw-dropping catalog of brutality: ice baths, rectal “rehydration,” mock burials in coffin-shaped boxes, and threatening detainees with harm to their children. “It is my personal conclusion that, under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence writes in the introduction.
As the report makes clear, some of the worst corrosion occurred in the ranks of America’s psychologists, who, like many medical professionals, are charged with doing no harm. It was two C.I.A. contract psychologists with no experience with real-life interrogations. Instead, as described in the report, they promoted the tactics to the C.I.A., employed them indiscriminately, earned money to do so, and lied about their effectiveness.
I was the first reporter to enumerate the roles of the two key psychologists, James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, as architects of the coercive interrogation tactics, in a 2007 story in Vanity Fair. The pair had previously been Air Force trainers in a program called SERE (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), which subjected military members to mock interrogations—interrogations that ironically had been used by the Communist Chinese against American servicemen during the Korean war in order to produce false confessions.
Historically, the C.I.A. knew the tactics would not be useful. In 1989, the C.I.A. informed Congress that “inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers.” In the desperate months after 9/11, the C.I.A. willfully ignored its own findings.
The agency threw in its lot with Mitchell and Jessen, who are identified in the report by the pseudonyms Swigert and Dunbar. As the report notes, “Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al-Qa'ida, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.” Nonetheless, the psychologists played a role in convincing the administration that if they were allowed to reverse engineer the SERE tactics, they could break down detainees, resulting in useful intelligence.
With no previous evidence of success, they were given the greenlight to use the training techniques on actual detainees. The F.B.I. had used rapport-building techniques to extract vital intelligence from Abu Zubaydah, one of the first detainees in our war on terror. From a hospital bed in Thailand, he disclosed to F.B.I. interrogators that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was actually the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.
But subsequently, Mitchell showed up in Thailand, and began to oversee the work of breaking down Zubaydah: keeping him in a coffin-shaped box, blasting music at him, locking him in a freezing room. The C.I.A. falsely claimed credit for the intelligence he provided, and, ultimately, the use of the tactics spread like wildfire through C.I.A. and military interrogation sites. In short, Mitchell and Jessen sold the C.I.A. an argument it wanted to hear: namely, that the use of coercive interrogation techniques would produce groundbreaking intelligence and thereby prevent another attack. It was well known within the SERE community that the use of such techniques was better designed to produce false information. There was seemingly no legitimate argument for its utility.
It was clear to numerous F.B.I. and C.I.A. personnel that the psychologists had jumped lanes, as the Senate report makes clear. Interrogators and other personnel who witnessed some of the interrogations sent alarmed e-mails and reports to superiors and colleagues about what was happening.
The report recounts the interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times. After numerous rounds of waterboarding produced little new intelligence, and even led the detainee to fabricate information, the report recounts how the “Deputy Chief of ALEC Station later told the inspector general that it was around this time that contract interrogator DUNBAR stated that `he had not seen a 'resistor' [sic] like KSM, and was ‘going to go to school on this guy.’” The report continues, stating that, according to C.I.A. records, the interrogators then “devote[d] all measures to pressuring [KSM] on the single issue of the ‘next attack on America,’ including attention grabs, insult slaps, walling, water dousing, and additional waterboard sessions.”
The C.I.A.’s chief of interrogations, after seeing one of the interrogation plans devised by the psychologists, wrote to colleagues: “[t]his is a train wreak [sic] waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens,” according to the report.
The psychologists were playing so many different roles simultaneously that some C.I.A. and military staff became concerned about the apparent conflict of interest. One such warning, sent in a draft cable to C.I.A. headquarters, noted, “Another area of concern is the use of the psychologist as an interrogator. The role of the ops psychologist is to be a detached observer and serve as a check on the interrogator to prevent the interrogator from any unintentional excess of pressure which might cause permanent psychological harm to the subject.” But as the cable continued, “We note that [the proposed plan] contains a psychological interrogation assessment by psychologist [DUNBAR] which is to be carried out by interrogator [DUNBAR]. We have a problem with him conducting both roles simultaneously.”
However, the conflict even exceeded the multiple roles played by the psychologists. Ultimately, according to the report, the C.I.A.’s Office of Medical Services raised concerns that the conflicts of interest were “nowhere more graphic than in the setting in which the same individuals applied an [enhanced interrogation technique] which only they were approved to employ, judged both its effectiveness and detainee resilience, and implicitly proposed continued use of the technique—at a daily compensation reported to be $1800/day, or four times that of interrogators who could not use the technique.”
The psychologists were actually designing the torture, overseeing its implementation, assessing its effectiveness, and getting paid handsomely for it. Mitchell and Jessen’s consulting business was ultimately awarded $180 million in contracts by the C.I.A., $81 million of which was paid by the time the agreement was terminated in 2009, according to the report.
When VF Daily reached their most recent attorney, Henry F. Schuelke III, a partner at Blank Rome LLP, he said of Mitchell and Jessen, “They’d be my current clients if they had a problem requiring my attention.” Asked if his clients had any comment about the Senate report, he said, “Nope, nope, nope. There is no current active matter.”
The report makes clear that the tactics did not work and there was no reliable evidence to indicate they ever would. And the C.I.A. misled just about everyone—from the White House to the Department of Justice, to Congress and the public—about the tactics’ effectiveness.
Though many of the gruesome tactics—such as waterboarding to the point of death—have been disclosed in previous media coverage, the report makes clear that the extreme tactics were used without any discrimination, and by so-called interrogators who had little training. According to the report, interrogators started using the tactics three months before any training took place. They were using brutality on the fly.
The psychologists not only benefited themselves. They gave the C.I.A. and the White House cover. So long as there were medical professionals present in the interrogations, the government could claim the interrogations had been “safe, legal and effective”—in short, not torture at all. And psychologists were the C.I.A.’s last refuge, as the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association determined that it would violate their members’ oaths to patients to participate in the interrogations.
In an extensive statement, the C.I.A. pushed back against the report’s findings and concluded that its use of enhanced interrogation techniques “did produce valuable and unique intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives.” As well, to defend themselves against the report’s findings, former C.I.A. officials launched a Web site, ciasavedlives.com, which claimed that the Senate report “is marred by errors of facts and interpretation and is completely at odds with the reality that the leaders and officers of the Central Intelligence Agency lived through. It represents the single worst example of Congressional oversight in our many years of government service.”
Ultimately, however, the U.S. cannot outrun its staggering descent into barbarity. The Senate report has blocked the exit ramp. We must live up to what has occurred. As James Risen, a New York Times investigative reporter who describes collusion between the American Psychological Association and the C.I.A. in his excellent new book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War, writes, “The United States is now relearning an ancient lesson, dating back to the Roman empire. Brutalizing an enemy only serves to brutalize the army ordered to do it. Torture corrodes the mind of the torturer.”
And our moral standing in the world.
Doctors may have been among those who helped decide when to start and stop harsh tactics used against alleged terrorists.
By KEVIN B. O’REILLY — American Medical News
Health care professionals, some of whom may have been physicians, played a role in the coercive interrogations of suspected terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, according to recently circulated documents from the International Committee of the Red Cross and President George W. Bush's Office of Legal Counsel.
The reports, made public in April, showed that medical professionals were charged with monitoring detainees' health during interrogations in which prisoners were forced to stand in stressful positions for extended periods, slammed into walls and suffocated using a technique known as waterboarding. Psychologists helped devise the aggressive interrogation tactics that the Red Cross report said amounted to torture.
One detainee told Red Cross investigators that after a long time standing in a stressful position, an unidentified health professional intervened and asked interrogators to stop the tactic. But, the prisoner alleged, the medical professional then said, "I look after your body only because we need you for further information."
The new documents are an indictment of health professionals' behavior, said Steven H. Miles, MD, professor of medicine and bioethics at the University of Minnesota Medical School and author of the book, Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors.
"These cases cleanly fall outside of anything that is remotely acceptable," he said. "There is no gray area here."
Dr. Miles said that since World War II, at least 70 doctors have been charged with facilitating torture around the world -- none in the U.S. He said medical boards, organized medicine groups and the Institute of Medicine should develop a procedure to handle charges of physician participation in torture and devise a way of dealing with future allegations.
Calling for an investigationPhysicians for Human Rights, a Cambridge, Mass.-based advocacy group, called on Congress to establish a bipartisan independent commission to further investigate the involvement of U.S. health professionals with detainee interrogations. The group said that any physicians or psychologists who aided torture should lose their licenses and never practice again.
In an April 17 letter to President Obama, AMA President Nancy H. Nielsen, MD, PhD, and AMA Board of Trustees Chair Joseph M. Heyman, MD, wrote: "Any involvement by physicians in torture is fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as a healer. Such involvement would violate core ethical obligations of the medical profession to 'first, do no harm' and to respect human dignity and rights.
"The AMA stands ready to work with you to ensure that these core principles guide our nation's physicians," the letter to Obama continued. "Our aim is to assure that all physicians are fully aware of their ethical obligations, that physicians are not put in ethically untenable positions, and that actions like those alleged do not ever occur under U.S. jurisdiction. We will assist you in any way possible to accomplish that goal."
In 2006, the AMA adopted policy stating that physicians should not conduct, monitor or directly participate in interrogations. Doctors should only help develop interrogation techniques that are humane and refrain from threatening or causing physical or mental harm, the AMA ethical opinion said. The AMA also opposes doctor participation in torture.
how the world's media reacted
The CIA repeatedly lied about brutal torture techniques in years after 9/11.
The US Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture was reported widely on front pages around the world on Wednesday.
A milestone report by the Senate intelligence committee revealed that the use of torture in secret prisons run by the CIA was even more extreme than previously exposed, and included “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding”, sleep deprivation lasting almost a week and threats to the families of the detainees.
Here’s how the world’s media responded to the report.
In the USThe New York Times called the report “a portrait of depravity that is hard to comprehend and even harder to stomach”. But, in its editorial, the Times emphasised that no one was ever likely to be held accountable for these acts.
following series of Front Pages from kollinos
we've known since the "Spanish Inquisition" that 'torture' doesn't work... therefore, those who torture can do so only for their own sadistic pleasure...