Friday, June 26, 2009

The True Story Behind Psychology’s Role in Torture

I have thought about this for a couple of days before I posted it. This is something I have wondered about, yet had known there had to be a reason for.

How did Bush & Company find the psychologists and the know how to reverse engineer the SERE program into the Torture program they have been using? This has been bothering me. Well I stumbled onto something that answered the question and it really bothers me.

I always said that no matter where the chips fell they should be picked up and punished along with everyone. Is this possibly why there is a hesitancy on the part of Congress to move forward with hearings?

I am talking about a very senior Senator, Democratic Hawaiian who is responsible. Yes, you know who I mean, just from saying that. Daniel Inouye and his staff helped the Bush administration find the group who would set up the Torture for them.

Yes, that is a hard charge, but it comes from none other than the American Physcologicol Association. They have released a series of articles outlining their findings of internal investigations which show this.

From one which I read dated June 16th, (told you I had been thinking about this a few days) Brant Welch writes this:

A seventeen-year-old boy is locked in an interrogation cell in Guantanamo. He breaks down crying and says he wants his family. The interrogator senses the boy is psychologically vulnerable and consults with a psychologist. The psychologist has evaluated the boy prior to the questioning and says, “Tell him his family has forgotten him.” The psychologist also prescribes “linguistic isolation” (not letting him have contact with anyone who speaks his language.) The boy attempts suicide a few weeks later. On the eve of the boy’s trial, the psychologist apparently fearing her testimony will only further implicate her, indicates she will plead the Fifth Amendment if she is called to the stand. The trial is postponed, leaving the boy in further limbo.
The military psychologist is merely a foot soldier in psychology’s participation in torture. It goes much deeper. We now know that psychologists helped design and implement significant segments of George Bush’s torture program. Despite their credo, “Above all, do no harm,” two psychologists developed instruments of psychological torture. They “reversed engineered” psychological principles. They used the very therapeutic interventions psychologists use to ameliorate psychological suffering, but “reversed” their direction to create psychological distress and instability. If one’s reality sense is threatened, a good therapist validates and supports it as appropriate. In reverse engineering, the environment is deliberately made more confusing and the victim’s trust in his own perceptions is intentionally undermined. In extreme form, this can ultimately drive a person to insanity from which some never come back. These were the types of techniques that were used on the seventeen-year-old detainee and others.

That was really chilling for me, because it says the so called doctor was a woman and I really have a hard time with a woman being this cruel. But then I have a hard time with any woman being cruel, especially to a child, and a 17 year old is still a child. To knowingly try to drive a child to the brink of insanity is just beyond belief to me.

But there is more.

Military psychologists also colluded with the Justice Department to help CIA operatives circumvent the legal prohibitions against torture. Under the Justice Department definition of torture, if a detainee was sent to a psychologist for a mental health evaluation prior to interrogation it was per se evidence that the interrogator had no legal intent to torture the detainee because the referral “demonstrated concern” for the welfare of the detainee.
Most remarkably of all, this whole process occurred under a protective “ethical” seal from the American Psychological Association (APA), psychologists’ largest national organization. The APA governance repeatedly rejected calls from its membership for APA to join other health organizations in declaring participation in Bush detention center interrogations unethical.
Most psychologists are appalled at what the APA has done, and many, like me, have resigned from the APA. But the true story behind APA’s involvement with torture has not been fully told.
I have had ample opportunity to observe both the inner workings of the APA and the personalities and organizational vicissitudes that have affected it over the last two decades. For most of the twenty-year period from 1983 to 2003, I either worked inside the APA central office as the first Executive Director of the APA Practice Directorate, or I served in various governance positions, including Chair of the APA Board of Professional Affairs and member of the APA Council of Representatives. Since leaving APA I have maintained a keen interest in the organization.
The transformation of APA, in the past decade, from a historically liberal organization to an authoritarian one that actively assists in torture has been an astonishing process. As with many usurpations of democratic liberal values, the transformation was accomplished by a surprisingly small number of people. APA is an invaluable case study in the psychological manipulations that influence our governmental and non-governmental institutions.
To explain APA’s behavior two questions have to be answered. First, how did the APA develop the connections with the military that fostered the shameful role it has played in torture? Second, why did the APA governance not join other health professions in prohibiting participation in the Bush Administration’s “enhanced interrogations,” as APA’s rank and file members were demanding?

The emphasis is mine. First the italics because I thought you should see that this is important, they engineered this to try to be legal. I am not going to say it was legal because I truly don't think it was. I don't care how many attorney's they had say it was or write memo's. NO I am not an attorney either. But, just writing a memo doesn't make something legal.

The next part in bold, I wanted you to see because I think it is important to note that NOT all of the Psychologists believe in this nonsense. As you can see. These were as is the case of the so called "few bad apples" in the military. Because I don't believe that all of the members of the CIA, members of the military, or even all of the members of the Bush Administration, (choke) believed in this or participated in this.

But, lets get to the meat of the article. The APA-military connection This is a long section but it is too important to leave any of it out. This makes the connection between The Senator from Hawaii and the BushCo.

One source of APA’s military connections is obvious to anyone who has worked at APA over the last twenty-five years. Strangely, it has been overlooked by the media. Since the early 1980’s, APA has had a unique relationship with Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye’s office. Inouye was an honored WWII veteran, a Japanese American who himself was a medical volunteer in the midst of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He entered office in 1962. For much of the ’70s, he was Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Later he became, and is currently, the chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which, of course, makes up the largest chunk of federal discretionary spending and is why economists often split discretionary government funding into defense spending versus “everything else.” This appropriations committee covers not only all of the armed forces but the CIA as well. Put succinctly, Inouye controls the military purse strings, and is very influential with military brass.
One of Inouye’s administrative assistants, psychologist Patrick Deleon, has long been active in the APA and served a term in 2000 as APA president. For significant periods of time DeLeon has literally directed APA staff on federal policy matters and has dominated the APA governance on political matters. For over twenty-five years, relationships between the APA and the Department of Defense (DOD) have been strongly encouraged and closely coordinated by DeLeon.

Inouye himself has served as an apologist for the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp (”Gitmo”) since the inception of the War on Terror. In a press briefing at the U.S. State Department, held shortly after his trip to Gitmo in February of 2002, Inouye affirmed Rumsfeld’s propagandist vision of the site, and then remarked: “Watching our men and women treat these detainees was rather impressive. They would go out of their way to be considerate. …”
From what we know now, that is true, but not in the benevolent way Inouye implied. Inouye’s comments bore a chilling similarity to Barbara Bush’s famous comments about the alleged good fortune of Katrina victims, in the Houston Astrodome. The detainees, he said, are being treated “in some ways better than we treat our people.” (R. Burns, Associated Press, 2002). And he compared the Guantanamo climate to Hawaii’s. (It is “somewhat warmer.”)
More significantly, it was Inouye who recently stripped the funding needed for closing Gitmo from a supplemental appropriations bill. This “Inouye Amendment,” threw a stick in the spokes of any U.S. movement away from the worst of global war on terror policies. In announcing the funding cut, Inouye’s press release was a remarkable illustration of Orwellian “newspeak,” ostensibly supporting the very opposite of what he was doing:
“But let me be clear. We need to close the Guantanamo prison. Yes, it is a fine facility. I, too, have visited the site. Yes, the detainees are being well cared for. Our servicemen and servicewomen are doing great work. But the fact of the matter is Guantanamo is a symbol of the wrongdoings which have occurred, and we must eliminate that connection.” (Inouye, Press Release May 20, 2009).

DeLeon’s connection with Inouye is not by any means the only APA connection with defense interests. In 1951 the military established The Human Resource Research Organization (HumRRO) to develop techniques for “psychological warfare.” HumRRO was run by psychologist Dr. Meredith Crawford who spent ten years as APA treasurer and was deeply involved in APA activities for three decades. Crawford’s former student, Raymond Fowler, became Chief Executive Officer of APA in 1989 and stayed in that position until 2003. Today, fifty-five percent of HumRRO’s budget comes from the military.
As CEO, Fowler hired his two most important lieutenants from HumRRO, Chief Financial Officer, Charles “Jack” McKay, and in-house attorney, James McHugh. Both men have now, after lengthy APA tenures, left the APA and returned to HumRRO in very senior roles. McHugh is Chairman of the HumRRO Board of Trustees and McKay is Vice-Chairman and Treasurer. The current President of HumRRO, psychologist William Strickland, has been an outspoken supporter of APA’s policies on the torture issue. He served on the APA Council of Representatives throughout the APA deliberations on torture.
Whether and how the longstanding relationships and frequent circulation of key personnel between APA and HumRRO positions have shaped APA’s involvement with the military is unclear, but given recent events, it certainly warrants more careful scrutiny than it has received from psychologists. In fact, I do not believe many psychologists are even aware of these relationships.
Regardless of HumRRO’s role, however, as psychologists, most APA governance members have little Washington political experience. For them, Patrick DeLeon, because of his connection with Inouye, is perceived as a canny psychology politician and political force on Capitol Hill. Regardless of the accuracy of that perception, I have no reason to think DeLeon is a corrupt or evil person. Instead, from my perspective, the most interesting aspect of DeLeon has always been his apparent preoccupation with issues of status for psychologists, irrespective of the issues’ actual significance either for psychologists or the public.
DeLeon wanted to make sure a psychologist, not just physicians, for example, would be eligible to fill this or that position in the Veteran’s Administration, and he campaigned for years for VA psychologists to receive a minuscule pay increase when they became board certified. On the whole, I found these matters harmless and of at least some marginal benefit to people. Using funding from the Department of Defense he has also launched a campaign for psychologists to be given legal rights to prescribe psychiatric medications.
The torture issue is, of course, quite different. Viewed through the eyes of DeLeon’s adherents, psychology’s new found role as architects of a central component of the war on terror was a tremendous “victory” for the field of psychology. That it involved torture was peripheral, obscured by the headiness of being involved in high-level, important, clandestine government affairs. In discussions about APA’s role in the interrogations, a senior member of the APA governance described himself as “addicted” to the television show 24. Now he had his own reality TV show.
DeLeon’s influence in the APA and with many individual psychologists, especially those from Hawaii, came in very handy for Inouye in his efforts to support the Department of Defense. When the military needed a mental health professional to help implement its interrogation procedures, and the other professions subsequently refused to comply, the military had a friend in Senator Inouye’s office, one that could reap the political dividends of seeds sown by DeLeon over many years.While we are only now uncovering the names of the individuals who participated most directly in the interrogations, I think a surprising number of them will turn out to be people brought into the military through Inouye’s office, many by DeLeon himself.

Smoking gun anyone? Sure looks like it connects all the dots. It is very disturbing. This is a war veteran from WWII, someone who should have been aware of all the ramifacations of Torture and what it does to people and what happens to the people who practice it. He was alive and there for the trials after WWII, after Korea, after Viet Nam. Saw what happened to everyone who was involved and he helped in this way. I can't understand it.

There is a lot more. But, rather than post it all here I will let you go read it for yourself. The blog is called Psyche, Science, and Society and his post is called Welch: Torture, Psychology, and Daniel Inouye, there is another part of this that can be read under the title of APA board makes major statement on Torture, it is also a must read about this.

This now starts to make sense and opens my eyes about how and why the APA got involved in the Torture program. How doctors could do this, could stand by and forget their basic motto of "First Do No Harm" is beyond me. How a woman, a mother could stand by or be involved and do this is beyond me. I can't imagine inflicting pain, physical, mental to the point of death or insanity on anyone.

To me that shows that there is something really wrong with you. It is easy for some to sit here and say yeah, they could do it or they don't see anything wrong with it, but to actually be the one with the hand on the hot iron, so to speak. That is something completely different.

Let me know what you think of this. Do you think this may be why Congress isn't pushing harder on these hearings and investigations? They are really afraid of where the chips are going to fall?

1 comment:

nonnie9999 said...

inouye is one of those guys who i wish would just retire and go away. he lost any respect i might have had for him when he backed his good buddy, ted stevens. i don't know if he is directly responsible for this, but i wouldn't be surprised if someone in his office is.

as for finding shrinks or doctors or anyone else for doing some dirty work--there are always people who will do reprehensible things if the dangling carrot looks sufficiently appetizing.

i think some in congress are a bit nervous that their part in unlawful activity will be exposed. for most of them, though, i think it's sheer laziness or nonchalance. most of them don't really give a shit about any issues. they just want their cushy jobs, prestige, and the perks that go with a seat in congress.