Sunday, November 27, 2016

CIA Withholds Key MKULTRA Document Because It Reveals WMD Concepts

Last summer I made a request for a mandatory declassification review, or MDR, of the CIA's 1957 Inspector General report on the "Operations of TSD." TSD is the acronym for the Technical Services Division of the CIA, which was a component of the Agency that fashioned and produced technological apparatus for the clandestine service -- sort of like "Q" in the James Bond movies. The CIA recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of this division.

A few weeks ago, I received the CIA's official rejection of my request. They would not release any portion of the decades old inspector general report -- even though pages from it had been previously declassified and long posted online -- because, in part, it purportedly contained information about "the identity of a confidential human source or a human intelligence source; or... key design concepts of weapons of mass destruction"!

How we (and I use "we" as I am a member of the public, and my request was made on behalf of the public) got to this place, and the realization that CIA has been involved by their own account in the construction of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), is the subject of this posting.

I was motivated to pursue the declassification of this material due to revelations in government documents that the CIA's torture program under Bush and Cheney was in part created with the help of the Office of Technical Services (OTS), which is the modern incarnation of the old TSD. (For awhile, the name had also been the Technical Services Staff.) This chilled me, as I also knew that OTS/TSD was the component within CIA that fashioned its infamous MKULTRA mind-control research. MKULTRA was only one of the programs that was involved with such research, which also included the creation of assassination and disabling devices, behavioral studies of various sorts, research on the effects of drugs, hypnosis, and more. The program had various names over the years, including MKNAOMI, MKSEARCH, MKDELTA, MKOFTEN, MKCHICKWIT, and Project Artichoke, and had direct applications to interrogations.

There were a lot of dirty operations associated with MKULTRA operations, including experimentation upon unwitting subjects, and even the deaths of some victims. Operations were conducted overseas and domestically at home. The Wikipedia page on the subject is not a bad place to start, if you aren't familiar with this subject.

The mainstream and blogging press, as well as human rights circles, were uninterested in pursuing the OTS/TSD link to the CIA's torture program, content to follow the identification of two CIA contract psychologists from the military's SERE program who were linked to construction, promotion and operations of the post-9/11 CIA torture (or "enhanced interrogation") program. I, however, felt the link worth pursuing, and in an effort to better understand the role of TSD in MKULTRA, I asked for the declassification of CIA's own early inspector general report on the program.

Mandatory declassification requests are not the same as FOIA requests. They are subject to different deadlines and bureaucratic rules. The exemptions to departmental or agency declassifications are derived from Presidential Executive Order (EO). The current such EO governing such exemptions for MDRs is Executive Order 13526, "Classified National Security Information," released by President Obama on December 29, 2009. (No doubt a new President Trump will release his own EO on this in months to come, and that EO will supplant Obama's version, just as Obama's replaced that of earlier presidents.)

The CIA raised two objections to my declassification request. The first had to do with supposed threats to reveal human intelligence sources and/or "key design concepts" of WMD. The second objection was even more problematic, from the standpoint of making an appeal. It was based on EO language that states that even when governmental materials are more than 50 years old, they can be withheld by an agency head for whatever reason that person deems necessary! In other words, at least when it comes to requests for declassification based on EO laws, information can be denied for decades basically upon agency head say so.

The denial based on the presence of supposed "key design concepts of weapons of mass destruction" was startling to say the least. For one thing, it demonstrates how plastic the legal concepts of WMD are, and how they can be stretched to accommodate propaganda or in some cases legal or political actions. On the other hand, when it comes to MKULTRA, it reminds us that the CIA was for decades involved in the construction and deployment of some very dangerous materials and concepts. The fact that the parts of the agency involved in that are still involved in interrogation policy and research should give all of us pause. So should the fact that no persons were ever held accountable for the crimes committed under MKULTRA, nor for the admitted destruction of thousands of government documents related to that program. Despite the program's notoriety, there never were any indictments or, so far as we know, governmental accountability.

The mainstream press, the human rights community, and academia have done a disservice to the public (with some rare exceptions) in not reporting fully, nor evidently even pursuing, stories that would probe deeper into the U.S. torture scandal. I understand part of the problem: the U.S. government is still trying to hide material that is decades old, as this latest CIA declassification denial makes clear. But, especially when it comes to the press, it is their job to pursue such information for the greater good of the society. It was with such a principle in mind that I am still seeking exposure of government misdeeds in this area. See for instance how my MDR of the CIA's KUBARK interrogation manual produced new information about the government's historic use of rendition and torture.

Below is the full text of my appeal letter to CIA. It can also be found, with associated materials, at the Muckrock website.
November 27, 2016

Michael Lavergne
Information and Privacy Coordinator
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, DC 20505

Re: Reference No. EOM-2016-01415

Dear Mr. Lavergne,

This is a formal request for appeal of the decision made in regards to my mandatory declassification review (MDR) request (number referenced above) for the 1957 CIA Inspector General Report on “Operations of TSD” (hereafter IG REPORT). In a letter dated November 1, 2016, you wrote, “We completed a thorough search of our records and located material responsive to your request. We have determined that the material must remain classified on the basis of sections 3.3(h)(1) and 3.3(h)(2) of the [Executive] Order [13526] and cannot be released in sanitized form.” I thank you for your prompt response.

In my initial request, filed on August 13, 2016, I asked for “the 1957 CIA Inspector General Report on ‘Operations of TSD,’ wherein ‘TSD’ stands for the CIA division, the Technical Services Division.” I believe the decision to withhold the report, concluding it “cannot be released in sanitized form,” to be incorrect for the reasons adumbrated below.

1) Previous declassification of sections of IG REPORT

I noted in my initial request that a portion of IG REPORT had been declassified previously. CIA released a section of this report, specifically 8 pages long (numbered pages 199-206) in Folder 0000146167 of CIA's MKULTRA FOIA release made a number of years ago. This section of IG REPORT was posted online by the website at URL: (accessed 13 August 2016). An alternate posting online is available online at (accessed November 25, 2016).

2) A History of Declassifications

Besides the portion of IG REPORT identified above, there have been other declassifications associated with similar material. From the 1970s onwards, many declassified documents associated with both TSD and the MKULTRA program were declassified by CIA. A later IG report on the MKULTRA program, involving TSD operations, and dated July 26, 1963, was subject to declassification review per E.O. 12065, which was conducted on 17 June 17, 1981. This 1963 report is also available online at numerous websites. One such URL is (accessed November 25, 2016).

In addition to IG reports, many other documents related to MKULTRA’s history and operations have been declassified over the years. This material has been the subject of numerous books, and, even going back some years, Congressional hearings. The website The Black Vault has posted a complete selection of these documents at the URL: (accessed November 25, 2016).

3) Applicable Law

According to EO 13526, Section 3.5(c): “Agencies conducting a mandatory review for declassification shall declassify information that no longer meets the standards for classification under this order. They shall release this information unless withholding is otherwise authorized and warranted under applicable law.”

It is my understanding of your decision that the applicable law precluding the release of IG REPORT, or any portion of that report, is that it “remain classified on the basis of sections 3.3(h)(1) and 3.3(h)(2)” of Executive Order 13526.

The 3.3(h)(1) exemption, which is for documents over 50 years old, states that such exemption is reserved for documents that can “clearly and demonstrably be expected to reveal…. (A) the identity of a confidential human source or a human intelligence source; or (B) key design concepts of weapons of mass destruction.”

Exemption 3.3(h)(2) is reserved for documents that constitute “extraordinary cases.” In such cases, an agency head “may, within 5 years of the onset of automatic declassification, propose to exempt additional specific information from declassification at 50 years.” Such claim of exemption from automatic declassification must be made according to the provisions of section 3.3(j) of the Executive Order, i.e., “[a]t least 1 year before information is subject to automatic declassification under this section…”

The EO continues:
“… an agency head or senior agency official shall notify the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, serving as Executive Secretary of the [Interagency Security Classification Appeals] Panel, of any specific information that the agency proposes to exempt from automatic declassification under paragraphs (b) and (h) of this section.

“(1) The notification shall include:

“(A) a detailed description of the information, either by reference to information in specific records or in the form of a declassification guide;

“(B) an explanation of why the information should be exempt from automatic declassification and must remain classified for a longer period of time; and

“(C) a specific date or a specific and independently verifiable event for automatic declassification of specific records that contain the information proposed for exemption.”

The claim by CIA that IG REPORT cannot be released in toto, i.e., without sanitization, seems highly unlikely in regards to exemption 3.3(h)(1). Sections have already been released, as noted above, with no danger as to whether a “confidential human source or a human intelligence source” were in danger. A 1963 Inspector General report on the same general subject as IG REPORT also was released in more substantive form. Furthermore, it seems unlikely IG REPORT was substantively concerned with identification of human intelligence sources.

Hence, the exemption for released material according to section 3.3(h)(1) of EO 13526 appears to concern “key design concepts of weapons of mass destruction.” Such weapons are defined in U.S. law (18 U.S. Code § 2332a) as any “destructive device” (defined a weapon with a bore diameter of larger than one-half inch propelled by an explosive or propellant, or any “explosive, incendiary, or poison gas [see 18 U.S. Code § 921]); any weapon that “designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors”; “any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector”; or any weapon “designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life.”

According to a July 26, 1963 memorandum to the then-director of the CIA from then-CIA Inspector General J.S. Earman, the MKULTRA program was concerned with, at least in part, “the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.” (See quote of the document at URL: [accessed November 25, 2016]). Hence, the apparent role of CIA in the development of weapons of mass destruction appears to be the basis of withholding material from declassification and release some 59 years after the fact.

But the EO language states that the exemption must be because the document would reveal “key design concepts” of such weapons of mass destruction. Given the arguments regarding prior declassifications made above, it seems that whatever exemption regarding “key design concepts” of WMD, or even identification of human intelligence sources, is segregable within IG REPORT, and there is no need to withhold that document in its totality.

Exemption 3.3(h)(2) presents a greater difficulty for this appeal, as it does not give any reason for the agency head to claim the exemption. But whatever those reasons are, they must presented to Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (hereafter ISCAP), along with a description of what information is exempted, and a projected date of declassification. I request that such information be released if IG REPORT is not to be released.

Further, I note that the language of Section 3.3(j) does not suggest the exemption of an entire document, and in fact argues against it. Section 3.3.(j)(1)(a) states the agency head must provide ISCAP “a detailed description of the information, either by reference to information in specific records or in the form of a declassification guide” to such information. This strongly suggests that only some portions of the document will be subject to exemption, not an entire document itself, especially one that is as long as an inspector general report, or one that has already had multiple pages previously declassified.

4) Public Interest

Finally, I argue that the material requested by MDR in this case is in the public interest. Much of the information in IG REPORT is already publicly available. Furthermore, it seems likely that the passage of time has reduced any potential harm from such release.

Nearly 40 years since the public revelations concerning the CIA’s MKULTRA and related programs, interest in this story remains high. Books published decades ago, such as John Marks’ “The Search for the ‘Manchurian Candidate’: The CIA and Mind Control: The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences” (W.W. Norton & Co.), and Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain’s “Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond” (Grove Press), remain in print and therefore in demand.

Newspaper and mainstream magazine articles continue to address the subject. As examples, see, for instance, “April 13, 1953: CIA OKs MK-ULTRA Mind-Control Tests,” by Kim Zetter, Wired Magazine, April 13, 2010 (URL: [accessed November 25, 2016]); “The CIA Can Do Mind Control: MK Ultra / College campuses, for starters / 1953-1973,” by Mark Jacobson, New York Magazine, November 17, 2013 (URL: [accessed November 25, 2016]); “Operation Midnight Climax: How the CIA Dosed S.F. Citizens with LSD,” by Troy Hooper, SF Weekly, March 14, 2012 (URL: [accessed November 25, 2016]); and “What Do You Do When Your Family Was the Victim of CIA Mind-Control Experiments?” by Rea McNamara, VICE News, April 15, 2016 (URL: [accessed November 25, 2016]).

Finally, in regards to public interest, it cannot be denied that there are a great deal of bogus or wild conspiratorial claims made about the CIA’s MKULTRA and related programs. Release of such documents as IG REPORT helps mitigate wild speculations, and therefore is in the public interest.

It is the contention of this appeal that due to prior releases and government investigations that the material discussed in IG REPORT does not constitute one of an unknown number of “extraordinary cases” that would require exemption from declassification. Even if the appeals panel finds that some material should be in fact exempt from release, I believe that all portions of IG REPORT that do not meet such exemption be released.

Therefore, Mr. Lavergne, in mind of all the arguments made above, I am appealing to the Agency Release Panel, and sending such appeal to your care and attention. If you, or anyone at the Panel, have any questions, or believe discussion of this matter would be beneficial, please contact me directly at or at (415) xxx-xxxx.

Thank you,
Jeffrey Kaye, Ph.D.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

NYT Article on Psychiatric Care at Guantanamo Hides More Than It Reveals

I suppose that The New York Times' recent article, Where Even Nightmares Are Classified: Psychiatric Care at Guantanamo, will be welcomed by some as a reminder of the horror that is Guantanamo. While I cannot expect that others will find significant the same episodes in the wide-ranging torture scandal as I do, this article by Sheri Fink (assisted by others, including James Risen) does a disservice to the public by misrepresenting many facts about what actually happened. The article hides and misrepresents more than it claims to reveal. It is, in fact, a classic example of a "limited hangout," something that The New York Times excels in producing.

The article gives us glowing photos of former Guantanamo mental health providers. It offers testimony from supposedly conflicted former doctors, psychologists, nurses and psych techs, without ever noting that retrospective testimony could be self-serving. Fink herself can't seem to make up her mind if these so-called conscientious medical professionals showed "willful blindness" to "abuse," or whether in fact "psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health teams... were often unaware of what happened." (I don't think anyone at Guantanamo was unaware of the torture going on, but they may have deliberately or unconsciously numbed themselves to it. No doubt recent reports of high levels of PTSD among guards assigned to Guantanamo is related to the exposure to widespread torture of detainees.)

Actual contemporaneous documentation of the attitudes of health care workers, or the subordination of medical decision making to military command authorities, was amply available to The New York Times, but they chose to ignore it. This omission amounts to a misrepresentation of the material, as the article promises in its very title to be an examination of psychiatric care at Guantanamo. Is the failure to provide such material because it would reflect very badly on the medical professionals there? The article suggests at times serious deficiencies in the behavior of medical personnel, only to pull its punches or offer up mea culpas.

The signal importance of mental health problems actually leading to suicide was mostly ignored by Fink and her collaborators. Not one concrete example of an actual suicide was given, though there exists copious public documentation (and though you'd think an article on psychiatric care would say more about suicides of detainees held in Guantanamo's psychiatric unit). 

In a powerful example of such evidence, we have on public record the sworn statement of the Chief of Behavioral Health Services at the Guantanamo prison camp, given to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in June 2009 as part of the investigation into the purported suicide of Mohammed Al Hanashi. Al Hanashi had come to the Chief the very day he was to die and complained about being tortured. The Chief told NCIS what happened from his perspective, which is damning enough. They had been talking about pending changes to rules to take place in the Behavioral Health Unit:

“[Al Hanashi] then said he felt was [sic] being tortured. This is a normal response to a verbal disagreement between staff and a detainee. In this case, to avoid an argument with [Al Hanashi] I walked away from him without a response. This is what I usually do when a detainee accuses staff of torture." [Kaye, Jeffrey (2016-09-10). "Cover-up at Guantanamo"/  (Kindle Locations 150-152). Kindle Edition. - See also June 4, 2009 “Statement” of the Chief of Behavioral Health Services for JTF GTMO. See Al Hanashi documents, Part 8, pp. 16-18, URL:]

In what NCIS regarded as Al Hanashi's suicide note, Al Hanashi described his response, and his descent into suicidal despair: "... when the highest ranking officer in the camp came and talked to me while I was walking he informed me that this camp [the Behavioral Health Unit] will have the same rules as the others, and when I asked the help of the [Chief] psychologist who was present, he said the rules will apply on everybody then he left without saying anything more. Even the officer who was close to him was surprised by his inappropriate behavior as someone who is supposed to be in a humanitarian position. At that time I knew that the only solution is death before they transgress on our religion the way they do in the other camps.” In fact, Al Hanashi died only hours later, purportedly at his own hand. [Kindle Locations 145-148 in "Cover-up at Guantanamo"; also Al Hanashi documents, Part 2, pp. 2-3, URL:]

None of this is even hinted at in Sheri Fink's article.


But even if The Times had covered these issues, I'm not sure it would have balanced out the falsehoods in the article, including the assertion that medical records were not shared with interrogators after 2005, and that "abusive tactics" ended at Guantanamo in early 2009. Both assertions are false. Taking on the latter claim, whether one references the ongoing forced cell extractions at Guantanamo, the forced feedings, or the Appendix M interrogations (which the UN Committee on Torture recently condemned) -- not to mention the fact that indefinite detention is itself a form of torture (according to the International Committee of the Red Cross) -- it is irrefutable that "abusive tactics" continue at Guantanamo. Fink's article presents a fairy tale.

Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association now has recognized that it is impossible to conduct ethical psychological services in a place like Guantanamo and has told the government to pull all psychologists serving detainees clinically out of that setting. This was not mentioned in the article either, though James Risen, who has written on that story before, was a contributor to the Sheri Fink article. You'd think such information would be relevant in a news article reviewing psychiatric care at Guantanamo, but The New York Times saw fit to censor their own reporting.

As for the sharing of medical information with interrogators, the article describes the mistrust of detainees who knew their sensitive communications with mental health providers was being shared with the interrogators and used in their torture. Fink et al. claim this stopped in 2005, but in fact serious problems on this score continued even into Obama's term. According to a DoD Inspector General Review of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, "Inclusion of Detainee Mental Health Information in Intelligence Information Reports," issued May 4, 2010, "Present regulatory guidance authorizes health-care providers to share detainee medical information with interrogators, but does not provide specific guidance on how to do so. As a result execution of these policies at Guantanamo has been inconsistent, resulting in confusion for both health-care providers and interrogation elements." (See this link, page G-5.)

In other words, sharing of mental health information with interrogators continued well into the Obama administration, and there's no reason to believe they ever changed, nor that detainees were ever wrong to be suspicious of such providers.


There are at least two detainees who appear to have had their suicides facilitated by Guantanamo personnel: Mohammed al Hanashi and Adnan Latif. Four others were likely murdered or killed as part of some experiment, the three detainees who died in 2006, and Abdul Rahman Al Amri, found in his cell dead hanging with his hands tied behind his back and his body tested afterwards for the presence of the psychiatrically disabling drug mefloquine.

According to my own research published in my book cited above, Guantanamo personnel are documented as interfering with the computer recording of events surrounding these suicides, entering false information about these events (according to DoD investigators), or even shutting down computer systems so no one would know what was going on (according to NCIS records). Fink's article obliquely refers to some "critics" questions about the "suicides," but pointedly leaves examination of these suicides out of her article about psychiatric conditions at Guantanamo. The Big Lie lives on.

An encyclopedic deconstruction of Fink's article would be something few readers probably would have the stamina to complete. Just consider the article's whitewashing of retired Navy Captain Albert Shimkus, who signed off on the abusive mefloquine protocol used at Guantanamo, which led to widespread "pharmacological waterboarding," according to one medical professional. Or consider the abusive use of "chemical restraints" on prisoners, part of the unrestrained use of drugs on prisoners at Guantanamo, the full story of which at Guantanamo or formerly at CIA black sites is still not fully known.

It is infuriating to see an article put forth something meaning to do good -- and the article is not without some good points, such as its critique of the rotation system among Gitmo health care providers, or its examination of the manipulation of diagnoses to minimize the perception of damage caused to detainees -- while in actuality perpetuating untruths and misrepresentations, or even altering history. This is not reporting, it is the exercise of the  "limited hangout," the offering of so-called new information such that the public believes it is really getting something important, while key information remains hidden or a different, less damaging story is put in its place.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Introducing my new ebook: "Cover-up at Guantanamo"

Guantanamo has forged a place in the world’s consciousness as synonymous with torture. The world’s largest military force exerted its power over hundreds of prisoners held for years without rights or hope. Deep within the prison’s secretive recesses, over the years some of its prisoners met with death, most supposedly via suicide. But the circumstances of these deaths were shrouded in mystery and government censorship. Based upon newly released Freedom of Information Act documents, psychologist Jeffrey Kaye’s new book shows that earlier reports of cover-up in the case of three so-called suicides in 2006 extends to subsequent deaths in the Cuba-based U.S. interrogation and detention camp.

“Cover-up at Guantanamo” is a riveting, in-depth examination of the deaths of two detainees, Mohammed Al Hanashi and Abdul Rahman Al Amri, who died in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Using never-before-seen reports from government investigators, eyewitness testimony, and medical and autopsy records, including documents recently released by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), the formal investigation into the deaths of these Guantanamo prisoners is revealed as rife with problems. Revealed also for the first time is the suicide note and “last testament” of Mohammed Al Hanashi, who tells us he wanted to end his life because of the treatment he received at Guantanamo, including in its special Behavioral Health Unit for mentally ill prisoners.

Among the explosive details revealed in this book is the fact government agents themselves, most likely from NCIS, the very agency charged with investigating the deaths, interfered with the gathering of evidence, ordering the shutdown of Guantanamo’s computer database of prison activities within minutes of one detainee’s death. Even worse, after the FOIA for this material was filed, the computer logs suddenly went missing! That is only the beginning of the story, as Kaye’s investigation shows material evidence was thrown out in the trash, prisoners who were intensely mentally ill were provided with material to kill themselves, and medical personnel turned their backs on detainee complaints of torture. The book also expands on the mysterious use of the antimalarial drug mefloquine for possible reasons of interrogation.

In addition, the book reviews details of the death of another detainee, Adnan Latif, and adds new revelations concerning the deaths of the three detainees who died in 2006. As we can see from other government documents, we likely do not know how many prisoners have even died at Guantanamo. What we learn from the stories in this book is that its contents are not about only one or two government cover-ups, but about the secretive way the Pentagon and intelligence agencies go about their business. Covering-up is not just a term describing an instance of government malfeasance or crime, but the main operational mode of a military and intelligence apparatus that is out of control.

This is a story that the mainstream press would not touch. Jeffrey Kaye spent over four years gathering the material for this book. It is a crucial document in the history of our times, a period when our country lost its way in the so-called “war on terror” and engaged in torture and the evils of indefinite detention. This is the story of how a few individuals were crushed under the coercive regime at Guantanamo, but the humanity of these individuals is rescued in the telling of the tragic but real stories of their deaths.

All FOIA documents referenced in "Cover-up at Guantanamo" can be accessed freely online at

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Psychologist Association Ethics Chief Paid $10,000s for Training Advisers to Guantanamo Interrogations

Back in May 2015, I broke the story that the American Psychological Association's "long-time Ethics Director Stephen Behnke worked directly with Department of Defense officials in creating a training curriculum for psychologists working with interrogators at Guantanamo and elsewhere." The issue was later taken up in the July 2015 "independent review" on APA collaboration with the Department of Defense, CIA, and FBI on national security interrogations released by David Hoffman and co-workers at the law firm Sidley Austin (see PDF for full report).

The Hoffman report did a decent job looking at Behnke's work with the Department of Defense on the establishment and training of psychologists and other behavioral health specialists, including sometimes psychiatrists, to work for DoD's Behavioral Science Consultation Teams, or BSCTs. (For alternate view, see note below.) The BSCTs were formed to offer advice and guidance to interrogators at Guantanamo and other DoD interrogation sites, and to the guard and detention force at Guantanamo as well.

Today, BSCTs help facilitate Army Field Manual Appendix M interrogations, which use isolation, sleep and sensory deprivation, and environmental and dietary manipulations, as well as other AFM interrogation techniques, such as "Emotional-Futility," to purposely prolong the "shock of capture," and create a "sense of hopelessness and helplessness" and futility in prisoners being interrogated. (See PDF of AFM.)

Mentioned in passing in the Hoffman report was the amount of money Behnke received in what was a clear conflict of interest, as on one hand he presented himself to the public as an ethics expert working for a professional psychological association, offering his advice on the torture controversy to APA members and the public at large. On the other hand, he was paid a good deal of money to help train adjuncts to ethically problematic if not abusive interrogations.

Behnke has said he did not personally profit from the trainings. He told the Hoffman/Sidley investigators that any money he received was turned over to APA, minus any travel expenses, and that APA used the money for "educational purposes" or programs. Where exactly that money went within APA -- and Behnke said he handed it directly over to the Ethics Office -- has never been precisely enumerated. The issue in any case is not only the money (prior to 2011, Behnke said he was paid $1500 per workshop, and $5000 per workshop in later years), but the unethical method by which Behnke and others kept the association with the BSCTs hidden.

According to the Hoffman report (p. 360):
Shortly after Behnke’s first training in April 2006, he and [BSCT psychologist Col. Debra] Dunivin explicitly discussed not telling APA’s Board about his participation in the BSCT training program. And in fact, it appears that APA’s Board was never made aware of his participation, his status as a DoD contractor, or these payments from DoD to APA. On June 18, 2006, Dunivin emailed Behnke (copying [Special Forces psychologist, Morgan] Banks) and asked, “Did you report to APA Board about participating in training at Ft Huachuca? I know we talked about waiting to report it out... What do you think, Morgan?” Behnke replied that the Board did not know, and implied that keeping quiet about it might be the best strategy: “I’ve not mentioned it to the Board; after my last meeting with the Board, I expect that it would receive the Board’s full support. I have informed my APA supervisors, naturally, but given how hot things are at the moment discretion may be the better part of valor for the time being, at least in terms of the broader APA community.”

Behnke did in fact tell his supervisor, APA Deputy CEO Michael Honaker, that he was regularly giving a paid ethics lecture at an Army base as part of the interrogation training course for BSCT psychologists.1679 Honaker did not provide this information to CEO Norman Anderson or the Board. When Anderson learned from Sidley during the investigation that Behnke had been providing this training as a DoD contractor, he appeared stunned, and was visibly upset that the matter had not been discussed with the Board.

Guantanamo has been widely condemned as inhumane and a torture site, even under the Obama administration administration, where conditions of indefinite detention, violent forced cell extractions, drugging of prisoners for "chemical restraint," and multiple suicides have taken place. In addition, the Obama administration reliance on the current Army Field Manual (2-22.3) on interrogation is problematic, according to UN monitoring agencies, who said some of the techniques allowed in that manual's Appendix M amount to "ill treatment" and raise concerns of torture.

The UN issued a report criticizing the Army Field Manual's Appendix M in late 2014, but as we shall see below, both APA and Behnke continued to work teaching "ethics" to those who used or consulted on use of Appendix M as recently as last year.

Dr. Behnke and his APA associates certainly knew of the controversies over interrogation, including by Appendix M methods, but chose to offer their services to DoD, while hiding them from APA rank-and-file and the public at large. Behnke was later fired by the Board. His supervisor, former Deputy CEO at APA, Michael Honaker, "retired."

The Contracts Released by Hoffman/APA

Below is a list of known contracts Behnke was involved in. The earliest available for perusal is from December 2010. The most recent available is from February 2015. Prior to 2012, Behnke was listed as the contractor; afterwards, APA itself is listed as contractor. According to Hoffman's narrative of events (pages 358-361 in his report), Behnke said he worked as a contractor doing training for and designing curriculum for training the BSCTs since 2006. Hence the list below is by no means complete, only what has been made thus far publicly available.

In the contract for Behnke's 2010 work for DoD, he is described as having "been associated with the BSCT course since its inception several years ago. He is viewed as an expert in this field." (All quoted material and data on Behnke's contracts are from Binder #3 of the material released by APA to accompany the Hoffman report. See PDF of this portion of the material, and this link for all associated materials to the Hoffman report.)

2/17/15 - Contractor: APA
Issuer: USA Medcom - HCAA
Amount: $10,000
“Provide Behavioral Science Consultation course”

1/22/14 - Contractor: APA
Issuer: USA Medcom - HCAA
Amount: $10,000 - BSCT SME Instuctor DSB

1/25/2013 - Contractor: APA Issuer: Great Plains Regional Contracting Office, USA Medcom -HCAA
Modify earlier contract, no $ amount specified - "CLIN 0001... Contractor will provide a Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) Course"

12/19/12 - Contractor: APA Issuer: USA Medcom –HCAA (Health Care Acquisition Activity) - Amount: $14,999
BSCT instructor – 3 1-day classes

12/20/11 - Contractor: Stephen Behnke Issuer: USA Medcom -HCAA - Amount: $15,000
BSCT Guest speaker providing course – 3 1-day classes

12/22/10 - Contractor: Stephen Behnke Issuer: Great Plains Regional Contracting Office, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston - Amount: $7,497
Guest Speaker, consultant to, BSCT training, 3 (1) day trainings

Terms of Contracts

The classes were of 12-16 students per training, and conducted at the Army's Ft. Huachuca Intelligence Center and School.
The training will be conducted at Ft. Huachuca at the Intelligence Center and School. The target audience is composed of military psychologists (psychiatrists occasionally) and enlisted behavioral health specialists assigned in support of interrogation/detainee operations....
The services required to meet the agency's needs are to provide behavioral health personnel training in support of interrogation/detainee operations. Topics to be addressed and therapeutic materials:
* Ethics involved in performing duties as a BSCT
* American Psychological Association's view on torture
* American Psychiatric Association's view on torture
* MEDCOM/OTSG Policy on utilizing BSCTs
* FM2-22.3 Human Intelligence Operations
* How to remain Safe, Legal, Ethical and Effective as a BSCT
It is worth noting that the contract language in the latter contracts stated, "OTSG [Office of the Surgeon General]/MEDCOM policy Memo 09-053 (Behavioral Science Consultation Policy) requires that all active duty Psychologist, Forensic Psychiatrist, and Behavioral Science Technicians, serving in a BSCT role be trained in the core principles of interrogation and the psychology of persuasion."

The 2012 contract stated: "This contract will consist of training conducted on 'Ethical Decision Making' under guidance and direction. The trainer and facilitator will provide guidance, eduction and knowledge in learning and application of ethical principles within Behavioral Science Consultants Teams. Once trained, BSTC [sic] will provide safe, legal, ethical and effective consultative services to Interrogators, Detention Guards, Intelligence Commanders and Detention Commanders using the sound ethical principles."

There's a lot to ponder in the full information on Behnke's contract. The reason to publish this particular post is to bring more of the full story of unethical behavior at APA into the open.

But it is not only APA's actions that are notable. One thing I found interesting is how long, even really to the present day, the training of the BSCTs to help interrogators remains something contracted through DoD's health services. What is that about? Perhaps it has something to do with drawing BSCT personnel often out of current medical military personnel. In any case, the blurring between medicine and the world of interrogation and torture remains a feature of DoD's ongoing interrogation concept. Additionally, the full story of the ongoing role of the Office of the Surgeon General, or the Army Medical Services in working with military intelligence and detention officials remains somewhat obscure.

There's plenty to still investigate on the torture scandal, but the appetite to do so remains vanishingly small, particularly in Congress. Indeed, there is nothing in the supposedly "progressive" platform of the Democratic Party about any kind of accountability for past torture, nor any indication that the abusive Army Field Manual should be changed or withdrawn. I don't expect to see any change in a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump administration either.

-- Added Note (8/7/16): After this posting was published, I had some feedback on Twitter to the effect that my conclusions were unfair to the military psychologists involved, that they were not involved in any torture or were ever found to be, and that in essence, I didn't know what I was talking about. In previous postings I've given links to a website where these psychologists, including Debra Dunivin and Morgan Banks, mentioned above, have posted letters, relevant documents, etc. I do recommend the interested reader peruse their site at www.hoffmanreportapa.

While I disagree with their point of view, the psychologists who put together have done a service in posting links to many valuable documents. See their "references" page.

The most recent statement by the group is dated August 2, 2016 and is signed by Colonel (Ret.) L. Morgan Banks, Colonel (Ret.) Debra L. Dunivin, Colonel (Ret.) Larry C. James, and Dr. Russ Newman. In the format of a reply to a recent posting by anti-torture activist, psychologist Stephen Soldz, the reply document states that the Hoffman report’s conclusions are incorrect, "especially the claim that APA and DoD officials colluded to ensure the PENS Guidelines would not constrain abusive interrogations."

Banks, et al. believe that DoD documents in place already made clear that torture was unacceptable. They say that Hoffman characterized the "normal organizational process of creating policy as 'collusion,'" and misread certain sections of the APA's PENS report on ethics and national security. Even more, they maintain that military psychologists in national security settings "can be a strong bulwark against abuses." They say that "DoD psychologists became a primary force for trying to end abusive interrogations." This is certainly a key argument by any who would feel Stephen Behnke was in fact trying to prevent torture by lecturing to BSCTs, and that there is nothing untoward about his contracting to do so.

I was particularly interested in Banks, et al. claim that a June 9, 2015 press release by "seven human rights and civil liberties organizations, including the ACLU and Physicians for Human Rights, [which] supported the McCain-Feinstein Amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act." Banks et al. note, "The release does not criticize Appendix M, which specifies the stringent restrictions placed on the use of separation (the military’s term) or isolation (the critics’ preferred term). It is worth noting that the APA likewise gave strong support to the McCain-Feinstein Amendment both before and following the release of the Hoffman report."

Banks, et al. are correct about this press release, and I was sharply critical of this press release by ACLU and others in a June 13, 2015 article I posted at this site.

But Banks, et al. must ignore the many writings by human rights organizations that have been very critical of Appendix M. Indeed, in a March 11, 2016 article by Deb Reichmann at Associated Press, Raha Wala, senior counsel for defense and intelligence at Human Rights First is quoted as saying, "We have been asking for changes to the Army Field Manual and Appendix M in particular for years now... There hasn't been momentum. I now sense that in the first time in years, there is a real interest in looking at it."

In the same article, Mark Fallon, who leads the research committee of the Obama administration's multiple agency High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, said, "I don't think there's much validity to Appendix M... I think it can open the door to the types of abuses we have seen before."

Hence, there is a gulf of difference in opinion between myself and other APA and U.S. government critics and the people at Interested readers should pursue the relevant documents and decide for themselves who makes the stronger case.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Detainee Testimonies on Psychologists' Complicity in Guantanamo Torture: "They were not there to help, but to harm"


It has been brought to my attention that a group of psychologists at the American Psychological Association are attempting to overturn a ban on work by psychologists at Guantanamo. The ban, in effect only a year, was the result of controversy engendered after the release of the Hoffman Report (PDF), which claimed complicity by high officials at APA in facilitating abusive interrogations at Guantanamo and other military sites.

According to a statement just released by Psychologists for Social Responsibility, a professional group separate from APA, "Participants in this delegitimization campaign include key individuals directly involved in the documented collusion; several past presidents of the APA and past chairs of the APA’s Ethics Committee, most of whom served during the period of collusion; and the leadership of the APA’s military psychology division, which has long advocated for psychologist participation in specific operational roles that raise challenges for the profession’s do-no-harm standard."

The effort to overturn the ban is based on a contention that psychologist work at Guantanamo is humane and ethical. Below I will show by testimony from detainees themselves that the presence of psychologists has been anything but humane.

The Hoffman Report, which gave powerful impetus to those seeking to end APA support of psychologists working with national security interrogators (a member-initiated referendum to end such support was passed years earlier, but had little effect) was not without its flaws.

The report, whose chief investigator-author was a former associate of ex-CIA chief George Tenet, actually understated, if anything, the amount of complicity and ethical misdeeds by APA officials. Even worse, it downplayed collaboration by APA officials, including a number of past presidents, with the CIA's own interrogation program.

But the Hoffman Report did stimulate powerful reform efforts at APA. As a result, last summer a resolution was passed by APA's Council of Representatives that essentially called for removal of psychologists from Guantanamo or other sites of abusive national security interrogations. (Psychologists were pointedly allowed to continue working in any domestic prison sites where abuse might be taking place, such as a SuperMax prison, such policy being a concession, or sell-out, if you prefer, to certain internal APA critics.) And while no one knows exactly how many psychologists might still be left at Guantanamo, or how DoD could still find ways to use psychological knowledge and technique in nefarious ways at the Cuba-based prison and elsewhere, the new APA policy certainly put an obstacle in the way of government-sanctioned abusive interrogations and torture.

The new APA rule read:
It is a violation of APA policy for psychologists to conduct, supervise, be in the presence of, or otherwise assist any individual national security interrogation, nor may a psychologist advise on conditions of confinement insofar as those might facilitate such an interrogation. Furthermore, based on current reports of the UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, it is also a violation of APA policy for psychologists to work at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, “black sites,” vessels in international waters, or sites where detainees are interrogated under foreign jurisdiction “unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights” or providing treatment to military personnel.
The backers of the change in rules on psychologists at Guantanamo, which is being voted on as Resolution 23A at an APA Council meeting during the upcoming APA convention in early August, claim that there are no interrogations at Guantanamo any more. Indeed, in a December 31, 2015 James Risen article at The New York Times, a spokeswoman for U.S. Southern Command indicated "only voluntary interviews are conducted when a detainee asks to speak with American personnel."

As I noted in an article last January, "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."

Recent U.S. Interrogation Abuse Involving Psychologists

Resolution 23A relies heavily on the supposed fact that torture was banned via Executive Order by President Obama, and that Congress has added the force of law to that ban with the McCain-Feinstein Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. The authors of the resolution didn't state HOW this U.S. policy assured torture was banned. But it has been amply documented that the method of interrogation was to be safeguarded by reliance on U.S. Army Field Manual (AFM) 2-22.3 on interrogation, or, in Pentagon bureaucratese, "Human Intelligence Collector Operations."

But the report of the United Nations Committee on Torture panel, reviewing U.S. interrogation practices in late 2014, found the AFM's Appendix M, and in particular its sleep limitations or deprivation, amounted to use of "a form of ill-treatment." Moreover, a procedure known as "field expedient separation" could “create a state of psychosis with the detainee,” and raised UN concerns over use of torture via the Army Field Manual. UN officials who monitor the torture treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory called for the U.S. “to review Appendix M of the Army Field Manual (AFM) in light of its obligations under the Convention.”

But U.S. officials have defended the AFM, and reviews of Appendix M were put off for another three years by Congressional fiat. This is how things stand, even though the UN official review was if anything too soft on U.S. interrogation practice in the Army Field Manual. See here for a fuller critique. For examples of how Appendix M works in practice, see a recent article by Ali Watkins and Aram Roston at Buzzfeed, which includes links to numerous released documents on Appendix M usage. These documents show that the Obama administration was using Appendix M interrogations into at least 2012. These interrogations directly rely upon presence of medical and mental health personnel, like psychologists, because they are so dangerous.

One could go on and on with this subject. For instance, last summer it was reported that psychologists continued to be part of the forced feeding procedures used by Guantanamo officials. The testimonies reproduced later in this article also reveal the little-noted fact that psychologists also participated in the violent forced cell extractions at Guantanamo. Why could they have been there? Were they recording detainee responses as some perverted kind of research?

Deceased Guantanamo detainee, Adnan Latif, described to his attorney the forced cell extractions he endured at Guantanamo: "I was hurt badly by the IRF teams. Imagine that one night, from sunset until six in the morning, they entered my cell fifteen times. During those times, they tied me to a stretcher and carried me to the clinic in camp five then returned me back to my cell. They repeated that fifteen times until I lost my mind; they broke my bones and made me bleed. This also happened on the second day when they entered my cell ten times hitting my head against the wall and dragging me on the floor and leaving me there in the middle of the cell which was full of water, urine and feces. I was left in this dirty mixture all day with my hands tied firmly behind my back."

Fostering "Anxiety and Dislocation"

The opponents to a psychologist ban at Guantanamo ask in Resolution 23A that APA resolve (bold italics added for emphasis) "in keeping with Principles A and D of the [APA] Ethics Code, [that] military and national security psychologists will be recognized as providers of psychological treatment to military personnel at detention settings, as well as to any other individual or group in need of psychological care, including detainees. Current APA policies (i.e., the first paragraph of Statement 1 of the 2013 policy and the “be it resolved” clause of the 2008 Petition Resolution policy, Psychologists and Unlawful Detention Settings with a Focus on National Security) will be changed accordingly...."

It has always been the contention of the so-called national security psychologists and their supporters that psychologists at Guantanamo and other like detention sites are humane and tend to the needs of detainees when the are under their care. But, as an internally circulated document of defense of current APA policy notes, "Therapy at these sites is inevitably compromised. Recently released policy documents make it clear that the therapists at the [CIA] black sites were not allowed to offer therapy that could 'undermine the anxiety and dislocation that the various interrogation techniques are designed to foster.' In other words, the therapists were prohibited from alleviating the distress caused by interrogators."

Crucially, there exist multiple detainee testimonies which strongly support the contention that psychologist actions at Guantanamo have been anything but therapeutic. Oddly, it seems no one in the press or academia has made a compendium of detainee charges of abuse by psychologists, so I offer the following list as an initial attempt to document in one place such charges. Of course, I do not claim this list is exhaustive. Indeed, I hope others add to it. In the meantime, I hope this list makes it into the hands of APA Council members and other interested parties who may be considering sending APA backwards on the torture issue, rather than forwards.

Detainee Testimonies of Torture by Psychologists at Guantanamo

Testimony 1 - In this first testimony, we see that psychologists are accused of foisting medications on detainees. Normally, psychologists, who are not medical doctors, cannot prescribe medications. But the Pentagon some years ago began a program to train psychologists to prescribe medications, and hence the allegations here that psychologists are giving medicine to detainees is not a matter of confusion by a detainee between a psychologist and a doctor-psychiatrist. The APA had long been supportive of programs to train psychologists to prescribe medications. See this Feb. 2003 article by APA, "Psychology's first prescribers: DoD-trained psychologists have been paving the way so that others might one day prescribe."

Testimony to Witness to Guantanamo (Khaled Ben Mustafa):
"Ultimately, there is no use in seeing a psychologist because he is just going to listen to you and then he will prescribe some medicine. We all know what the problem is; it isn't going to be fixed with medicine. The psychologist knows the problem; he knows what's wrong with you. So, there is some hypocrisy behind all this, because everyone knows what the problem is; it isn't hard to figure out. When you see the living conditions in Guantanamo, you know what the problem is. So, he is going to listen to you; he is going to give you medicine. But he too is an accomplice in the system. You know what I mean? In Guantanamo, everyone you met, they were all part of the system. One cannot trust anyone in Guantanamo; not anyone, because they are all on the same side. They are all fine with the system."
Testimony 2

Summary of a medical examination of former Guantánamo prisoner Youssef (not his real name).54 This examination was carried out under the auspices of Physicians for Human Rights by a team consisting of a physician and apsychologist/psychiatrist. The summary is taken from pages 56-61 of the Physicians for Human Rights' report Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and its Impact, published in June 2008.

While in Camp Delta, Youssef asked to speak with a psychologist because he was distressed, and the two spoke about him missing his family and his feelings of sadness. Although Youssef believed the meeting was confidential, he stated that shortly after the psychologist left, he was brought to an interrogator who immediately brought up information connected to his disclosures, such as telling him that he was going to stay at Guantánamo for the rest of his life and discussing his family (“Don’t you want to leave this place and get back together with your family?”...If you do as we tell you, you can get back to your family.”). He stated, “I figured out the reason they had called me for the interrogation was because the psychologist had told them about the meeting.” He stated, “They were stressing these fears very much.” Following this interrogation, Youssef reported that he was moved to the “worst” section in Camp Delta, where he was not allowed to have a blanket or a mattress.
Testimony 3

Testimony to Witness to Guantanamo (Haji Mohammed Ayub)
And then they called probably 20 or 30 guards to come and forcefully get him out. So he said, “I’m not coming out.” He was stubborn. He went on his bed and laid down there. He just laid on his bed. And the person who is not resisting the fight, or he’s lying quietly on the bed…They came in and they sprayed him. They sprayed the block with a gas. And then sprayed him and all that. And he was getting nauseated with that. And they sprayed some chemical on the dishtowel and then put it on his face, rubbing it on his face, putting it on his mouth. Actually the 20 or 30 guards, there was a psychologist, and then the person in charge and translator—everybody was there. They beat him up and they dragged him out of his cellblock. They got him all undressed, took all of his clothes off. He was only wearing underwear. And then he was trying to spit on the guards and he was trying to fight but he was all shackled up. They tied him up. And there were so many people around him, and he was just fighting. He says, “I tried to spit, it’s not going to reach them, but I was just fighting and spitting on people.” And the psychiatrist said, “He is going crazy. He is mentally…he is not stable. So we need to put him in the mental block.” The place where they keep all the people who have mental problems.
Testimony 4

Witnessing Guantanamo: Transcription of Salim Mahmoud Adem's Interview
Interviewer: Amy Goodman
Interviewee: Salim Mahmoud Adem
Interpreter: Isma'il Kushkush
Date of interview: 31 May 2008
Place of Interview: UC Davis (via videoconference with Sudan)
AG: Did you know any, did you meet any psychologists there?

SMA: I did not meet any because we had certain situations. Some accepted to take medicine from psychologists that they were told was medicine, but they gave them drugs, and one would be passed out and in a state of addiction for a long period of time. Many of the prisoners--the psychologists were the ones that tortured them with medicine because they don’t speak during interrogation.

AG: What kind of medicine?

SMA: But I saw my neighbor, who was from Uzbekistan, they would inject into him, and he would sleep for three or four days on the metal in the cell, and then after that he became addicted. His name is Abu Bak [phonetic spelling]. And then Abdurahman from Afghanistan and Sultan al-Joufi from Saudi Arabia, and Yaghoub [phonetic] and Koleidad [phonetic] from Kazakhstan, Koleidad [phonetic] from Afghanistan, and others from Pakistan, and Dr. Eymen [phonetic] from Yemen who was a surgeon...

AG: What about all of them?

SMA: All of them became addicted to the injections. Yaghoub, from Kazakhstan, left Guantanamo, and he became insane.

AG: Where were they injected?

SMA: In their arms or thighs, most in their arms. Once he was injected, he would sleep for days. He would eat and then sleep. He would eat and sleep. This injection might be monthly or semi-monthly. What I saw, one who left before me – Guantanamo before me – was in the chamber who became completely insane, and despite that they would punish him harshly. And because of all of this, we all became afraid of dealing with psychologists. Recently, when I was transferred to the sixth prison [Camp 6?], isolation, it was very cold and [there] were bright lights. We were cut off from the world, a great wall like the Wall of China, and we could not see the sun. Even if they took us to walk out, this room that we are in right now is much bigger than it. Two could barely walk in it.

During this period they would bring psychologists to look at us monthly, and one would come in and say, ‘Do you want to speak to a psychologist?’ And he would come with a translator. People were on guard from psychologists because they lost their specialty as doctors.
Testimony 5 - this example is interesting because it provides multiple testimony to something I didn't know: that psychologists would be present at Forced Cell Extractions (see also Testimony 3 above) - also if you read the entire KSM interview linked below, one will see that psychiatrists were also engaged in some pretty strange abusive stuff;\.

Testimony from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as part of Military Commissions

Q. Now, as a result of your experience with her, have you met with any other psychologist or psychiatrists?

A. The two after her that they -- I met with them because they forced -- they came to my cell and forced cell extractions and take me medical room. They met with me and talked with me, but I didn't request to talk with them at all because I didn't have issue.
Testimony 6

Witnessing Guantanamo: Transcription of Adel Hamad's Interview

Interviewer: Amy Goodman
Interviewee: Adel Hamad
Interpreter: Isma’il Kushkush
Date of interview: 31 May 2008

AG: Did you ever meet a doctor or a psychologist at Guantanamo?

AH: There were many psychologists, and they are the ones that caused mental illness for us because they don't use them as psychologists, but to destroy our spirits.

AG: Can you give an example, and did you ever learn anyone's name?

AH: An example -- a colleague was suffering from a headache, so we told the authorities that, "This person has a severe headache." So the psychologists came and told him that, "Are you suffering from sleep deprivation? Are you seeing things?" So the psychologists were the first doctors to come to the prisoners. But the normal doctor would not come that easily. So they would say things like, "You were possessed," but we would say that these guys are not possessed, but the doctors are the ones that are possessed.

AG: Did you remember any doctor's name?

AH: They have no names. Not the doctors or the interrogators, they have borrowed names. They have numbers.

AG: Did they have any name on their uniform?

AH: They had a military uniform. It would say "Doctor" and, with a number. And the military rank.
Testimony 7

An Interview With Former Guantanamo Detainee David Hicks
By Jason Leopold

February 16, 2011
TO: Did you ever meet separately with a psychologist or psychiatrist when at Guantanamo, for ostensibly psychological reasons, either a psychological test or assessment, or for supposed treatment of any sort?

DH: No, but they did approach me occasionally during the last year or so I spent in GTMO to see if I would talk and cooperate. Apart from their contributions in interrogations they were always lurking in the background, waiting to "help a detainee," but to really act as another prong to interrogation. If a detainee even whispered for such medical intervention a "mental health expert," would appear with a pocket of unknown medication and a long list of probing questions. They were not there to help, but to harm. We knew this and so I always refused to speak with them when they offered. If I did speak with them, such as the period when I eventually, after two years, had limited access to a lawyer for example, the questions would have been centered on how I intended to defend myself and any court actions I was considering. All they wanted was information, or to find a new way to defeat you.

TO: Were psychologists and/or medical professionals present at all interrogations? Were the interrogations ever stopped to check your heart rate and/or pulse?

DH: The major physical beatings I endured occurred in Afghanistan, during transportation and en-route to GTMO. During those sessions, one was around 10 hours, my vital signs were checked often. In GTMO medical personnel were not in the same room as me during actual interrogations but from my understanding they were monitoring my interrogations from behind the one way glass in Camp Delta. For other detainees, such as those being shocked or water boarded, medical personnel were present, or if drugs were being administrated during interrogation as I describe in my book when they extracted false confessions from one of the UK detainees. They were present when I was injected in the spine, but that experience is one that I don't like to talk about.
I credit the great resource of The Guantanamo Testimonials Project at Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, headed by Prof. Alermindo Ojeda, for my ability to quickly find relevant information on the detainee testimonies.

Please feel free to reproduce and post this article. I only ask that a link be provided back to this original post. - Jeffrey Kaye, Ph.D.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Gitmo board refuses to release 'mistaken identity' prisoner after 9 years without lawyer

Reproduced below is a press release from the international human rights organization, Reprieve. It concerns the latest decision of President Obama's instituted Periodic Review Board (PRB) at Guantanamo. The unjust PRB has existed for years, the policies supported by the new Democratic Party presidential presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton. Obama, who promised to close Guantanamo at the beginning of his term and has reneged on that promise, has after nearly 8 years stepped up the pace of release of prisoners from the torture camp at the U.S. naval base seized from land in Cuba decades ago.

After nine years held at Guantanamo without charges, Haroon Gul, aka Haroon Al-Afghani, who was one of the five last prisoners to arrive at Guantanamo, was finally allowed to meet with an attorney for the first time three days before his PRB hearing! His attorney, Shelby Sullivan-Bennis told what little he could about his client:
Very little is known to the world about Haroon, and secrecy laws currently ban me from filling in the blanks. What I can say is that he is every bit as heartbroken by the senseless violence in Orlando as I am, and presented for his Monday meeting with tears in his eyes.
According to the Reprieve website:
Haroon Gul is an 33 year-old Afghan citizen who has been held without charge or trial by the US government at Guantanamo Bay since June 2007.

For nine years, Haroon did not have legal representation....

Haroon was raised in a refugee camp in Pakistan, after violence in Afghanistan forced his family to flee their home there. Despite the disadvantages of his upbringing, Haroon was able to educate himself through the college level. He provided for his family by working as a trader in the local marketplace, selling household goods to other refugees.

With an economics degree and fluency in four languages, Haroon had just managed to rise above his difficult circumstances when he was captured by Afghan forces during a business trip to Afghanistan, and passed to the U.S.. He was rendered to Guantanamo Bay in 2007.
According to a January 2016 investigation at Al Jazeera, the U.S. claims "was a senior member of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, (HIG), an Afghan insurgent group led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a warlord who helped end the Soviet occupation in the country." He was "also said to have been a courier for alleged senior Al-Qaeda operations planner Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, who was also transferred to Guantánamo from CIA custody in 2007."

But Al Jazeera investigators Sami Yousafzai and Jenifer Fenton dug deeper and found that the U.S. claim came "from just one source, identified in JTF-GTMO report footnotes as TD-314/08910-07, a CIA report serial number. The information comes from an unidentified human source. The -07 denotes the year 2007."

With a single informant or claim, Haroon was held essentially incommunicado at Guantanamo! Yousafzai and Fenton's reporting makes a strong case that the Afghan detainee was a victim or mistaken identity, or even a victim of some local jealousy. When he was finally allowed after many months to communicate with his family, who had no idea where he was, he wrote to them, "I am in Gitmo. Pray for me... I am OK." Family members had to wait six months before the next communication.

We don't know what was done to Haroon inside Guantanamo, but we do know that the regime inside Guantanamo was tortuous, and that indefinite detention itself is a form of torture. According to the organization Physicians for Human Rights, indefinite detention in prison places individuals at unreasonable risk of serious and long-lasting psychological and physical harm. (See full report here.)

Recently, I've shown, via documents released by The Washington Post, how when the CIA contracted with James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen for their "enhanced interrogation" program, the torture was inflicted on prisoners in part in order to get them to agree to become double agents for the Americans. We do know that when one family member was allowed to see Haroon, according to Yousafzai and Fenton, the Afghan prisoner "looked older than his age, he was complaining of headaches, and he had dark circles around his eyes."

What follows below is the Reprieve press release:
A little-known Afghan prisoner has been refused clearance to leave Guantánamo Bay, despite an apparent case of mistaken identity by the U.S. government.

Guantánamo's Periodic Review Board (PRB) ruled this week that Haroon Gul, 33, must continue to be detained indefinitely without charge or trial because his plan for what he would do post-release was insufficient. The Board also seemed unimpressed by Mr. Gul's insistence that the government's allegations against him are false.

The Board's hearing was the first time in nine years that Mr. Gul has been given the opportunity to defend himself. Yet the process was inadequate and unfair. Neither Mr Gul's attorney nor his military representative were allowed to discuss the allegations with him under attorney-client privilege, nor was he given the chance to rebut the classified allegations against him before the Board.

Mr Gul, who has never been charged nor received a trial since arriving at Guantánamo Bay in 2007, was originally passed to the US military by local Afghan forces, according to a report by Al Jazeera. His wife and young daughter now live in a refugee camp, the report says, but little more is known to the world about him.

Mr. Gul has previously had no defense attorney during his nine years at Guantanamo, despite his desperate and persistent attempts to find one. He was represented at his Periodic Review Board hearing by Reprieve U.S. attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, who met him for the first time only four days before the hearing.

His file will become eligible for review in six months time.

Commenting, Reprieve U.S. attorney Shelby Sullivan-Bennis said:

"We have reason to believe that Haroon is one of the many proven cases of mistaken identity, but without a lawyer, he had no capacity to challenge his detention in federal court, as others did. He was given less than three hours out of the last nine years to prepare with an attorney for this hearing that determined his fate. This is status-quo justice in Guantánamo.

"When I met this bright-eyed, chatty young man I was blown away by his attitude. He was smiling and laughing and making American cultural references that even I didn't get.

"This denial is slap in the face to Haroon's persistent efforts to toe the line the government has drawn for its prisoners. Haroon has learned English from scratch; he learned math and science and computers; he has played soccer with fellow detainees and been kind to the guards that lock his cage at night. To this day, he says he does not understand why he's in there. 'Why me?' But day after day he makes the very best of his situation and treats those who have wronged him charitably.

"Haroon is not a bad man, Haroon is not even an irritable or ill-tempered man. He is a man who was tortured into speaking against himself and held captive by my government for nine years without an attorney.

"The allegations against our clients in Guantánamo, to this day, include information that the government admits is wrong. We are still relying on this torture-evidence to keep men hundreds of miles from their families for years on end.

"I went to law school to be a part of the American justice system, but in Guantánamo, I cannot find it."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bandura, Mitchell and CIA's research on torture to produce double agents

Greg Miller's new article at The Washington Post, How a modest contract for ‘applied research’ morphed into the CIA’s brutal interrogation program, and its associated documentation (see end of this post below), reveal aspects of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen and the CIA's torture program that I and others have long insisted rested on an illegal program of human experimentation.

Indeed, the contracts for Mitchell, who seems to have been first hired as a contractor for the CIA on August 8, 2001 to "identify reliable and valid methods for conducting cross-cultural psychological assessments," quickly became, as Miller describes, more and more highly paid assignments in conducting research for the benefit of the CIA's Counterintelligence Center (CTC) "debriefing" program. Such "debriefing" was more than simple interviews, as we all know now, and consisted of multiple forms of torture, including profound isolation and use of the waterboard.

I'm sure I and others will have more to say about the research aspects of the CIA program over the next days and weeks, but I want to concentrate on a portion of Miller's article where he notes the contracts' "cryptic reference" to the fact that one of Mitchell’s objectives would be to “adapt and modify the Bandura social cognitive theory for application in operational settings.” By operational, the CIA means in national security or military settings.

Albert Bandura is a professor of psychology at Stanford University. He has been considered for decades a seminal modern theorist of psychological thought. His social learning or social cognitive theory involves a complex view of how people act and learn. When I first read about Bandura's theory as somehow associated with the CIA program, I was confused how about its relevancy. I wondered, as well, if it had anything to do with the fact that both Mitchell and Jessen had hired Bandura, along with some other top psychologists, including CIA-linked psychologist Joseph Matarazzo (who would later be part of their company Mitchell, Jessen & Associates) for a review of SERE's training program in 1996. It was the elements of SERE training at a mock-torture camp for Special Operations forces that was used to construct the techniques of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program under the auspices of CIA's Office of Technical Services (the same part of the CIA that ran its MKULTRA program).

Miller, himself, in his Washington Post article merely refers to the idea that Bandura's theory is "that learning is largely driven by rewards and punishments." But it is much more than that.

In fact, as we shall see, the reference to Bandura -- who we have no evidence was associated with the CIA program in any way -- is a veiled reference to the goal of "exploitation" of "war on terror" prisoners, especially those in the CIA's rendition and interrogation torture program. The "exploitation" envisioned by use of Bandura's concepts are likely those associated with recruiting double agents from among the CIA's prisoners. Indeed, many prisoners released from Guantanamo or from CIA custody have said they were asked to work as double agents by their U.S. captors.

According to experts on "operational psychology," Bandura's theory helps "security agencies better understand the complex interplay of motivations and personality when individuals commit espionage."

How does it do that? Military and national security experts writing in a book chapter on "Operational Psychology," as part of The Oxford Handbook of Military Psychology (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012), cite Bandura's concepts of "moral disengagement" and "cognitive reconstrual." The authors of this essay -- Thomas J. Williams, James J. Picano, Robert R. Roland, and Paul Bartone -- describe a process whereby the normal ways a person regulates their moral conduct, their sense of right and wrong, is changed.

The authors of the book chapter have some relevant connections and experiences. Bartone, for instance, is a former president of the APA's Division 19, Society for Military Psychology, and today is Senior Research Fellow at National Defense University. Col. Thomas J. Williams is another former Div. 19 president, and is currently Senior Scientist, Behavioral Health and Performance, Behavioral Health Program, NASA. During the Iraq War, Col. Williams was part of Joint Special Operations Task Force, North, Iraq. Roland states he was a clinical-operational psychologist for the Army and Special Forces for over 30 years, while Picano is Senior Operational Psychologist for NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Both Col. Williams and Col. Bartone were "top 10" choices from American Psychological Association (APA) Ethics chief, Stephen Behnke, to serve on the controversial PENS committee, which attempted to subordinate the demands of psychological ethics to the needs of national security and military psychology, according to the Hoffman-Sidley Austin "independent review" of APA collusion with government agencies on torture.

According to the book chapter by Williams, et al., "effective counterintelligence operations focus on building a relationship that allows an individual to disengage from their moral standards (e.g. in a manner equivalent to a married partner engaged in an extra-marital affair, they may have to lie about their motivations) through a process of "cognitive reconstrual," which can occur through unconscious cognitive processes and/or through intentional training." (bold emphasis added) What types of "intentional training" remain unsaid, but it must include attempts to assess subjects for relevant vulnerabilities, and a behavioral-based program to change a person's allegiances. [Author note: the link above seems broken. Those interested can reference the book at Amazon, and search inside for "moral disengagement" to find the relevant passages.]

Williams, et. al. give as an example how the Soviet double agent Aldrich Ames was broken from his own personal loyalties, and estranged or disengaged and alienated from the CIA and U.S. society as a whole, switched loyalties to his KGB handlers, who, he said, "stuck with me, and protected me and I think... developed a genuine warmth and friendship with me."

In Bandura's terms, Ames underwent a process of moral disengagement from his CIA and national loyalties, and via a process of cognitive reconstrual changed his sense of moral conduct and right and wrong. (It is no small irony that the theories of moral disengagement and cognitive reconstual have also been used by Bandura and others to describe the processes that make terrorism acceptable to the would-be terrorist. Or that one example of using intentional training to remold ethical decision making processes is via military training.)

When the CIA emphasized they want to "Adapt and modify the Bandura social cognitive theory for application in operational settings" and "Refine variables of interest to assess in order to apply [this] model to specific individuals", I believe they are talking about interrogating and torturing "war on terror" prisoners -- whether they are actual terrorists or not -- to become double agents working for the CIA, Department of Defense, or other U.S. intelligence agencies.

In a sense, this is exactly the kind of "brainwashing" the U.S. used to accuse the Soviets, Chinese, and North Koreans of during the Cold War, i.e., using psychological techniques to change men's loyalties and make them secret agents or "Manchurian candidates." (Whether the Soviets, et al. actually did this is another story.) In addition, we can better understand how the emphasis on "research" in the terms of Mitchell and Jessen's CIA contract language was about studying ways to understand an individual's degree of "moral disengagement" or alienation, as well as assess the degree to which an individual's "cognitive reconstrual" or new alignment with U.S. government aims has taken place.

How successful the CIA was in doing this is unknown. My educated guess, as a psychologist, is that they had some successes (remember Morten Storm), and some failures (Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi).

The use of torture to "exploit" prisoners, including to "flip" them and make them work for the incarcerating power, is not unknown at all. In the case of the United States, former Guantanamo detainee David Hicks told journalist Jason Leopold about it in an February 2011 interview:
There was one time in 2003 when we were all asked if we would work for the US government performing secret operations off the island, somewhere abroad. Nearly every detainee laughed at this question and word quickly spread so we knew we weren’t alone. Apparently the proposition was a part of their profiling system. Interrogators worked around the clock to break us. Once broken, detainees were asked to agree to anything by interrogators, to repeat after them, to sign confessions, to be false witnesses, or to sow discord amongst detainees.
Michael Kearns, a former SERE official who knew CIA torture "consultant" Bruce Jessen, and worked with him training soldiers and U.S. agents to withstand torture years before Jessen worked for the CIA, explained in a March 2011 interview at Truthout the various ways torture seeks to "exploit" captured prisoners (bold added for emphasis):
The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American press.
What is important is that we now have direct evidence that the CIA's torture program, and likely that of DoD as well, was not largely about gathering workable intelligence for the safety and operations of U.S. personnel or the U.S. population as a whole, but to recruit double agents for counterintelligence and operations purposes, i.e., for sabotage, assassination, and general espionage. These latter may have had the aim of protecting the "homeland," but at the cost of a "moral disengagement" and level of illegality (kidnapping, torture) that is startling.

Read the CIA contracts for James E. Mitchell

Read the CIA contracts for John B. Jessen

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