Friday, June 8, 2007

Calling Attention

While too busy to write up a post myself, I have the pleasure to direct my readers to two very important articles online.

The first is Stephen Soldz's posting of An Open Letter to the President of the APA. Signed by close to 40 psychologists, it is a indictment of the APA's failed policy of endorsing psychologist participation in national security interrogations, which have too often veered into outright torture. Rather than acting as protectors against abuse, some military psychologists have been involved in implementing it.

The second article is by Mark Benjamin over at, "The CIA's favorite form of torture". And what might this favorite form be? Sensory deprivation, which I've written on before. Benjamin argues, persuasively I think, that the CIA is not too worried about losing some of the more controversial methods of coercive interrogation -- such as waterboarding (which was really a SERE technique. The Agency has used sensory deprivation techniques in building up its stock repetoire of psychological torture procedures since at least the days of the KUBARK counterintelligence manual of the early 1960s. For the CIA, sensory deprivation is:

a measure long favored.... [This] benign-sounding form of psychological coercion has been considered effective for most of the life of the agency, and its slippery definition might allow it to squeeze through loopholes in a law that seeks to ban prisoner abuse. Interviews with former CIA officials and experts on interrogation suggest that it is an obvious choice for interrogators newly constrained by law. The technique has already been employed during the "war on terror," and, Salon has learned, was apparently used on 14 high-value detainees now held at Guantánamo Bay.

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