S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This and that about harsh interrogation - an issue that will not go away.

Psychologists in the military were deeply involved with programs that utilized harsh interrogation techniques. And they did it with the the full support of the American Psychological Association (APA). The professional organization of psychologists supported the government’s illegal interrogation program. They were in advisory roles, they assisted with implementation and even initiated torture programs that are still being highly criticized, the more we find out. Calls for independent investigation have not diminished. Other prefessionals, such as doctors, psychiatrists and social workers withdrew their support of the government's policies.,"American Psychological Association Sees No Evil," is from ACLU Blog of Rights (6/16/09). To quote from the piece:
The role that psychologists played in the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation policies is slowly being made public.

. . . Meanwhile many, perhaps most, members of the APA were unaware of the policies that were being carried out in their name. I shall briefly describe how the APA aided and abetted the U.S. government in Guantánamo Bay and the CIA black sites, and the steps that a number of psychologists are taking to end this unholy alliance.

. . . [Author] Ghislaine Boulanger,Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst and the author of Wounded by Reality: Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma.In 2006, in reaction to the American Psychological Association’s cooperation with the Bush administration’s interrogation practices of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and CIA black sites, Dr. Boulanger withheld her APA membership dues and began a listserv for like-minded psychologists. She is a founding member of Psychologists for an Ethical APA.

"Accountability for torture" is the new ACLU website that consolidates everything about the U.S. torture programs in one comprehensive location. Glenn Greenwald raved about it (on 6/11/09):
The ACLU today launched a major new campaign to impose accountability for torture and related Bush-era crimes. The campaign -- Accountability for Torture -- is devoted principally to a restoration of the rule of law and the appointment by the DOJ of a Special Prosecutor. The website to coordinate these efforts is here, and that site is also now probably the single best resource for all documents and other information relating to torture and accountability efforts. The ACLU has clearly led the way in battling for disclosure of Bush-era war crimes secrets
-- so much of what we know is due to their litigation efforts and those of other civil liberties groups (rather than, say, the efforts of the "watchdog" media or the "oversight" Congress). But what has been missing up until now is a coordinated, centralized effort to galvanize public demands for accountability, and this project is intended to provide that.
At the American Civil Liberties Union's new "Accountability for Torture" action center, Executive Director Anthony Romerero suggests that interested people "help submit evidence and demand accountability" of Attorney General Eric Holder. ( also offers a petition to Congress and A.G. Holder, that you can sign). To quote further from ACLU,
At this comprehensive and resource-filled new site, you can also view videos that make a powerful case for accountability…see profiles of the main architects of the Bush torture program…and use a search engine to examine the mountains of evidence the ACLU has obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation.
The harsh interrogation techniques using torture started long before the Office of Legal Counsel gave advice and counsel or rules to those carrying out the interrogationsl.'s outstanding writer, Glenn Greenwald says what the new Jim Comey torture emails actually reveal, is different than what Bush administration spokesmen claim. To quote :
[regarding] how these DOJ torture memos were actually produced. The key excerpts tell the story as clearly as can be. Comey was vehemently opposed to a draft memo written by Acting OLC Chief Steven Bradbury -- ultimately dated May 10, 2005 (.pdf) -- that legally authorized the simultaneous, combined use of numerous "enhanced interrogation techniques" on detainees. This "combined techniques" memo was crucial because these were the tactics that had already been used on detainees, and -- after the prior OLC memos authorizing those tactics were withdrawn -- the White House was desperate for legal approval for what they had already done and what they wanted to do in the future.

Congressman Robert Wexler (D-Fla) is a fierce fighter for accountability regarding the Bush torture programs. He supports "an investigation into the Bush administration policies" and he has "introduced legislation that would establish a special select House Committee to reexamine our national security after a full investigation. . ." Representative Wexler reminds us that recently General David Petraeus supported President Obama's stance against torture. And General Ricardo Sanchez, "called for a truth commission to investigate the abuses and torture" while he was serving in Iraq, according to Wexler.

Jeff Stein, who writes Spy Talk for The Congressional Quarterly, recently made a very interesting behind the scenes report about the torture photographs that the White House does not want to reveal. His post, "Is the White House calling Tony Taguba a liar?," gives General Anthony Taguba, who officially investigated Abu Ghraib, credit for reportedly hinting at the fact that the torture photographs now in question existed. His very revealing post came as a result of an interview with Taguba as they were attending an off the record conference on torture recently in Florence, Italy. Stein described the meeting: "for three days last week, about 40 scholars, lawyers, government officials and journalists, mostly from the United States, gathered in Florence to talk about torture, among other urgent topics of the post-9/11 era."

References from Tom Head who writes on Civil Liberties for Torture and Trust, Is Torture Ever Justified?, and, Jane Mayer and the New Literature of U.S. Human Rights

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