Sunday, February 28, 2016

Torture program linked to discredited, illegal CIA techniques

With the demise of Al Jazeera America's online presence, I'm concerned an important article I wrote after the release of the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee's report on the CIA torture and rendition program may someday disappear from the Internet. It's not true that everything on the Internet is there forever.

This article uniquely examined aspects of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" torture program that were ignored by the rest of the press, including progressive press - namely, links to past actions by the CIA and its personnel. This article shows that the CIA's "EIT" program was no aberration. The program has links to past activities by CIA, and in particular use of so-called "mind control" techniques explored in its MK-ULTRA and similar program, and its implementation in a set of interrogation-cum-torture manuals released from the 1960s-1980s. Even, as this article makes clear, some of the personnel involved are even the same.

The CIA's various programs in interrogation, torture, mind control, and the manipulation of human behavior all involved top universities and researchers, and cost millions of dollars. Today, apologists for the CIA would like nothing more than to relegate its existence to the nether-land of "conspiracy theory." But its existence was only too real, as we were recently reminded when I republished a memoir from a top U.S. psychologist, now professor emeritus at New York University, who was swept up unwittingly into its workings.

Al Jazeera America was uniquely interested in exploring such material. Its place on the media scene will be sorely missed.

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Torture program linked to discredited, illegal CIA techniques
[originally published at Al Jazeera America, 18 December 2014]
by Jeffrey Kaye

Torture methods employed by the CIA under the guise of its “enhanced interrogation techniques” program can be traced back — through personnel and decades of research — to human experiments designed to induce the subjugation of prisoners through use of isolation, sleep and sensory deprivation, psychoactive drugs and other means, according to details contained in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, a summary of which was released last week.

While many have focused on the brutal physical distress inflicted on detainees — beatings, extreme cold and heat, painful rectal force-feedings, waterboarding, and more — a close reading of the 500-page summary also suggests other disturbing aspects of the CIA’s means of breaking down prisoners.

The CIA chief of interrogations under the Bush administration, whose name was redacted in the Senate report, previously used a discredited training manual, Human Resource Exploitation (HRE), which was identified as using torture on political opponents of 1980s Latin America regimes — he was even admonished by the agency over the matter. That handbook, according to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report, drew “significant portions” from an even earlier 1960s CIA interrogation handbook that advocated rapport-style interrogations and, when CIA found it was needed, the torture of suspects. Both manuals were heavily influenced by the work of the CIA’s MKULTRA program.

And MKULTRA is the stuff of nightmares — a multimillion-dollar program that endorsed the use of LSD, hypnotism, sensory deprivation, and sleep deprivation, among other physiological, psychological and behavioral techniques. The goal was to gain total psychological control over people and, in particular, prisoners held by the CIA or military intelligence agencies in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Any suggestion of the drugging of prisoners in the post-9/11 era could be explosive. The application of “mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality” is a serious violation of federal law, with convictions bringing sentences up to 20 years in prison.

Still, details and language in the SSIC report could be seen to be pointing in that direction.

Allegations of the use of pharmacological agents against detainees exist in the summary. Authors of the SSCI report cite repeated statements by “high-value” prisoner Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri that his CIA captors drugged him. The report does not comment further on this issue, though at least one other prisoner is described as being “sedated” at one point.

The interrogators tasked with working al-Nashiri over would have been operating under instructions given to them in “approximately 65 hours” of training in a course called “High Value Target Interrogation and Exploitation,” according to the SSCI report.

The course taught a program that CIA psychologists had developed through the adoption of techniques from the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) handbook, meant to help U.S. servicemen withstand torture if captured by a government that did not abide by the rules of the Geneva Convention.

The chief architects of these enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) were James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen — two former Air Force psychologists who left SERE to work for the CIA.

Their roles have been well documented. But until the release of the Senate’s report, there had been no indication that the CIA already employed Mitchell at the time he was hired to work on “war on terror” interrogations.

According to new information in the summary, when Mitchell joined up with CIA black site interrogators in Thailand in April 2002, he had already been working as a contractor for a division within the agency that has a long and storied — some would say, infamous — history, the Office of Technical Services (OTS).

The role of the OTS in the origin of the current torture scandal has not been highlighted until now. But it is not the first time the office and its predecessors have been involved with torture.

The OTS has gone by other names in its history, including Technical Services Staff (TSS), and Technical Services Division (TSD). Its purpose was to create the technologies used by the covert operations wing of the CIA, including spy satellites, secret writing ink, audio and optical surveillance, concealment devices, and novel methods of assassination.

According to one declassified CIA document, OTS receives its orders "through higher echelons (Office of the Director or Deputy Director for Operations).”

And it was through OTS’s predecessors — both TSS and TSD — that MKULTRA operated.

With well over 100 subprograms, MKULTRA cost millions of dollars in its over two decades of operation, ending in the early 1970s. It researched the possible use of many different kinds of drugs, including hallucinogens like LSD.

Its controversial techniques were the subject of more than one Congressional investigation (see this example [PDF] of one such investigation).

The lessons from the MKULTRA program were incorporated into a manual in the early 1960s. The handbook, known by its CIA acronym KUBARK, includes descriptions of drugging of prisoners — a process it called “narcosis.” A number of the KUBARK techniques migrated to the later, 1980s HRE manual.

Links to earlier torture

The link from MKULTRA to KUBARK to HRE to the post-9/11 EIT torture program was not just ideational, but organizational, even involving personnel from earlier torture programs.

According to the Senate report, the person chosen in late 2002 to be the “CIA's chief of interrogations in the CIA's Renditions Group, the officer in charge of CIA interrogations" had been elevated to the post despite having earlier been accused of “inappropriate use” of HRE techniques.

Mitchell and Jessen — who are widely acknowledged to be the men referred to in the SSCI report as SWIGERT and DUNBAR, psychologists whose contracting company was paid $81 million by the government — were “commissioned” by OTS in late December 2001 or early January 2002 to write a study of Al Qaeda techniques for resistance to interrogation.

By April 1, 2002, according to the Senate report, OTS cabled a new “proposed interrogation strategy” to the CIA interrogation group at the black site holding Zubaydah in Thailand. The new strategy was “coordinated” with Mitchell, and included manipulation of the environment “intended to cause psychological disorientation” for the prisoner.

According to the OTS cable, the plan was meant to instill in a prisoner "the deliberate establishment of psychological dependence upon the interrogator," and "an increased sense of learned helplessness." The emphasis on “psychological dependence” mirrors the language of the KUBARK manual, and the theories behind control of human behavior that were explored in the MKULTRA program.

Human experimentation

Later questions about assessing the “effectiveness” of the new “enhanced interrogation techniques” introduced by Mitchell and OTS raised fears within CIA’s Office of Medical Services that studying the EITs would violate federal policy on human experimentation.

Addressing such concerns, the CIA’s Inspector General said a review of the EIT program would not need “additional, guinea pig research on human beings” — “additional” implying that such experimentation may have already taken place.

But he added that there were “subtleties to this matter,” noting the need to study variables in how the techniques were affecting prisoners, including individual differences, and how prisoners reacted over different time periods, intensities of administration, and to different combinations of techniques.

By this time, OTS and its Operational Assessment Division had vetted the supposed safety of the program and reported to Justice Department attorneys, who were themselves trying hard to find a reason to allow the torture.

The Senate report also cited conflicts of interest where both Mitchell and Jessen administered the brutal interrogations, evaluated their supposed effectiveness, and also determined whether a detainee was resilient or healthy enough to continue applying the EIT.

The new evidence about the role of the OTS in the implementation of the CIA torture program demonstrates the conflict of interest was not limited to Mitchell and Jessen, but included other CIA personnel and divisions. It also suggests that the EIT was not a sole aberration by two psychologists looking to make money off the “war on terror,” but that the torture program they established was rooted in the CIA’s institutional history.

It also suggests that the full extent of the CIA’s program is still not yet known, but may lie in the approximately 6,000 pages of the report that have not yet been declassified by the Senate committee.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Top Psychologist's Personal History of MK-ULTRA: "The CIA-LSD Story in Retrospect"

The article below was written as a presentation by Professor Leo Goldberger at a conference, “Medical Science Without Compassion,” held in Cologne, West Germany, September 28-30, 1988. It is reprinted here with special permission of the author. It was first published along with other contributions from the conference in monograph form in 1991.

I am publishing Prof. Goldberger's essay in full. The endnotes, typographical marks, and emphases are all from the original essay. Bracketed material represents editorial insertion. This is a long essay. For readability sake online, I have broken up some of the longer paragraphs. In addition, I have added some subheads, both to make the article easier to read, and to help orient the reader in finding content. I have tried to keep the subhead titles empty of editorial comment.

An actual PDF of the original essay is available at this link, or see embedded document below.

There has been a dearth of historical work done on the actual work of psychologists and other behavioral scientists on the various CIA mind control and interrogation programs. To this day, there is no academic examination of the full extent of the MK-ULTRA and similar CIA programs, even though much of the relevant material was released years ago. The failure of both the academic world, and civil society in general, to deal with the crimes undertaken by the CIA and Pentagon in relation to these types of programs led directly to the use of experimental torture programs by the U.S. government after 9/11.

In particular, it is very rare that a participant scientist would speak out on his participation, witting, or as in Prof. Goldberger's case, unwitting, in the CIA's MK-ULTRA program. I am posting this material here as a public service, and with the aim of encouraging others to step forward and contribute what they experienced. At another time, I will attempt a critical review of Prof. Goldberger's work. I am very grateful to him for having the courage to step forward and talk about what he experienced.

For those looking for a view from the other side, so to speak, see my review of Karen Wetmore's book, Surviving Evil – CIA Mind Control Experiments in Vermont, written from the standpoint of an MK-ULTRA experimental subject; or see her guest post written for this blog, "Fifty Years of Secrecy: Investigating CIA Mind Control Experiments in Vermont" (April 2015).

Professor Goldberger wrote to me last year to amplify his feelings about his contributions to CIA research during the Cold War.
"In retrospect, I still find it abhorrent that so many others and I were unwittingly hoodwinked to engage in research at the behest of the CIA and that our findings were often so blatantly extrapolated and used to further unethical aims. Unlike the basic requirement for obtaining “informed consent” (in accord with the Nuremberg Code of medical and research ethics) established back in 1947, we as the research investigators were not given the respect and trust to be fully informed and asked for our consent.

"Those dark years were truly a shameful chapter in American history!"




The CIA-LSD Story in Retrospect

by Leo Goldberger
[Professor Emeritus, Psychology, New York University]

It is not a pretty story, but then the very mention of the CIA conjures up nasty business – concerns far removed from the Ivory Tower of Science. Yet, as we know only too well, the world of science does intermesh with the world of affairs, politics and power, and more often than not these worlds may collide in terms of their implicit and all too frequently unexamined assumptions and value systems. This was obviously the case in the USA when, during the 1950s and 1960s, some major breaches in the conduct of human experimentation occurred.

These breaches were not limited to the administration of LSD and other psychoactive or unproven drugs to unsuspecting persons (soldiers, college students, and psychiatric patients) as guinea pigs, but involved a long list of other macabre interventions, such as radiation, harassment substances, and paramilitary devices and materials. In some experiments, certain drastic forms of sensory deprivation and immobilizing drugs, such as curare and Sernyl, were also used.

In other experiments, sensory deprivation was combined with so-called “psychic driving” techniques, the brainchild of Dr. Ewen Cameron, a prominent psychiatrist of his day, in which psychiatric patients were exposed to the intensive repetition (16 hr. a day for six to seven days or more) of prearranged verbal signals while receiving intensive electric shocks. Rather risky undertakings, based on harebrained, pseudo-scientific ideas and most certainly a clear breach of ethics. The use of various modes of indirect personality assessment procedures and invasive techniques was also highly questionable. Mercifully, some techniques, such as neurosurgery (for the purpose of exploring the pain center), were apparently ruled out as too dangerous.1

The guilty parties, who entered into a Faustian-like pact with the CIA, compromising their scientific credo, belonged to several distinct categories, categories that became less and less distinct with time. There were, first of all, the so-called CIA Technical Staff, scientists among them, which in the case of the behavioral sciences (a term I shall use to include a variety of disciplines in the life sciences as well as the social sciences and mental health fields) was very limited in number.

In fact, the person who quickly rose to become the head of the CIA’s Mind Control unit, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, a protégé of the CIA Director himself, Richard Helms, was a pharmacologist with a biochemistry doctorate who had served in the Technical Service Division’s chemical wing, working with germs and other unspeakable weaponry. But Dr. Gottlieb soon found a cadre of willing psychologists and psychiatrists as fully committed hired hands or, in some instances, as consultants, on call when the need arose. It was principally this more limited group that crossed the usually untraversed chasm between the CIA’s Technical Division and the Operational Division, the latter being the division whose agents are responsible for field operations, those who actually do the dirty work.2

The second category consisted of a sizable number of scientists, many of whom were, or at least claim to have been, blissfully unaware of their connection to the CIA. (One ought to note, for what it’s worth, that according to the CIA, one-fourth of the American scientists who were approached by the CIA agreed to work for it!)3 They were the recipients of grants from a few private medical research foundations, three or four in all, that served as secret conduits for research funding, by and large of the pure science variety, but research that held immediate or potential interest for the CIA.

Some scientists received grants for work that clearly had little if any CIA relevance; however, their projects and publications, which typically acknowledged the foundation grant, served as a cover. Their names added luster to the CIA front foundation, making the foundation’s work seem legitimate. This was so in the case of Carl Rogers, for example, the well-known founder of client-centered therapy; B.F. Skinner and Hans Eysenck, world renowned psychologists, are other examples.

Other scientists clearly knew whence the funding derived and, indeed, were in direct communication with CIA agents or became regular consultants. A few of them served as pipelines of information for the CIA. They kept the CIA posted on what was happening in the laboratories, journals, and scientific meetings that might be of potential interest. A sort of science spy network, as it were – all very, very secret, as “national security” was presumably at stake as well as the reputation of the CIA-associated scientists.

But I am getting ahead of my story. I ought first to indicate my own interest and role in this sordid business. I shall briefly describe how I fit in, while moving the more relevant story along. I was a graduate student in psychology at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) in 1952, when I was solicited to serve as a subject in an experiment which was to pay $1/hr and which required that I set aside several days. In need of money and with a virtuous impulse to help a fellow graduate student complete his dissertation research, I agreed.

The experiment, as I learned several years later, was the first of many – generically known as sensory deprivation. I was isolated in a small sound-proofed room and requested to lie as motionless as possible, in a supine position, wearing translucent goggles. No activity, no sensory stimulation except for an occasional test procedure over an intercom system to evaluate my mental functions. This went on, in my case, for 24 hours.

As I recall, it was a rather boring experience, broken by sleep and stretches of fantasy-filled reveries, but not an especially dramatic, stressful, or debilitating one. Though I had given my “informed consent,” I was not given much in the way of a satisfactory “debriefing.” I was only given a rather general rationale for the study – certain hypotheses concerning the relationship of the sensory system and cortical functioning were being tested – but certainly not told the whole truth, which as I was to learn later, was the exploration of so-called brainwashing techniques. The study was in fact a piece of contract work for the Canadian Department of Defense and was highly classified.4

The Human Ecology Program

In 1954, still a graduate student but now in New York, I was employed as a research psychologist at Cornell Medical Center – New York Hospital, within a unit named the “Human Ecology Program,” nominally housed in the neurology department and headed by a most eminent professor of neurology, Dr. Harold G. Wolff, known for his pioneering work on headaches, pain, and psychosomatic disorders. (Dr. Wolff had served as editor-in-chief of the AMA’s Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry and, in 1960, became president of the American Neurological Association.)

My assignment was to participate in an interdisciplinary project studying the adaptation of 100 Chinese men and women to life in America. They represented a group of Chinese who had come to the USA on a temporary basis to pursue postgraduate work in a variety of fields. In consequence of the Communist take-over, our government decided to block the return of these men and women, most of whom were thus stranded in the USA without their families and faced with an uncertain future. I and the rest of the staff were investigating this “experiment in nature” – the stress of geographic dislocation and its adaptational consequences – in order to determine the “ecological aspects of disease,” in Dr. Wolff’s original phrasing. My role on the interdisciplinary team was to assess the Chinese by a fairly standard battery of personality and intelligence tests. The anthropologist and the sociologist interviewed them about cultural and kinship issues, while a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst plied their special types of probing questions. In return for their participation in our project, the Chinese received a complete physical – free of charge – something they very much appreciated. They were also motivated intrinsically by a desire to tell us about China and Chinese culture, in not about their own interrupted lives.

Little did I know then that my work with the Chinese had been designed by others for an entirely different end. Only in 1977, more than twenty years later, upon receiving a call from an investigative reporter who wished to interview me about my involvement with the Human Ecology Program, did I learn the truth. To my shocked surprise, I found out that the program I had been a part of had been totally financed by the CIA. The real aim of the Chinese project – and the reason for its generous funding, I now learned – was to ferret out potential agents for future assignments in China. (Incidentally, the Chinese project was duly replicated, using Hungarian Freedom Fighters of 1956, this time with the surreptitious aim of studying the characteristics of “defectors.”)

Subsequently it was revealed that only Dr. Wolff, and perhaps one or two of his staff and others high up in the university and hospital administration, knew of the behind-the-scenes role of the CIA. It seems that Dr. Wolff was a personal friend of Allan Dulles, then CIA Director. The lure of continuous, large-scale funding, which could be diverted to a variety of other and more traditional research projects under Dr. Wolff’s direction, must have been very attractive to this totally science-absorbed, emotionally detached, and ascetic workaholic. Of course, patriotic sentiment undoubtedly played a significant role given the temper of the times.

In 1955, in response to Wolff’s enthusiastic and grand vision of the “synergistic partnership between science and the CIA,” the Agency enlarged the CIA-funded study program into a research foundation (the money presumably coming from rich private donors and former patients, but actually from the CIA) which became known as the “Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology,” with Wolff as president. Through this CIA-controlled funding mechanism, Wolff extended his and his staff’s efforts on behalf of the Agency, efforts which now went far beyond Cornell. Wolff was expansive in his scientific dream, to say the least. For instance, he wrote the CIA that once he had figured out “how the human mind really worked,” he would tell the Agency “how a man be made to think, feel and behave according to the wishes of other men, and conversely, how a man can avoid being influenced in this manner.”5

In retrospect, there were several peculiar events during my two years with the Human Ecology Program that ought to have aroused my suspicion that things were not what they seemed. The first was an intense interest Dr. Wolff showed in my experience as a subject at McGill, something I had only casually mentioned once. He wanted every detail, and eventually he urged me to duplicate the experimental set-up at the hospital, using the more drastic stimulus reduction technique provided by water immersion. This was a technique developed by John Lilly, whose frontier brain research at NIH was of intense CIA interest, but who apparently had refused their approaches because he found secrecy inimical to the scientific process. Little did I know that Dr. Wolff’s desire to grill me about my sensory deprivation experience was triggered by his preoccupation with brainwashing techniques, of interest to the CIA, for whom he was preparing a comprehensive report.6

The Notion of "Brainwashing"

It was the notion of “brainwashing” that, in Marks’ phrase, helped Americans “pull together a lot of unsettling evidence into one sharp fear” and served as the starting point for the CIA’s involvement with the behavioral sciences.7 In the early 1950s, rumors were flying about various exotic, mysterious techniques (dubbed “brainwashing” in a 1950 Miami News article planted by Edward Hunter, a CIA agent with a journalist cover) supposedly practiced by the Russians, the Chinese, and the Koreans to extract confessions for public show trials. Just conjure up the picture of the bizarre public confession of Cardinal Mindszenty in 1949, who appeared zombie-like, as if drugged. The USA was in the midst of cold-war hysteria and propaganda battles were being fought around the globe. Anti-communism was at its highest pitch, and so was McCarthyism. No wonder the CIA was on the alert, trying to assess what was happening. They were trying to determine exactly how the Russians, Chinese, and Koreans interrogated their prisoners, how they extracted confessions. Were they using drugs, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, subliminal or extrasensory communication, stress techniques or some sort? If so, “our side” had to know for defensive and, ultimately, for offensive purposes.

This laid the seed for the CIA’s Mind Control program which, for Richard Helms, was actually a continuation of his earlier OSS work during WW2, in which drugs such as marijuana, and psychological ploys, had also played a role. In fact, several of the initial staff recruited for this CIA unit were former OSS staff members experienced in the derring-do of clandestine work and its science-fiction-like, imaginative, and sometimes lurid escapades.

The CIA’s Mind Control program, known at various points in the 1950s and 1960s by the cryptonyms BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, MIDNIGHT CLIMAX, MK-ULTRA, MK-DELTA, among several others, eventually funded 185 non-governmental scientists at 86 institutions, some of the most prestigious universities and hospitals in the USA, at about $25 million. Its arena of interest, which began with the search for a truth drug or hypnotic method as an aid in interrogating enemy agents, broadened by leaps and bounds once “brainwashing” had become a focal concern. In a 1953 document, for example, Dr. Gottleib listed subjects he expected one contracting scientist to investigate with the $85,000 the Agency was paying him. Dr. Gottlieb wanted “… operationally pertinent materials along the following lines:

a. Disturbance of memory
b. Discrediting by abhorrent behavior
c. Alteration of sex patterns
d. Eliciting of information
e. Suggestibility
f. Creation of dependence.”

A tall order to say the least.

A second potential clue that the Human Ecology Program was involved in some extraneous business was a meeting I attended in 1955, along with some 30 psychologists and psychiatrists, most of them quite prominent in their field. They were all recipients of some past or current grant money from the Society For Human Ecology for their research. The meeting was called to order by one of the administrators of the society (a psychologist and retired major-general), who alerted us to the confidential nature of the topics to be discussed and said that we were free to leave at any time if the matter held no interest for us.

In my own case, I left fairly early upon hearing the gist of the task at hand: we were asked to help prepare a manual on the interpretation of non-verbal behavior (signs, cues, gestures, etc.) for use by CIA agents in debriefing American visitors to the USSR (who might have met various high-ranking officials about whom valuable intelligence regarding health/illness status, personality, and attitudes could be generated indirectly). I left because I had no stomach for the preoccupation with the East-West conflict nor for clandestine work. But I also thought it was a foolish and unrealistic undertaking: what could we as psychologists validly and usefully deduce about another person by second-hand reports of external behavior? Better ask Gypsy palm readers, hypnotists, car salesmen, or their ilk – they are, I suspect, far better commonsense psychologists, superior “menschenkenner,” than the professionals in the behavior science field.

When in 1977 the New York Times carried a series of headline stories exposing the details of the CIA’s secret Mind Control program, I was not at all surprised to read that the CIA had, indeed, pumped headwaiters, fortune-tellers, prostitutes, hustlers, con artists, psychics, hypnotists, and others for their collective wisdom on how to assess and manipulate people. A magician apparently was also on the CIA payroll for the purpose of teaching agents how to slip LSD surreptitiously into someone’s drink at a party.8

"Unwitting CIA guinea pigs"

Administering LSD without informed consent was among the worst offenses perpetrated by the CIA-connected scientists – psychiatrists and psychologists among them. The CIA’s technical staff (that is, those scientists who worked for the CIA) certainly knew enough from the published LSD research to know that the variables of experimental set and setting play a major role in mediating the effects. They knew it was possible to predict the general effects of a certain dosage level for a given type of person under given laboratory conditions, but what about natural, field conditions? This had never been systematically investigated under prevailing standards of professional ethics. Nevertheless, the CIA scientists went ahead. They felt it was a sufficiently important question in light of national security considerations.

According to some accounts, as many as 50 people, including CIA agents themselves, several foreign agents, soldiers, and people deliberately picked up in bars and brought to a “safe house” by prostitutes, were given LSD or other hallucinogenic drugs without their knowledge, serving as unwitting CIA guinea pigs.9 Though the records of these surreptitious experiments were ordered destroyed by Richard Helms in 1973 – on the eve of the first Senate investigation – we do know that there were at least two suicides as a direct result of the mind distorting drug experience. A lawsuit by the family in connection with one of them is still pending [in 1991] as are at last four other lawsuits by former soldiers.10

One particularly gruesome experimental run was conducted by the research director at the Federal Drug Facility in Lexington, Kentucky, Dr. Harris Isbell. Here inmates were rewarded with either the drug of their choice – usually cocaine or heroin – or early release if they volunteered. He personally administered LSD in increasing dosages to seven men for some 70 days to test tolerance levels! He has never permitted any interviews.11 Incidentally, the pivotal figure in the CIA, Dr. Gottlieb, not only has refused any interviews, but, after the initial press attention and his resignation in 1973, he fled, living abroad for several years. He eventually returned in 1977 to testify in closed chamber before the Senates [sic] Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, having been granted immunity from criminal prosecution.12

According to his colleagues, Gottlieb is a “tinkerer... he likes to fiddle with things.... He has never made a decision on his own... not a guy who would make waves with authority.... He has a singular talent, much needed within the CIA, the ability to take a complicated scientific problem and explain it in terms that his non-scientific superiors could understand.”13 It was obviously this talent that his patron, Richard Helms, a non-scientist, valued. One might also infer that it was Richard Helms, the boss, who gave the orders and Gottlieb, the tinkerer, who carried them out. As a tinkerer, in the tradition of the technician, he focused more on means than on ends. This same quality of “tinkering” was true also of the CIA’s chief psychologist, with whom I became personally familiar when he worked under cover on the Chinese project at Cornell.

What were the after-effects, if any, in the more than 1000 college students, prisoners, mental patients, and army personnel who were subjected to LSD or similar drugs under a variety of conditions, with varying degrees of informed consent or explanation of potential risk factors? We simply do not know. The army, which along with other military services conducted its own as well as CIA-inspired research on LSD, was instructed by congress to do a follow-up.14 The results have, to my knowledge, not become public yet.

Much of the published work on such topics as LSD or sensory deprivation was carried out under quite legitimate auspices, governmental and otherwise. Not everything in these areas of research was tainted by CIA moneys. In my own case, soon after leaving Cornell’s Human Ecology Program I conducted a series of 8-hour sensory deprivation studies at NYU’s Research Center for Mental Health that I believe were quite benign. The subjects were carefully pre-screened volunteers, college students, air force pilots, and unemployed actors, who were, of course, told they could terminate the experiment at any point if they so wished and that they would receive a full account of the purpose of the experiment and its results. Our research was of purely theoretical interest to us, exploring individual differences in response to perceptual and social isolation within a psychoanalytic perspective. The US Air Force, which funded some of the research, saw in it a useful space-flight analogue and used our findings as part of their over-all effort in selecting the initial batch of astronauts for the Mercury space program.15

Under a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, we also did some basic work on individual differences in LSD effects as a function of personality dispositions. Again, we followed strict ethical guidelines, obtained informed consent, explained the risks, and had the necessary medical remedies (i.e., Thorazine) in the event a subject wanted to terminate the LSD effects quickly. Also, I should make it clear that we used a minimal dose – 100 micrograms. Like other researchers we were intrigued by the notion of a model, reversible psychosis, and thought we might learn something about the structure of abnormal thought processes.16

What motivated the scientists?

In considering the total body of classified research conducted by or for the CIA that had as its overriding aim the control and manipulation of behavior, two questions suggest themselves: what motivated the scientists to work covertly on questionable projects; and what, in the end, was the yield in knowledge of these studies?

To do full justice to the first question would, of course, require fairly intimate familiarity with the personalities of these scientists, and their motivational underpinnings, conscious as well as unconscious. A difficult task at best, especially as most of them have refused even an interview. Only one, to my knowledge, has acknowledged (in a legal deposition 26 years later) that what had done in his capacity as a CIA psychologist “was a foolish mistake. We shouldn’t have done it... I’m sorry we did it because it turned out to be a terrible mistake.”17

Were they men bent on evil? Decidedly no, in my view. Though we have no calculus of evil, my contention is that they were not deliberately out to cause harm or destruction, nor did they seem especially sadistic according to the available evidence. They certainly cannot readily be compared with those who participated in the unparalleled cruelty of the concentration camp experiments. They did not view their subjects as subhuman, as intrinsically inferior, or as persons whose lives were “unworthy of life.” When things went wrong, in the case of the first suicide in 1953, it was clearly an accident and was viewed as such. They lied, they deceived, they caused psychological harm, they violated basic interpersonal trust and affronted human dignity, but commit deliberate murder or other unspeakable physical injury – no.

Some were earnest, boy-scout-like patriots who consented to do something they knew was unethical because they were persuaded it would further national security. Or they were in it for the perverse thrill or excitement that, for some people, goes hand-in-hand with covert activity. Others, such as Dr. Wolff, Dr. Cameron, and Dr. Isbell were caught up in the world of scientific abstraction and professional career goals, having lost touch with day-to-day human encounters and emotions. For many scientists, including those in the behavioral fields, a process of “dehumanization” becomes almost inevitable: subjects become data points, adding to the sample size; detachment and perhaps even arrogance holds sway, certainly a lack of emphatic sensitivity.

Parenthetically, I might note that recently the normative paradigm of scientific inquiry, positivism, has come up for an increasing critical attack, especially by feminist philosophers of science, for example Sandra Harding, Genevieve Lloyd, and Evelyn Fox Keller. They argue that positivism, in its emphasis on control, manipulation, dispassionate objectivity, and decontextual analysis, promotes an illusion of distance or separation between the knower and the known. A process of dehumanization, in this view, is a by-product of strict adherence to dispassionate scientific method.18

The CIA-backed scientists undoubtedly were aware of the Nuremberg Code of 1947, which stipulates that medical research should be intended to improve the lot of mankind and should be conducted only on persons who consented after being informed of the nature and risks of the experiment. Although this code was adopted by the USA in 1953, the finer points of that code was yet to be fully disseminated and debated in governmental, academic, and research circles, and had in any case not filtered down from the purely medical realm to the socio-behavioral. Unlike the situation at the present time, characterized by strict federal and institutional regulations and in-house ethics boards, in general there were insufficient formal controls and consciousness-raising among scientists about ethical issues in all their manifold and complex ramifications. The basic issue requiring constant attention from all of us is, of course, the age-old question: when may a society, actively or by acquiescence, expose some of its member to harm in order to seek benefits for them, for others, or for society as a whole?19

What was learned

As for the second question I posed above: What, indeed, was learned from these experiments? Was the yield worth the cost? According to the CIA’s own verdict, very little, if anything, was learned that was of operational value. Whether marijuana, sodium pentathol, LSD, mescaline, alcohol, sensory deprivation, hypnosis, or stress – singly or in combination – the behavioral findings were found unstable, unreliable, and unpredictable in their specific manifestation. In a way this is, as Marks points out, the saving grace of the behavioral scientist. In this connection, Marks cites an apt piece of irony, voiced by Dr. Martin Orne, a long-time CIA consultant and a psychiatrist specializing in hypnoses research: “We are sufficiently ineffective so that our findings can be published.”

In my view, behavioral scientists fail miserably as Svengalians and should forever ban power (prediction and control) as their underlying philosophy of science goal. The goal of understanding ought to suffice, even if it does not carry with it the prestige of the natural sciences. There is today an increasing recognition of the bankrupt status of large segments of psychological and behavioral research, especially research conceptualized and conducted in the positivist tradition. It is clearly a tradition that has fostered a view of human subjects in experiments as external objects towards whom something is done; the subject is placed in a vulnerable and disempowered position, rather than as a partner in the joint pursuit of knowledge, in a truly transactional, essentially social process. If the debacle of the CIA-inspired research has led to the recognition of these and other philosophically-based issues, it will have served some value.20

When the American public was informed of the CIA’s behavioral science program, first by the media through persistent and courageous investigative reporting, then by various senate committee hearings, a loud outcry of outrage ensued, a sign that Americans have a healthy revulsion against being pushed around and controlled, especially by sneaks. Heads rolled at the CIA. Helms was fired. Gottlieb resigned and disappeared. Wholesale shredding of documents and attempts at cover-ups took place, with the names of the undercover scientists among the first to disappear – they had been promised anonymity! God only knows what was in those documents in addition to the revelation found in the 16,000 (albeit heavily censored) pages released under the Freedom of Information Act to investigative reporters. I experienced my own special outrage because I had unwittingly worked for them (on the Chinese project). My informed consent had not even been requested. An ironic twist for a psychologist, indeed.

Among the many colorful headlines and editorials in the New York Times that neatly summed up the American feeling was the one that simply stated: “Control the CIA, Not Behavior.”21 One can only hope that the centralized administration that was instituted subsequently within the CIA, and the tightening of Congress’s monitoring function of covert activities, as well as tighter rules adopted by many universities and research centers vis-à-vis classified research and human experimentation in general, will prevent any repetition of this sort of glaring infraction of human rights.

Finally, it is my fervent hope that researchers, whether in the natural or behavioral sciences, no longer concern themselves solely with the advancing [sic] their science. In their single-minded preoccupation with science, pure or applied, they tend to deny or, at least, underestimate the place of ends, goals, and values in their relationship to science. In this regard, I can only echo a point made by Carl Rogers in 1956 in his debate with Skinner on “the control of human behavior,” when he warned that without careful scrutiny of the ends, goals, and values that lie outside our particular scientific endeavors, we are all much more likely to serve whatever individual or group has the power.22

-----------------

Leo Goldberger is professor emeritus of psychology at New York University, as well as a former director of NYU’s Research Center for Mental Health. He has written many papers over the years, on personality, stress, LSD, and sensory deprivation. He was the editor-in-chief of the journal Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. He wrote the book, The Rescue of the Danish Jews: Moral Courage Under Stress (New York University Press, 1987), and was co-author of LSD: Personality and Experience (New York: Wiley Interscience, 1972).

Originally published in Roland, Friedlander, Müller-Hill (Eds.), Medical Science Without Compassion: Past and Present, Proceedings of the Hamburger für Sozialgeschichte des 20. Jarhundert, 1991. Republished here by permission of the author. Copyright belongs to Mr. Goldberger.

NOTES AND REFERENCES
  1. The best single background source for the CIA’s Mind Control program, its personnel and funding fronts is J. Marks, The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate” (New York: New York Times Books, 1979). Except where I rely on my own knowledge or cite other sources, I have relied heavily on Marks’ carefully documented book in preparing the present paper. John Marks, whose investigative work played a singular role in exposing the story, was affiliated with the Washington-based Center for National Security Studies, funded by the Civil Liberties Union and served as a watchdog group of the actions of American secret agencies. For a detailed close-up of Dr. Ewen Cameron, the man, his research, and a chilling portrait of the misuse of medical power and its victims, see Anne Collins, In the Sleep Room: The Story of the CIA Brainwashing Experiments in Canada (Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1988). See also A. Weinstein, A Father, a Son and the CIA (Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 1988).
  2. New York Times, 20 September 1977.
  3. T. Szulc, “The CIA’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” Psychology Today, November 1977, p. 94.
  4. Collins, op.cit., pp. 248-249.
  5. New York Times, 2 August 1977; See also Marks, op. cit.
  6. H.G. Wolff, & L. Hinkle, “Communist Interrogation and Indoctrination of ‘Enemies of the State,’” Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 76:115-74, 1956. This is the published version of the report.
  7. New York Times, 2 August 1977.
  8. New York Times, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 14, 25, 27 August 1977; 3, 7, 21 September; 7, 9, 19 September 1977.
  9. New York Times, 20 & 21 September 1977.
  10. New York Times, 27 August 1977; 7 October 1977.
  11. New York Times, 11 August 1977.
  12. New York Times, 7 September 1977.
  13. New York Times, 20 September 1977.
  14. New York Times, 19 October 1977.
  15. L. Goldberger, “Experimental isolation: An overview,” American Journal of Psychiatry 122: 774-782, 1966
  16. H.L. Barr, R.J. Langs, L. Goldberger, R.R. Holt, & G.S. Klein, LSD: Personality and Experience (New York: Wiley Interscience, 1972). Our book gives a full account of the research protocol, nothing classified and nothing withheld, unlike the publications that came out of the CIA-tainted research.
  17. Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta. Washington Post, 27 October 1985.
  18. S. Harding and M. Hintikka, (eds.) Discovering Reality: Feminist Perspective on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodology, and the Philosophy of Science (Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel, 1983z); G. Lloyd, The Man of Reason: “Male” and “Female” in Western Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984); E.F. Keller, Reflections on Gender and Science (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1985).
  19. J. Katz, Experimentation with Human Beings (New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 1972).
  20. J.G. Morawski, The Rise of Experimentation in American Psychology (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1988).
  21. New York Times, Editorial, 5 August 1977.
  22. C. Rogers, and B.F. Skinner, “Some issues concerning the control of human behavior: a symposium,” Science 124: 1057-1066, 1956.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"The lost are borne on seas of shipwreck"

Incredible music by the Tord Gustavsen Ensemble, with singer Kristin Asbjørnsen, set to words by W.H. Auden... what could be better in this world tonight?

"Restored, Returned"

Restored! Returned! The lost are borne
On seas of shipwreck home at last:
See! In the fire of praising burns
       The dry dumb past, and we
The life-day long shall part no more.

- From Ten Songs, 1939, W.H. Auden

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Regime of Lies: 500 pages withheld in FOIA on death of Guantanamo detainee

While some detainees continue to be released, and the population of the prison camp known as Guantanamo continues to slowly shrink, 14 years after it began accepting "war on terror" prisoners the secretive regime continues to operate.

Guantanamo's slogan is "safe, humane, legal, transparent." But Guantanamo is really none of those things.

Last summer I received a response to a three-year old FOIA request from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) on its investigation into the death of Abdul Rahman Al Amri in May 2007. According to his autopsy report, quietly released in 2012, Al Amri was found dead in his cell, hanging from a noose presumably cut from his bedsheets, and with his hands tied behind his back.

I want to briefly discuss the Al Amri case as an exemplar of the lies and cover-up that emanate from Guantanamo, and secondarily, as an example of the complicity of the press, who while they churn out commemorative pieces for dates like this latest anniversary, have shown (with a few exceptions) no appetite to really get to the truth of what was and is still is going on in that remote island prison. Current censorship policy includes, among other things, the classification of things detainees have said, and what attorneys have heard from them.

As I noted in a February 2012 story at the webiste Truthout on Al Amri's death, and that of another detainee, Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al Hanashi in June 2009, "Authorities consulted... agreed, as one source put it, that having hands tied behind one's back in a hanging 'does not necessarily indicate homicide but certainly requires additional investigation.'"

But the Department of Defense never released publicly the fact Al Amri - who DoD sometimes refers to in documents as Al Umari - was found with his hands bound, and while I broke the story that he was indeed discovered that way, no other member of or agency or institution in the news media saw fit to follow up on the story, or even report it. In the meantime, I filed a FOIA for the investigative reports on his death completed by NCIS, and for the Army's 15-6 statutory report on the death filed at Guantanamo's ruling headquarters, Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

I had also asked for the toxicology report (PDF) on Al Amri's death, because according to his autopsy report (PDF), he had inexplicably been tested for the presence of the anti-malaria drug mefloquine after his death. This was very strange. While there is no malaria problem in Cuba, all incoming detainees were administered a full treatment dose of mefloquine (also known as Lariam) upon entry into the prison, for supposed prophylactic purposed, i.e., as a public health measure.

But even if the public health rationale were true - and Jason Leopold and I published a series of articles demonstrating that the use of the controversial drug mefloquine had likely nefarious purposes, or as one military doctor put it, constituted "pharmacologic waterboarding" - Al Amri had been in Guantanamo for five years, and there was no reason to assume mefloquine had been in his blood stream for years.

One can only presume that someone thought he had possibly been administered mefloquine sometime in the near period prior to his death, and then asked the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology to see if it was present at the time of death. The possibility of such use of a drug whose only use was prophylaxis or treatment of malaria, and was already under tough criticism within DoD over its use on U.S. military personnel, raises serious questions regarding the purpose of administering that drug. Was mefloquine's common side-effects of inducing dizziness, nausea and paranoia or hallucinations in some people being used to chemically torture detainees?

Even more perplexing... why would Al Amri tie his hands behind his back before killing himself? Did he in fact do so, or was he actually murdered in his cell by guards, or others? I had hoped the FOIA material on the investigations would answer some of these questions.

But when the materials arrived from the NCIS FOIA office last July, they were heavily censored. Even more, hundreds of pages were withheld in their entirety as supposedly consisting of "documents proprietary to another Command." I was told, "Those documents have been referred for a classification review and releasability determination and return to this office."

All told, approximately 500 pages from the investigation have been withheld, awaiting "classification review." From what was released, much is redacted.

NCIS would not tell me what other "Command" they were referring to: that was classified, too (although I highly suspect the other Command is JTF GTMO itself). Meanwhile, six months later, I'm still waiting for clearance of this huge section of the FOIA, which was originally filed in 2012.
As for the SOUTHCOM AR 15-6 investigation, that is still under classificatory review as well, and months away from release... if I'm lucky.

Such delay in the matter of a FOIA on a detainee's death is not always so protracted. Yemeni detainee Adnan Latif was found dead in his cell in the Behavioral Health Unit at Guantanamo in September 2012. His AR 15-6 report was released in a reasonable period after a FOIA request was filed (and was the basis of news reports in 2013, again, by both Jason Leopold and myself).

Is this because Al Amri died under even incredibly more suspicious circumstances than Latif? According to one document I obtained that made it past the censors, someone after Al Amri's death tried to dispose of some of the evidence, as part of the sheet material that supposedly bound his hands was discovered by one NCIS agent tossed in "medical waste" (see accompanying photo). That doesn't sound like how a death scene is secured.

Readers may (or may not) be glad to know that I am still pursuing my investigation into Al Amri's death (and that of Mohammad Al Hanashi), and will have more to report on them in the near future. I feel this is a moral obligation, as the rest of the press has decided this is not a story worth reporting. But I think given the efforts to stymie the truth from getting out, the Pentagon knows better than that. The story will be reported, and I hope we will not have to wait for the 15th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo torture camp to know the truth about the death of one of its victims.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Letter to HHS on Proposed "Intelligence Surveillance" and Criminal Justice Exceptions to Human Subject Protections

The following was my response to a call for comments from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding proposed changes in the federal rules regarding the protection of human experimental subjects. The deadline for comments was today, and the following reproduces what I sent HHS.

Outside academia and the departments that run Institutional Review Boards, the issues surrounding these changes may seem arcane. But as my letter documents, the issues on protection of human subjects in federal funded experiments touches on some of the most important issues of our time, not least the torture program ran by the CIA and Department of Defense in the past 15 years. Other comments can be read at the link provided above. My very modest contribution in no way touches many of the important issues raised by these proposed changes, and interested readers should peruse the comments of others to get a fuller picture of the stakes involved in these proposed changes.

Note: Rather than embed links, I have provided endnotes with links, which reproduces how I sent the letter to HHS. One interesting side benefit of drafting and posting this letter was that it allowed me to update old links that had gone missing or dead over the years. Sadly, the links to much of the relevant material (Project Shad, for instance), had changed or disappeared, as public interest in the subject waxes and, sadly, wanes.

----------------------------

Date: January 6, 2016

To: Jerry Menikoff, MD, JD
Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP)
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite 200
Rockville MD 20852
and
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other relevant agencies

From: Jeffrey S. Kaye, Ph.D.
xxxxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxx, CA xxxxx

Re: Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), Docket ID HHS-OPHS-2015-0008
(CFR Citation: 45 CFR 46)

HHS has asked for public responses to changes proposed in law regarding Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, also known historically as the “Common Rule.”

In particular, my comment is related to proposed exceptions to protections under federal law for human subjects on matters related to “intelligence surveillance” and “criminal justice activities.” In addition, I address suggestions of weakening protections related to Subpart C of the Common Rule, which covers research on prisoners.

Currently, the Department of Justice, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), and the intelligence agencies that operate under the umbrella of the Department of Defense, are all regulated by 45 CFR 46, and protection of human subjects falls under the Common Rule. There is good reason historically for this, as government agencies, often under the auspices of “national security,” failed to protect human beings who were harmed significantly under experiments undertaken by such agencies.

These agencies act under a veil of secrecy, and safeguards on potential misuse of actions considered research, as defined, or even potentially close to research, should be strengthened, not weakened.

As Jay Katz said in a 1994 review of the history of human experimentation:
“In my review on the regulations on the conduct of research, I have tried to demonstrate that medical science's commitment to individual autonomy continues to remain ambiguous.

“The call for balancing the need to advance science for mankind's benefit and to protect the inviolability of subjects of research all too commonly tilts in favor of progress….

“As you know, I do not believe that the current federal regulations on the protection of subjects of research go far enough.”1
Lack of Research Protections in the DoD and CIA

Failures to protect are not instances of the distant past. According to a 2010 investigatory report by Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye2:
“In January 2004, the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) initiated a DoD-wide review of human subjects protection policies. A Navy slide presentation at DoD Training Day (PDF)3 on Nov. 14, 2006, hinted strongly at the serious issues behind the entire review.

“The Navy presentation framed the problem in the light of the history of U.S. governmental ‘non-compliance’ with human subjects research protections, including ‘U.S. Government Mind Control Experiments – LSD, MKULTRA, MKDELTA (1950-1970s)’; a 90-day national ‘stand down’ in 2003 for all human subject research and development activities ‘ordered in response to the death of subjects," as well as use of "unqualified researchers.’

The Training Day presentation said the review found the Navy ‘not in full compliance with Federal policies on human subjects protection.’ Furthermore, DDR&E found the Navy had ‘no single point of accountability for human subject protections.’”
This review was ordered in late January 2004, only a few months after the Supreme court had agreed to hear the case later known as Rasul v Rumsfeld, which would decide that the Guantanamo detainees had a right to challenge their detention. The DoD-wide review came over two years after a DoD directive authored by Paul Wolfowitz had indicated such procedures should be in place. As a result, none of the required assurances by the different Defense Department components regarding their human subjects protection policies had been filed with DDR&E. In effect, there was little or no oversight over DoD research policies at exactly the time when both DoD and CIA were engaged in an experimental torture program, or using detainee prisoners as human guinea pigs for the study of the effects of torture and harsh detention (about which more below).

The DoD directive (3216.02), authored by Paul Wolfowitz, mentioned in the paragraph above, was titled “Protection of Human Subjects and Adherence to Ethical Standards in DoD-Supported Research,” and released in March 2002. The directive was updated in 2011. But in its 2002 version, and for many years, it represented a significant weakening of human subjects protections, making waivers of informed consent the responsibility of lower-level heads of DoD divisions, and weakening protections that had been in place for decades by limiting research safeguards to “prisoners of war.” There had never been such loose rules on informed consent ever explicitly allowed in the history of military research.4 While protections against use of research on detainees, such as those held at Guantanamo, supposedly now restrict research or experiments on that population,5 the history of attempts by DoD officials to push back against such restrictions should not allow for further weakening of any protections now in place.

There are a number of other instances of lack of protection of research subjects under the Department of Defense. One of the most egregious, which like so many of these abuses, took decades to come to light, concerned the military’s Project Shad.

Project Shad was a DoD experiment that exposed at least 4,000 Navy men to various chemical agents and decontaminant chemicals, "including Bacillus globigii (BG), Coxiella burnetii [which causes Q fever], Pasteurella tularensis [which causes tularemia or 'rabbit fever'], Zinc Cadmium Sulfide, Beta-propriolactone, Sarin, VX, Escherichia Coli (EC), Serratia Marcescens (SM), Sodium Hydroxide, Peracetic acid, Potassium hydroxide, Sodium hypochlorite, ‘tracer amounts’ of radioactivity and asbestos, [and] Methylacetoacetate."6 The existence of these experiments was denied by the U.S. government for 35 years, until Congressional hearings were finally held in 2002.7 While back in 2002, there were major news reports on the subject, today the story has dropped off the radar. Nevertheless, the government website, Health.mil, still has a webpage dedicated to information on the subject.8

The history of abuses surrounding Project Shad, and other similar instances of dangerous military research, e.g. projects Copper Head, Flower Drum, Shady Grove, Autumn Gold, among others undertaken from 1963-1970, argue strongly against any lessening of human subjects protections when it comes to military research.

Finally, on the subject of military research, it is worth noting the warnings aired in a National Research Council (NRC) 2008 report on a conference on “Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies.”9 Participants concluded, “On the whole… the system of protections for human research subjects is not well designed to capture instances of intentional wrongdoing,” providing “rather… guidance for well-motivated investigators who wish to be in compliance with regulatory requirements and practice standards.”

While some find the current “formal procedures in place for the use of military personnel in medical experiments” are “stringent,” that doesn’t imply “that no abuses can occur, nor that convenient alternative frameworks (such as field testing) cannot be used to circumvent the research rules, but only that the official policies and procedures in the military are rigorous.” (bold emphasis added)

But even with such supposedly “rigorous” policies, the report’s authors see a problem. They ominously ask whether “classified research can ever be ethically sound inasmuch as it lacks transparency, such as in the form of public accountability. For example, if a member of an ethics review board disagrees with a majority decision involving a classified human experiment, that member would be unable to engage in a public protest of that decision.”

I think the questions raised in the NRC 2008 report are germane and vital to the issue of NPRM changes on matters related to “intelligence surveillance” and “criminal justice activities.” In particular, the kinds of artifice that can be engaged in relation to what exactly constitutes research is precisely what makes changes in these sensitive areas of high concern.

One such instance where the issue of using field testing or adjustment of technique and program assessment vs. formal research, i.e., to test areas of generalized knowledge, concerns charges of experimentation by the CIA and DoD in regards to the application of interrogation techniques on prisoners captured in the “war on terror,” prisoners which the U.S. government removed from coverage by the “prisoner of war” provisions of the Geneva Conventions.

Research done by the government in relation to interrogation or detainees was usually couched in terms that the research was only program evaluation, as in the case of the Behavioral Science Consultation Teams at Guantanamo, or involved only research related to improvement of conditions for individual detainees, or response to specific applications of an interrogation technique, as when the CIA monitored the oxygenation level of a waterboarding victim.

The point is that in the case of intelligence or national security agencies, especially those aspects covered by secrecy and classification, or that are “covert,” determinations of what is and what is not research, i.e., what can be covered or monitored by the Common Rule, what the “exceptions” are, is actually nonsensical. Either the coverage is complete and total, or it is not.

Charges of CIA Experiments in Torture

In the case of the CIA experimental torture or “enhanced interrogation” program, OHRP referred any research misdeeds back to the agency itself, in this case, back to the CIA. Such is their policy, which is in this case is shown as grossly inadequate.

The fact remains, as documented in the recent release of the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee Intelligence report on the CIA’s torture program, that the plans for the “enhanced interrogation” program were formed in the same division of the CIA that ran the MKULTRA program.10

Do we really want less, not more, safeguards on “intelligence surveillance” activities?

On January 15, 2015, two United Nation Special Rapporteurs wrote an official letter to the U.S. government expressing their concern over “the role of health professionals in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) interrogation program, between 2001 and 2009, and the subsequent lack of investigation into these allegations.”11

The letter was prompted by new information released when in December 2014 the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a redacted version of its Executive Summary of its report on the CIA “enhanced interrogation” program. One section of the letter contained charges and concerns about the research component aspect of the CIA program.

I reproduce that section of their letter in its entirety, as it helps explain my contention that the secrecy of the intelligence and covert operations world cannot allow any weakening of research or informed consent protections, as the agencies involved are without moral scruple, and have a long and even recent history of covering up misdeeds.

From the Special Rapporteurs’ letter:
3. Engaging in potential human subjects experimentation to provide legal cover for torture

From the SSCI summary it can be inferred that the OMS officers played an active role in determining, along with the DoJ lawyers, what techniques would be considered authorised for the CIA to employ. The 2004 OMS Draft Guidelines stated “in order to best inform future medical judgments and recommendations, it is important that every application of the waterboard be thoroughly documented”. The OMS personnel analysed data previously collected from the detainees during torture to make generalized conclusions about the techniques. In 2004 and 2005, this data and analysis was provided to the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel to determine what techniques and applications would be legitimate under their interpretation of U.S. laws.

On at least two occasions, CIA personnel expressed concerns that this process would amount to human experimentation. Similarly, on 11 April 2005, OMS personnel expressed such concern when stating that the “OMS did not review or vet these techniques prior to their introduction, but rather came into this program with the understanding… that they were already determined as legal, permitted and safe. We see this current iteration as a reversal of that sequence”.

However, despite these concerns, the 2005 Office of Legal Counsel memos (known as the Bradbury memos) reveal that the final determinations on the legality and safety of the techniques relied heavily on OMS data and analysis.12
There was no known response to this letter.

A Mysterious Use of Research Regarding the Department of Justice and the HIG

The NPRM states that the suspension of the common rule for “intelligence surveillance” includes “interviews, surveillance activities and related analyses... where these activities are conducted by a defense, national security, or homeland security authority solely for authorized intelligence, homeland security, defense, or other national security purposes.”13

The proposed Criminal Justice exclusion from the Common Rule involves “data collection and analysis that enables the uniform delivery of criminal justice. The scope of this exclusion is collection and analysis of data, biospecimens, or records by or for a criminal justice agency for activities authorized by law or court order solely for criminal justice or criminal investigative purposes. The activities excluded are necessary for the operation and implementation of the criminal justice system.”14

How does this look in light of the reality of research undertaken within the arcane workings of the criminal justice system? One example occurred during the interrogation of accused would-be assassin Manssor Arbabsiar. Under interrogation after arrest in 2012, a “research psychologist,” Susan Brandon, unknown to Arbabsiar was making observations and notes on defendant Arbabsiar. The research appears to have been for the FBI-led High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG, for whom Dr. Brandon worked as “Chief of Research.”

According to another psychologist contracted to the government, Gregory H. Saathoff, Brandon was present during all of Arbabsiar’s post-arrest questioning, viewing him via closed-circuit camera, where she “closely monitored and documented Mr. Arbabsiar’s behaviors.”15

She produced a 21-page document, which has been withheld from public view, the subject of a court protective order.16 Brandon’s document, and hence her research, became part of the prosecution’s case against Arbabsiar, and was apparently part of the process of reaching a plea bargain with him and his attorneys. How did a secretive research protocol become part of a prosecutor’s evidence against a defendant?

As I wrote at the time: “So what was the administration’s top interrogation researcher doing at Arbabsiar’s interrogation? And if she was doing research, was Arbabsiar so informed? And whether he was or not, what in her role as researcher later led Brandon to file a report with the court? These are all important questions....” (see endnote vi)

In the context of the new proposed changes in the Common Rule, the questions involved are vital to the workings of both science and of a democratic society.

Research on Prisoners

Related to the Criminal Justice and Intelligence Agency exclusions are calls for weakening the protections regarding use of prisoners in research, which currently fall under Subpart C of the Common Rule. The very way this is brought up in the call for discussion is insulting: “The subpart was written in the wake of harsh criticism regarding research abuses involving prisoners that occurred or became public in the 1960s and 1970s.”

This was not simply “harsh criticism,” but well documented instances of horrific abuse of prisoners. The classic work in this field was Allen Hornblum’s book, Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison, published by Routledge in 1998. There is no reason to lighten the restrictions against such research, which was the result of decades of abuses. Whatever positive results regarding such lightening of restrictions on consent in this case are outweighed by the dangers of unchecked power over a vulnerable population, the examples of which ruined untold number of lives.

As Mr. Hornblum concluded at the end of his book:
"It couldn't happen in America" we reassured ourselves about medical practices in Nazi Germany. But intolerable medical practices were practiced on vulnerable populations in America, without the support of the political culture or the despotic leadership that captivated Germany under the Third Reich, without any protest from the AMA, which prides itself on its ability to regulate itself.

History suggests that we are as susceptible to abusing our socially and economically disenfranchised citizens as any other nation. If, as many believe, a democracy is only as strong as the respect accorded its weakest members, we must work to assure that neither these abuses nor the "conspiracy of silence" that makes them possible ever happen again. We must do this not only for the benefit of the powerless, but also for the benefit of society as a whole.17
In conclusion, I ask that the NPRM changes proposed for weakening of protections on issues related to “intelligence surveillance” and “criminal justice activities,” as well as weakening protections related to Subpart C of the Common Rule relating to research protections for prisoners, be soundly rejected.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey S. Kaye, Ph.D.

Endnotes:

1Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, Public Meeting, Tuesday, July 5, 1994, Presentation by Jay Katz. URL: http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/radiation/dir/mstreet/commeet/meet4/trnsct04.txt

2Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye, “Wolfowitz Directive Gave Legal Cover to Detainee Experimentation Program,” Truthout, Oct. 14, 2010. URL: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/257:wolfowitz-directive-gave-legal-cover-to-detainee-experimentation-program

3“DON Human Research Protection Program: What’s New -14 November 2006.” URL: http://www.dtic.mil/biosys/docs/hu-navy_cs-2006.pdf

4See Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye at i. above.

5See “New DoD Directive on Detainees Allows Sleep and Sensory Deprivation, Biometric IDs,” Invictus, September 17, 2014. URL: http://valtinsblog.blogspot.com/2014/09/new-dod-directive-on-detainees-allows.html?m=1

6“American Servicemen Used As Guinea Pigs - Tests Revealed DOD Releases Project SHAD Fact Sheets”, (no date, but first webpage circa 2002). URL: http://web.archive.org/web/20070221064138/http://www.testsubjects.net/shad.htm

7Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, House of Representatives, One Hundred Seventh Congress, Second Session, October 9, 2002, “Military Operations Aspects of SHAD and Project 112.” URL: http://web.archive.org/web/20090805150741/http://fhp.osd.mil/CBexposures/pdfs/oct9h02.pdf

8See “Project 112/SHAD,” (no date), URL: http://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Health-Readiness/Environmental-Exposures/Project-112-SHAD

9See Jeffrey Kaye, NRC on Research on “War on Terror” Detainees: “A Contemporary Problem,” February 12, 2011. URL: https://shadowproof.com/2011/02/12/nrc-on-research-on-war-on-terror-detainees-a-contemporary-problem/

Also National Research Council (NRC) 2008 , “Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies”. URL: http://www.nap.edu/read/12177/chapter/6#118

10Jeffrey Kaye, “SSCI Report Reveals CIA Torture Program Originated in Same Department as MKULTRA,” The Dissenter (later changed name to Shadowproof), December 11, 2014,. URL: https://shadowproof.com/2014/12/11/ssci-report-reveals-cia-torture-program-originated-in-same-department-as-mkultra

11Dainius Puras and Juan E. Méndez, Letter to the U.S. Government, January 15, 2015, “Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
URL: https://spdb.ohchr.org/hrdb/29th/public_-_OL_USA_15.01.15_%281.2015%29.pdf

12Ibid., pp. 3-4.

13Federal Register, Vol. 80, No. 173, Tuesday, September 8, 2015, Proposed Rules., p. 20. URL: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-08/pdf/2015-21756.pdf

14Federal Register, Vol. 80, No. 173, Tuesday, September 8, 2015, Proposed Rules., p. 18. URL: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-08/pdf/2015-21756.pdf

15Jeffrey Kaye, “Government’s Psychological Evaluation of Manssor Arbabsiar Fails to Impress,” The Public Record, October 10, 2012. URL: http://pubrecord.org/law/10586/governments-psychological-evaluation/

16U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Protective Order, 11 Cr. 897 (JFK), USA vs. Manssor Arbabsiar, August 15, 2012. URL: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/459526-8-15-12-protective-order-manssor-case.html

17Hornblum, Allen M. (2013-05-13). Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison (Kindle Locations 4625-4631). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

U.S. won't release exonerating documents to free ex-Gitmo prisoner held by Morocco

The following is a press release, dated January 6, 2016, from the international human rights organization, Reprieve, which has been advocating for former Guantanamo prisoner Younous Chekkouri. Further background on Chekkouri's case is available here.
Ex-Gitmo prisoner to remain in Moroccan jail despite assurances

A Moroccan judge has today refused to release a former Guantanamo prisoner who has been imprisoned, despite diplomatic assurances provided to the US, since his transfer last year.

At a hearing today in Rabat – where former prisoner Younous Chekkouri has been held since his transfer out of Guantanamo in September 2015 – the judge postponed the court proceedings, and extended Younous’ detention for a fourth time, setting a new hearing date of January 26th.

This decision comes amid speculation over the Obama Administration’s efforts to close Guantanamo, which is a process dependent on diplomatic agreements between the US and recipient countries. By the time of the next hearing, Younous will have been held for 129 days longer than was stipulated in the US-Moroccan assurances.

Younous spent 13 years at Guantanamo without charge or trial, and was cleared for release in 2010 by six US federal agencies, including the CIA and the FBI. The Department of Justice has admitted to Younous’ lawyers at the human rights organization Reprieve – who have been barred from seeing him since his transfer – that some years ago, it “withdrew all reliance” on evidence that now appears to be the basis of his detention in Morocco. Despite this, it appears the Moroccan court may still decide to bring charges against Younous on the basis of the discredited former US allegations.

In the course of US court proceedings, the US government is refusing to provide Younous' lawyers with documents that could help secure his release. Last month, the Obama Administration submitted a secret filing to the court, which it is refusing to share with Younous' Reprieve lawyers. Reprieve has said, in a recent submission to the court, that the government “should be working in an open and cooperative manner to correct a manifest injustice” in Younous’ case.

Commenting, Joe Pace, one of Younous’ Reprieve attorneys, said: "Its hard to take seriously President Obama's stated commitment to righting the wrongs of Gitmo when the Administration hasn't lifted a finger to enforce the Moroccans' assurances that Younous would not be detained at length. The US government has known for years that the allegations underlying Younous' detention in Morocco are baseless, and they could secure his release with a simple phone call. It's bad enough that the US took 13 years of Younous' life at Gitmo without a shred of credible evidence justifying his detention; now the government seems content to let him languish in a Moroccan jail indefinitely."
The Chekkouri case demonstrates the sham commitment to human rights practiced by the Democratic Party administration of Barack Obama. The servile Congress does nothing, or even worse, further demonizes the many innocent men still held captive in the torture prison at Guantanamo. The "alternative" political party, the Republicans, are as bad or even worse, which means the political system has left very little wiggle room for justice to even take place.

The case also demonstrates the bankruptcy of the system of diplomatic "assurances" that surrounds the ongoing U.S. policy of conducting renditions. The inadequacy of such "protections" against torture and injustice was documented in a December 2010 report from the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, "Promises to Keep: Diplomatic Assurances Against Torture in US Terrorism Transfers" (PDF).

For many years, the U.S. State Department was in charge of getting such "assurances" from other countries in regards to rendition. As Secretary of State for many years in the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton bears responsibility for running this system for a number of years. Today she is a major Presidential candidate, but no one in the press will question her about her actions surrounding rendition. This inattention to crucial questions of human rights when it comes to holding politicians responsible for their actions is one reason why millions in the United States will never vote, as they know the system here is a con.

For Younous Chekkouri, sold to the Americans for a bounty and shipped to Guantanamo, held without charge for 14 years before finally being released to his native Morocco in September 2015, the system has been a horror and a nightmare.

I close with a quote from Chekkouri's 2014 Valentine Day letter sent to his wife from Guantanamo, reprinted in full at the Reprieve website:
12 years of agony. I live like a frightened child or an animal waiting for the unknown. I pray from my heart that my sadness and anxiety will come to an end. I pray to see my wife again, and to be able to tell her everything that I have kept bottled up in my heart for more than a decade.

I dare not believe that I will ever see my sweetheart again. There is only one face that comes to me in my dreams. It is her face, the one who has been crying day and night, waiting for me to hug her and say “Don’t worry my love, it was all a nightmare and now it’s over”.

In every letter I write to her, I tell her that we will never be apart again. I don’t know if she believes me or not, but I imagine her eyes shining and her lips parting in her magical smile. I do know that neither of us ever imagined we would be in this situation. Destiny is a very strange thing.

President Obama and his wife have adorable children, whose future they guard jealously. I’m sure the President’s greatest fear is that he will be apart from his wife or children. Well, I have just the same feeling because I’m human just like them.

I do not blame President Obama though for these long years, I don’t blame anyone. I want no vengeance for the 12 years I have spent in Guantánamo, never having committed any crime. I want only to feel human again, to hug my soulmate and tell her that we will never again be apart.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Guantanamo Psychologist "Ban" Incomplete, Evidence of FBI Torture Ignored

While it is certainly a victory, or partial victory, to have psychologists removed from national security interrogations at Guantanamo, as James Risen reports in The New York Times, it turns out psychologists are not actually completely removed from that Cuban-based prison facility.

Note the careful wording of Risen's story (bold emphasis added):
The United States military has sharply curtailed the use of psychologists at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in response to strict new professional ethics rules of the American Psychological Association, Pentagon officials said.

Gen. John F. Kelly, the head of the United States Southern Command, which oversees Guantánamo, has ordered that psychologists be withdrawn from a wide range of activities dealing with detainees at the prison because of the new rules of the association, the nation’s largest professional organization for psychologists. The group approved the rules this past summer.
Risen's article relates a statement by SOUTHCOM spokeswoman, Navy Cmdr. Karin Burzynski, which explains that the removal of psychologists was due to APA's new policy about psychologists and national security interrogations, and the military was concerned about possible licensing or ethics board charges for military psychologists.

Those new APA rules state: "in keeping with Principle A (Beneficence and Nonmaleficence) of the Ethics Code to 'take care to do no harm,' psychologists shall not conduct, supervise, be in the presence of, or otherwise assist any national security interrogations for any military or intelligence entities, including private contractors working on their behalf, nor advise on conditions of confinement insofar as these might facilitate such an interrogation. This prohibition does not apply to domestic law enforcement interrogations or detention settings that are unrelated to national security interrogations."

Hence, in my reading it seems as if psychologists could be allowed at Guantanamo, in order to advise on conditions of confinement insofar as such advice does not "facilitate" interrogation. Perhaps that is what General Kelly is referring to when Risen quotes him as ordering psychologists withdrawal from "a wide range of activities dealing with detainees," i.e., not from all activities dealing with detainees.

As almost a side note, Risen quotes DoD's Burzynski as saying that all interrogations have now ceased at Guantanamo, except so-called "voluntary interviews" detainees wish with make to officials. No one questions how, at a facility under total control by the military, with detainees kept under conditions of indefinite detention (which themselves constitute torture), such "voluntary interviews" can be offered.

According to Risen, APA officers will meet with administration officials from the Pentagon and the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) later this month. In Risen's article, APA's Senior Policy Adviser Ellen Garrison seems to stand up to the Pentagon, and tell them APA will not change its policy to please them.

But back in 2008, when the APA membership voted on a petition to ban psychologists from sites like Guantanamo, Ms. Garrison worked with now-resigned Ethics chair Stephen Behnke to craft a "con" statement calling for defeat of the petition. It will be interesting to see how the old guard APA bureaucracy, now working with some of its former opponents on the interrogation issue, will address outstanding issues surrounding implementation of the new "ban."

But, no one is arguing for a total "ban" of psychologists from Guantanamo. Furthermore, it remains to be seen how anyone will be able to tell if the Pentagon stands by its word, not to mention how anyone will monitor the CIA for adherence to APA's new policy.

"Banned" psychologists and paper opposition

Risen's NYT article states, "Psychologists will still provide mental health care for American military personnel who work at the prison, which is allowed under the association’s rules."

Such psychologists apparently will continue to serve in a clinical function for troops or other U.S. personnel serving at the base, and presumably, the prison. This is indeed in line with the letter and spirit of "Resolution 23B," which mandated the new association rules (PDF), including a provision that psychologists could remain "at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, 'black sites,' vessels in international waters, or sites where detainees are interrogated under foreign jurisdiction" if "providing treatment to military personnel."

That particular exception was a weakness with the resolution. Nevertheless, the resolution passed overwhelmingly by the APA's Council of Representatives last August was supported by anti-torture psychologists, such as those at Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR). But the resolution's "ban" still allows for Guantanamo to function, and for psychologists to work there if "providing treatment to military personnel." I believe that aspect was a compromise made to get support for the resolution as a whole, and has been a matter of compromise between pro-participation and anti-participation forces within APA for some years now. But with the new resolution passed changing rules on interrogations, there is no reason not to take up this broader issue now.

It is disturbing to see the responses to this development by press and anti-torture activists and not see any condemnation of the American Psychiatric Association (APsyA) or the American Medical Association (AMA) for their paper opposition to use of their membership in interrogations, as apparently psychiatrists (along with other nurses and technicians) are to replace psychologists in detainee interrogation, detention and/or detainee clinical matters.

Indeed, I've searched high and low to find any mainstream critic of U.S. interrogation policy or torture denounce the hypocrisy of APsyA or AMA in this matter. One partial exception is Stephen Miles, author of Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors. Miles has called out AMA for a lack of leadership on the question of doctors working for the CIA interrogation program, and in general has assailed the field for its silence on medical participation in or planning of torture. But I have not seen a similar criticism by anyone of APsyA's failure to enforce its own policy banning psychiatrists from work at Guantanamo.

The fact remains, to date, no U.S. medical professional has ever been held accountable for their role in the "war on terror" torture scandal.

FBI interrogations and torture

Nor does the new policy stated by DoD have any bearing on interrogations conducted by CIA, foreign intelligence services, or the FBI. Obama's 2009 reforms of the Bush-Cheney era torture interrogations meant shutting down CIA's long-term black sites, and resting interrogation policy on the relevant Army Field Manual and ongoing reliance on rendition of "terror" suspects to interrogation and detention by foreign intelligence services ("extraordinary rendition").

But the Army Field Manual has been condemned by the UN's Committee Against Torture as containing abusive forms of interrogation, even as Congress has enshrined it in U.S. law. And human rights groups and legal groups have assailed the empty "assurances" of foreign governments that renditioned prisoners will not be tortured or abused.

Meanwhile, the role of the FBI in coercive interrogations is something that has been completely passed over. Previously, there were reports of torture of renditioned prisoners in the aftermath of the 2010 World Cup bombing in Kampala, Uganda. The FBI's activity in the latter investigation was said to be the largest between that time and 9/11. A number of prisoners renditioned from Kenya and Tanzania have accused the FBI of torture under interrogation in Uganda, including death threats and physical abuse by FBI agents.

One such affidavit of torture in my possession, by Kenyan national Yahya Suleiman Mbuthia, details such alleged FBI torture. The claims are consistent with charges by other prisoners also interrogated in the Kampala bombing.
"... [FBI] officers said, "Don't lie to us -- we know everything about you. We will finish your family -- first your wife and then your two kids..."

"... one (1) FBI officer, with blue eyes, cocked his gun as if he were going to shoot me, saying that there was a bullet inside with my name on it.... the same officer told me he would kill me or leave me to rot in Luzira."

"... I was severely ill-treated during interrogation, including having an FBI officer standing behind me hitting me on the back of the head with his fist... when the FBI wanted to do their dirty work, they would ask the Ugandans to leave, and by dirty work I mean beating, forcing me to sign papers and threatening me...."

"... during interrogation, if I refused to do something, I would be hooded for 30 minutes to an hour, during which time FBI officers would cock their guns as if they were about to shoot me..."
In a separate affidavit, another Kenyan national, Idris Magondu, who also was renditioned to Uganda and interrogated by both Ugandan police and FBI, wrote, "after the Court appearance at which I was not represented by legal Counsel, I was ordered to be remanded to Luzira Upper Prison where the FBI officers interrogated me several times... during the interrogations, the FBI officers shouted and threatened me, telling me that President Museveni had ordered his army to kill me, and the officers were banging on the table and were very aggressive."

According to Magondu, "one of the FBI officers had a pistol which he kept drawing my attention to."

In November 2012, Open Society Justice Initiative released a report on human rights abuses by the FBI in the wake of the World Cup bombing. In June 2013, the FBI responded to the OSJI report: "The FBI has found these claims to be without merit, because no evidence was identified by the FBI or any other independent entity to support them. The type of abuse alleged is wholly contrary to the FBI’s policy on interrogating suspects in foreign countries. The FBI’s policy is consistent with internationally recognized standards of conduct such as those set forth in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions."

OSJI noted in its own response, "the FBI has not provided sufficient detail regarding its investigation of the allegations of detainee abuse by the FBI in Uganda or its basis for the conclusion that the allegations are without merit."

FBI and Mitchell-Jessen

FBI officials also figured prominently in the APA-initiated "independent" review of APA's activities around the interrogation-torture scandal. The report produced by Chicago attorney David H. Hoffman (large PDF), despite mainstream accolades, was a limited hangout on the torture issue, as it minimized or explained away for top U.S. psychologists collaboration with the CIA. Such minimization included the fact a former APA president had been part of the partnership of Mitchell-Jessen and Associates, contractors to the CIA's torture machine. Hoffman found this fact unworthy of further investigation in relation to APA's ethics.

But Hoffman and his investigators uncovered a wealth of new information which APA subsequently has posted on its website. This material shows what the report only covers tangentially, that is, that top FBI psychologists worked closely with APA, CIA and the military in discussing interrogation matters, including detection of deception that could affected by use of sensory overload or use of drugs in interrogation.

At the close of 2004 report on a July 2003 APA-CIA-RAND workshop, "The Science of Deception: Integration of Theory and Practice," there is a list of participants, and we can see that top FBI psychologists, such as then-FBI Behavioral Science Unit Chief Stephen Band and Anthony Pinizzotto, attended along with other academics and CIA officers, including psychologist Kirk Hubbard and psychiatrist Andy Morgan, and CIA contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

The report was marked "Not for distribution."

"Research challenges" discussed at the 2003 meeting included "What pharmacological agents are known to affect apparent truth-telling behavior?" and "How might we overload the system or overwhelm the sense and see how it affects deceptive behaviors?"

Participants also discussed how to manipulate or increase subjects's anxieties. They also proposed research to discover "how interrogators might take advantage of some of the transference and counter-transference strategies used by psychotherapists."

A fuller analysis of this document awaits, but who will attempt it?

Hoffman passed without comment over this material. APA anti-torture activists (including former APA members who quit over the APA's interrogation policy) have not seen fit to comment either on the documented collaboration of the APA with key FBI officials, or on the release of this document. Even when it was revealed that James Mitchell had been invited as an expert to February 2002 FBI conference at its Quantico headquarters, links between FBI and the CIA torture program have been ignored. (Mitchell's invite came almost two months before he went to the CIA black site in Thailand and helped initiate the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" torture program.)

Part of the issue is that the mainstream narrative is that FBI agents, such as Ali Soufan, blew the whistle on CIA torture. While some FBI agents were queasy about torture techniques used by both the Department of Defense and the CIA, it seems there's a lot of house cleaning to do within the agency itself.

Even the story of Soufan's protest at Mitchell and Jessen's intervention in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah is more nuanced than normally reported. For instance, Soufan told a Senate panel in May 2009 that his interrogation techniques with Zubaydah were not compliant with Geneva Common Article 3. In fact, Soufan said none of the FBI's interrogations were so compliant after 9/11. (See video of back and forth between Soufan and Sen. Lindsey Graham, beginning at 2:17, downloadable at this link.)

Doctors who said "no"

During the Vietnam War, there were doctors who refused to serve a corrupt and evil military regime. Navy doctor, Captain Howard Levy was court-martialed, not because he refused to torture, but to even serve as a trainer for Special Forces personnel. According to a follow-up story from 2002 in the New York Times, Levy survived his court-martial to carve out a career in medicine.

How was Levy's refusal to serve the military fighting an imperialist war in Vietnam any different really from the question of whether or not doctors or psychologists or nurses should refuse to serve in Guantanamo or other black sites? Capt. Levy charged (according to a legal look at his case) "that had he trained the [Special Forces] aidmen he would have been complicitous in war crimes committed by Special Forces."

Nor was Levy alone. An essay from the book Military Medical Ethics documents that more than 300 U.S. medical students and young doctors signed a pledge not to serve in the Armed Forces in Vietnam during that conflict.

Will APA, which is rumored to be assembling a new ethics panel to consider future ethics policy, continue to allow psychologists to still serve military forces at Guantanamo or other interrogation sites? It would seem so, if one considers recent activities around reforming psychological ethics.

[Note on personal connection to this subject: I have at times been a member of PsySR, and remain active on their listserv.]

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