Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Lost Document From the Cold War: The International Scientific Commission Report on Bacterial Warfare during the Korean War

This article covers the first substantive Internet posting and analysis of a unique Cold War document, the "Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China." The ISC was headed by one of Britain's foremost scientists of his day, Sir Joseph Needham. The report was published by the Chinese government in 1952. The version linked here, printed by Hsinhua's News Agency in Prague, Czechoslovakia does not include hundreds of pages of annexes published in the initial report. Hopefully these will be made available online in the near future.

The charges of U.S. use of biological warfare during the Korean War have long been the subject of intense controversy. The reliance, in part, on testimony from U.S. prisoners of war led to U.S. claims of "brainwashing." These charges later became the basis of a cover story for covert CIA experimentation into use of use of drugs and other forms of coercive interrogation and torture that became the basis for its 1963 KUBARK manual on interrogation, and much later, a powerful influence on the CIA's post-9/11 "enhanced interrogation" program.

While the document embedded below has been the subject of numerous essays and books, the document itself is generally not available to the public. Even those who might wish to study the subject it covers will likely find it quite difficult to obtain. I will explore some of those reasons below. But I will note that some Cold War scholars have been quick to debunk the ISC report, none have made even the slightest effort to make the original materials available for other scholars or the public to assess for themselves the truth or falsity of their analysis.

At the very end of this article is a bibliography for interested readers.



ISC Report Part 1

ISC Report Part 2

(Cryptome.org picked up my public posting of this document at Document Cloud. It combined the two parts I've embedded here into one 2.6MB posting. For those who wish to use or link to their version, the link is here.)

Why was this report effectively suppressed?

What follows a text transcription of an important section of the report concerning Japanese use of bacteriological weapons against China during World War Two, Allied knowledge about this, and possible use of such Japanese scientific knowledge or techniques, as well as personnel, by the U.S. military during the Korean War.

Back in 1952, such collaboration between the US and Japanese war criminals using biological weapons was top secret, and totally denied by the U.S. But today, even U.S. historians accept that a deal was made between the U.S. and members of Unit 731 and associated portions of the Japanese military that had in fact spent nearly 15 years experimenting on the use of biological weapons, experimentation that included use of human vivisection and barbaric torture of thousands of human beings, most of whom were disposed of in crematoria. In addition, there was collaboration between the Japanese and the Nazi regime on these issues, though that is beyond the matter of this posting today (though see Martin essay in bibliography).

The U.S. collaboration with Japanese war criminals of Unit 731 was formally admitted in 1999 by the U.S. government, though the documentation of that has never been published. I have those documents and will be publishing them very soon.

It is a matter of historical record now that the U.S. government granted amnesty to Japan's chief at Unit 731, doctor/General Shiro Ishii and his accomplices. The amnesty was top secret for decades, until revealed by journalist John Powell in a landmark article for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in October 1981.

What came to be known as the Needham report, due to the fact the ISC was headed by the prestigious British scientist, Sir Joseph Needham, came under immediate fire upon release. The report still remains a flashpoint for scholars. A 2001 article by the UK's Historical Association detailed how UN and UK government officials collaborated in attempts to debunk the ISC findings. The UK Foreign Office released memoranda saying that claims of Japanese bacteriological warfare, going back to 1941, were "officially 'not proven.'"

The sensitivity of the material uncovered by the ISC touched two areas of covert US government research. First was the US governments own plans to research and possibly implement germ warfare. The second issue concerned the confessions of U.S. flyers as to how they were briefed and implemented trial runs of biological warfare during the Korean War. The U.S. claimed that the flyers were tortured, and the CIA promoted the idea they were "brainwashed" by diabolical methods, causing a scare about "commie" mind control programs and "menticide," which they used to justify the expenditure of millions of dollars for U.S. mind control programs during the 1950s-1970s.

The U.S. mind control and interrogation-torture programs used experiments on unwitting civilians, as well as soldiers undergoing supposed anti-torture training at the military's SERE schools. I have shown via public records that CIA scientists continued to use experiments on "stress" at SERE schools after 9/11, and believe such research included experiments on CIA and/or DoD held detainees. That such research did take place can be inferred from the release in November 2011 of a new set of guidelines concerning DoD research. This newest version of a standard instruction (DoD Directive 3216.02) contained for the first time a specific prohibition against research done on detainees. (See section 7 (c).)

I believe a strong case can be made that while coercive methods, primarily isolation, was used on the U.S. prisoners of war who later confessed, that their confessions were primarily true. The idea that only false confessions result from torture is in fact false itself. While false confessions can result from torture (as well as less onerous methods, such as the Reid Technique, used by police departments throughout the United States today), actual confessions can also sometimes occur. I have first-hand experience working with torture survivors to know that is true.

It is true that all the POWs who confessed use of germ warfare later recanted that upon return to the United States. But the terms of their recantations are suspect. The recantations were made under threat of courts-martial. The archival evidence of the flyers debriefings have been destroyed or lost due to fire (according to the government). Meanwhile at least one scientist working at Ft. Detrick at the time admitted to German documentary investigators before he died that the U.S. had indeed been involved in germ warfare in Korea. (See video.)

An “actual investigation... could do us psychological as well as military damage"

The charges of U.S. use of biological weapons during the Korean War are even more incendiary than the now-proven claims the U.S. amnestied Japanese military doctors and others working on biological weapons who experimented on human subjects, and ultimately killed thousands in operational uses of those weapons against China during the Sino-Japanese portion of World War Two. The amnesty was the price paid for U.S. military and intelligence researchers to get access to the trove of research, much of it via fatal human experiments, the Japanese had developed over years of studying and developing weapons for biological warfare.

The U.S. strenuously denied such charges and demanded an international investigation through the United Nations. The Chinese and North Koreans derided such offers as it was United Nations-sanctioned forces who were opposing them in war and bombing their cities. But behind the scenes, a CIA-released document I revealed in December 2013 showed the U.S. considered the call for a UN investigation to be mere propaganda.

At a high-level meeting of intelligence and government officials on July 6, 1953, the U.S. was not serious about conducting any investigation into such charges, despite what the government said publicly. The reason the U.S. didn't want any investigation was because an "actual investigation" would reveal military operations, "which, if revealed, could do us psychological as well as military damage." A "memorandum from the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) detailing this meeting specifically stated as an example of what could be revealed "8th Army preparations or operations (e.g. chemical warfare)."

Charges of chemical warfare by the Americans during the Korean War were part of a report (PDF) by a Communist-influenced attorneys' organization visiting Korea, and their findings were dismissed as propaganda. But the PSB memo suggests perhaps they were right. Other evidence of false stories being spread by the Americans exists.

Not long after I published the PSB document and accompanying article, scholar Stephen Endicott wrote to remind me that he and his associate Edward Hagerman, co-authors of the 1998 book, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea (Indiana Univ. Press), had found material themselves that indicated U.S. calls for "international inspection to counter the Chinese and North Korean charges... was less than candid."

Endicott and Hagerman found that U.S. Far East Commander, Gen. Matthew Ridgway, had "secretly given permission to deny potential Red Cross inspectors 'access to any specific sources of information.'" In addition, they documented a State Department memo dated June 27, 1952 wherein the Department of Defense notified that it was "impossible" for the UN ambassador at the time to state that the U.S. did not intend to use "bacteriological warfare -- even in Korea." (p.192, Endicott and Hagerman)

The Khabarovsk War Crimes Trial

The ISC report references the December 1949 war crimes trial held by the USSR in Khabarovsk, not far from the Chinese border. The trial of Japanese war criminals associated with Units 731, 100 and other biological warfare divisions followed upon a near black-out of such issues at the larger Toyko war crimes trials held by the Allies a few years before.

At the time of the Khabarovsk trial, U.S. media and government officials either ignored the proceedings, or denounced them as yet another Soviet "show trial." The Soviets for their part published the proceedings and distributed them widely, including in English. Copies of this report are easier to find for purchase used, though expensive, on the Internet, but no available version appears online, and no scholarly edition has ever been published.

Even so, U.S. historians have been forced over the years to accept the findings of the Khabarovsk court, though the general population and media accounts remain mostly ignorant such a trial ever took place. The fact the Soviets also documented the use of Japanese biological experiments on U.S. POWs was highly controversial, denied by the U.S. for decades, was a quite contentious issue in the 1980s-1990s. While a National Archives-linked historian has quietly determined such experiments did in fact take place, the issue has quietly fallen off the country's radar.

The relevancy of these issues is of course the ongoing propaganda war between the United States and North Korea, the military rebuilding and aggressive stance against Japan, and the overall "Asian Pivot," wherein the Pentagon is reallocating resources to the Asian theater for a possible future war against China.

The history behind the Korean War, and U.S. military and covert actions concerning China, Japan, and Korea, are a matter of near-total ignorance in the U.S. population. The charges of "brainwashing" of U.S. POWs, in an ongoing effort to hide evidence of U.S. biological warfare experiments and trials, has become entwined in the propaganda used to explain the U.S. post-9/11 torture and interrogation program, and alibi past crimes by the CIA and Department of Defense for years of illegal mind control programs practiced as part of MKULTRA, MKSEARCH, ARTICHOKE, and other programs.

The following is a transcribed portion of the ISC report that should be of interest to readers. They are the earliest claims I can find concerning the Japanese BW program, and links to what was then only conceived as a possible cover-up and collaboration by U.S. officials. Needham (who never lost belief in the rightness of what his investigators found) was right then. He and the work of his investigators did not deserve the obloquy and oblivion that awaited their work. This posting is an attempt to right that historical wrong.

**************
The Relevance of Japanese Bacterial Warfare in World War II


No investigation of allegations of bacterial warfare in East Asia could fail to take cognisance of the fact that it was undoubtedly employed by the Japanese against China during the second world war. The Commission was relatively well informed on this subject since one of its members had been the chief expert at the Khabarovsk trial, and another had been one of the very few western scientists in an official position in China during the course of the events themselves. In 1944 it had been part of his duty to report to this government that although he had begun with an attitude of great skepticism, the material collected by the Chinese Surgeon-General’s Office seemed to show clearly that the Japanese were, and had been, disseminating plague-infected fleas in several districts. They were thus able to bring about a considerable number of cases of bubonic plague in areas where it was normally not endemic, but where conditions for its spread were fairly favourable. As is generally known, under normal circumstance, bubonic plague is endemic only in certain sharply circumscribed areas (e.g. Fukien province) out of which it does not spread.

From the archives of the Chinese Ministry of Health one of the original reports dealing with the artificial induction of plague at Changte in Hunan province by the Japanese in 1941 was laid before the Commission (App. ISCC/1). This document is still today of considerable value and indeed historical interest. Official Chinese records give the number of hsien cities which were attacked in this way by the Japanese as eleven, 4 in Chekiang, 2 each in Hopei and Honan, and 1 each in Shansi, Hunan and Shantung. The total number of victims of artificially disseminated plague is now assessed by the Chinese as approximately 700 between 1940 and 1944.

The document reproduced below has, moreover, historical interest. It is known that the Chinese Surgeon-General at the time distributed ten copies among the Embassies in Chungking, and it may well be more than a coincidence that according to the well-known Merck Report of Jan. 1946, large-scale work in America on the methods of bacteriological warfare began in the very same year, 1941. The Commission was happy to have the opportunity, during its work in Korea, of meeting the distinguished plague specialist who wrote the original memorandum from Changte, and of hearing his views on the failure of the Kuomintang Government to follow up the evidence which was already in their hands by the end of the second world war (App.). As is generally known, his conclusions were subsequently fully confirmed by the admissions of the accused at the Khabarovsk trial.

By the publication of the “Material on the Trial of Former Servicemen of the Japanese Army charged with Manufacturing and Employing Bacteriological Weapons” (Moscow, 1950) a wealth of information about the pracdtical work carried out under the direction of the Japanese bacteriologist Ishii Shiro (who was unfortunately not himself in the dock) was made available to the world. It was established beyond doubt that techniques had been employed for the mass-production of bacteria such as those of cholera, typhoid and plague, literally by hundreds of kilograms of the wet paste at a time. Techniques, quite simple in character, had also been used for the breeding of large numbers of rats and very large numbers of fleas, though in practice only the latter seem to have been disseminated. Moreover, the various witnesses were ready to give chapter and verse as to the dates upon which they had proceeded to various Japanese bases in China to superintend the methods of dissemination used. Abundant details were also forthcoming about the special secret detachments (such as the notorious “731”) and their laboratories, pilot plants, and prisons in which Chinese and Russian patriots were made use of with perfect sangfroid as experimental animals. In the course of its work, as will be mentioned below (p. 44) the Commission had the opportunity of examining some of the few remaining specimens of the earthenware “bombs” which were manufactured for Ishii in a special factory at Harbin.

It would seem that the Japanese militarists never abandoned their visions of world-conquest by the aid of biological weapons in general and the dissemination of insect weapons in particular. Before they departed from Dairen they systematically tore out from all volumes of journals in the university and departmental libraries articles which had any connection with bacterial warfare. It should not be forgotten that before the allegations of bacterial warfare in Korea and NE China (Manchuria) began to be made in the early months of 1952, newspaper items had reported two successive visits of Ishii Shiro to South Korea, and he was there again in March. Whether the occupation authorities in Japan had fostered his activities, and whether the American Far Eastern Command was engaged in making use of methods essentially Japanese, were questions which could hardly have been absent from the minds of members of the Commission.

-- From pages 13-14 of the Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China
Partial Bibliography

Daniel Barenblatt, A Plague Upon Humanity: The Secret Genocide of Axis Japan’s Germ Warfare Operation, HarperPerennial, 2005

Tom Buchanan, "The Courage of Galileo: Joseph Needham and the 'Germ Warfare' Allegations in the Korean War," The Historical Association, Blackwell Publishers, 2001

Dave Chaddock, This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since, Bennett & Hastings, 2013

Stephen Endicott & Edward Hagerman, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea, Indiana Univ. Press, 1998

Stephen Endicott & Edward Hagerman, "Twelve Newly Released Soviet-era `Documents' and allegations of U. S. germ warfare during the Korean War," online publication, 1998, URL: http://www.yorku.ca/sendicot/12SovietDocuments.htm

Sheldon H. Harris, Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45, and the American Cover-up, rev. ed., Routledge Press, 2002

Milton Leitenberg, "New Russian Evidence on the Korean War Biological Warfare Allegations: Background and Analysis," Cold War International History Project, Bulletin 11, 1998

Jeffrey A. Lockwood, Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War, Oxford Univ. Press, 2010

Bernd Martin, "Japanese-German collaboration in the development of bacteriological and chemical weapons and the war in China." Ch. 11 (p. 200-214) in Japanese-German Relations, 1895-1945: War, diplomacy and public opinion (Ed. Christian W. Spang and Rolf-Harald Wippich), Routledge, 2006

John Powell, "A Hidden Chapter in History," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 1981

Also posted at The Dissenter/FDL

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The letter on torture The New Yorker would not print

Dear Editor,

Many of us share Jane Mayer's disgust at the revelations about CIA torture ("Torture and the Truth," Dec. 22 & 29, 2014 [The New Yorker]), and the dishonesty whereby the CIA hid the hideous effects of their "enhanced interrogation" program. But I was disappointed that Ms. Mayer continues to imply that the U.S. gave up torture when President Obama issued his famous executive order in January 2009, when the President formally announced the Army Field Manual was to be the interrogator's only guide for interrogation techniques.

But numerous human rights and legal groups have said the Army Field Manual still includes techniques that amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Indeed, in November 2014, the UN Committee Against Torture, which monitors adherence to a UN treaty against torture to which the U.S. is a signatory, stated in a review of U.S. practices that the U.S. needed to review Appendix M of the Army Field Manual. The reason? The manual allowed the use of sleep and sensory deprivation, and that kind of treatment of prisoners goes against treaty obligations. In the case of sensory deprivation, the Committee called the manual's use of the technique "torture" which can "create a state of psychosis with the detainee."

The UN report did not go unnoticed. The story made headlines in the New York Times and other newspapers. It is a shame that it is ignored in the pages of The New Yorker, and that a false picture about the current state of U.S. interrogation procedures is propagated.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Kaye

[Note: the only change I've made in posting this is to add whatever is in brackets, as well as the embedded links. These minimal additions are added for the convenience and potential interest of readers.]

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Before the EITs: James Mitchell's Special Invite to FBI/APA Conference at Quantico on "Combatting Terrorism"

The narrative is in place. James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen made millions of dollars having convinced the CIA to construct a torture program via reverse-engineering brutal methods of interrogation used in their previous employment in a military program meant to prepare U.S. military and intelligence personnel for torture by a foreign power or terrorist group.

According to numerous accounts, from Katherine Eban in Vanity Fair in July 2007 all the way to the release earlier this month of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Executive Summary (large PDF) of their report on the CIA interrogation/torture program, Mitchell and Jessen are described as "inexperienced." Numerous "experienced" interrogators are often quoted to condemn the former Air Force psychologists for use of torture, which is not, we're told, "effective" in eliciting information from prisoners or detainees. (These same people usually have nothing to say about the use of abusive techniques amounting to torture in the Army's Field Manual on interrogations, recently condemned by a UN oversight committee.)

The SSCI Summary specifically stated, "Neither psychologist had experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al-Qa'ida, a background in terrorism, or any relevant regional, cultural, or linguistic expertise" (p. 21).

A December 17, 2014 editorial in the New York Times mirrored this language, without specifically quoting the SSCI report: "The two psychologists who were hired in an atmosphere of panic in the months after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, had no experience as interrogators, no specialized knowledge of Al Qaeda, no background in counterterrorism, and no relevant cultural or linguistic expertise."

But contradicting this account, new evidence shows Mitchell was on a selective list of experts sent to a conference at the FBI's Academy in Quantico, Virginia a full month before he was said to have proposed his "enhanced interrogation" techniques to the CIA. Mitchell was apparently chosen as one of 60 experts in counterterrorism, according to a list of participants for a conference, "Combatting Terrorism: Integration of Practice and Theory" (PDF), held on February 28, 2002.

"James Mitchell: CIA, Langley, VA" was one of only two CIA participants named at the event, which was supposed to bring together "highly qualified law enforcement officers with various terrorism experts and academics."

"An Invitational Conference"

The conference report includes appendices on "Information Management and Evaluation," "Psychology of Deception," and "Data Mining," among other topics. Its participants were said to be "at the forefront of counter-terrorism efforts." The conference itself was written up in APA's house organ, Monitor.

The conference was billed as "invitational," and sponsored by the Behavioral Science Unit, FBI Academy; the Science Directorate of the American Psychological Association (APA); the School of Arts & Sciences and the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at the University of Pennsylvania; and the Decade of Behavior Initiative.

The Decade of Behavior Initiative was really a campaign run by the APA, not an organization. The Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict was, according to a U of Penn press release, "the brainchild of two men: Martin Seligman, a Penn psychology professor and former American Psychological Association president, and former Canadian Psychological Association President Peter Suedfeld." Both Decade and the Solomon Asch Center were christened in 1998.

Seligman has been linked to James Mitchell on a number of occasions, while Suedfeld has a history of research in sensory deprivation, and has worked as a consultant to the Canadian Department of National Defence. In April 2006, APA published a letter from Suedfeld in Monitor, where he condemned those who connected the work of some psychologists with the use of torture as "groundless attacks" that "recur without any factual basis."

By "Happenstance" or Other Means

If Mitchell was really a nobody, why was he tasked by the CIA's Office of Technical Services in December 2001 to write up, with his partner John "Bruce" Jessen, an analysis of supposed Al Qaeda resistance techniques to interrogation? Why was he picked -- by "happenstance," according to New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo -- to join the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah? And to the point of this article, why was he selected to attend a conference that was billed as "invitational" and meant to consist of experts in their fields?

It seems a lot of thought went into the decision of whom to invite. According to the report's preface, "The practical decisions of whom to invite, what to discuss, where and when to convene were difficult to make.... restricting the list of invitees to only sixty individuals from among the numerous experts in law enforcement and civilian populations was most formidable.... Time, space and availability restricted the number of invitations."

The report's preface was written by Anthony J. Pinizzotto, PhD, then Senior Scientist at the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) (now retired); Susan E. Brandon, Ph.D., then-Senior Scientist at APA; and Geoffrey K. Mumford, PhD, APA's then-Director of Science Policy. Presumably they were also the organizers of the conference, and responsible for who was invited.

Brandon and Mumford have been named in a recent book by James Risen as primary actors in the APA's courting of national security agencies. They were both involved in the organization of a 2003 workshop sponsored by APA, CIA and Rand Corporation on the "Science of Deception," that discussed the use of "sensory overload" and "pharmacological agents... known to affect apparent truth-telling behavior" during interrogation.

Both are likely targets of a supposed "independent" investigation into actions of APA in relation to the use of torture by the CIA and Department of Defense, an investigation, moreover, led by a former associate of George Tenet.

Susan Brandon is a today a primary figure in the Obama Administration's High-value Detainee or HIG program, where she is Chief of Research.

An Unravelling Narrative

The FBI/APA conference was held approximately a month before James Mitchell was sent to the CIA's black site prison in Thailand to join in and ultimately reportedly to lead the interrogation of supposed Al Qaeda high-value detainee, Abu Zubaydah. The story of how that happened has been described in two Congressional investigations and numerous articles by investigative reporters.

The latest account, by the Senate's SSCI, describes Mitchell as working for the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS) at the time he was chosen for the Zubaydah interrogation. While the New York Times account by Risen and Apuzzo reduces OTS, cutely, to "the arm of the C.I.A. that creates disguises and builds James Bond-like spy gadgets," OTS had a long history of researching human behavior under stress, and exploiting human assets via drugs, hypnosis and other mind control techniques.

In a more pertinent understanding of the role of OTS, my recent article at Al Jazeera America describes the history of OTS in regards to illegal human experimentation and MKULTRA research that led directly to the propagation of a CIA torture program in the 1960s and thereafter.

Slowly but surely, the false narrative, meant to pin much of the blame for the hideous torture program on James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen -- who certainly deserve a good deal of blame, and also prosecution for their role in the torture -- is fraying at the edges. Last week, I showed that the knowledge of what the CIA was doing, at least during the years the SSCI was headed by GOP Senator Pat Roberts and Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller, was greater than what the SSCI has admitted thus far. SSCI staffers had toured the CIA's "Dark Prison" (aka "Salt Pit") in Afghanistan in late 2003. Perhaps this happened around or at the same time that U.S. Bureau of Prison members toured the same facility, according to the SSCI report.

It is my firm belief that there are some people in the Intelligence Community, and also those who follow and even critique, from time to time, the IC, who know that Mitchell played a bigger role before his interrogation of Abu Zubaydah than is generally acknowledged. In general, the knowledge of what the CIA and DoD was doing back in the early 2000's was not something that was spoken of publicly, but was known by a number of academics, psychologists and medical professionals, military officers and interrogators, and in particular, by Special Forces operators and... APA officials. How much was known by Congressional oversight officials is a matter of some contention, though it's obvious many, if not most, were frozen out, while others preferred not to know.

There will be no real accountability for these crimes under our current political structure. I'm not sure what it will take to get there. Some put their hope in universal jurisdiction prosecution. Some despair of any accountability happening at all. I believe that if there will be an accounting, it will be part of more general political overhaul of the U.S. political system and culture.

The revelation that Mitchell was part of the IC "experts" crowd, and then covered up as same for years, speaks to the corruption of large swathes of the Establishment. Remember, the information in the article you are reading has been available on the Internet for seven years!

All I can ask as an activist is that people speak up, don't respect any authority, even those of the "left" or "progressive" crowd, and demand a passion and commitment for the truth from those whose job it is to report the truth.

Epilogue: Looking back through my materials, I see that I wrote about the 2/28/02 conference when I blogged as "Valtin" at Daily Kos back in 2006-07. On January 7, 2007 I wrote the diary, "FBI & American Psych. Association Attack Patient Confidentiality." In that article, I concentrated on recommendations by the joint FBI/APA conference to convince psychologists to become informants on their patients and their families and acquaintances.

I pointed out the relevant sections of the report for readers (bold emphases from original article):
There is a need for the American Psychological Association and state psychological associations to develop an ethical code for practitioners for instances where a client may have information relevant to terrorism (similar to other mandates that already exist, such as those for instances of abuse of children and the elderly and a client’s intention to harm himself or another person). Such instances are peculiar because they involve third-party harm. Psychologists need to be trained for what behaviors to look for, and how to report information to law enforcement while protecting the client and their family and community. This may include some kinds of cross-cultural training. The APA may have to work with legislatures and licensing boards regarding some of these issues. Similar training and issues of confidentiality need to be considered for the training of clergy, teachers, and physicians....

It was suggested that the APA might develop guidelines for such reporting, and offer these to other agencies (school systems, social services), where appropriate.
I wish I had noticed then the presence of Mitchell on the list of participants at this conference. But seeing it there now, it all fits together.

Cross-posted at The Dissenter/FDL

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SSCI Confirms Staff Visited CIA's Salt Pit Prison in 2003, No Records of Visit Kept at CIA Request

There are many aspects to the exploding torture scandal that are being spun by interested parties. That's not necessarily bad, and in fact to be expected. But it's hard to get to the actual truth.

One problem is that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee (SSCI) has only released the Executive Summary (PDF) of their full, 6,000-plus page report on the CIA's torture program. On the other hand, the CIA censored a number of items in the document. While the Summary has lots of new and very interesting information in it, it's clear that we're not getting the entire story.

One thing that has the SSCI report critics up in arms is the assertion from CIA and GOP critics that the SSCI did not interview actual CIA personnel. CIA claims that it did brief Congressional oversight committees, or at least their leading members, about the torture program.

The SSCI maintains the CIA has not been forthcoming with information, and has even misled investigators and government personnel about their interrogation program. For example, according to the report, "in late 2002, Chairman Graham sought to expand Committee oversight of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, including by having Committee staff visit CIA interrogation sites and interview CIA interrogators. The CIA rejected this request. An internal CIA email from [redacted] CTC Legal [redacted] indicated that the full Committee would not be told about 'the nature and scope of the interrogation process,' and that even the chairman and vice chairman would not be told in which country or 'region' the CIA had established its detention facilities." (emphasis added, p. 438)

But what is most surprising, and no one has mentioned, much less emphasized, is that according to the CIA's own June 2013 written response (PDF) to an earlier draft of the SSCI's executive summary, SSCI "staff members" visited the Salt Pit CIA black site in Afghanistan (codenamed COBALT) in late 2003. According to the CIA, the SSCI staff found it compared "favorably" with detainee facilities at Bagram and Guantanamo.

At the time, the SSCI director was Republican Senator Pat Roberts, while Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller was the ranking minority member on the committee. The CIA does not name who the SSCI staff were. There is no reference to any such Committee visits to CIA black sites in the SSCI Executive Summary. I checked with some experts who have been following closely the CIA torture scandal, and they also believed this was new information.

A SSCI committee aide who would only speak on background told The Dissenter the committee doesn’t dispute CIA records. However, the aide noted, the 2003 visit was years in advance of the SSCI study that resulted in the recent report. Furthermore, at the request of the CIA, the committee retained no records of the 2003 visit. I'm told the committee stands by its description of detention facilities in the report, and the CIA’s refusal to allow the committee to conduct oversight over detention and interrogation activities prior to 2006, when the committee was finally informed of the program.

The entire episode raises many questions, however. For instance, in the SSCI report, the committee states, "At the July 2004 briefing, the minority staff director requested full Committee briefings and expanded Committee oversight, including visits to CIA detention sites and interviews with interrogators — efforts that had been sought by former Chairman Graham years earlier. This request was denied."

That request was denied, but was an earlier one approved? We know now there was a visit to at least one CIA detention site. Why isn't that mentioned in the report? If there were no records of the visit, there were still individuals who could be interviewed from that time, not least Sen. Rockefeller, who was ranking minority member on the SSCI at the time of the staff visit, and is still a member of the Senate intelligence committee. Even more, what kind of oversight committee would fail to keep records of an oversight action when requested by the agency upon which it is conducting oversight?

"... a markedly cleaner, healthier, more humane and better administered facility"

The story about the SSCI staff visit in the CIA Response is tied into CIA's response to SSCI charges that both the interrogation of CIA detainees and the conditions of their confinement at the various CIA black sites were more brutal than CIA had indicated. The Senate report highlighted the death of one CIA detainee, Gul Rahman, who died of hypothermia while being tortured at the CIA's notorious Salt Pit prison.

The CIA, whose response is self-serving at best, and can generally not be trusted, responded to these charges. They claimed that conditions at the black sites were "unacceptable" in the "early days," but that conditions improved over time.

"Most importantly," the CIA wrote, "we found no evidence to support the charge that the facts relating to confinement conditions or the application of enhanced techniques were previously unknown or undisclosed to NSC and DOJ officials or to oversight committees."

The CIA did agree with Committee charges that the "confinement conditions" at the Salt Pit black site were "harsher than at other facilities and deficient in significant respects for a few months prior to the death of Gul Rahman in late 2002." The actual identification of the Salt Pit prison does not occur in either the CIA Response or SSCI report, as such sites names are either redacted or given code names. The identification of the Salt Pit is inferred by information in the documents, especially the death of Rahman.

According to an account at the Daily Beast, the Salt Pit prison, called by some former detainees the "Dark Prison," were abominable. "Nude prisoners were kept in a central area, and walked around as a form of humiliation. Detainees were hosed down while shackled naked, and placed in rooms with temperatures as low as 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Loud music was played constantly.... Detainees there were subject to sleep deprivation, shackled to bars with their hands above their heads."

The CIA Response to SSCI stated the Agency "took steps to consolidate responsibility" for the facility and "moved quickly to improve conditions." Then they reminded the SSCI about something:
Although conditions at the facility remained sub-optimal throughout its existence, significant improvements at the site prompted two SSCI staff members who visited the facility in late 2003 to compare it favorably with military facilities at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay. In fact, one remarked that [one word redaction] was "a markedly cleaner, healthier, more humane and better administered facility." [One word redaction] was decommissioned in 2004 in favor of a newer facility.... [p. 56 (p. 80 of PDF)]
Only months after their visit, a CIA Office of Medical Services medical officer described the rectal rehydration procedure used on detainees in a February 27, 2004 email, as quoted in the SSCI Summary: “[r]egarding the rectal tube, if you place it and open up the IV tubing, the flow will self regulate, sloshing up the large intestines.... [w]hat I infer is that you get a tube up as far as you can, then open the IV wide. No need to squeeze the bag – let gravity do the work.”

The hideous use of such medical torture, amounting to sexual assault on prisoners, has sparked new calls for further investigation. See a full discussion of this aspect of the torture in a new report by Physicians for Human Rights (PDF).

Incestuous Goings-on

So what's going on here?

I can't know exactly. But the cozy relationship between the Congressional intelligence committees and the agencies they oversee is a major problem. I noted back in August that numerous leading staff members for SSCI over the years have had a tight relationship with the CIA. Indeed, the EIT torture program of the CIA was implemented under the leadership of the former Staff Director for the SSCI back in the early 1990s, George Tenet.

From my August article:
After leaving SSCI in January 1993], Tenet went straight to the White House, where he worked as "Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs." In a relatively short time, he was appointed deputy director of the CIA in July 1995. By December 1996, Tenet replaced John Deutch as temporary director of the CIA. Bill Clinton would nominate him as full director the next year....

In four quick years, Tenet went from SSCI Staff Director to head of the CIA.
But Tenet was not the only instance of such incestuous goings on in the oversight world. Other individuals that either went from the intelligence world to SSCI staff, or from the latter to the CIA, included former Minority Staff Director John H. Moseman, who went from being Minortity Staff Director to CIA's Director of Congressional Affairs in 1996, and then later Tenet's Chief of Staff; former Charles Battaglia, who went from senior management at CIA to staff director at SSCI in the mid-1990s; and former SSCI Staff Director Bernard F. McMahon in the 1980s, who earlier had served as Executive Director to the Director of the CIA.

Another notable connection between Congressional oversight and the CIA involves the 2002 Joint Congressional investigation into 9/11. The House and Senate intelligence committees appointed former CIA Inspector General L. Britt Snider to head the unified staff for the joint inquiry.

To my knowledge, there is no connection between the CIA or other intelligence agency and the current Congressional intelligence oversight committees.

In general, I'm very pleased to have even the redacted version of the Executive Summary of the SSCI report, which had much more in it that I would have expected.

But the evidence in the Summary points to one overwhelming fact: if we are ever to get the full story on what went on behind the scenes in the torture program, we need the SSCI to release the full 6,000 page report, and all censorship removed to the extent possible.

Secondly, we need a non-partisan, non-government connected committee to investigate fully the entire affair, including the rendition program, the full extent of the military's own torture program, and recent revelations of illegal human subject medical experimentation as part of the CIA program. Such an independent committee must have no ties to the intelligence community, and include strong presence of human rights and anti-torture organizations. It must also include representatives or the presence of some of the victims of the torture itself, the better to keep such an investigation honest.

Crossposted at The Dissenter/FDL

Criminal complaint against Bush era architects of torture

The Center for Constitutional Rights released the following important press release today. It discusses the first of what should be many such calls for prosecution of US officials following upon the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's Executive Summary of their full investigation into CIA torture.

CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy has stated, “Both US law and international law require torturers and those responsible for torture to be prosecuted. If we won’t do it, other countries will—the architects of the torture program may want to plan their travel carefully going forward.”
The Federal Prosecutor must investigate former CIA boss Tenet, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and others - and should not wait until they are on German soil

Berlin, 17 December 2014 – The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin has today lodged criminal complaints against former CIA head George Tenet, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of the administration of former US President George W. Bush. The ECCHR is accusing Tenet, Rumsfeld and a series of other persons of the war crime of torture under paragraph 8 section 1(3) of the German Code of Crimes against International Law (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch). The constituent elements of the crime of torture were most recently established in the case by the US Senate in its report on CIA interrogation methods. “The architects of the torture system - politicians, officials, secret service agents, lawyers and senior army officials – should be brought before the courts,” says ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, who is appearing today in connection with the issue in front of the German Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs. “By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”

The US Senate report devotes one section explicitly to the case of German citizen Khaled El Masri, who was abducted by CIA agents in 2004 due to a case of mistaken identity and was tortured in a secret detention center in Afghanistan. The criminal complaint details the US Senate report’s finding that once the unlawful error was discovered, the former CIA director refused to take further steps against those responsible.

ECCHR calls on Federal Prosecutor Harald Range to open investigations into the actions of Tenet, Rumsfeld and other perpetrators and to set up a monitoring process as soon as possible. This would allow the German authorities to act immediately in the event that one of the suspects enters European soil and not have to wait until such point before beginning the complex investigations and legal deliberations.

Together with the US Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Kaleck previously submitted criminal complaints against Tenet and Rumsfeld in Germany in 2004 and 2006 and against Bush in Switzerland in 2011. ECCHR is also involved in legal proceedings in Spain and France concerning Guantánamo. The current criminal complaint by ECCHR is supported by former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak, the CCR in New York along with its President Emeritus Michael Ratner and its Vice President Peter Weiss, winner of the Martin Ennals Awards 2014 Alejandra Ancheita, Professor for International and Public Law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels Annemie Schaus, Professor for Criminal Law at the University of Hamburg Florian Jeßberger and Berlin attorney Dieter Hummel.
Read the English summary of the complaint on CCR's website.
You can also read more about their universal jurisdiction work here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

SSCI Report Reveals CIA Torture Program Originated in Same Department as MKULTRA

The release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) executive summary (PDF) to their report, "Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program," has rightly gotten a wide amount of press coverage.

The sheer brutality of the program's use of torture is overwhelming, from the use of forced enemas on detainees -- the CIA called it "rectal hydration" and "rectal feeding" -- to intense use of solitary confinement, threats to kill prisoners' families, homicide, and more. Revelations from this report will continue to be reported and absorbed into the world's understanding of the criminal extent of the U.S. torture program for months or years to come.

But one revelation has gone notably unreported. The man associated with implementing the most brutal part of the interrogation program was drawn out of the same division of the CIA that some decades ago had been responsible for the notorious MKULTRA program. As a CIA history of OTS explains, MKULTRA "involved Agency funding for the testing and use of chemical and biological agents and other means of controlling or modifying human behavior" (p. 19).

OTS Contractor James Mitchell Comes to Thailand

According to the SSCI report, James Mitchell, one of the two CIA contractor psychologists widely associated with the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" torture program, was working for the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS). In late 2001, Mitchell and his former psychologist associate at the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), John Bruce Jessen, were "commissioned" by OTS to write a study based on a purported Al Qaeda manual, called the Manchester Manual, after the city in England where the document was discovered.

The paper Mitchell and Jessen produced supposedly addressed countermeasures to interrogation that were discussed in the manual. According to the SSCI investigation, we learn for the first time that Mitchell was working for the CIA's OTS at the time he was ostensibly recruited or volunteered for the CIA's new interrogation program.

The Senate report states that Mitchell and Jessen were central in advocating a set of torture techniques that were gathered from the SERE training program for which they used to work at JPRA. SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, and is a long-standing Defense Department program that is meant to prepare military, intelligence, and other certain important government personnel for the rigors of capture and possible torture by a determined and ruthless enemy. But the narrative that Mitchell and Jessen were solely responsible for the program, or that they even originated it, is not totally true.

According to the SSCI report, on or around April 1, 2002, Mitchell was recommended from within OTS for the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, then being touted as a major Al Qaeda figure (he wasn't):
While Abu Zubaydah was still hospitalized, personnel at CIA Headquarters began discussing how CIA officers would interrogate Abu Zubaydah upon his return to DETENTION SITE GREEN [CIA's Thailand black site]. The initial CIA interrogation proposal recommended that the interrogators engage with Abu Zubaydah to get him to provide information, and suggested that a "hard approach," involving foreign government personnel, be taken "only as a last resort." At a meeting about this proposal, [1-2 words redacted] CTC Legal, [2-3 words redacted] recommended that a psychologist working on contract in the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS), Grayson SWIGERT [James Mitchell], be used by CTC to "provide real-time recommendations to overcome Abu Zubaydah's "resistance to interrogation." SWIGERT had come to [1-2 words redacted]'s attention through [2-3 words redacation] who worked in OTS. Shortly thereafter, CIA Headquarters formally proposed that Abu Zubaydah be kept in an all-white room that was lit 24 hours a day, that Abu Zubaydah not be provided any amenities, that his sleep be disrupted, that loud noise be constantly fed into his cell, and that only a small number of people interact with him. CIA records indicate that these proposals were based on the idea that such conditions would lead Abu Zubaydah to develop a sense of "learned helplessness." CIA Headquarters then sent an interrogation team to Country [one letter redaction, but represents most likely Thailand], including SWIGERT [Mitchell], whose initial role was to consult on the psychological aspects of the interrogation. [pg. 26 of report; footnote notations have been removed from original]
"Novel interrogation methods"

On April 1, 2002, a cable was sent from OTS at the request of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and ALEC Station, which was the group within CIA supposedly hunting down Osama bin Ladin, discussing the possible use of "novel interrogation methods" on Abu Zubaydah.

The new proposed interrogation strategy proposed "several environmental modifications to create an atmosphere that enhances the strategic interrogation process." The cable continued, "[t]he deliberate manipulation of the environment is intended to cause psychological disorientation, and reduced psychological wherewithal for the interrogation," as well as "the deliberate establishment of psychological dependence upon the interrogator," and "an increased sense of learned helplessness."

"Learned helplessness" (LH) was a theory associated with a famous American psychologist, Martin Seligman. LH was a lab-derived set of propositions which postulated that when an animal (or human being) is faced with inescapable shock or otherwise unescapable or uncontrolled stress, the ability to cope collapses. LH has long been a theoretical model used to explain clinical depression, for instance.

Seligman is believed to have met with James Mitchell on three occasions. Seligman admits having met both Mitchell and Jessen at a SERE event in San Diego in May 2002. He also confirmed to me in an email that press reports were correct and that he met with Mitchell at Seligman's home in December 2001. But he denied an account by Georgetown professor Gregg Bloche that he met Mitchell yet again in late March or very early April 2002, only days before Mitchell flew to Thailand for the interrogation/torture of Abu Zubaydah. Seligman said that account, supposedly given to Bloche by CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard, was "fiction." Nevertheless, Bloche has never rescinded his story, nor has Hubbard ever disavowed his alleged account, at least publicly.

The meetings with Seligman, in conjunction with the fact Mitchell was brought into the CIA interrogation program as a contractor for OTS, strongly suggests that the implementation of the torture program and use of SERE techniques was not solely the brainchild of James Mitchell, or Mitchell and Jessen together. Instead, it seems more likely, for reasons that will be further explored below, that the program was initiated by OTS itself, and constituted at least in part an experimental program. What exactly the experiment consisted is not totally clear. But it may have involved the use of wireless or other medical devices to measure biological markers of "uncontrollable stress," in an effort to establish a scientific calibration of torture and overall behavioral or mental control of prisoners. That such a "mind control" effort would originate or be carried out by the same institution that spent millions of dollars on the MKULTRA program is not difficult to believe.

It's impossible to know if the SSCI report ever mentions Seligman, as the report redacted or used pseudonyms for CIA agents and other personnel.

Where exactly did the EITs originate?

By July 2012, the report goes on to say that Mitchell and other CIA officers "held several meetings at CIA Headquarters to discuss the possible use of 'novel interrogation methods' on Abu Zubaydah." It is worth noting that up to that point, the CIA had used extreme isolation, sensory deprivation, denial of medical treatment and sleep deprivation on Abu Zubaydah. The "enhanced interrogation" torture had not even begun. Meanwhile, while the FBI agents present had complaints about CIA's approach, they had participated in some of this up to mid-June 2002, when all the interrogators abruptly left, leaving Zubaydah in total isolation for over a month. (One FBI agent, Ali Soufan, had left even earlier, in May, upset over how the CIA was handling the interrogation.)

According to SSCI authors, at these July meetings Mitchell proposed a number of techniques that later became the full "enhanced interrogation program," including at least one, "mock burial," that was ultimately rejected. The techniques were drawn from the SERE program Mitchell had worked in for years. But instead of familiarizing students with what such torture should look like, and helping them practice ways to survive or resist such torture, now the techniques would be applied to break down prisoners.

Oddly, the CIA's 2013 response to the SSCI on these matters, argued the turn towards torture did not originate with Mitchell. This is in contrast to mainstream reports about the origins of the EIT program, but it is consistent with the facts as stated by the SSCI itself in the report's executive summary.

According to the CIA, "Drs. [SWIGERT] and [DUNBAR] [Mitchell and Jessen] had the closest proximate expertise CIA sought at the beginning of the program, specifically in the area of non-standard means of interrogation. Experts on traditional interrogation methods did not meet this requirement. Non-standard interrogation methodologies were not an area of expertise of CIA officers or of the US Government generally. We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program" (italics and emphasis in original)."

The SSCI report editorializes: "As noted above, the CIA did not seek out SWIGERT and DUNBAR after a decision was made to use coercive interrogation techniques; rather, SWIGERT and DUNBAR played a role in convincing the CIA to adopt such a policy."

Certainly Mitchell and Jessen "played a role," but that is not the same as originating the program. Indeed, much later in the report, SSCI explains that in the April 1 meeting, the interrogation proposals then under consideration came from Mitchell/SWIGERT "and the CIA OTS Officer who had recommended SWIGERT to [1-2 words redacted]." Mitchell is said to be advocating even then the development of "learned helplessness" in CIA prisoners. (See pp. 463-464).

It is worth repeating: it was CTC and ALEC Station which initiated the request for "novel" techniques from OTS, and later apparently asked for Mitchell to come to Thailand.

I don't think we know the full story yet. For instance, for some reason, the SSCI report does not include the fact that the OTS was the department of the CIA that sent data on the effects from SERE torture techniques to the Office of Legal Council, which under John Yoo was writing an opinion that would allow the CIA to "legally" use the controversial techniques, which the CIA knew could be considered torture.

OTS, MKULTRA, and SERE Research

OTS's role in vetting the EITs was mentioned in the CIA's Inspector General report on the interrogation program. Like other aspects of the torture scandal concerning the OTS division of the CIA, the press has generally ignored this. But this was something I reported on back in 2009, when the IG report was first released.

The fact OTS was involved in vetting the EITs to OLC gains greater significance when you realize that James Mitchell was working with OTS, and that OTS and their contractor Mitchell were intricately involved with both CTC and ALEC Station in creating the torture program.

There's one final aspect to the OTS angle worth mentioning. OTS apparently told OLC that the SERE techniques would not seriously harm CIA prisoners. But that was certainly wrong. Moreover, it's highly unlikely OTS didn't know that.

OTS has been part of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) since the early 1970s. It was transferred from the Directorate of Plans (clandestine operations, renamed around that time, the Directorate of Operations). OTS had earlier gone under other names itself, including Technical Service Staff and Technical Services Division. OTS and its predecessors had been involved in arranging the technical aspect of covert operations, including audio surveillance, forgery, secret writing, spy paraphenalia, sophisticated electronics, and assassination devices.

Then, there was the massive MKULTRA project, which had other names as well, and was coordinated in various ways with similar military programs. MKULTRA had well over a hundred "subprojects," and contracted with many of the U.S.'s top universities and medical and psychological researchers. (For listing of subprojects see here and here.)

MKULTRA research is probably best known for its use of hallucinogens, like LSD, which were sometimes used on unsuspecting civilians, and resulted in damaged lives and even deaths. Sometimes derided as subject matter for conspiracy theorists, MKULTRA and its assorted programs were all-too-real. While the vast majority of its documentation was destroyed by CIA leaders when the program was exposed in the early 1970s, what we do know is terrifying.

Today, within the DS&T is another shadowy CIA entity, the Intelligence Technology Innovation Center (ITIC). One Yale psychiatric researcher associated with ITIC is Charles A. Morgan, III. Morgan has produced a prodigious amount of research on the effects of "uncontrollable stress." Many of his research subjects were SERE students at a mock torture camp.

Morgan's research showed that the debilitating effects of SERE techniques caused stress cortisol levels, according to one Morgan research paper, to soar to “some of the greatest ever documented in humans.” Another study cited “neuroendocrine changes... [that] may have significant implications for subsequent responses to stress,” including massive drops in testosterone levels when exposed to even mock torture. Yet another study showed the effects of dissociation under the stress of even SERE "stress inoculation" mock torture.

Morgan used to deny his CIA links, but lately he has taken to admitting his CIA past. He was interviewed by James Risen for Risen's new book, Pay Any Price, but told Risen he did not have any associations with interrogations. But he did admit he had met James Mitchell.

It is possible that Mitchell knew of Morgan's work. It is even possible that Morgan had more to do with the interrogation program than we know. Morgan told Risen that he left the CIA because of a dispute over torture with his colleagues. Morgan has stated his opposition to torture. But Risen never followed up with that part of the story, or at least reported on it in any detail.

Some of the research under MKULTRA and associated programs, like BLUEBIRD or ARTICHOKE, included emphasis on hypnosis, drugs, and sensory deprivation, all techniques that were later incorporated into an early 1960s CIA torture manual, known as KUBARK. The SSCI report mentions KUBARK, and earlier this year, I obtained via FOIA the most complete version of the KUBARK document we currently have.

Risen also never mentioned Morgan's history of research on SERE. Hence a chance to learn more from Morgan about his own actions and the possible effect or interactions of his work with the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques by the OTS, which is under the same CIA directorate where Morgan worked, was lost, at least for the time being.

"Novel Telemetric Technology"

One possible way OTS could have used Morgan's work concerns a project he worked on, "The Warfighter's Stress Response: Telemetric and Noninvasive Assessment." That study, undertaken in 2001 and 2002, used SERE mock torture students, among others, to develop "novel telemetric technology... for untethered measurements of heart rate variability (HRV)."

Morgan and his co-authors concluded, "The results show that assessment of HRV provides a noninvasive means of evaluating the neural systems intimately involved in the capacity to attend to and respond to a threat. These findings linking HRV to cognitive performance robustly support the utility of HRV in the assessment of human performance." It is not impossible to imagine that such "novel telemetric technology" would be used to assess the response of CIA prisoners to the experience of torture, or that OTS would be interested in providing and perfecting such technology for the CIA's clandestine services.

The SSCI report has helped bring the origins of the CIA post-9/11 interrogation/torture program into even sharper focus. But the failure of the press to even notice, with rare exception, the role of OTS, or its history in clandestine actions, including MKULTRA work, means that a full exploration of CIA's torture program cannot take place.The release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) executive summary (PDF) to their report, "Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program," has rightly gotten a wide amount of press coverage.

The sheer brutality of the program's use of torture is overwhelming, from the use of forced enemas on detainees -- the CIA called it "rectal hydration" and "rectal feeding" -- to intense use of solitary confinement, threats to kill prisoners' families, homicide, and more. Revelations from this report will continue to be reported and absorbed into the world's understanding of the criminal extent of the U.S. torture program for months or years to come.

But one revelation has gone notably unreported. The man associated with implementing the most brutal part of the interrogation program was drawn out of the same division of the CIA that some decades ago had been responsible for the notorious MKULTRA program. As a CIA history of OTS explains, MKULTRA "involved Agency funding for the testing and use of chemical and biological agents and other means of controlling or modifying human behavior" (p. 19).

OTS Contractor James Mitchell Comes to Thailand

According to the SSCI report, James Mitchell, one of the two CIA contractor psychologists widely associated with the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" torture program, was working for the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS). In late 2001, Mitchell and his former psychologist associate at the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), John Bruce Jessen, were "commissioned" by OTS to write a study based on a purported Al Qaeda manual, called the Manchester Manual, after the city in England where the document was discovered.

The paper Mitchell and Jessen produced supposedly addressed countermeasures to interrogation that were discussed in the manual. According to the SSCI investigation, we learn for the first time that Mitchell was working for the CIA's OTS at the time he was ostensibly recruited or volunteered for the CIA's new interrogation program.

The Senate report states that Mitchell and Jessen were central in advocating a set of torture techniques that were gathered from the SERE training program for which they used to work at JPRA. SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, and is a long-standing Defense Department program that is meant to prepare military, intelligence, and other certain important government personnel for the rigors of capture and possible torture by a determined and ruthless enemy. But the narrative that Mitchell and Jessen were solely responsible for the program, or that they even originated it, is not totally true.

According to the SSCI report, on or around April 1, 2002, Mitchell was recommended from within OTS for the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, then being touted as a major Al Qaeda figure (he wasn't):
While Abu Zubaydah was still hospitalized, personnel at CIA Headquarters began discussing how CIA officers would interrogate Abu Zubaydah upon his return to DETENTION SITE GREEN [CIA's Thailand black site]. The initial CIA interrogation proposal recommended that the interrogators engage with Abu Zubaydah to get him to provide information, and suggested that a "hard approach," involving foreign government personnel, be taken "only as a last resort." At a meeting about this proposal, [1-2 words redacted] CTC Legal, [2-3 words redacted] recommended that a psychologist working on contract in the CIA's Office of Technical Services (OTS), Grayson SWIGERT [James Mitchell], be used by CTC to "provide real-time recommendations to overcome Abu Zubaydah's "resistance to interrogation." SWIGERT had come to [1-2 words redacted]'s attention through [2-3 words redacation] who worked in OTS. Shortly thereafter, CIA Headquarters formally proposed that Abu Zubaydah be kept in an all-white room that was lit 24 hours a day, that Abu Zubaydah not be provided any amenities, that his sleep be disrupted, that loud noise be constantly fed into his cell, and that only a small number of people interact with him. CIA records indicate that these proposals were based on the idea that such conditions would lead Abu Zubaydah to develop a sense of "learned helplessness." CIA Headquarters then sent an interrogation team to Country [one letter redaction, but represents most likely Thailand], including SWIGERT [Mitchell], whose initial role was to consult on the psychological aspects of the interrogation. [pg. 26 of report; footnote notations have been removed from original]
"Novel interrogation methods"

On April 1, 2002, a cable was sent from OTS at the request of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and ALEC Station, which was the group within CIA supposedly hunting down Osama bin Ladin, discussing the possible use of "novel interrogation methods" on Abu Zubaydah.

The new proposed interrogation strategy proposed "several environmental modifications to create an atmosphere that enhances the strategic interrogation process." The cable continued, "[t]he deliberate manipulation of the environment is intended to cause psychological disorientation, and reduced psychological wherewithal for the interrogation," as well as "the deliberate establishment of psychological dependence upon the interrogator," and "an increased sense of learned helplessness."

"Learned helplessness" (LH) was a theory associated with a famous American psychologist, Martin Seligman. LH was a lab-derived theory which postulated that when an animal (or human being) is faced with inescapable shock or otherwise unescapable or uncontrolled stress, the ability to cope collapses. LH has long been a theoretical model used to explain clinical depression, for instance.

Seligman is believed to have met with James Mitchell on three occasions. Seligman admits having met both Mitchell at a SERE event in San Diego in May 2002. He also corroborated to me in an email that press reports were correct and he met with Mitchell at Seligman's home in December 2001. But Seligman denied an account by Georgetown professor Gregg Bloche that Seligman met Mitchell yet again in late March or very early April 2002, only days before Mitchell flew to Thailand and the torture of Abu Zubaydah. Seligman said that account, supposedly given to Bloche by CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard, was "fiction." Bloche has never rescinded his story, nor has Hubbard ever disavowed the story, at least publicly.

The meetings with Seligman, as well as the fact Mitchell was brought into the CIA interrogation program as a contractor for OTS, argues that the implementation of the torture program and use of SERE techniques was not solely the brainchild of James Mitchell, or Mitchell and Jessen together. Instead, it seems more likely, for reasons that will be further explored below, that the program was initiated by OTS itself, and constituted at least in part an experimental program. What exactly the experiment consisted is not totally clear. But it may have involved the use of wireless or other medical devices to measure biological markers of "uncontrollable stress," in an effort to establish a scientific calibration of torture and overall behavioral or mental control of prisoners. That such a "mind control" effort would originate or be carried out by the same institution that spent millions of dollars on the MKULTRA program is not difficult to believe.

It's impossible to know if the SSCI report ever mentions Seligman, as the report redacted or used pseudonyms for CIA agents and personnel.

Where exactly did the EITs originate?

By July 2012, report goes on to say that Mitchell and other CIA officers "held several meetings at CIA Headquarters to discuss the possible use of 'novel interrogation methods' on Abu Zubaydah." It is worth noting that up to that point, the CIA had used extreme isolation, sensory deprivation, denial of medical treatment and sleep deprivation. The "enhanced interrogation" torture had not even begun. Meanwhile, while there were complaints, the FBI had participated in some of this up to mid-June 2002, when all the interrogators abruptly left, leaving Zubaydah in total isolation for over a month. (One FBI agent, Ali Soufan, had left even earlier, in May, upset over how the CIA was handling the interrogation.)

According to SSCI authors, at these July meetings Mitchell proposed a number of techniques that later became the "enhanced interrogation program," including at least one, "mock burial," that was ultimately rejected. The techniques were drawn from the SERE program Mitchell had worked in for years. But instead of familiarizing students with what such torture should look like, and helping them practice ways to survive or resist such torture, now the techniques would be applied to break down prisoners.

Oddly, the CIA's 2013 response to the SSCI on these matters, owned up to fact the turn towards torture did not originate with Mitchell. This is in contrast to mainstream reports about the origins of the EIT program, but is consistent with the facts as stated by the SSCI itself in the report's executive summary.

According to the CIA, "Drs. [SWIGERT] and [DUNBAR] [Mitchell and Jessen] had the closest proximate expertise CIA sought at the beginning of the program, specifically in the area of non-standard means of interrogation. Experts on traditional interrogation methods did not meet this requirement. Non-standard interrogation methodologies were not an area of expertise of CIA officers or of the US Government generally. We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program" (italics and emphasis in original)."

The SSCI report editorializes: "As noted above, the CIA did not seek out SWIGERT and DUNBAR after a decision was made to use coercive interrogation techniques; rather, SWIGERT and DUNBAR played a role in convincing the CIA to adopt such a policy."

Certainly Mitchell and Jessen "played a role," but that is not the same as originating the program. Indeed, much later in the report, SSCI explains that in the April 1 meeting, the interrogation proposals then under consideration came from Mitchell and SWIGERT, and the CIA OTS Officer who had recommended SWIGERT to [1-2 words redacted]. Mitchell is said to be advocating even then the development of "learned helplessness" in CIA prisoners. (See pp. 463-464). It was CTC and ALEC Station which initiated the request for "novel" techniques from OTS, and later apparently asked for Mitchell to come to Thailand.

I don't think we know the full story yet. For some reason, the SSCI report does not include the fact that the OTS was the part of the CIA that sent data on the effects from SERE torture techniques to the Office of Legal Council, which under John Yoo was writing an opinion that would allow the CIA to "legally" use the controversial techniques, which the CIA knew could be considered torture.

OTS, MKULTRA, and SERE Research

OTS's role in vetting the EITs was mentioned in the CIA's Inspector General report on the interrogation program. Like other aspects of the torture scandal concerning OTS division, the press has generally ignored this. But this was something I reported on back in 2009, when the IG report was first released.

The fact OTS was involved in vetting the EITs to OLC gains greater significance when you realize that James Mitchell was working with OTS, and that OTS (and their contractor Mitchell) was intricately involved with both CTC and ALEC Station in creating the torture program.

There's one final aspect to the OTS angle worth mentioning. OTS apparently told OLC that the SERE techniques would not seriously harm CIA prisoners. But that was certainly wrong. Moreover, it's highly unlikely OTS didn't know that.

OTS has been part of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) since the early 1970s. It was transferred from the Directorate of Plans (clandestine operations, renamed around that time, the Directorate of Operations). OTS had earlier gone under other names itself, including Technical Service Staff and Technical Services Division. OTS and its predecessors had been involved in arranging the technical aspect of covert operations, including audio surveillance, forgery, secret writing, spy paraphenalia, sophisticated electronics, and assassination devices.

Then, there was the massive MKULTRA project, which had other names as well, and was coordinated in various ways with similar military programs. MKULTRA had well over a hundred "subprojects," and contracted with many of the U.S.'s top universities and medical and psychological researchers. (For listing of subprojects see here and here.)

MKULTRA research is probably best known for its use of hallucinogens, like LSD, which were sometimes used on unsuspecting civilians, and resulted in damaged lives and even deaths. Sometimes derided as subject matter for conspiracy theorists, MKULTRA and assorted programs was all-too-real. While the vast majority of its documentation was destroyed by CIA leaders with the program was exposed in the early 1970s, what we do know it terrifying.

Today, with the DS&T is another shadowy CIA entity, the Intelligence Technology Innovation Center (ITIC). One Yale psychiatric researcher associated with ITIC is Charles A. Morgan, III. Morgan has produced a prodigious amount of research on the effects of "uncontrollable stress." His research subject were SERE students at a mock torture camp.

Morgan's results showed that the debilitating effects of SERE techniques caused stress cortisol levels, according to one Morgan research paper, to soar to “some of the greatest ever documented in humans.” Another study cited “neuroendocrine changes... [that] may have significant implications for subsequent responses to stress,” including massive drops in testosterone levels when exposed to even mock torture.

Morgan used to deny his CIA links, but lately has taken to admitting his CIA past. He was interviewed by James Risen for Risen's new book, Pay Any Price, but told Risen he did not have any associations with interrogations. But he had met James Mitchell.

It is possible that Mitchell knew of Morgan's work. It is even possible that Morgan had more to do with the interrogation program than we know. He told Risen that he left the CIA because of a dispute over torture with his colleagues. But Risen never followed up with that part of the story, or at least reported on it in any detail.

Some of the research under MKULTRA and associated programs, like BLUEBIRD or ARTICHOKE, included emphasis on hypnosis, drugs, and sensory deprivation, all techniques that were later incorporated into the early 1960s CIA torture manual, known as KUBARK. The SSCI report mentions KUBARK, and earlier this year, I obtained via FOIA the most complete version of the KUBARK document we currently have.

Risen also never mentioned Morgan's history of research on SERE, and a chance to learn more from Morgan about his own actions and the possible effect or interactions of his work with the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques by the OTS, which is under the same CIA directorate where Morgan worked, was lost, at least for the time being.

"Novel Telemetric Technology"

One possible way OTS could have used Morgan's work concerns his work on "The Warfighter's Stress Response: Telemetric and Noninvasive Assessment." That study, undertaken in 2001 and 2002, used SERE mock torture students, among others, to develop "novel telemetric technology... for untethered measurements of heart rate variability (HRV)."

Morgan and his co-authors concluded, "The results show that assessment of HRV provides a noninvasive means of evaluating the neural systems intimately involved in the capacity to attend to and respond to a threat. These findings linking HRV to cognitive performance robustly support the utility of HRV in the assessment of human performance." It is not impossible to imagine that such "novel telemetric technology" would be used to assess the response of CIA prisoners to the experience of torture, or that OTS would be interested in providing and perfecting such technology for the CIA's clandestine services.

The SSCI report has helped bring the origins of the CIA post-9/11 interrogation/torture program into even sharper focus. But the failure of the press to even notice, with rare exception, the role of OTS, or its history in clandestine actions, including MKULTRA work, means that a full exploration of CIA's torture program cannot take place.

To watch VICE News' exclusive interview with James Mitchell, go here.

This story is cross posted at The Dissenter/FDL




Sunday, December 7, 2014

APA "Independent" Torture Review Led by Attorney Who Worked With CIA's Tenet

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA's interrogation-torture program may or may not be released in truncated form this week, but it is not the only investigation bearing upon the U.S. torture program that promises new revelations.

A much-touted "independent review" initiated by the American Psychological Association (APA) into charges it secretly supported the Bush administration's policy of torture after 9/11 turns out to be led by a man who worked with the CIA's George Tenet and Kenneth J. Levit over twenty years ago. Tenet went on to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the period the CIA initiated a torture and extraordinary rendition program. Levit was Tenet's choice for special counsel at CIA from 1998-2000.

David Hoffman, a Chicago attorney for the international law firm Sidley Austin, was handpicked by APA as an "independent reviewer" to investigate charges in a new book by New York Times writer James Risen that some of the American Psychological Association's (APA) top leadership colluded with the CIA and the U.S. military in the implementation of the Bush Administration's torture program. Hoffman is to report to a "special committee" drawn from APA's Board of Directors.

His Sidley Austin biography states that Hoffman "has conducted and directed many internal investigations involving serious allegations of fraud and corruption, frequently under intense media scrutiny.... His investigative experience in the public and private sectors has ranged from long-term, multi-national federal criminal investigations involving large teams of investigators and many wiretaps, to internal investigations involving senior corporate and political officials, lower-level employees, corporate entities, and others."

In a November 12 press release, APA called Risen's charges "highly charged and very serious." The release stated, "The independent reviewer [Hoffman] will consider and report to the special committee as to whether APA colluded with the Bush administration, CIA or U.S. military to support torture during the war on terror."

In an e-mail exchange, I asked Hoffman to comment on his links to Tenet and Levit when he worked as a Press Secretary and legislative assistant on foreign policy in Sen. David Boren's office. At the time, Boren was director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), and George Tenet was SSCI's staff director.

Hoffman replied, "Yes, I worked with George Tenet and Ken Levit when I served on Senator David Boren’s staff over 20 years ago, prior to attending law school, from 1990 to 1992. I was on Senator Boren’s personal staff, as was Mr. Levit, while Mr. Tenet was on the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. Since then, I have not worked with either of them. Over the last ten years, I have seen and spoken with each of them occasionally, probably on a handful of occasions."

I asked Hoffman under what kinds of circumstances he spoke to Tenet and Levit in the past ten years, or whether he felt past associations could produce any kind of bias. Hoffman did not explain the nature of those contacts, except to say they amounted to "limited, occasional contact."

Hoffman wrote, "I appreciate your questions but I can assure you that my knowing Mr. Tenet and Mr. Levit from a job I held 22 years ago – before I was in law school and well before they were at the CIA – and my limited, occasional contact with them since then will have no bearing on how we conduct our review or our willingness to reach particular conclusions about the APA, the CIA, or any entity or individual. I can assure you that our review will be independent and driven solely by the evidence we are able to gather."

One example of Hoffman's work in Boren's office was recounted in a May 9, 1991 article in the Los Angeles Times, which identified Hoffman as a "spokesman for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David L. Boren." The article quoted Hoffman as stating Boren's support for the potential nomination of Robert M. Gates as CIA director. Gates, who indeed did serve as CIA Director in the early 1990s, later served as Secretary of Defense under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, running DoD during nearly half the time Guantanamo has been open as a "war on terror" strategic interrogation and detention center.

Hoffman's resume after leaving Sen. Boren's office has other links worth noting. He followed his Senate job with law school at the University of Chicago, and then clerkships for two conservative judges, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Dennis Jacobs, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Hoffman later went to work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago under Patrick Fitzgerald, and a stint as Inspector General for the City of Chicago. According to an article in The Hill, in 2010 Hoffman engaged David Axelrod's former media firm, AKPD, in a run for Democratic nominee for the Senate in Illinois. Hoffman lost, but his political career may not be over.

As regards any potential links to APA itself, Hoffman stated, "I have never done any work for or with the APA or any of its affiliated organizations or individuals. And a search shows that Sidley has not done any work for the APA, any affiliated entity, or any individual who is affiliated with the APA in Sidley’s records for at least the last ten years."

None of the press reports thus far, including articles in Science, The Intercept, and Forbes, have mentioned Hoffman's Tenet link. James Risen's article in the New York Times never mentions it. The same is true for statements by either the APA or the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology (CEP), a group of psychologists who have been highly critical of APA's policy of supporting use of psychologists in national security interrogations.

APA itself seemed to be nonplussed by the fact their "independent reviewer" had a past association with the man who would later lead his organization in the implementation of the very torture program the APA is charged with abetting. In an e-mail exchange with Rhea K. Farberman, Executive Director of APA's Public and Member Communications, Farberman said, "Mr. Hoffman was selected after a review process based on his experience as an investigator and in conducting independent reviews. We have full confidence in Mr. Hoffman’s ability to do a thorough and unbiased review."

Farberman said Hoffman was one of two attorneys first considered for the job, and that the "selection process was managed by APA senior staff."

APA is certainly not unaware of the influence of former Sen. David Boren on national security issues. APA's website listing of scholarships, grants and awards includes the David L. Boren Scholarship Program, which is sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP). The National Security Education Board, which administers the Boren scholarship and similarly named fellowship, includes members of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Department of Homeland Security, Booz Allen Hamilton, the departments of State, Defense, Energy, and Education, and the CIA (see PDF, p. 8).

The NSEP was established by law in 1991. Sen. Boren authored the bill that created it. According to NSEP's own website, the program is "critical to U.S. national security." Furthermore, it states, "The program is implemented by the Secretary of Defense, who has delegated his authority to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness."

Hoffman is not known to have any association with the NSEP Boren scholarships or fellowship programs, but the program was a special project of Boren's office while Hoffman worked there.

Actual or Perceived Bias

The unbiased nature of the APA-initiated investigation is called into question not only by the chief investigator's links to the former head of the CIA, with which APA is charged with collusion, but also by the constitution of the APA's "special committee."

According to APA's press release, APA's committee consists of "2014 APA President Dr. Nadine Kaslow, 2015 President- Elect Dr. Susan McDaniel and APA CEO Dr. Norman Anderson. The special committee will be assisted by APA General Counsel Nathalie Gilfoyle."

In a undated response to APA's announcement of its "independent review," CEP issued a public announcement of its concerns about the investigation. First among these was the participation of CEO Anderson. According to the CEP statement, "The allegations in Risen’s book include claims of inappropriate activity by two top APA officials, the Ethics Office and Science Policy Directors. These officials reported directly to Dr. Anderson’s office, and Dr. Anderson had operational responsibility for APA actions during the entire post-9/11 period under review.... it is entirely inappropriate for Dr. Anderson, or any other APA leader who may be a subject of the investigation, to have any involvement, however tangential, in this process."

CEP has called for an investigation of Anderson's office. It also said the APA Special Committee should "include the participation of an equal number of prominent critics of APA policies regarding relations with national security agencies in general and interrogation and detention operations in particular." [Note: Since going to press, I've been told Anderson has since left the APA review committee. He's been replaced by APA Treasurer Bonnie Markham. Markham has her own history supporting the presence of psychologists in national security interrogations, as seen in this transcript from a discussion at the APA 2007 convention.]

But Anderson is not the only person who may or may not have bias on the committee. Both Kaslow and McDaniel have long histories at APA. Dr. Kaslow's mother, Florence Kaslow, was a former president of APA's Family Psychology division, and a past winner of APA's Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology Award. She also founded Division 41 of the APA, the division on Psychology and the Law, which is widely considered the division that concerns itself with forensic psychology. Div. 41 has in the past produced work around controversies in the science of interrogation, such as the production of false confessions.

Would Nadine Kaslow help render a decision that would taint the reputation of APA? One can't know, but without the presence of countervailing forces on the committee, it's hard to imagine Kaslow bucking any trend to cover-up past APA misdeeds.

Last February, Dr. Kaslow reportedly told APA supporters who lost a bid within the organization to ban psychologists from working with military interrogations, that she would work with them to get the proposal reintroduced at last summer's annual APA convention. But the interrogation ban was never reintroduced. (It "lost" in February only because it failed to get 2/3 of the votes needed; instead it got 53%.)

Dr. McDaniel, along with CEO Anderson, are both members of APA's Division 19, the Society for Military Psychology. Division 19 has been a strong supporter of the presence of psychologists at national security interrogations, including at Guantanamo.

As further evidence of potential bias, in 2007 Dr. McDaniel was the co-recipient of the $50,000 Psyche award from the APA-linked American Psychological Foundation (APF) and the Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Foundation. While there is no indication that Dr. McDaniel would let the award money influence her handling of "highly charged and very serious" charges against APA top personnel, the appearance of bias attaches to her participation by virtue of the large cash award.

The APF Board of Trustees include APA CEO Anderson, as well as psychologists Gerald Koocher, APF Treasurer, and Ronald F. Levant. Both Koocher and Levant were identified in an article by a former APA official Byrant Welch as strong proponents at APA of psychologist participation in interrogations.

According to numerous accounts, including one at the Washington Monthly in January 2007, "in February 2005, Koocher and APA president Ronald Levant led the creation of the blue-ribbon, 10-member Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) task force to study the problem" of psychologist's ostensible ethical participation in military and CIA interrogations.

The stacking of the PENS task force with members of the military and intelligence community was the source of later scandal. Not surprisingly, PENS issued a report which supported the continuing presence of psychologists in interrogations. The machinations behind the appointments for the task force forms a central part of the charges of CIA collusion in Risen's book.

An Opaque Review

New York Times writer James Risen made headlines with revelations stemming from his book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. Not least of these was a chapter that centered on links between APA officials and members of the Department of Defense and CIA. Risen's central evidence concerns various emails from a former RAND researcher, Scott Gerwehr. Gerwehr died in an motorcycle accident in 2008, but his emails and possibly other documents from his computer were mysteriously obtained by Risen and former Physicians for Human Rights official Nathaniel Raymond. The emails were reportedly turned over to the FBI, who did nothing with them.

Risen has refused thus far to publicly release the emails, so we do not know all the people who may have been involved in the alleged APA collusion. But Risen does name as involved in connivance with CIA and DoD on interrogation policy, Geoff Mumford, former director of Science Policy at APA (now associate executive director, Science Policy); former APA Senior Scientist, and Bush administration science official, Susan Brandon, who is currently Chief of Research for President Obama's High-Value Interrogation Group (HIG); and Stephen Behnke, APA Ethics Office director. (Neither Koocher nor Levant are named in Risen's book.)

The central incidents include a July 2004 email invite, which included top CIA and military psychologists, from Behnke to attend a private meeting to discuss ethical issues for psychologists in the wake of the Abu Ghraib torture revelations.

Behnke wrote: "The purpose of the meeting is to bring together people with an interest in the ethical aspects of national security-related investigations, to identify the important questions, and to discuss how we as a national organization can better assist psychologists and other mental health professionals sort out appropriate from inappropriate uses of psychology." [Risen, James (2014-10-14). Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War (p. 198). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.]

Behnke stressed attendance at the meeting would be kept secret. He reportedly wrote that APA wanted to "convey a sensitivity to and appreciation of the important work mental health professionals are doing in the national security arena” (p. 198).

The other primary piece of evidence Risen presents is a July 2005 email from Geoff Mumford to CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard. According to Risen, who quotes the email: "Mumford thanked Hubbard for helping to influence the outcome of the task force. 'I also wanted to semi-publicly acknowledge your personal contribution... in getting this effort off the ground,” Mumford wrote. 'Your views were well represented by very carefully selected task force members'” (p. 200).

The CEP's statement in response to the APA's announcement of the "independent review" zeroed in on the nature of the APA's alleged collusion.

"The main allegations of APA collusion do not involve the direct promotion of torture," the CEP statement said. "Rather, the central concern targets the access and oversight that APA leaders apparently gave to Bush administration, CIA, and Defense Department officials to shape APA policies in a way that would allow continued psychologist involvement in abuses. That is, the primary issue is potential institutional corruption that served the interests of those promoting the enhanced interrogation program, not direct involvement in that program."

Whatever the involvement, one problem with Risen's book is that it buries the long history of such involvement, a history that the APA itself once owned up to many years ago, as exemplified in this December 1977 article in the APA house organ, APA Monitor. Risen also claims that before the "war on terror," "the U.S. military had a well-earned reputation for the humane treatment of prisoners of war" (p. 168). Apparently Risen never heard, for instance, about the tiger cages at Con Son Island during the Vietnam War, or Project Phoenix.

Everyone, myself included, who writes or works on the controversy around U.S. torture has an agenda of some kind. It's important that the public know what that agenda might be, whether it comes from Jeff Kaye, James Risen, APA, or David Hoffman.

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