Saturday, July 11, 2015

Soldz & Reisner's "Comments" to APA on Hoffman Report, with My Initial Thoughts on the Report

As can be seen from the introductory material below, the following material has been granted wide release by its authors. I am reproducing it here with general formatting from the original. A few typos have been quietly corrected.

The "Comments" by Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner concern the July 10 release of the APA-initiated Hoffman report, "Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture," conducted by David H. Hoffman of the law firm Sidley Austin LLP. A PDF of the lengthy report can be found here. APA's own press release and their own recommended actions related to the report's release is linked here. An index to the exhibits in the report and five binders of supplementary materials used in the report are posted at APA's website.

Previously, I cited what I believed to be serious questions regarding conflict of interest issues regarding Hoffman and CIA and the RAND Corporation (see here and here). I still believe those were relevant questions to ask, and until I absorb the full report, I cannot say for certain what effect any relationship in particular between Hoffman and the CIA or RAND had in the final version of the report.

In this report, Hoffman stated that he could not get the full story on how the APA interacted with CIA, primarily due to classification issues. Regarding the issue, for instance, of participation of past APA presidents with the CIA, Hoffman had this to say in a key paragraph:
As to the actions and knowledge of the former APA officials listed above (Fox, Gravitz, Matarazzo, and Seligman), some of them were clearly brought closer to the circle of knowledge through important interactions with Hubbard and Mitchell, as described further below. But we did not find evidence that there was a significant link between APA and their interactions or communications with the CIA. It is a fair question whether important interactions between these very prominent former APA officials also entailed, led to, or were connected to important interactions between APA and CIA. Except for very limited instances, we did not see any evidence of this in our examination of APA emails and other documents, and in our interviews, despite having found a very substantial amount of email and documentary evidence establishing important interactions between APA and government officials in other contexts, as set out above and below. On the one hand, this makes sense, since prominent psychologists who are former APA Presidents and Board members would not necessarily think that their interactions with the CIA about these issues would call for them to contact the APA, unless the CIA had specifically requested something from APA. On the other hand, we keenly recognize that in investigating activities involving the CIA, an agency that trains people to keep things secret for a living, we are especially limited in our ability to determine definitively what occurred, and therefore we are aware that our conclusions can only be based on the evidence available to us. This is especially true when the interactions are between CIA officials and individuals who were not APA officials or employees at the time, since their emails would not necessarily have been within APA’s system. [pg. 46 of report]
Furthermore, there are various points were evaluations of the evidence seems unwarranted, or based on interviews and evaluations of credibility that cannot be independently assessed, as in the assertion that "APA did not have the same close and longstanding relationship with the CIA as it did with DoD..." I also believe that Hoffman's dismissal of the import of the 2003 APA-CIA-RAND meeting, and the roles of Kirk Hubbard, Charles "Andy" Morgan, Kirk Kennedy, Susan Brandon, Philip Zimbardo, Martin Seligman, and others, may not be accurate. But I hesitate to say more until I have more fully examined the evidence, particular what has been posted in the over 600 MB of binder material at APA's Hoffman-related webpage.

There is also the significant problem that the entire issue of the controversy over the use of Behavioral Science Consultants in interrogations is posed as something in the past. In fact, as I've made clear recently, the passing of the Feinstein-McCain amendment to the National Authorization Act, which made use of the Army Field Manual a lawful requirement by government interrogators, including the CIA, means that use of BSCs have now the force of law. Much worse, and related, is the fact that the Army Field Manual on interrogations itself contains many abusive and torture-like "techniques" like isolation, sleep and sensory deprivation, use of fear and inducing "hopelessness and helplessness" in detainees, such that it has been condemned by the UN and various human rights organizations. The Hoffman report never references anything in relation to this.

Despite these concerns, and any others I may yet find, the report has provided a wealth of material that is useful to those who oppose unethical use of medical professionals in interrogations, as well as those who oppose torture in general and are trying to unwind the entire story of U.S. involvement in torture. For that I am grateful. The report helps fill in many gaps in our knowledge of how APA interacted with the Department of Defense, both in sidestepping and sabotaging critics, and in managing how APA ethics practice could be made congruent with DoD (and CIA) needs. I agree, however, with Hoffman, that evidence shows that changes to the APA ethics code itself, made in 2002, were not in response to the need to alibi torture, at least not in their inception.

Additionally, it has not passed my notice that the report has important new details on certain stories I covered earlier, including the interrogation and abuse meted out by NCIS to Daniel King, and Stephen Behnke's work helping train the BSCTs.

Also, Hoffman examined changes made to the "Common Rule" governing government-linked human subjects research changes made by Paul Wolfowitz to DoD's own directive on such research, and stated, "it seems likely that the exceptions in the Common Rule and the definitional changes in the Wolfowitz Directive broadened opportunities for DoD to conduct research on detainees subjected to interrogations."  He added, "However, there is no evidence that APA acted to facilitate psychologists’ participation in such research, if it occurred."

Hoffman evidently drew in part upon a lengthy examination of the Wolfowitz Directive and other ethics changes which Jason Leopold and I wrote in October 2010, as he footnoted that article in a section that commented on the weakening of informed consent protections by DoD (pg. 281 of the report).

As regards the rehabilitation of the APA, I am dubious. In my Jan. 2008 public resignation from the APA, I wrote, "I view APA's shifting position on interrogations to spring from a decades-long commitment to serve uncritically the national security apparatus of the United States. Recent publications and both public and closed professional events sponsored by APA have made it clear that this organization is dedicated to serving the national security interests of the American government and military, to the extent of ignoring basic human rights practice and law. The influence of the Pentagon and the CIA in APA activities is overt and pervasive, if often hidden."

Ongoing revelations, including the material in the Hoffman report, strengthens this conclusion from seven years ago. I do not believe that, recent events otherwise, this is going to change.

Now, the U.S. is gearing up for new Cold War with Russia and China, and the use of psychologists and other medical professionals by the military and intelligence services is likely to continue. It would be utopian to believe that APA or any significant organization involved in government contracts and activities would be able to separate itself from such actions. Instead, we might see that a rejuvenated APA, supposedly made clean by a purging of elements, like Behnke, APA's former Ethics chief who was recently fired based on the Hoffman revelations, still working on many elements of strengthening imperialist armed forces aimed at war and conquest, much as medical professionals and their organizations have in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

It has not passed my attention, for instance, that the American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association, both of which have stated policies against the use of their members in interrogations, have never once censored or made charges against any CIA or DoD medical professional for their actions in relation to renditions and torture. As APA proposes to make a similar ban, it is worth considering the worthlessness of how such bans have been implemented, or rather not implemented, at those organizations.

The following are the thoughts and recommendations of key opponents of APA policy on interrogations. I have not evaluated these in any depth, and present them here for public examination and as a key part of the evolving discussion around the APA torture scandal, noting that the authors note their comments are preliminary, and that they, too, have not had time to absorb the full content or import of the Hoffman report.

I thank Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner for their willingness and dedication to transparency to make these "Opening Comments" to APA a part of the public record. (Update: Dr. Soldz has now added a link to his own posting of the "Comments.")
Folks,

As you know, Steven Reisner and I met with the APA board on July 2. We agreed to confidentiality until the report was public, which happened today. We, therefore, are distributing the Opening Comments that Steven and I made at that meetings. We believe that they provide a guide with which to judge APA’s actions in the coming weeks. Feel free to distribute. [Apologies for cross-posting.] {Ed. note: square brackets in original}

Opening Comments of Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner to the American Psychological Association Board, July 2, 2015

Last October, James Risen published allegations of American Psychological Association (APA) complicity in the Bush era torture program in his book Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. In the wake of these allegations, the APA Board in November 2014 commissioned an independent investigation of these allegations. This allegation was conducted by Chicago attorney David Hoffman of Sidley Austin LLC and his colleagues.

In late June, 2015, as they prepared to receive the Hoffman Report, the APA Board asked to meet with us (Steven Reisner and Stephen Soldz). We presume we were asked because over the last nine years we have been leaders of the movement to remove psychologists from abusive and sometimes torturous national security interrogations. Further, we have researched and published extensively on these issues and extensively shared the results of our research with Hoffman and his team. Most recently, we were the psychologist coauthors of the report All the President’s Psychologists: The American Psychological Association’s Secret Complicity with the White House and US Intelligence Community in Support of the CIA’s ”Enhanced” Interrogation Program, which was featured in a May 1, 2015 New York Times article.

The Board requested and we agreed to keep the substance of our discussions confidential until the report became public. However, with the public release of the report, we are now free to speak. Below are our opening comments to the Board.

Stephen Soldz Comments:

Thank you for having us here. I wish it was under less disturbing circumstances. We have come to discuss with you what we believe needs to be done by the American Psychological Association (APA) in the wake of the imminent release of the Hoffman Report. The conditions of confidentiality requested by the Board and agreed to by us have precluded our being able to discuss our ideas with our colleagues who have joined us for the last decade in our attempts to unveil the web of collusion beneath APA’s policies and actions regarding psychologist participation in sometimes abusive national security interrogations. However, our ideas have benefited from hundreds of hours of discussion with colleagues regarding the steps necessary to put APA on an ethical course. We believe that these ideas reflect those of many others besides ourselves, though we also consider it vital that the voices of those many others be actively heard as we proceed.

I would like to make some opening comments, following which Steven Reisner will describe our ideas for the initial steps needed for APA to right itself and weather the storm that is just over the horizon. We would like to emphasize that these comments and ideas were put down less than 48 hours after we obtained access to the 500+ page Report. Neither of us has even read the entire report, much less absorbed it. Thus, these ideas are preliminary and may well be supplemented by others as we fully absorb the report and discuss with colleagues what should be done.

I would like to begin with a very brief summary of what we take to be the gist of this report. The report documents in exhaustive detail the existence of a years long conspiracy to engage in collusion between senior leadership in the APA and the intelligence community, including the CIA and, most notably, the Department of Defense (DOD). This collusion involves a two-pronged strategy by the APA: First, there was a concerted attempt to generate so-called “ethical” policies on psychologist involvement in interrogations that would provide no constraints whatsoever on psychologists in the military working for DOD and other agencies. The second prong consisted of an elaborate deceptive and dishonest public relations strategy to falsely portray APA policy as concerned with the protection of detainee welfare and human rights.

This collusion included the development of apparently fine-sounding policy statements that were, as the report documents, virtually always vetted directly by DOD officials; manipulation of critics of APA policy to ensure that attempts to change that policy were toothless and did not in fact challenge DOD policies or practices; a strategic decision to turn heads away from increasing evidence on torture and other detainee abuse, including homicides, and on psychologist involvement in that abuse; and the dismissal and/or failure to investigate in any serious way ethical complaints against psychologists alleged to have participated in abusive interrogations, accompanied by repeated assurances from APA officials that all complaints would be comprehensively investigated. This collusion was accompanied by systematic manipulation of APA governance procedures, the active solicitation of opposition to critics by APA staff, and even the recording, in at least two known instances, of falsely claimed “unanimous” votes.

This years-long collusion was accompanied by false statements from every Board and every elected President over the last decade denying the existence of the collusion described in such detail by Mr. Hoffman. The collusion was also accompanied by squelching of critics and, sometimes, by personal attacks upon them in the face of overwhelming evidence in the public record, including media reports and the results of multiple government investigations by Congress and other agencies. Most notable, are the vicious personal attacks upon PENS task force member and national hero Jean Maria Arrigo, who first revealed the collusion, attacks that in one case was distributed widely by the president of the Association; responses to those attacks went unanswered by that President or any other Association official. Other critics have been banned from state psychological association listservs; been attacked by an APA president in the official Monitor on Psychology as “opportunistic commentators masquerading as scholars;” been threatened with possible libel suits and ethics complaints; been disinvited from speaking to and writing for state psychological associations; been surreptitiously recorded by APA staff when having a private conversation with reporters; had venues where they were speaking criticized and even implicitly threatened with loss of accreditation; and called “clowns” in a national psychological newspaper by an individual given numerous awards by APA and its divisions and who is often in APA governance. This, sadly, is only a partial list of the attacks on critics. In none of these instances did people in APA leadership positions stand up to defend the right of critics to speak. These actions were all undertaken against those who sought to uncover the collusion that was denied by Association leadership, including this Board and the current CEO only a few months ago.

That is the background to our meeting today to discuss how the APA should respond to the crisis facing the Association, the profession, and the country. I suspect that some of you have not yet fully grasped the magnitude of this crisis. As the result of its collusion, the APA is likely to become the public face of torture. The press storm will be fierce. Editorials will condemn the Association’s actions. Congress members will weigh in. Human rights groups, frustrated with the lack of accountability for torture, will be lining up to raise money off of suing the APA. There may be a decade of lawsuits, draining the budget and staff and elected officials’ time. Members will flee and young psychologists will be even more reluctant to join. And the Association’s 501©(3) nonprofit status may be threatened.

More importantly, if not handled correctly, torture collusion will become the public face of the profession we love. There is little doubt that the APA’s actions will go down in history books next to the chapter on the Tuskegee and Guatemalan syphilis experiments. The actions we take in the coming weeks, months, and years will determine how that chapter ends.

I would like to end by outlining what I believe are the fundamental principles that should guide the APA’s actions forward. These are: contrition, accountability, transparency, inclusiveness, and genuine change. Notice that I did not list “healing” or “reconciliation.” Healing and reconciliation are needed, certainly, but this is not the time to talk of them. Before healing can start, we need painful surgery to remove the tumor that our work and the Hoffman Report demonstrate have been at the heart of the APA for the last decade.

Now Steven will describe the preliminary steps necessary to start removing this tumor.

Steven Reisner Comments:

Following on Stephen's comments I want to reiterate: There is a cancer on the APA. You here will have to decide whether to do the necessary surgery or whether you will preside over the death of the association:

There are four issues here:

1. The APA sacrificed its reputation and independence – perhaps its 501c3 tax exempt status – to align its policies with those of the CIA and the DOD. This was an active campaign, with constant behind the scenes consultation, in order to do the bidding of these agencies, first the CIA, then the DOD.

2. There was an active campaign to undermine the will of the membership and of the council when they attempted to institute ethical restrictions on such activity. Simultaneously efforts were made to prop up and expand opposing efforts in support of such activity. Sometimes efforts were made to create opposing efforts to such activity. Thus APA ceased being a member-driven or democratic organization. The letter and spirit of the organizations by-laws were thwarted in favor of this secret agenda pushed by a staff that is supposed to be neutral and facilitative of the will of membership and governance. Instead staff manipulated the council and the membership.

3. There was a public relations campaign directed to deceive the public and to manipulate governance. To the public the PR campaign made the false claims that APA was acting independently for human rights at the behest of its membership, while in fact it was doing the opposite. Within the organization there was a campaign to influence and manipulate those who opposed the policy or were uninformed and to bully those who would not be manipulated.

4. All of this was done to advance a program of torture and abuse. It continued long after that program and the psychologists’ role in that program were public knowledge. If this level of manipulation and deception were done solely to secretly promote a government agenda, it would be a scandal; the fact that it was done to support torture and abusive monitoring of and research on detainees, is more than a scandal – it reaches the level of support for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The numbers of APA staff and members of governance involved actively in this disgrace is staggering. It began with a few and rapidly incorporated increasing numbers from top to bottom.

Before I lay out what we believe APA must do, I want to make clear what you are dealing with. If the report is released on July 20th, there will be front-page articles in every major newspaper in this country and around the world on July 21st.

The headlines will read: Report Finds APA Leadership Colluded With Bush Administration in Support of Torture.

What will the subheading read?
“Many named remain in leadership positions”
or
“APA removes tainted leadership in response to investigation”

This is not a PR problem. This is a survival of the association problem. And there is no good way to get through this. You will face numerous lawsuits and secondary investigations. You will face a hemorrhage of membership and the loss of public trust. And APA is going to lose its central leadership of the past decade and a half.
--------------
I will now follow on Stephen’s list of five essential categories of steps that must be taken if the association has a chance of surviving:

Contrition,
Accountability,
Transparency,
Inclusiveness
Genuine Change

Contrition

· Let’s be clear that contrition is not a PR maneuver. Contrition requires thoroughgoing acknowledgement, remorse and change. APA must publicly acknowledge the depth and scope of this failure.

· Apology to all affected – to the people harmed (detainees), it includes the public and the congress (for not upholding public trust and deceiving them), to the profession, members, former member and non-members for undermining our ethical foundations, opening us up to ridicule and scorn, and damaging our reputation. And to Jean Maria Arrigo.

· I would like to see an op-ed written by APA leadership in the Times expressing this contrition.

Accountability and Housecleaning

· Staff involved must be fired
· Members involved must be banned from governance
· Bring ethics charges where appropriate.
· More importantly, APA must publicly recommend state ethics charges where appropriate.
· Make sure there is no hint of conflicts of interest in any part of governance or staff
· Those found to be part of the collusion should be stripped of association awards, standing and honors.
· And then you can give a special award to Jean Maria for being willing to stand up to an onslaught of power and manipulation that no one in this room was willing to stand up to.

I will start with staff. I see that some of the people who need to go are in this room. That in itself tells me that you don’t really yet understand the seriousness of your situation. I want to say that this list is possibly incomplete, because I haven’t yet read every page of the report.

Staff to be fired
Anderson, Honaker, Gilfoyle, Farberman, Garrison, Kelly, Mumford, Behnke.

Governance prohibition effective immediately
Levant, Koocher, Banks, Dunivin, Moorehead-Slaughter, James, Deleon, Gelles, Newman, Gravitz, Shumate, Breckler, Strassberger, Sternberg, Matarrazo, and Anton

Recusal for conflict of interest and investigation of role required
Strickland

APA needs to recommend to Division and State Association that they do the same.

But housecleaning is a small piece of what is necessary for full accountability.
How do we hold leadership and governance itself accountable?
How do we answer the question, how did this happen and what must we do to insure it doesn’t happen again?

We must have a thoroughgoing and independent institutional review. We need to appoint a blue ribbon panel to evaluate the organizational processes, structures, procedures and culture that allowed this to happen.

The panel must recommend changes in processes, structures and procedures geared to preventing this kind of power manipulation from happening again. It must review APA’s overly close ties to military, intelligence agencies and government; it must in particular look at the potential for corruption in the directorates, in particular the ethics office, the ethics committee and the science directorate. It must investigate the APA voting processes and investigate the opaque entity that counts our votes: Intelliscan

It must further address:

· The power of staff and how it oversteps its institutional bounds
· The progressive minimization of the oversight role and authority of Council and restore its authority and responsibility
· Investigate how staff managed to impede the will of Council and prevent it from happening again (e.g., 1.02, statue of limitations).

We need a committee of ethicists to redesign APA ethics policy and procedures. It may be true that 1.02 was not changed with torture in mind – the fact that it and other standards were weakened under the influence of APAIT is a second scandal unto itself that must be investigated. We also need to reopen ethics cases closed as part of this conspiracy. And if those to be investigated are no longer members, we must recommend state board investigation.

There must be a financial accounting, including DOD, CIA and government money, awards, fellowships and quid pro quos.

We must refer this report and its findings to the FBI and we must cooperate fully in any ensuing investigation.

We must also refer the report to the appropriate Congressional committees, as per Senator Feinstein’s request. These committees include Senate Select CI, SASC, Senate Judiciary, and Senate Committee Health and human services and their counterparts in the House of Representatives. (Like the PENS report)

Policy change

All policies regarding APA and national security must be annulled, including the approval of operational psychology as a subspecialty.

Review of the ethics of national security and operational psychology:

Blue ribbon panel #2 to do a thoroughgoing independent ethical review of the role of psychologists in national security operations. JMA should be a part of such a panel, along with internationally recognized medical ethicists and human rights advocates.

Moratorium on participation in national security interrogation and detention operations during the review process.

No statute of limitation on TCID ethics charges, automatic ethics committee investigation for TCID charges when these arise in the context of national security operations, detention or interrogation activities.

We need to develop guidelines for undertaking such investigations.

For Non-members, APA has to recommend full investigation from the state boards in national security sites and offer them guidelines.

Transparency

Let this be the last time that APA discussions of such import are held in secret. We need to make all such discussions transparent and easily accessible. We also need to report in plain language:
· The salaries and perks of staff
· The lobbying APA does
· Who gets to represent APA to congress and government and how such people are chosen.
· Anything else members of council, the membership, or the public wants to know or should be informed of.

We need to make all our deliberations and actions transparent, including these discussions.

We should have APA books publish the Hoffman report; The American Psychologist and the Monitor should publish the Executive Summary.

We should deposit the entire record of the Hoffman investigation deposited into the APA PENS Debate Collection at the archive of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

And we should call for a Congressional investigation into the role of health professionals and health professional organizations roles in support of the torture program and invite the other health professional organizations to do the same.

Inclusiveness

All stakeholders must be represented in these discussions. These include the broader psychological community, including those who opposed now-tainted APA actions when they occurred and the hundreds or thousands who quit the APA because they recognized this complicity while the elected leadership and staff denied it. In addition, equally important stakeholders are the medical ethics community, human rights advocates, Congress (as seen by the expressed desire of Sen. Feinstein to review the report), and the broader public, as attested to by the extensive press interest in our April report. All of these have a stake in the decisions and initiatives you and we undertake today and in the coming weeks.

Ultimately, and importantly, we must set aside a time in August for a lengthy Town Hall Meeting at the convention where we give the membership a chance to discuss these revelations

Genuine Change - ???

Stephen Soldz
Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
ssoldz@bgsp.edu

Sunday, June 28, 2015

New Evidence on CIA Medical Torture: Injection "to the Bone" on Former Black Site Prisoner Majid Khan

Quite recently, U.S. authorities allowed the declassification of notes from Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) attorney Wells Dixon that described what his client, high-value detainee Majid Khan, told him about his torture at the hands of the CIA. Khan, a Pakistan citizen, is currently at Guantanamo, and awaits trial by military commission.

Dixon has described the hideous torture of his client, which comes on the heels of revelations in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence executive summary of their report on the CIA's torture program.

According to a June 2 Reuters report, Dixon described from interview notes with Khan, CIA use of solitary confinement; sexual abuse, including frequent touching of "private parts"; threats of physical harm; being hung naked from a pole for days; so-called "rectal feeding" (a form of anal rape); denial of food; water immersion and waterboarding, among other atrocities.

According to a CCR press release on Khan's torture, CIA doctors onsite were among the "worst torturers." Both Reuters and CCR have noted how doctors would check Khan's condition, ignore his appeals for help, and send him back into extreme forms of torture.

In a June 10 phone interview with Wells Dixon, Khan's attorney revealed there was more unreported material left out of the Reuters and CCR reports. In particular, Dixon revealed that Khan told him he was "also injected with a needle to the bone, and screamed in pain, then lost consciousness."

According to my research, an injection that just happens to hit a bone does not usually cause great pain. But an injection that enters the bone can. The latter is called an intraosseous or IO injection, and is used to quickly infuse drugs, particularly in instances where a person's life is at stake. It is usual medical procedure to insert lidocaine, a pain reliever, with or prior to injection because of the great pain associated with IO injections. Certain kinds of drugs can also cause great pain upon injection.

Did the CIA have medical need to make an IO injection, and withhold lidocaine or other pain reliever? Did CIA use the IO injection specifically to cause pain? Was a drug injected into Khan that specifically, or as side effect, caused great pain, in order to further torture him?

We don't know exactly what the CIA did with this, or any other injection, but the evidence of such forms of medical torture cannot be denied, despite recent attempts by the CIA to minimize allegations of such medical torture, such as the use of drugs in interrogation. In fact, a recent FOIA release from CIA obtained by Jason Leopold at VICE News showed that the CIA used blood thinners to prolong certain forms of torture.

It has not been easy to obtain this information. As Dixon noted in a June 22 op-ed at Al Jazeera, "The CIA has long tried to bury evidence of its crimes. When we filed a legal case challenging Majid's detention after his arrival at Guantanamo, the government prevented us from meeting with him for a year so that we would not learn about his torture."

UN Special Rapporteurs' "Letter of Allegation" to U.S. on Medical Torture and Experimentation

A new article by Adam Goldman at the Washington Post revealed that hundreds of photos from the CIA black sites exist. The fact they may be evidence at any future military commissions trial is currently being determined, as military prosecutors review the photos, which are said to include pictures of naked detainees, CIA personnel, and "photographs of confinement boxes where detainees such as Abu Zubaydah... were forced into for hours."

But it seems highly unlikely the public will see these photos, and we will have to rely on detainee testimony, and other various attempts by journalists, domestic and international bodies and organizations to pry out the information from the U.S. government. Along those lines, CCR has called for the full Senate CIA torture report and the Panetta Review to be released. A letter initiated by ACLU and signed by approximately 100 national and international rights groups on the need to ensure accountability for the U.S. CIA Torture Program was delivered to the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council.

In another attempt to gain more information and some degree of accountability on CIA torture, last January 15 two UN Special Rapporteurs wrote a letter to U.S. officials. In the wake of the revelations in the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence executive summary of their report on the CIA's torture program, the rapporteurs, Dainius Puras (Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health) and Juan E. Méndez (Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) asked the U.S. to respond to charges that doctors and other medical personnel were involved in torture and experimentation on detainees held by the CIA.

The letter was made public in relation to a periodic report submitted to the Human Rights Council earlier this year. (See this webpage, and then page 40 at document linked at A/HRC/29/50, "Communications report of Special Procedures.")

The UN officials also expressed "concern at the reported lack of investigation into these allegations."

Puras and Méndez  asked U.S. officials to respond to these charges and "explain how the role of health professionals in the CIA interrogation program is compatible with international human rights standards, including those ratified by the United States of America."
CIA health professionals played a central role in the CIA interrogation programme to an extent not understood or seen before. These health professionals designed, directed and profited from the CIA interrogation program; intentionally inflicted harm on detainees; enabled the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) lawyers to treat the interrogation practices as safe, legal and effective; engaged in potential human subjects research to provide legal cover for torture; monitored detainee torture and calibrated levels of pain; evaluated and treated detainees for purposes of torture; conditioned medical care on cooperation with interrogators; and failed to document physical and/or psychological evidence of torture.

The role and conduct of these health professionals, which included psychologists, psychiatrists, and physicians assistants, would not only imply a gross violation of medical and professional ethics but also violations of domestic and international law given the seriousness of the crime of torture, which is subject to universal jurisdiction.
Puras and Méndez also asked the U.S. to "provide details, and where available the results, of any investigation, medical examination, judicial or other inquiries carried out in relation to this case. If no inquiries have taken place, or if they have been inconclusive, please explain why."

The Special Rapporteurs gave the U.S. 60 days to reply.

State Department Kicks the Can on UN Charges

Last week I asked the State Department about the UN letter and whether the U.S. had replied. On June 24, a State Department official told me, "Our exchanges with mandate holders, such as the Special Rapporteurs, are private correspondence. We expect the mandate holders to treat these exchanges as such, and we do the same on our part."

The State Department didn't mention -- and likely does not want people to know -- that the communications are actually posted online a year after the initial communications take place. See this example of an October 2013 statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture on the situation of detainees held at Guantanamo, and its link at bottom to the actual communication, or "letter of allegation" to the U.S., originally sent to U.S. authorities on November 2012.

Or maybe the State Department doesn't want the public to know that many communications from the U.S. to these "letters of allegation" and "urgent appeals" from UN human rights officials go unanswered. Indeed, in the past 4 years, according to one U.N. document, 95 such communications were sent by UN officials to the United States, but the U.S. only replied to 56 of them. (Hat-tip to Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU's Human Rights Program, for this stat.)

Perhaps nothing portrays the weakness at present of international human rights mechanisms as the degree to which UN member states ignore these "special procedures" or communications from UN officials on human rights matters. Indeed, this is a large-scale problem. In a 2005 report summarizing statistics on these "letters of allegation" and "urgent letters" from different UN Special Rapporteurs, the overall government response rate from 137 member countries was only 46%. (The U.S. rate described above is 59%. Examples of recent non-responses by the U.S. to urgent appeals and letters of allegation from UN officials can be examined here.)

Feinstein Hiding Information on CIA Medical Experimentation

It's not only State Department officials who are reticent to engage dialogue on torture. The Senate Select Committee has determinedly stated they will not release their full report on CIA torture. As explained below, medical experimentation by the CIA is presumably included in the classified portions. Over 90% of the report remains classified.

I remembered that back in 2010, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, then chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told me that in response to a revelatory report by Physicians for Human Rights on the question of CIA experimentation on detainees she would issue further comment on the matters discussed in the PHR report after the SSCI's report was done.

"The findings of the new report from Physicians for Human Rights will be considered in our review," Feinstein said, "and I will have further comment on this when the report is completed.”

A few days ago, Feinstein's press secretary Tom Mentzer replied to my query about Feinstein's 2010 promise, "The study’s executive summary includes details about CIA medical and psychological personnel involved in the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Any additional information included in the full report is classified. The committee did closely examine the Physicians for Human Rights report, and the senator commented on the more recent APA report here."

Mentzer's link is to an April 30, 2015 statement by Sen. Feinstein in relation to allegations of links between the American Psychological Association and the CIA torture program.

Feinstein's statement said she was "troubled" by the allegations. "I understand an independent review has been commissioned by the APA and look forward to reviewing its conclusions," she wrote. "This is a stark reminder that torture can corrode every institution it touches, including medical and psychological professions.”

I wrote back to Mentzer to ask whether Sen. Feinstein was aware of links I've made between Chicago attorney David H. Hoffman leading the supposed "independent review... commissioned by the APA" and CIA figures George Tenet and Kenneth J. Levitt, and Rand Corporation figure Newton Minow. Tenet was CIA director when the "enhanced interrogation" and "extraordinary rendition" programs were initiated.

Mentzer did not respond to my query. (An Illinois psychologist has recently written calling for the resignation of Hoffman for conflict of interest in the APA matter.)

Feinstein's reply to my recent query, to the point that "any additional information in the full report" on CIA experimentation on detainees is "classified," constitutes a cover-up of possible grave war crimes. At the very least, PHR should demand that Feinstein release all materials in the Committee's possession that bear on medical torture and human experimentation by the CIA.

As I told Mentzer in my request to Sen. Feinstein, "the issue of experimentation arises in the Executive Summary in the context of an interchange between OMS personnel and the CIA Inspector General on the feasibility of doing research on the 'effectiveness' of the CIA techniques. The PHR report, however, was concerned with specific data requested and transmitted regarding the operations of the techniques themselves, including measuring oxygen levels in waterboarding victims, and adjusting temperatures in detention settings for maximum discomfort."

It is likely that CIA experimentation went well beyond this, including new ways to measure physiological correlates of supposed deception, as well as physiological markers of being overwhelmed by the various torture techniques applied.

If, as Mentzer/Feinstein now maintain, the SSCI did take up PHR's charges of medical experimentation, the SSCI is not revealing what they found, and has no recommendations about what to do about it.

Sadly, the authors of the 2010 PHR report on CIA experimentation tried to steer public outrage into a complaint made to the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But OHSP referred the complaints back to the CIA, as such is their policy.

The authors of the PHR report knew this was OHSP policy to begin with, but led their supporters down the dead end of OHSP "protections." In personal correspondence, one of the report authors told me they knew the appeal to OHSP was a "long shot," but that "PHR lawyers went through law journals and found evidence that OHRP could be interpreted as having jurisdiction, though the situation was ambiguous." (Because this was personal correspondence, I am not using the person's name.)

Another example of the kinds of information being kept from the public was revealed recently by Jason Leopold at VICE News, who released a letter from former Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who was himself a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, to the CIA complaining about their refusal to show him "four written passages — located in an unknown document that may still be classified — related to the agency's destruction of interrogation videotapes."

Did this information ever surface in the classified SSCI report? We don't know. Just as we don't know what the U.S. will say to UN Special Rapporteurs about charges of medical torture and illegal experimentation, or if they even bother to respond. (Actually, we will know that, but not for another six months or so.)

For now, all we have -- and it is hideous enough -- are the cries from the torture chamber itself, as witnessed and reported by the detainees' attorneys. Will such cries be loud enough to stir real action and change?

Crossposted at Firedoglake

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Déjà vu on Interrogation "Reform": McCain/Feinstein Amendment Won't Stop Torture


"There's truth that lives and truth that dies..." - Leonard Cohen

In a bizarre mixture of the sincere and the insincere, an amendment proposed by a bipartisan group of senators to the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is being touted as all but ending torture by the U.S. -- if it passes.

According to an article in The Intercept, "Human rights and transparency organizations are applauding the effort." But is there really anything here to celebrate?

If you read The Intercept article all the way to the end, there's mention that a group of medical experts found the Army Field Manual "permits techniques that are 'recognized under international law as forms of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.'” So why is there applause?

Mark Fallon, the former deputy commander of the Criminal Investigation Task Force at Guantanamo, and currently Chair of the Research Committee of President Obama's inter-departmental High-value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), told Jason Leopold at Vice News the amendment "mandates and advocates the use of science and evidence-based research so we can be more effective during interrogations." Furthermore, there would be "a review of the Army Field Manual [AFM] to ensure we are only using best and lawful techniques" during interrogation.

Constitutional scholar David Cole writes at the Just Security website that he supports the amendment, which is jointly sponsored by Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein, Jack Reed and Susan Collins. Cole adds that others support it, too, including "David Keene, former President of the National Rifle Association and editorial page editor of the Washington Times..."

Newsweek posted an article by Rupert Stone this week, titled "Beyond Torture: The New Science of Interrogating Terrorists," which includes a long discussion of the importance of putting interrogation on a science-centered base.

Stone's article goes into more detail than others about problems concerning "the current version of the Army Field Manual [which] still offers a back door to some of the brutal tactics authorized after 9/11." Stone is of course talking about Appendix M of the Army Field Manual, which allows theoretically indefinitely extended amounts of solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, and sensory deprivation on so-called "unlawful enemy combatants." The interrogation methods of Appendix M are so severe, they require at times physician and/or psychologist in attendance to implement (shades of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program!).

But problems with the Army Field Manual do not start or end with Appendix M. The main section of the manual includes coercive methods of interrogation, including psychological techniques to induce fear, to tear down the ego and self-esteem of prisoners, to tear down their resistance to interrogation by inducing "hopelessness and helplessness," and allowing use of drugs on prisoners, so long as the drugs don't cause "lasting or permanent mental alteration or damage."

But Fallon and others, like veteran interrogator and Col. (ret.) Steven Kleinman, believe that the review mandated by the amendment will take care of the problems sometime in the future. Meanwhile, they urge passage of the amendment now. Kleinman told Newsweek, "Passing strongly worded legislation that would stand as a bulwark against torture... is the single most important step we must take.” (Both Fallon and Kleinman have impeccable anti-torture credentials.)

According to The Hill, this view is echoed by Elisa Massimino, President and CEO of Human Rights First, who said of the senators' amendment, “This is how a strong democracy deals with its mistakes — we examine what we did, and take the necessary steps to make it right.”

Meanwhile, in my email box, I have a plea from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. The mailing promises the "introduced legislation... could permanently end CIA torture." It asks I call my senators now, even as a group of seven human rights and civil liberties organizations, have released a statement, including ACLU and Physicians for Human Rights, supporting the amendment.

The entire campaign around the whole Feinstein-McCain amendment has an unreal quality. It arose all of a sudden. There's no real period of public discussion about it. The interpretation of the amendment itself is via sanitized sources we are supposed to trust. It's presented as a slam dunk issue for those who oppose torture. You'd have to be an ingrate to oppose such a good thing.

"Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday"

Where have I heard this all before? When the current Army Field Manual was released in September 2006, there was the same near-universal acclaim, the same pious intonations by human rights groups, the same spate of articles in the mainstream press. But nine years later -- though many news outlets still downplay or simply eliminate reference to it -- we know the 2006 version of the Army Field Manual contained forms of ill-treatment that the UN, reviewing torture policies by the United States, recently condemned.

I analyzed the PR campaign to sell the current version of the Army Field Manual in an article at Alternet in 2009. I pointed out how when the Army Field Manual was released in 2006, we had the same gushing praise and platitudes from the press.

The Washington Post bragged that the then-new Army Field Manual "repudiated the harsh interrogation tactics adopted since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

Human rights groups chimed in. As reported by the Post, Tom Malinowski, then Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (but previously a Senior Director of the Clinton White House National Security Council), stated, "This is the Pentagon coming full circle... This is very strong guidance."

Recently, Malinowski was tapped by the Obama administration to answer the United Nations in their questions about ill-treatment in Appendix M. In 2007, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he praised the AFM for using using "professional, humane interrogation methods."

Over and over I read how the Army Field Manual had "safeguards," "oversight," was a big "step-forward." Amnesty International's advocacy director called the AFM "an important return to the rule of law.... It is an important public statement."

But it was no such thing.

Similar misrepresentations take place today. In Cole's piece at Just Security, for instance, he claims that the Office of Legal Counsel memos authorizing torture memos, "written between 2002 and 2007, have all been rescinded and rejected."

But that's not true. One of them was not, and tellingly, it was the one dealing with the Army Field Manual and Appendix M.

"You know something is happening, but you don't know what it is"

Let's examine the text of the Feinstein-McCain amendment (download PDF) and see if the promises of its supporters holds any water.

"An individual... shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in the Army Field Manual 2-22.3"

Okay. We see that the existing Army Field Manual, including use of techniques and "approaches" such as "Fear Up," "Futility," "Ego Down", "False Flag" and "Separation" will continue to be the law of the land. The "Separation" or Appendix M approach is really an omnibus set of abusive techniques that includes use of solitary confinement, sleep and sensory deprivation, and environmental or dietary manipulation.

I asked via FOIA for DoD to produce examples of requests to use Appendix M, as is described by the Army Field Manual. DoD said it could not find any documents pertaining to that. So much for transparency and safeguards.

For 14 months I have had an outstanding FOIA requesting materials related to review of Appendix M by the Office of Secretary of Defense. I asked because the Army Field Manual itself states, "The Office of the Secretary of Defense will review these activities periodically in accordance with DOD Directive 3115.09." That FOIA is still pending. But if the partisans of the Feinstein-McCain amendment believe that DoD or the government will do any better in producing oversight material upon request to the public or press, I have a fine bridge in Brooklyn to sell them.

The Feinstein-McCain amendment states that "a thorough review" of the AFM is to be conducted at least one year after the enactment of the Authorization Act, and then every subsequent three years "to ensure that Army Field Manual 2-22.3 complies with the legal obligations of the United States and reflects current, evidence-based, best practices for interrogation that are designed to elicit reliable and voluntary statements and do not involve the use of threat of force."

The "thorough review" is to be conducted by "the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Attorney General, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Director of National Intelligence." In other words, the Executive Branch is to have total control over assessments of compliance of Army Field Manual practice with so-called "evidence-based, best practices for interrogation." What that really means is that there will be no "checks and balances" oversight here.

The model for such review would be DoD's 2009 Review of Department Compliance with President's Executive Order on Detainee Conditions of Confinement (PDF), which produced a wildly unrealistic picture of Guantanamo as consistent with Geneva norms of humane treatment. At the time there were continuing hunger strikes, as prisoners were savagely beaten by teams of guards. By June 2009, yet another detainee was found dead in a cell in the GTMO Behavioral Health Unit, where prisoners were observed every three minutes, supposedly dead by his own hand, having been driven insane by what the autopsy report called "conditions of confinement."

The highly-regarded researcher of the Guantanamo camp, Andy Worthington, called the 2009 review "a bitter joke." There's no reason not to expect the same from the Feinstein-McCain Amendment's proposed AFM reviews.

Interestingly, however, it's worth noting that the the Central Intelligence Agency appears to be frozen out of the proposed review process.

"People writing songs that voices never share"

"Not less than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the interagency body established... shall submit to the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, the Attorney General, and other appropriate officials [could this be the CIA?] a report on current, evidence-based, best practices for interrogation that are designed to elicit reliable and voluntary statements and do not involve the use of force.... The report required... may include recommendations for revisions to Army Field Manual 2-22.3 based on the body of research commissioned by the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group."

While HIG experts like Fallon and Kleinman may take umbrage in such verbiage -- indeed, it's flattering to see your own research touted as something of governmental importance -- there is nothing mandated in this language, at least as regards any updating or change in techniques or approaches in the Army Field Manual.

"The report... may include recommendations," and nothing is said about any recommendations being enforced. Indeed, we already have public members of the HIG on record as being against some of the abuse in the Army Field Manual, and still nothing changes.

One of those associated, Col. Kleinman, was on record as recently as 2011 as stating in an article, "The Obama Administration has made a good-faith attempt to bring standards to American interrogation practices by issuing an Executive Order that extended the relevant U.S. Army Field Manual’s directives to all government-wide interrogation efforts." That "good-faith attempt" included making via Executive Order Appendix M the law of the land.

Kleinman is on-record as criticizing the current AFM as being unscientific. He wrote a paper that supposedly elaborates on that with another current HIG official, psychologist Susan Brandon, and two other researchers. But according to Stone's Newsweek article, the 2010 review of AFM techniques was not publicly released for fear it "could have jeopardized the HIG’s relationship with the military." If releasing a critical article is too dicey for critics of DoD's Army Field Manual, what can one expect from any future reviews led by the Secretary of Defense?

Meanwhile, Brandon is under a cloud of controversy recently for her participation in activities with the American Psychological Association in regards to allegedly facilitating torture.

Brandon helped organize a workshop with the APA, CIA and Rand Corporation back in 2003 that looked at, among other things, "what pharmacological agents are known to affect apparent truth-telling behavior," and "sensory overloads on the maintenance of deceptive behaviors." One of her workshop discussion questions asked, "How might we overload the system or overwhelm the senses and see how it affects deceptive behaviors?"

In 2005, Brandon was an "observer" at an APA meeting that met to consider ongoing use of psychologists in national security investigations. She reportedly helped write the part of the report from the meeting that spoke to issues bearing on national security research, just the sort of research, it seems, that the HIG is either doing or proposing when it comes to interrogations. One of those research projects on "false confessions," as recently reported at Bloomberg, left some participants "angry," and one woman who "dissolves into tears."

Hence, there are ethical questions about the kinds of research being done, what can be accomplished in such research, and the fact that even if some kind of "evidence-based" interrogation protocols that don't involve "force" are suggested by research and then DoD-led review, there's no mandate or promise in the new legislation that it will ever be implemented.

Indeed, there is nothing in the new legislation that calls for the removal of Appendix M.

"Into the night, shadows fall"

A most interesting section of the amendment, unique in its hypocrisy and unstated cover for torture, concerns the FBI and other Federal law enforcement agencies:

"Nothing in this subsection shall preclude an officer, employee, or other agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or other Federal law enforcement agency from continuing to use authorized, non-coercive techniques of interrogation that are designed to elicit voluntary statements and do not involve the use of force, threats, or promises."

Anyone familiar with the work of the FBI, or other Federal agencies will find this presentation of "non-coercive" agents never threatening suspects something of a fairy tale.

A few years ago, I reported the case of Petty Officer Daniel King, who the Naval Criminal Investigative Service coerced into a false confession of treason, and with the assistance of a Navy psychologist, drove to such a degree of desperation he tried to kill himself. (See here and here.)

But the FBI probably has a lot more charges of abuse than most other Federal law enforcement agencies. None of these charges have been bigger than those surrounding the massive FBI investigation into the July 2010 World Cup bombings in Kampala, Uganda.

The FBI interrogated a number of prisoners from Kenya and other East African countries who were renditioned to Uganda. It was the largest foreign FBI investigation since the USS Cole attack in 2000. A 2011 report by Ian Cobain at The Guardian detailed accusations of abuse by FBI agents involved in the investigation.

A more recent case of FBI malfeasance and complicity in torture is the case of Yonas Fikre, a 36-year-old Eritrean-born American who charges the FBI had pressured him to collaborate with them, and when placing him on a no-fly list failed, had him "arrested, interrogated and tortured for 106 days in the United Arab Emirates," according to a report in The Guardian.

The issue of FBI torture deserves a lot more public examination, and in a subsequent article I plan to go into much more detail on the World Cup bombing case.

"Always something happening and nothing going on"

The issue of torture by proxy or liaison-country cover is also important, and was a major factor in the scandal surrounding extraordinary rendition, where CIA and DoD prisoners were turned over to U.S.-friendly intelligence agencies in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and other nations, where they were terribly tortured.

More recently, there are similar charges surrounding the World Cup bombing case, but better reported in the U.S. was Jeremy Scahill's 2011 report at The Nation concerning CIA-run black sites in Somalia. Ostensibly under the control of Somalia's National Security Agency, the sites were used to train Somali intelligence agents, while CIA interrogators are given direct access to prisoners held in the Somali secret detention sites.

In fact, as a recent FOIA release of a 1963 CIA interrogation manual shows, use of "liaison" or "host' countries as cover for torture is very old practice, honed during the Cold War.

It is a fact that the CIA chief of interrogations in the early years of its post-9/11 rendition and torture program was previously known (and supposedly chastised) for using a 1983 torture instruction manual -- "Human Resource Exploitation" -- the U.S. had distributed to Latin American police and intelligence forces for the purposes of instruction in torture. Nothing could better illustrate how the use of proxy or "host" countries for torture is on a continuum with the worst of the CIA's torture program.

But it is not the CIA or FBI alone who act this way. During the U.S.-instigated Iraq War, the Department of Defense notoriously issued a "Fragmentary Order" (FRAGO 242) that had U.S. armed forces turn prisoners over to Iraq security forces, even though they knew they would be tortured. In many cases, the Iraq security forces themselves had been trained by the U.S.

Nothing in the Feinstein-McCain amendment speaks to this long-practiced method of torture by proxy used by U.S. intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies.

"Everybody knows the deal is rotten"

It is highly unlikely that most Americans will hear anything negative about the Feinstein-McCain Amendment, except perhaps from right-wing types who lust for the good old days of CIA's "enhanced" torture brutality. But for the record, this amendment does nothing to stop torture.

Despite all the caveats and evidence I've gathered here, the truth is almost none of it will reach the ears or eyes of American citizens. But then, only the simulacrum of a reasonable debate on this policy is expected. The Establishment of respectable citizens, who make up human rights organizations and government-academic merry-go-round that employs them, has already spoken. The consensus has already been drawn.

But that doesn't mean the amendment is worth a damn. While no one is held accountable for disgusting and barbaric forms of torture, from driving people insane with music and bright lights, to holding them in solitary for years, to waterboarding or water immersion, to injecting blood thinner drugs into them so they can be forced to maintain body positions for hours on end, and much more worse ("rectal feedings"? no, anal rape)... while no one is held accountable for this, an anemic and mostly window-dressing reform is dressed up as something significant and sold by hucksters. Backing them are those sincerely anti-torture individuals and groups who still trust the usual authorities to do the right thing.

But none of that can hide what this amendment is: fraud, trickery, deception, the most meretricious sort of sham. The fact that some of those supporting the amendment are sincere and good individuals doesn't change a thing.

Crossposted at Firedoglake.com

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New Questions About Conflict-of-Interest Throw Doubt on APA's "Independent Review" of CIA Links

A report by psychologists and human rights workers released at the end of April charged officials of the American Psychological Association with collaborating with Bush administration officials, including members of the CIA, in furthering the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" torture program. The report, titled "All the President's Psychologists," drew upon emails from a deceased RAND Corporation researcher, Scott Gerwehr, who evidently worked in some capacity with the CIA.

"The APA's complicity in the CIA torture program, by allowing psychologists to administer and calibrate permitted harm, undermines the fundamental ethical standards of the profession," the report, which was published by The New York Times, said.

APA countered these charges, which also were raised by New York Times journalist James Risen last year, by engaging "David Hoffman of the law firm Sidley Austin to conduct an independent review of whether there is any factual support for the assertion that APA engaged in activity that would constitute collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use of 'enhanced' interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror," according to a statement by the psychologist organization last November.

But this "independent review" into links between APA and the CIA torture program was compromised, according to my own research, by links between its leader, David H. Hoffman, and former members of the CIA, including former director George Tenet, who headed the Agency at the time it constructed and implemented its post-9/11 torture program.

This article will demonstrate that Hoffman and his law firm also have professional links to a former chairman of the think-tank RAND Corporation, Newton Minow. RAND played a key role in the controversies surrounding APA and torture, as discussed below. It is the contention of this article that together with the revelations concerning Hoffman's ties to former CIA figures, including Tenet, and now links to a key RAND figure, that the potential for conflicts-of-interest can not be ignored.

RAND's History

According to RAND's website, its organization is nonprofit and "nonpartisan.... independent of political and commercial pressures." The Center for Media and Democracy's Sourcewatch website reports that "one-half of RAND's research involves national security issues." RAND reports that roughly five percent of its work is classified. Besides national security issues, RAND has long produced analyses concerning health care, education, and other topics.

RAND was active in the counter-terror/counterinsurgency prosecution of the Vietnam War. They offered expertise to CIA advisers working on the interrogation-torture-assassination program known as Project Phoenix. Such collaboration is mentioned in a 2009 RAND history of Phoenix. This study has nothing to say of Phoenix's history of torture, and barely even mentions the use of interrogation, while trying to refute charges of assassination by Phoenix teams. According to RAND's analysis, "decisionmakers would be wise to consider how Phoenix-style approaches might serve to pry open Taliban and Al-Qaeda black boxes." [pg. 24])

Douglas Valentine in his book, The Phoenix Project, describes how top CIA Phoenix official, Robert "Blowtorch" Komer, left the Agency to work for RAND in 1970.

Perhaps most famously, RAND Corporation was the source of the famous Pentagon Papers, as RAND analysts, including Daniel Ellsberg, had been involved in collecting the papers that made up the famous secret history of U.S. policy in Vietnam. Interestingly, it was Minow, as then-appointed chair of RAND's Board of Trustees who led the damage control effort there after the Ellsberg leak.

Most recently, RAND has been active in consulting on counterinsurgency tactics in the post-9/11 "war on terror."

The Role of RAND Corporation in CIA's Torture Scandal

While charges of APA collaboration with both CIA and the Department of Defense on interrogation policies, including use of torture, go back some years now, the issue took on greater urgency after New York Times journalist James Risen revealed details of such collaboration in his book Pay Any Price.

Risen's new information was based on a collection of emails he obtained that belonged to a deceased RAND Corporation researcher, Scott Gerwehr. The emails proved Gerwehr worked closely with CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard. Hubbard was the head of CIA's Operational Assessment Division, and from 2005-09 was a contractor with Mitchell-Jessen and Associates, a company linked by Senate investigators to use of torture.

A key instance of the alleged collaboration between APA and CIA was the joint sponsorship of a group of workshops on "The Science of Deception," held at RAND's Arlington, Virginia offices on July 17-18, 2003. As I reported back in May 2007, one of the workshops included "scenarios" for discussion that included "pharmacological agents... known to affect apparent truth-telling behavior, and the use of "sensory overloads" to "overwhelm the senses and see how it affects deceptive behaviors."

Journalist Katherine Eban reported much the same about the workshop later that year in a seminal article for Vanity Fair, which exposed the fact CIA psychologists James Bruce Mitchell and Jessen had been present at the event.

The APA-CIA-RAND joint workshops were organized by RAND's Gerwehr, CIA's Hubbard, and APA's then "senior scientist" Susan Brandon, and APA's Director of Science Policy, Geoff Mumford. In 2010, I reported that APA's online linkage to the offensive "scenarios" had been scrubbed from APA's website.

Someone doesn't want the full story on this event to be known. As recently as November 2011, in a FOIA response to this author, the CIA claimed it could find no records pertaining to the 2003 APA-CIA-RAND meeting or workshops. (See PDF of response.) Risen and his collaborators on the Gerwehr-APA story also have failed to release all the information they have in their possession regarding the same event.

Similarly, in response to a FOIA I filed, the FBI could find no responsive documents regarding documents supposedly turned over to it by one of the authors of the "President's Psychologists" report,  Nathaniel Raymond. Raymond told me via email, "I directed the FBI and Durham in fall of 2010 during an in person meeting at DoJ HQ to where and how to obtain the [Gerwehr] emails. Durham and the FBI independently obtained the emails in the spring of 2011 based on the information I provided in 2010.... Any requests for access to the additional 600+ emails used in our analysis should be directed to [James Risen]." At the FBI's request, on May 6, 2015 I provided more information to assist the FBI in their records search. The FOIA request is still active.

Campaign Contributions

The critics who have opposed APA, or at least those who wrote the "President's Psychologists" report, which highlighted charges of APA complicity with intelligence agencies in the furtherance of the CIA's torture program, have publicly ignored charges that the APA-initiated "independent investigation" had serious conflict-of-interest problems due to Hoffman's relationships with Tenet and also Tenet's CIA Special Counsel from 1998-2000, Kenneth J. Levit.

(The use of "investigation" rather than "review" is a preference of APA's critics, and has been taken up by most of the press. It is my contention that the "review" barely, if at all, deserves the nomenclature of an "investigation." The word "investigate" or "investigation" never appears in the APA's "Board of Directors Resolution Regarding Independent Review." Hoffman himself, however, has used the term, as will be seen below. )

The "President's Psychologists" report never mentions or raises any questions about the obscure association between Hoffman and Tenet and Levit, nor do they seem to have investigated any such associations on their own.

The mainstream press fares no better. Articles that mention the Hoffman "investigation," including by James Risen at the New York Times and Amy Goodman at Democracy Now!, fail to mention Hoffman's link to CIA figures. One exception to this coverage was James Bradshaw at the National Psychologist who noted Hoffman's uncovered links to key CIA personnel.

In an email exchange with this author last December, David Hoffman refused to elaborate on the nature or his relationship with both Tenet and Levit in recent years. His known professional relationship goes back to Hoffmann's work in Sen. David Boren's office in the early 1990s, when Boren was chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Tenet was the SSCI's Staff Director. Levit also worked in Boren's office at that time.

Recently I discovered that Levit gave over $1,700 to Hoffman's abortive Senate campaign in 2010, a fact Hoffman had not revealed. I've asked Hoffman whether he knew about Levit's contributions, but as of press time he has not responded on that issue. I will update this post with Hoffman's response if or when I receive it. Meanwhile, Hoffman's response to other issues raised here is discussed below.

Meanwhile, discussion of the role of RAND Corporation in the whole scandal is either muted or totally ignored. In The Intercept's October 2014 story about the APA controversy, Gerwehr's employment by RAND is never mentioned. He is only referred to as a "behavioral science researcher." Gerwehr's work on counterterrorism and urban combat is never mentioned. The author of the story, Cora Currier, also never mentions the 2003 joint APA-CIA-RAND workshop described above, even though it is a key part of the narrative of the entire scandal, as reported by Risen, Eban, and others.

Minow's Links to RAND, Donald Rumsfeld, and David Hoffman

The most intriguing new information regarding the APA-CIA scandal concerns the fact that one of a handful of senior counsels in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin where David Hoffman works is Newton Minow. According to Sidley Austin's website, Minow was "a partner with the firm from 1965-1991." For much of that time, and beyond, he was also a member of the Board of Trustees for RAND Corporation, and was Chair of the Board in the early 1970s.

Minow is not only the former chairman of RAND Corporation, he is an incredibly well-linked member of the political establishment, going back to the Kennedy Administration. In more recent years, he has been a political consultant to President Barack Obama. (Obama had been an intern for Sidley Austin in Chicago, recruited by Minow's daughter, Martha, who is currently dean of Harvard Law School.)

Minow's resume is by Establishment standards quite distinguished. He is a former chairman of the FCC and of the Carnegie Foundation. He is a former Vice Chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, and is still listed as a member of its Board of Directors.

Minow's plea for more U.S. funding for international broadcasting efforts like those of Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Radio Marti, and his vilification of Al Jazeera as Osama bin Laden's "favored news outlet" made it into the pages of Congressional Record.

Perhaps most telling in Minow's resume is the sponsorship of a scholarship in his name at the Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, California, which RAND bills as "the largest public policy analysis Ph.D. program in the United States." The Newton M. Minow Scholarship was initially funded with a $150,000 grant from Donald Rumsfeld, a noted torture figure himself.

Minow's linkage to RAND does not end there. As recently as 2003, he was on the Board of Advisors for RAND's Public Safety and Justice division. He is one of a small number of individuals in RAND's "Legacy Circle," having contributed an estate gift to RAND. According to RAND's 2006 Annual Report, Minow has donated something between $100,000 and $249,999 to RAND over the years.

Hoffman's known public linkage to Minow is sparse, but worth noting. He serves with Minow on the advisory board for the Chicago chapter of the American Constitutional Society. (To be fair, H. Candace Gorman, a noted attorney for Guantanamo detainees, is also on the ACS advisory board.)

Hoffman also served as a co-author for an amicus brief for which he represented Minow, and others, as Amici Curiae. The brief was published in January 2015.

According to an article in The New York Times, in 2002, Minow was one of a number of "outside experts" the Bush Administration consulted with on its implementation of military commissions. The Times described Minow as a "longtime friend of Mr. Rumsfeld."

Rumsfeld led the Department of Defense at a time it was implementing torture at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan. He personally approved "use of 'stress positions,' the removal of clothing, the use of dogs, and isolation and sensory deprivation" on detainees. Many forms of torture were countenanced under Rumsfeld, including water torture. Numerous lawsuits have been filed to hold the former Bush administration figure accountable.

In a request for comment from APA, Public Communications Executive Director Rhea Farberman did not respond to a direct question about foreknowledge regarding any link between Hoffman and Minow. In an email, she said only, "APA has complete confidence that Mr. Hoffman is conducting his review in a thorough and fully independent manner."

But as we shall see, soon after accepting APA's charge as "independent" reviewer, Hoffman was discussing the project with Newton Minow.

Hoffman Responds

I asked David Hoffman to further explain his contacts with Minow. He replied via email.
As you may know, Newt Minow was FCC Chairman under JFK and gave the famous “TV as a vast wasteland” speech in 1961. At 89 years old, he remains a prominent civic and community figure in Chicago. I had heard of Newt Minow but had not met him before I joined Sidley in 2011. I speak with him from time to time, but not frequently, and do not socialize with him.
As regards possible contact with Minow on the amicus brief noted above, Hoffman explained that Minow "was one of the former governments [sic] officials and public interest groups who were the listed amici in the matter," and Minow did not work on the brief.

Even more specifically, Hoffman explained, "Mr. Minow is not working on the APA matter, and I have never worked on a matter with him."

Still, soon after Hoffman took the job to head the APA-initiated review into the charges of collusion with the CIA, raised by James Risen and others, Hoffman did discuss the matter with his firm's senior counsel:
Shortly after the public announcement by APA in November 2014 that I had been engaged to conduct an independent investigation in this matter, I saw Mr. Minow and told him about this new engagement. At the time, I did not know that he had been affiliated with the Rand Corp. I have not had any contact with Mr. Minow about the matter since then.
Hoffman added, "In response to your inquiry, I looked up when Mr. Minow was chairman of Rand, and I see that it was 44 years ago (1970-71). I do not believe that Mr. Minow’s past affiliation with Rand creates a conflict of interest for us in this matter."

Indeed, Minow was Chair of the Board of Trustees at RAND at the time the Pentagon Papers were released by former RAND researcher Daniel Ellsberg. A RAND history of the period describes the Pentagon Papers leak as sending RAND management into "a tailspin." The government took away RAND's security clearance, and it was Minow who led the campaign to get it back, and make the necessary changes to policy and personnel to restore the think-tank back to the government's good graces.

But Minow's contribution to RAND did not end there. As noted above, he served on RAND advisory boards until the 2000s. While he was Chair of RAND's Board of Trustees as far back as the early 1970s, Minow was a member of the Board almost continuously from 1965-1997. As recently as 2007, he was an "advisory trustee" to the organization.

I also asked Hoffman that, given Minow's close relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, Hoffman had any contact with George W. Bush's former Secretary of Defense. Hoffman stated flatly, "I have never met or spoken with Donald Rumsfeld."

In a follow-up email, I asked Hoffman to elaborate more on the substance of his conversation with Minow about the APA review. Hoffman has not replied.

Minow is not the only person with links to RAND working in the Chicago Sidley Austin office. Another partner in the firm, Anne E. Rea, serves on the RAND Institute for Civil Justice Board of Overseers. In 2014, Rea gifted RAND with something between $25,000 and $49,999. (The same year Minow is listed as donating between $1,000 and $4,999.)

Hoffman said this about Rea, "I know Anne Rea, as she is a partner in Sidley’s Chicago office. We have never worked on a matter together; we have not spoken about the APA matter; and I did not know about any work she has done for the Rand Corp."

Authors of "President's Psychologists" report respond

I asked the authors of the report "All the President's Psychologists" -- who told me they did not know about Hoffman's links to Minow until I told them -- to respond to this revelation. Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner and Nathaniel Raymond sent me an email on May 27:

"We and others have pressed for 'internal review,' an independent investigation of APA since our Open Letter in Response to the American Psychological Association Board in 2009 signed by 13 organizations," Soldz and his colleagues wrote. "Our call was always for the investigatory organization to be selected by independent human rights organizations precisely to avoid the types of potential conflicts of interest you raise. Thus, we were initially concerned when the APA Board itself selected Mr. Hoffman to investigate potential complicity by key staff and elected officials including possible complicity by past and current Board members."

The email noted that "questions have only escalated" about the investigation when APA Board of Representatives revealed their plan to delay the report’s public release for months of alleged “internal review.” Soldz et al. have alleged such delay violates "the clear precedent that investigations of unethical or criminal behavior by organizations are immediately made public."

The authors of the critical report told me, "once Mr. Hoffman was selected, we chose to work with his team and have shared whatever information, documents, and opinions they requested.... Our experience with Mr. Hoffman and his team has given us every reason to believe that they are pursuing leads without limitation or constraint.... The proof of their independence will be in the honesty and comprehensiveness of their report."

Soldz and his co-authors state, "We intend to assess the true independence of the Hoffman team’s work through observing how he accounts for the evidence already in the public domain, including the data we released in our April 30, 2015 report."

But accounting for "evidence already in the public domain" seems a weak demonstration of investigatory zeal and honesty, much less comprehensiveness. Such accounting has little to do with an investigation qua investigation, but seems to be more about validating previously held beliefs or findings. Such an investigation isn't expected to dig deeper or make new findings.

Indeed, it seems tendentious to call it an investigation at all, if that is all that is expected from it. The APA has termed only an "internal review of whether there is any factual support" for charges of collusion on torture during the Bush years. Such a "review," for instance, would not touch on current APA support for psychologists at U.S. detention sites like Guantanamo where Appendix M interrogations take place. Last November, the United Nations stated that some Appendix M techniques created psychosis in prisoners and others amounted to "ill-treatment."

The APA has been silent about this, even though there is an APA-member initiated referendum that passed some years ago stating APA should tell psychologists not to work at sites that have human rights violations, as determined by organizations such as the United Nations.

Meanwhile, supporters of the "President's Psychologists" report have launched a petition campaign after news leaked out that the APA was going to take its time in making any release of Hoffman's findings public.

Such supporters would do as much or more good by asking the authors of "President's Psychologists" to release the full list of attendees at the 2003 APA-RAND-CIA workshops, which I am under the impression they hold.

[Correction: Stephen Soldz has written to remind me that a list of those attendees was given by him and the co-authors of the President's Psychologists report to The Intercept. It was disclosed in a link published within an April 2015 article by Cora Currier. The full list and accompanying documentation has been posted online at DocumentCloud. Sadly, Currier never analyzed the document in depth. But most immediately what springs up as important is the presence at these meetings (which included Mitchell, Jessen, and other CIA personnel) of the chief of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, Stephen Band, among other FBI personnel. What that means is that the collaboration on interrogation matters was much wider among governmental agencies than previously disclosed.]

In the spirit of complete transparency, the full text of the responses to my inquiries, sent via email by Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Nathaniel Raymond, and David Hoffman, are available at this link.

For a Fair, Just Inquiry

Those who are repelled by the actions of APA and other professional organizations and institutions in regards to the U.S. torture scandal likely will have to look beyond this "independent review" by APA's contractor. The entire affair is reminiscent of the controversy over the UK torture inquiry that was headed by Sir Peter Gibson.

That inquiry, following on revelations about UK collaboration with the U.S. rendition program and the torture of prisoners like Binyam Mohamed, was announced by the British government. But British human rights groups refused to support this blatant attempt at a whitewash or limited hangout of UK involvement in torture, not least because the man picked to lead the investigation, Peter Gibson, had deep ties himself to the intelligence world. The lack of transparency over procedures was another problem. In 2012, the British government scrapped the investigation, citing conflicts with other investigations.

British human rights groups at the time made clear just what is needed in an inquiry of this sort. They noted that "to comply with basic human rights standards, it is essential that an inquiry, among other things" should be both "independent" and "subject to public scrutiny."

Amnesty International and eight other UK NGOs wrote: "The persons responsible for and carrying out the inquiry must be fully independent of any institution, agency or person who may be the subject of, or are otherwise involved in, the inquiry."

As far as I know, Hoffman's links to the intelligence world are much less dramatic than Gibson's, and reasonable people may disagree about the degree of conflict of interest involved in his "review" or "investigation."

Yet, while in the case of the Gibson inquiry, Amnesty and the others were writing about a governmental investigation, the same need for independence and transparency is true for any inquiry, including into the relationships of APA with intelligence or military-linked agencies. It is not any claim upon Mr. Hoffman's own integrity to say that his links, and that of the firm where he works, to former CIA and RAND officials, not to mention the fact APA chose its own "investigator," in this instance present conflicts of interest that place into doubt the integrity of his "review," no matter what results it may claim, or when it is released.

Crossposted at Firedoglake.com

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