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Ongoing Torture

Scott Horton, in an October 2010 article in Harpers, points out the links revealed by the Soros Foundation between the Army Field Manual's Appendix M and torture at a secret site in Afghanistan.

Jeffrey Kaye, in a January 2010 article for The Public Record, reveals that the torture permitted by Appendix M of the Army Field Manual is continuing at Guantanamo Bay. The article affords an astute assessment of the Army Field Manual's fine print and what it has been carefully worded to permit.

The Nation. February 2010
Anand Gopal writes on America’s secret Afghan prisons. Read more

The Nation. May 2010
Jeremy Scahill explains the Defense Intelligence Agency’s operation of the secret Black Jail at Bagram. Read more

The Atlantic May 2010
Mark Ambinder comments on the goings on inside the secret interrogation facility at Bagram, noting that defense officials say the US “does not invite the Red Cross to tour it because the US does not consider it to be a detention facility, classifying it instead as an intelligence-gathering facility.” In a separate post, Ambinder explains how Appendix M of the Army Field Manual is being used to allow the broad use of isolation and sleep deprivation. Read more

Truthout May 2010
Jeremy Scahill reports on continuing torture at Guantanamo Bay. Read more

Tikkun May 2010
Lynn Feinerman writes about the solitary confinement of Fahad Hashmi. Read more

Washington Independent September 2009
Daphne Eviatar explains that the Defense Department is concealing data on detainee deaths, having stopped the detainee death reporting system.


The Culture Project's Blueprint for Accountability is a comprehensive and engaging multi-media examination of torture and accountability, featuring experts in the field. The full show, which is available on ForaTV, is accompanied by an excellent discussion guide for professors, teachers, and concerned citizens.

The American Civil Liberties Union has an excellent website outlining which Bush Administration officials were involved in the decision to torture and what their involvement was.

Washington Post May 2010 Mark Danner argues for an investigative commission. Read more

Tikkun May-June 2010
Lynn Feinerman calls for prosecution and care of victims/survivors. Read more

Tortured Law, a 10-minute documentary by Alliance for Justice, examines the role lawyers played in authorizing torture and calls upon Attorney General Holder to conduct a full investigation of those who ordered, designed, and justified torture. Tortured Law is the recipient of a 2010 VSM Excellence Award.

Torture on Trial, a 30-minute documentary, features Mark Danner, Jane Mayer, and former interrogator Matthew Alexander, and other experts on the subject of torture.

Truth Out April 2010
Jason Leopold states that in a sworn declaration obtained exclusively by Truthout, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell during George W. Bush's first term in office, said Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld knew the "vast majority" of prisoners captured in the so-called War on Terror were innocent and the administration refused to set them free once those facts were established because of the political repercussions that would have ensued. Read more

The International Federation for Human Rights, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), has filed three cases against Donald Rumsfeld and others in Germany and France under universal jurisdiction laws for the torture of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and in secret sites. Read more

Harpers April 2010 Scott Horton comments on the recommendation to prosecute in the Red Cross Report. Read more

Accountability for Doctors and Psychologists

Leonard S. Rubenstein and Stephen N. Xenakis, in an op-ed published in the New York Times, note that
psychologists and at least one doctor designed or recommended coercive interrogation methods including sleep deprivation, stress positions, isolation and waterboarding.  The military’s Behavioral Science Consultation Teams evaluated detainees, consulted their medical records to ascertain vulnerabilities, and advised interrogators when to push harder for intelligence information.  Yet no agency—not the Pentagon, the CIA, state licensing boards, or professional medical societies—has initiated any action to investigate or discipline those individuals.  The authors make the point that it is not too late to hold investigations and they should start now.

See the following sites also:

(Go to Advocacy for more information.)

Psychologists’ Involvement in Torture

Doctors of the Dark Side, an excellent film by Martha Davis, exposes how psychologists and physicians devised, supervised, and covered up the torture of detainees in US-controlled military installations.

The Hippocratic Myth, by M. Gregg Bloche, is a well researched, highly readable, and fascinating book. In a couple of long chapters entitled "Doctors as Warriors," Bloch carefully traces the development of "alternative" interrogation methods and delineates the breadth and impact of psychologists' and doctors' involvement. Bloche includes information from his interviews with CIA sources, APA ethics director Steven Behnke, and others who participated in formulating or facilitating the techniques or who were close the process.

Physicians for Human Rights released a June 2010 report uncovering experimentation on detainees by psychologists working for the CIA. The report is entitled "Experiments in Torture: Evidence of Human Torture Research and Experimentation in the "Enhanced" Interrogation Program."

A detailed and explicated timeline of psychologists and torture, from 2001 to 2011, can be found here, thanks to the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.

Jeffrey Kaye highlights the shortcomings in the proposed new APA casebook on psychologist ethics in a national security setting. For example, the APA casebook tells psychologists to consider whether there are "data to support that the technique is effective in gathering accurate information" as they assess whether it is abusive or not.

In a Truthout article, Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye write that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz broadened the guidelines regulating human experimentation so that restrictions on experimentation would apply only to prisoners of war. This change was made a month after Bush had stripped detainees of prisoner of war status, relegating them to the category of enemy combatants. A former Pentagon official said the Wolfowitz directive provided legal cover for a top-secret Special Access Program at the Guantanamo Bay prison, which experimented on ways to glean information from unwilling subjects: “A dozen [high-value detainees] were subjected to interrogation methods in order to evaluate their reaction to those methods and the subsequent levels of stress that would result,” said the official.

Psychologists' & Physicians' Involvement in Detainee Interrogations
This page, from psychologist Ken Pope's website, has many valuable links to files, resources, and information regarding interrogation, torture, and psychologists' and physicians' involvement in torture.

Invictus: A Blog on US Politics and the Fight Against Torture, by Jeffrey Kaye, Ph.D., is an excellent source of information, analyzing current news related to torture and providing a thorough historical context for the use of psychologists in its development.

Democracy Now
Renowned journalist Amy Goodman has covered psychologists’ involvement in torture since 2005.  The website of her award-winning radio program, Democracy Now! has a special section tracing the history and posting ongoing coverage of psychologists’ involvement in interrogations. journalist Mark Benjamin has a series of articles on psychologists’ involvement in torture:
"Torture teachers" June 29, 2006
"Psychological warfare" July 26, 2006
"Psychologists group still rocked by torture debate" August 4, 2006
"The CIA's torture teachers" June 21, 2007
"Will psychologists still abet torture?" August 21, 2007

Firedoglake  May 2010  Jeffrey Kaye writes that the APA has scrubbed clean the pages linking it to CIA torture workshops in 2003.

Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror, a wonderfully written and researched book by Dr. Stephen Miles

University of Minnesota Human Rights Library has a website with links to government documents hard to find elsewhere, such memos from teams of behavioral consultants to the FBI and detainee death and interrogation indexes.  The website has a wide range of documents available pertaining to the roles of Armed Forces Medical Personnel who worked in US Armed Forces prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Bay from 2001 to 2006.

Vanity Fair "Rorschach and Awe" (July 2007), by Katherine Eban, traces the migration of SERE interrogation resistance techniques from the US military's training programs to their eventual application in the extra-legal and sometimes secret detention facilities abroad.  

Also, see the following sites:


American Torture
This site, associated with the book of the same name by Michael Otterman, hosts bloggers (including Valtin) and news articles and also has some archived documents.

A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror, by  Alfred W. McCoy, takes a far-ranging look at the development of torture strategy in the US, much of it aided by psychologists, and addresses large questions about the efficacy of torture and the reasons for its use.

American Psychologist  Researcher Jeffrey Burger conducted an experiment two years ago replicating the Stanley Milgram experiments.  Burger, using an experiment very similar to Milgram’s, found that 70 percent of subjects would continue to administer the seemingly painful but fake shocks, even after hearing a subject’s cries for mercy.

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, is an important book by Phillip Zimbardo, creator of the landmark Stanford Prison Experiment.  In this book Zimbardo analyzes the systematic infliction of violence that has characterized the US torture program.  He outlines some of the dynamics that have made such brutality possible (depersonalization, dehumanization, group think, enemy image, etc.) and attributes responsibility to US officials at the highest levels.

Taxi to the Dark Side, a 2007 Academy Award-nominated documentary film directed by American filmmaker Alex Gibney, focuses on the controversial death in custody of an Afghan taxi driver who was beaten to death by American soldiers while being held in extrajudicial detention at the Bigram Air Base. Taxi to the Dark Side also goes on to examine the United State's policy on torture and interrogation in general, including the CIA's use of torture and its research into sensory deprivation.

Torturing Democracy is a documentary made by Washington Media and the National Security Archives.  The website has a wealth of information and resources.

The Guantánamo Testimonials Project
This extensive collection of valuable data and testimony from many parties involved in detentions and interrogations at Guantánamo is compiled and maintained by The UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas (CSHRA). The CSHRA's director, UC Davis linguistics professor Almerindo Ojeda, also edited an excellent volume on psychological torture entitled The Trauma of Psychological Torture.

History Commons  
This website, operated by the Center for Grassroots Oversight, has comprehensive listings and links to many things related to the US government’s use of torture, including government reports, court decisions, and documented torture techniques.

"Torture Memos"

Senate Armed Services Committee Report

International Committee of the Red Cross Report

2004 CIA Inspector General's Report

Truth, Torture, and the American Way, by Jennifer K. Harbury, examines the history of US involvement in torture.  Harbury, a US attorney, lays out the United States government’s decades-long involvement in torture in Central America, from teaching torture techniques to funding and rewarding the Central American death squads that used them.  A highlight of the book is the testimonies she gathered from people tortured in Central America who saw or heard US officials entering the torture chamber to supervise the torture, gather information from the interrogation, or pass questions to the torturers.

Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror, by Mark Danner, is about how the United States, when faced with incontrovertible evidence that its military and security forces were engaging in torture, moved or failed to move to confront that fact. The book, published in 2004, focuses on what led to the scandal at Abu Ghraib and examines the broader implications of the revelations of torture there.

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals,
 by Jane Mayer, is a comprehensive examination of the development of US torture policy and its attendant costs.

The Interrogator, by Glenn Carle, is a memoir by a former CIA black site interrogator. In the book Glenn Carle details his futile efforts to explain to his superiors that the detainee in his charge is not the high-level operative they had believed. The book affords a glimpse into a the most notorious of places, a CIA black site, and into the moral and practical questions faced by an interrogator trying to obey the law in a climate of lawlessness.



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