Saturday, August 15, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Shrinking From Torture

"Psychologists group bans role in US interrogations" New York Times   August 08, 2015

TORONTO — The American Psychological Association on Friday overwhelmingly approved a new ban on any involvement by psychologists in national security interrogations conducted by the US government, even noncoercive interrogations now conducted by the Obama administration.

The council of representatives of the organization, the nation’s largest professional association of psychologists, voted to impose the ban at its annual meeting here.

Several delegates cited a scathing independent inquiry that found some APA officers and other prominent members had colluded with Bush administration officials to make sure psychologists would not be prevented from involvement in harsh interrogation programs by the CIA and the Pentagon.


The Freudian slip there is, despite what we have been told, TORTURE is still occurring.

It wouldn't be "brought back" by Bush because it is still going on

Also see: 

Siddiqui and Friends

Army vows to be fair with Manning, other prisoners

She's getting indefinite solitary confinement for what?!!

Here are a few more sessions for you:

"Psychological group aided CIA torture, report says" by James Risen New York Times  May 01, 2015

What was going on inside their heads?

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, 2001, war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

And in one fell swoop they have discredited the entire profession of mind-manipulating quacks.

The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed e-mails, 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 US military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“The APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House, and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program,” the report’s authors conclude.

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.

How could anyone ever have faith or confidence in a shrink anymore?

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.

Related: Senate Torture Report

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 APA and the Bush administration on how APA responded to the controversies about the role of psychologists in the interrogations program,” she said.

And they are liars, too.

By June 2004, the Bush administration’s torture program was in trouble. The public disclosure of the images of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib 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 CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation program.

How long ago that now seems, even if the torture never stopped.

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 CIA 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 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,” he wrote in a memo that has 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 CIA and other agencies met with association officials in July, and by the next year the association issued guidelines that reaffirmed 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 e-mail from a senior psychologist at the CIA to a senior official at the psychological association. In the e-mail, the CIA psychologist appears to be confiding to 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 CIA’s secret prisons around the world.

Oh, so it was $ELF-$ERVING sadism -- all done out of love, of course!!


"Psychologists colluded in interrogations, report finds; Ethics said to be relaxed to allow brutal tactics" by Greg Miller Washington Post  July 11, 2015

WASHINGTON — Leaders of the American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with officials at the Pentagon and CIA to weaken the association’s ethical guidelines and allow psychologists to take part in coercive interrogation programs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a report released Friday.


The report contains the findings of an investigation led by a former federal prosecutor and appears to represent the most detailed examination to date of the complicity of psychologists in interrogation programs that at times relied on torture.

The probe concluded that the association’s ethics director and others had ‘‘colluded with important [Department of Defense] officials to have APA issue loose, high-level ethical guidelines that did not constrain’’ the Pentagon in its interrogation of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The association’s ‘‘principal motive in doing so was to align APA and curry favor with DOD.’’

The investigation also found that ‘‘current and former APA officials had very substantial interactions with the CIA in the 2001 to 2004 time period’’ when the agency was using waterboarding and other brutal measures to extract information from detainees.

In particular, a CIA contract psychologist with close ties to the association played a key role in ‘‘clearing the way’’ for a colleague, Jim Mitchell — widely considered one of the architects of the controversial interrogation program — to continue his involvement in it even after others in the agency had protested that his work was unethical. The report’s findings were first reported Friday by The New York Times.

That's enough. I can't take anymore.

The 542-page report was commissioned by the psychological association’s board of directors last year based on an investigation led by David Hoffman, who served as an assistant US attorney in Chicago from 1998 to 2005.

In a statement Friday, association officials expressed dismay at the report’s findings and indicated that the organization plans to adopt sweeping changes that could include banning psychologists from participating in the interrogation of people held in custody by military and intelligence authorities.

Little too late for that, isn't it?

‘‘The Hoffman report contains deeply disturbing findings that reveal previously unknown and troubling instances of collusion,’’ said Susan McDaniel, a member of an association independent review panel evaluating the report.

A second official, Nadine Kaslow, said ‘‘the actions, policies, and the lack of independence from government influence described in the Hoffman report represented a failure to live up to our core values.’’

You wanna talk about it, doc? Why don't you lie down on the couch?

An association official said that the organization’s long-standing ethics director, Stephen Behnke, had been removed from his position as a result of the report and signaled that other firings or sanctions could follow.

The document adds to an expanding list of damning assessments of one of the more controversial periods in recent US history, including a study issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee last year that accused the CIA of downplaying the brutality of its methods and exaggerating their results.

Given that the basis for torture was an inside job committed by the torturers, it makes sense that results would be exaggerated.

A Pentagon spokesman said the department was reviewing the report but offered no comment on it. A CIA spokesman said the agency had not been provided with a copy and therefore could not comment on it. He added that CIA medical personnel are dedicated to ‘‘upholding the highest standards of their health profession.’’

Following government liars is torture.

The majority of the report is focused on the association’s relationship with the Pentagon and the department’s influence on a panel that the association had set up in 2005 to issue guidelines to psychologists after public revelations about the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and psychologists’ involvement in interrogations.

Behnke and others engaged in ‘‘behind-the-scenes coordination’’ with US Defense officials including Morgan Banks, the chief of psychological operations for the US Army Special Operations Command and the head of the Army’s interrogation resistance training program at Fort Bragg.

The collusion was aimed at making sure the new panel adopted recommendations that ‘‘fell squarely in line with DOD’s goals’’ and would not prohibit psychologists from continuing their work at Guantanamo Bay.

The report found no evidence ‘‘that APA officials actually knew about the existence’’ of the CIA program, but noted that a longtime agency contractor and psychologist, Mel Gravitz, was enlisted to work with the association’s ethics panel. 

I don't know is not a sufficient response.


Now tell me what I want to hear:

"Report on interrogation tactics roils academics; Psychologists linked to Harvard defend work with Pentagon" by Tracy Jan Globe Staff  July 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — Since its founding in Worcester 123 years ago, the American Psychological Association has been the preeminent voice promoting, as it says in its mission statement, the power of psychology to “benefit society and improve people’s lives.”

Forget that now.

But a new report alleges that the association’s leaders — including Harvard-affiliated academics at the top of their field — strayed dramatically from those lofty goals when they worked with the Department of Defense to draft ethics guidelines loose enough for psychologists to participate in harsh interrogation techniques in America’s war on terror.

(Blog editor just shakes head)

The outside review concluded that two of the association’s former presidents — Gerald Koocher, a psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Ronald Levant, who taught at Harvard and Boston universities — were “intimately involved’’ in coordinating the association’s policies to line up with Pentagon preferences.

Koocher and Levant, who also are past presidents of the Massachusetts Psychological Association, issued a joint denial last week of the findings.

“We do not now and never have supported the use of cruel, degrading, or inhumane treatment of prisoners or detainees,” they wrote.

They should know: they wrote the guidelines to determine what was and was not!

The controversy raises questions about how much mental health professionals should participate in interrogations aimed at causing intense distress and wearing down a subject’s will, such as putting detainees into uncomfortable physical positions, or subjecting them to loud music, bright lights, and other forms of sleep deprivation.

And the answer is quite clear: no participation at all.

The report reveals a fierce debate behind the scenes in Boston’s academic circles over psychologists playing any role in military interrogations. Much of the scrutiny of the psychological association was stoked by Nathaniel Raymond, a human rights investigator at the Harvard School of Public Health, who fought to expose what he considered the association’s unethical collaboration with security officials.

“They were involved in legitimizing health professionals participating in acts that could constitute war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity,” Raymond said in an interview, referring to the psychologists named in the report. “They were part of the mosaic of protections that helped indemnify then-President Bush against criminal torture charges.”

The 542-page report was a self-examination commissioned by the American Psychological Association. The report’s broad findings were first reported by New York Times reporter James Risen, whose 2014 book described alleged complicity of the psychological association in justifying government torture.

Risen was the guy the Justice Department was trying to jail over refusal to identify leak sources.

The American Psychological Association, founded in 1892 by a former president of Clark University in Worcester, represents more than 122,500 researchers, educators, clinicians, and consultants across the country. Now based in Washington, it is the world’s largest society of professional psychologists and sets practice guidelines for the field.

Who could ever believe in them again?

In 2005, the association convened a special task force — largely made up of Defense Department officials — at its Washington headquarters across the street from the Union Station parking garage. The panel was supposed to grapple with a thorny ethical issue: To what extent should psychologists employed by the government be participating or advising during national security-related interrogations?

By 2005 a national debate already raged about waterboarding and other harsh measures that had been employed by the CIA and Department of Defense intelligence agencies. Images of prisoners being abused by military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq had unleashed condemnations.

The task force produced a vaguely worded set of ethics guidelines that critics said left plenty of room for psychologists to continue participating in abusive questioning that could harm the subjects.

The APA’s outside investigators, who were hired by the association last year, reviewed e-mails and interviewed task force participants. They found that the APA did not conduct an ethical analysis of the issues at stake.

How much were they getting paid for helping?

Instead, the association was largely concerned with appeasing the Pentagon, managing media perceptions, and deflecting questions from Capitol Hill, the report said. The motive, investigators said in the report, was to “curry favor” with the Defense Department so that psychologists would remain deeply involved in intelligence-collection activities.

And their mission is supposed to be a search for truth!

The department is one of the largest employers of psychologists and provides millions of dollars in grants and contracts for them across the country, a generous benefactor that investigators likened to a “rich, powerful uncle.”

This is $ICK!

As the task force drew up its guidelines, APA officials stifled dissent, choosing instead to remain “deliberately ignorant” of the abusive interrogation techniques involving Central Intelligence Agency and Pentagon psychologists, the report said.

I think THEY need to see a DOCTOR!

Yet the review found that, although APA leaders regularly interacted with the CIA, there was no evidence that the relationship influenced the association’s ethics guidelines. By the time the guidelines were drafted in 2005, the CIA’s most controversial practices at so-called black site detention centers, which included waterboarding and other techniques deemed to be torture, were on the wane.

So we are told.

Investigators named Stephen Behnke, the association’s ethics director, as the man directly behind the deliberate crafting of vague ethical guidelines. Behnke, a part-time medical ethics instructor in the psychiatry department at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was fired from the APA on July 8 following the report’s release to the board, said an association spokesman.

Louis Freeh, a former FBI director who is now representing Behnke, e-mailed a statement saying that Behnke rejects the report as a “gross mischaracterization of his intentions, goals, and actions.”

“It is unconscionable that APA would take action against Dr. Behnke on the basis of allegations that are fraught with defamatory material,” Freeh said.

That's not really a denial, is it?

Harvard officials confirmed Koocher’s and Behnke’s current appointments at university hospitals but did not respond directly on whether the report would affect their standing.

The report accused another Boston psychologist, Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter, who had led the 2005 task force, of signing off on questionable ethical guidance without objections. Moorehead-Slaughter is a child psychologist at The Park School in Brookline and faculty consultant at Boston University School of Medicine. She did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Globe.

The deeper we get into the workings of their minds, the sicker is the patient.

The association updated its policy in 2013 to bar psychologists in most circumstances from working in settings that violate the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture. The association board also recently recommended that it adopt a policy to explicitly prohibit psychologists from participating in military interrogations.

In their statement, Levant and Koocher admitted that the association, under their respective leadership in 2005 and 2006, should have crafted more definitive guidance around national security interrogations. But they strongly denied investigators’ conclusions about their roles in colluding with the Department of Defense.

“Was APA’s incremental response to addressing the ethical challenges of psychologists in national security settings poorly crafted and executed? Yes,” Levant and Koocher wrote in a six-page statement released on Tuesday. But “we never colluded with government agencies or the military to craft APA policies in order to justify their goals or the illegal ‘enhanced interrogation’ practices promoted by the administration of President George W. Bush.”

Koocher also is former dean of the School of Health Sciences at Simmons College and is currently a dean at DePaul University in Chicago, splitting his time with his Harvard-affiliated appointment at Children’s Hospital. Levant now teaches at the University of Akron.

Would you want these folks around your kids?

Among the more specific allegations directed at Koocher in the report: that he specifically rejected an attempt by a member of the task force to add a guideline saying psychologists should adhere to the Geneva Convention’s definition of human rights violations.

Koocher, in his written response, said he was trying to keep the task force focused on coming up with an “enforceable APA ethics code, rather than any toothless international treaties.”

What does the good doctor say about shifting blame?


"Psychologists group may end role in terror questioning" by James Risen New York Times  July 31, 2015

If you have to end something it means it is still happening, right?

WASHINGTON — The board of the American Psychological Association plans to recommend tough ethics rules that would prohibit psychologists from involvement in all national security interrogations, potentially creating a new obstacle to the Obama administration’s efforts to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects outside the traditional criminal justice system.

I have the answer: international waters.

The board of the APA, the nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists, is expected to recommend that members approve the ban at its annual meeting in Toronto next week, according to two members of the board, including Susan H. McDaniel, the group’s president-elect. The board’s proposal would make it a violation of the APA’s ethical policies for psychologists to play a role in national security interrogations involving any military or intelligence personnel, even the noncoercive interrogations now conducted by the Obama administration.

The APA board’s recommendation is a response to a report this month after an independent investigation into the involvement of prominent psychologists and association officials in the harsh interrogation programs operated by the CIA and the Defense Department during the Bush administration.

The investigation, conducted for the association’s board by David H. Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, found that APA officials colluded with the Pentagon to align the association’s policies with those of the Defense Department to allow psychologists to be involved in harsh interrogations. The investigation also found that prominent psychologists helped shield the CIA’s abusive interrogation program from ethical challenges from health professionals, including some dissenters inside the CIA.

In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order banning the use of the Bush-era harsh interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, which is now widely considered to be torture. In June, the Senate passed legislation that would turn the ban into law, requiring that interrogations adhere to the limits imposed in the Army field manual.

Yet Obama administration officials said in interviews that psychologists still played roles in the national security interrogations in terrorism cases. The primary organization that conducts interrogations of top terrorism suspects is the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, an interagency unit led by the FBI. A senior US official said the high-value group, which draws personnel from the CIA, Defense Department, and the FBI, included psychologists who conducted research and advised on how to get accurate information from terror suspects.

The high-value team was sent to Iraq in May to question the widow of an Islamic State leader who had been killed in a US raid in Syria, according to US officials.

See: US Troops Inside Syria 

Psychologists are also still assigned to the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they oversee voluntary interrogations of detainees, a Pentagon spokesman said.

It is still not clear how the proposed ban would affect the Obama administration’s interrogation programs.

What programs?

Officials from the APA and the government said the two sides had not yet discussed how a ban would affect interrogation activities or the psychologists involved. But APA officials said they believed the proposed ban would be so strict that any psychologist involved in national security interrogations could be subject to an ethics complaint.