[Marxism] American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 30 15:30:30 MDT 2015
(The author of this article stated that he would rather go to jail than
reveal the name of his confidential sources. He is a fearless critic of
the CIA and probably the best reporter working for the Times.)
NY Times, Apr. 30 2015
American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program,
By JAMES RISEN
WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association secretly
collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to
bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners
swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report
by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.
The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the
interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that
the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation
program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration
officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of
graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu
Ghraib prison in Iraq.
“The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White
House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on
national security interrogations which comported with then-classified
legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program,” the report’s
The involvement of health professionals in the Bush-era interrogation
program was significant because it 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.
The interrogation program has since been shut down, and last year the
Senate Intelligence Committee issued a detailed report that described
the program as both ineffective and abusive.
Rhea Farberman, a spokeswoman for the American Psychological
Association, denied that the group had coordinated its actions with the
government. There “has never been any coordination between A.P.A. and
the Bush administration on how A.P.A. responded to the controversies
about the role of psychologists in the interrogations program,” she said.
The Bush administration relied more heavily on psychologists than
psychiatrists or other health professionals to monitor many
interrogations, at least in part because the psychological association
was supportive of the involvement of psychologists in interrogations, a
senior Pentagon official explained publicly in 2006.
The American Psychological Association “clearly supports the role of
psychologists in a way our behavioral science consultants operate,” said
Dr. William Winkenwerder, then the assistant secretary of defense for
health affairs, describing to reporters why the Pentagon relied more on
psychologists than psychiatrists at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
“The American Psychiatric Association, on the other hand, I think had a
great deal of debate about that, and there were some who were less
comfortable with that.”
By June 2004, the Bush administration’s torture program was in trouble.
The public disclosure of the images of prisoners being abused at the Abu
Ghraib prison earlier that year prompted an intense debate about the way
the United States was treating detainees in the global war on terror,
leading to new scrutiny of the C.I.A.’s so-called enhanced interrogation
program. Congress and the news media were starting to ask questions, and
there were new doubts about whether the program was legal.
On June 4, 2004, the C.I.A. director, George J. Tenet, signed a secret
order suspending the agency’s use of the enhanced interrogation
techniques, while asking for a policy review to make sure the program
still had the Bush administration’s backing.
“I strongly believe that the administration needs to now review its
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 in light of the current
controversy,” Mr. Tenet wrote in a memo that has since been declassified.
At that critical moment, the American Psychological Association took
action that its critics now say helped the troubled interrogation program.
In early June 2004, a senior official with the association, the nation’s
largest professional organization for psychologists, issued an
invitation to a carefully selected group of psychologists and behavioral
scientists inside the government to a private meeting to discuss the
crisis and the role of psychologists in the interrogation program.
Psychologists from the C.I.A. and other agencies met with association
officials in July, and by the next year the association issued
guidelines that reaffirmed that it was acceptable for its members to be
involved in the interrogation program.
To emphasize their argument that the association grew too close to the
interrogation program, the critics’ new report cites a 2003 email from a
senior psychologist at the C.I.A. to a senior official at the
psychological association. In the email, the C.I.A. psychologist appears
to be confiding in the association official about the work of James
Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the private contractors who developed and
helped run the enhanced interrogation program at the C.I.A.’s secret
prisons around the world.
In the email, written years before the involvement of the two
contractors in the interrogation program was made public, the C.I.A.
psychologist explains to the association official that the contractors
“are doing special things to special people in special places.”
More than a decade later, the association’s actions during that critical
time are coming under new scrutiny. Last November, the association’s
board ordered an independent review of the organization’s role in the
interrogation program. That review, led by David Hoffman, a Chicago
lawyer, is now underway.
“We have been given a mandate by the A.P.A. to be completely independent
in our investigation, and that is how we have been conducting our
inquiry,” Mr. Hoffman said. “We continue to gather evidence and talk
with witnesses and expect to complete the investigation later this spring.”
The three lead authors of the report are longtime and outspoken critics
of the association: Stephen Soldz, a clinical psychologist and professor
at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis; Steven Reisner, a
clinical psychologist and founding member of the Coalition for an
Ethical Psychology; and Nathaniel Raymond, the director of the Signal
Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian
Initiative, and the former director of the campaign against torture at
Physicians for Human Rights.
“In 2004 and 2005 the C.I.A. torture program was threatened from within
and outside the Bush administration,” Mr. Soldz said by email. “Like
clockwork, the A.P.A. directly addressed legal threats at every critical
juncture facing the senior intelligence officials at the heart of the
program. In some cases the A.P.A. even allowed these same Bush officials
to actually help write the association’s policies.”
Ms. Farberman, the association’s spokeswoman, said that the group would
wait until Mr. Hoffman’s investigation was complete before responding
further, and so would not comment in detail on the critics’ report.
“We are focused on the independent review,” Ms. Farberman said.
For years, questions about the role of American psychologists and
behavioral scientists in the development and use of the Bush-era
interrogation program have been raised by human rights advocates as well
as by critics within the psychological profession.
The critics frequently criticized the 2005 findings of an association
committee, the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and
National Security, or PENS, which concluded that it was appropriate for
psychologists to remain involved with interrogations, to make sure they
remained safe, legal, ethical and effective. The PENS report eventually
drew so much criticism from within the psychological profession that the
association was forced to retract its permissive guidelines.
But the degree to which the association allowed psychologists and other
behavioral scientists from the national security agencies to help craft
the PENS Task Force’s report was not fully understood until the recent
disclosure of a trove of emails from one behavioral science researcher
who died in 2008.
The emails are those of Scott Gerwehr, a researcher who worked at the
RAND Corporation and later at a defense contractor who had close ties to
behavioral scientists both at the psychological association and in the
national security agencies.
The Gerwehr emails include many between association officials and
government psychologists on which he was copied by friends and
colleagues. The new report by the association’s critics is based in part
on a comprehensive analysis of his email archive.
After the PENS Task Force completed its work in 2005, Mr. Gerwehr was
copied on an email from Geoffrey Mumford, the director of science policy
at the association, to Kirk Hubbard, a psychologist at the C.I.A.,
thanking Mr. Hubbard for helping to influence the outcome of the task force.
“Your views were well represented by very carefully selected task force
members,” Mr. Mumford wrote. “I thought you and many of those copied
here would be interested to know that A.P.A. grabbed the bull by the
horns and released this Task Force report today.”
By that time, Mr. Hubbard had just left the C.I.A. to work for Mitchell
Jessen and Associates, the company the contractors had created to
conduct their work on the interrogation program.
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