Michael Gurstein on Sat, 9 May 2015 15:33:57 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> FW: Other News - How the Worldâs

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   Subject: Other News - How the World's Largest Psychological Association
   Aided the CIA's Torture Program

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   How the World's Largest Psychological Association Aided the CIA's
   Torture Program

   Lisa Hajjar - The Nation

   The APA's collusion was crucial because other physicians were
   increasingly reluctant to participate in the interrogations.

   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   Jay Bybee and dated August 1, 2002, were withdrawn in late 2003 by Jack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

   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. May 7, 2015

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