The Guardian Reports That US Torture Doctors Could Possibly Face Charges after Report Alleges Post-9/11 ‘Collusion’

streckbettBy Elaine Magliaro

Last December, I wrote a post about James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two psychologists who worked as interrogation advisers for the CIA. Mitchell and Jessen, both former members of the military, helped the government agency “implement its brutal interrogation program targeting detainees in the war on terror…” According to the Senate torture report, the psychologists were generously remunerated for services rendered. They were paid $81 million.

I followed up that post with another titled “Do No Harm”: Dr. Steven Miles on the Subject of Doctors and Torture in which I included an excerpt from Julie Beck’s interview with Dr. Miles, which was published in The Atlantic on December 12th. Here is part of that excerpt:

Julie Beck: What role did doctors play in this CIA-mandated torture, and how integral was it?

Steven Miles: What’s new here is the CIA side. The role of doctors in torture during the War on Terror has been pretty well excavated on the Defense Department side, but the CIA [has some exemptions] from Freedom of Information Act requests, so that’s remained hidden. Essentially the doctors and psychologists were built in to the entire torture system. They weren’t simply bystanders who were called in to respond when the system went off the rails. Some doctors apparently protested this. But they kept their protests inside [the CIA], they never went outside, which they should have done when they saw these types of abuses.

In general, doctors in torture have a couple roles. Number one, they design methods of torture that do not leave scars. For example, the so-called “rectal feeding” which is actually a medieval technique in which the intestines are inflated with a viscous material to cause intestinal pain. The docs are also involved in making sure that the prisoners who weren’t supposed to die didn’t die. The third thing doctors do is they falsify medical records and death certificates to conceal the injuries of torture. [Ed.: Miles has written on this in the context of Abu Ghraib.]

Today, Spencer Ackerman published an article in The Guardian titled US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 ‘collusion’. Ackerman said that The Guardian had learned that the American Psychological Association (APA), the largest association of psychologists in the United States, “is on the brink of a crisis…after an independent review revealed that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture.” Ackerman added the “revelation, puncturing years of denials, has already led to at least one leadership firing and creates the potential for loss of licenses and even prosecutions.”

Ackerman:

For more than a decade, the American Psychological Association (APA) has maintained that a strict code of ethics prohibits its more than 130,000 members to aid in the torture of detainees while simultaneously permitting involvement in military and intelligence interrogations. The group has rejected media reporting on psychologists’ complicity in torture; suppressed internal dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of wrongdoing; and portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse.

According to Ackerman, “a voluminous independent review conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, undermines the APA’s denials in full – and vindicates the dissenters.” He added, “Sources with knowledge of the report and its consequences, who requested anonymity to discuss the findings before public release, expected a wave of firings and resignations across the leadership of an organization that Hoffman finds used its extensive institutional links to the CIA and US military to facilitate abusive interrogations.”

Ackerman added that a number of officials are likely to be sacked.  A past president of the APA has confirmed to The Guardian that  Stephen Behnke is already out. Behnke was “the APA’s ethics chief and a leading figure in recasting its ethics guidelines in a manner conducive to interrogations that, from the start, relied heavily on psychologists to design and implement techniques like waterboarding.”

Click here to read Spencer Ackerman’s article US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 ‘collusion’ (The Guardian)

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14 Responses to The Guardian Reports That US Torture Doctors Could Possibly Face Charges after Report Alleges Post-9/11 ‘Collusion’

  1. Anonymously nYours says:

    Are they facing high crimes and misdemeanors, have they brought disrespect to the American flag, should they be banished to live in the South? Or is the American Flag a sign of Treason in this light…

  2. pete says:

    Primum non nocere

  3. gbk says:

    “Are they facing high crimes and misdemeanors, . . .”

    I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of “high crimes” with “misdemeanors.” It’s so ATF’ish. And yes, I am aware of the source of the phrase.

    “. . . have they brought disrespect to the American flag . . .”

    In a word, yes.

    “. . . should they be banished to live in the South?”

    If you consider living in the South a form of banishment, then maybe you could take them in.

    “Or is the American Flag a sign of Treason in this light…”

    Which light, AY?

    The one that made you write such a silly comment with obvious references to a current and long thread here, or your implication that might makes right?

  4. gbk says:

    AY,

    Your continual assumption that readers know your thoughts leads you to writing incomplete sentences — it is farcical.

    At least you’ve surrendered the ellipses . . . for a time.

  5. Anonymously nYours says:

    Gbk,

    Take it as you wish…. Anyone can bring disrespect to anything…. Just think about that before trying to be a smartass….

  6. bigfatmike says:

    “Are they facing high crimes and misdemeanors, have they brought disrespect to the American flag, should they be banished to live in the South? Or is the American Flag a sign of Treason in this light…”

    It is not clear to me what this comment has to do with the content of this article – except as an opportunity to taunt the author.

    Even if one believes that taunting is a reasonable way to engage the author, surely there is a better place to present the taunt – perhaps in the thread to which the comment seems to refer?.

  7. The entire Hoffman report is on the APA website as a PDF file.
    http://www.apa.org/independent-review/APA-FINAL-Report-7.2.15.pdf

    Every time I check, seems exhibits are being added. There is now an index and five binders of exhibits.

    I have downloaded it and converted it to a searchable Word file. I will be addressing this later, but don’t want to comment until I have had a chance to study the document. It is over five hundred pages long. Some of the names are well known to me. I was not surprised at some of them. Others come as a shock and surprise.

    Won’t be speculating on who did what to whom until I do some research of my own. The APA has posted a news release, which can be found on the front page of the web site.
    http://www.apa.org/independent-review/independent-review-release.aspx

    I will NOT be depending on news stories or pundits for whatever information I can dig up. I will get what I can from trusted sources only. Won’t have any opinion, probably for a day or two because David Hoffman’s report is a huge document.

    This is a major story, and one that may affect me personally, since I now have to decide whether to resign from some professional organizations in which I have a stake. Don’t expect any sensationalism or hyperbolic statements from me.

  8. gbk says:

    I’m not attempting to be a smartass, AY; though this is no guarantee that I haven’t succeeded in your mind (or should that be ‘seceded’?”)

    So…belabour to your… content…circles always end where they start…bus fare is cheap…

  9. gbk says:

    Chuck,

    “Don’t expect any sensationalism or hyperbolic statements from me.”

    Sounds good. Let us know what you think when you are comfortable with the facts of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the many sites of extraordinary rendition.

    While this may seem to be a “smartass” comment, it is not. I would really like to hear your opinion of the last twelve years of US foreign policy.

  10. Elaine M. says:

    Psychologists Shielded U.S. Torture Program, Report Finds
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/11/us/psychologists-shielded-us-torture-program-report-finds.html?_r=0

    Excerpt:
    The association’s ethics office “prioritized the protection of psychologists — even those who might have engaged in unethical behavior — above the protection of the public,” the report said.

    Two former presidents of the psychological association were on a C.I.A. advisory committee, the report found. One of them gave the agency an opinion that sleep deprivation did not constitute torture, and later held a small ownership stake in a consulting company founded by two men who oversaw the agency’s interrogation program, it said.

    The association’s ethics director, Stephen Behnke, coordinated the group’s public policy statements on interrogations with a top military psychologist, the report said, and then received a Pentagon contract to help train interrogators while he was working at the association, without the knowledge of the association’s board. Mr. Behnke did not respond to a request for comment.

    The report, which was obtained by The New York Times and has not previously been made public, is the result of a seven-month investigation by a team led by David Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer with the firm Sidley Austin at the request of the psychology association’s board.

    After the Hoffman report was made public on Friday, the American Psychological Association issued an apology.

    “The actions, policies and lack of independence from government influence described in the Hoffman report represented a failure to live up to our core values,” Nadine Kaslow, a former president of the organization, said in a statement. “We profoundly regret and apologize for the behavior and the consequences that ensued.”

  11. gbk,
    I don’t take it as negative on your part. I was just reading a post about this story on Daily Kos, and the general reaction seems to be “Fire, Ready, Aim,” on the part of commenters. I have had some strongly held opinions about this debacle ever since the first Gulf War, and they aren’t pretty. The fact I have known some of the people named for more than thirty years rips at the core of my very being. I feel betrayed. For that reason, I cannot afford to rush to judgment and say something I can’t take back if it turns out to be different than first impression.

  12. gbk says:

    Chuck,

    “I don’t take it as negative on your part.”

    Good, as my post was not offered as such. I’m not asking for a rush to anything, though I’m very curious of how torture can be justified from a professional perspective.

    As you know, even calling the actions documented in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo bring people to the point of debating the meaning of the word ‘torture.’

    It seems a simple word to me, not in effect, but in cause.

    I would sincerely like to know your opinion when you are able to speak to this.

  13. randyjet says:

    OS I am sorry you have to go through this. Hope that it is not as bad as it seems at first blush. In any case, good luck and goodnight as a great man once said

  14. Oro Lee says:

    It’s a start, and a good one. Hopefully it will lead to bigger fishes being caught —

    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/07/08/dick-cheney-should-be-prosecuted-war-crimes-former-international-court-justice-judge

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