[News] How Psychologists Have Abetted the CIA

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 25 19:03:17 EDT 2008

June 24, 2008

How Psychologists Have Abetted the CIA

The Torture Trainers and the American Psychological Association


Torture Teachers, psychologists James Mitchell 
and Bruce Jessen [see 
for a reminder of their work], are in the news 
again. In a front page New York Times 
on the interrogation of 
Shaikh Mohammed, it is mentioned that the subject 
of the story, Deuce Martinez is now employed by the dynamic torture firm:

His life today is quiet by comparison with the 
secret interrogations of 2002 and 2003. But Mr. 
Martinez has not turned away entirely from his 
old world. He now works for Mitchell & Jessen 
Associates, a consulting company run by former 
military psychologists who advised the C.I.A. on 
the use of harsh tactics in the secret program.

His new employer sent Mr. Martinez right back to 
the agency. For now, the unlikely interrogator of 
the man perhaps most responsible for the horrors 
of 9/11 teaches other C.I.A. analysts the arcane art of tracking terrorists.

Eban explaines what was so distinctive about this firm:

Mitchell and Jessen reverse-engineered the 
tactics inflicted on sere trainees for use on 
detainees in the global war on terror, according 
to psychologists and others with direct knowledge 
of their activities. The C.I.A. put them in 
charge of training interrogators in the brutal 
techniques, including “waterboarding,” at its network of “black sites.”

They exemplified the CIA’s humane treatment of detainees:

Mitchell had a tougher approach in mind. The 
C.I.A. interrogators explained that they were 
going to become Zubaydah’s “God.” If he refused 
to cooperate, he would lose his clothes and his 
comforts one by one. At the safe house, the 
interrogators isolated him. They would enter his 
room just once a day to say, “You know what I want,” then leave again.

As Zubaydah clammed up, Mitchell seemed to 
conclude that Zubaydah would talk only when he 
had been reduced to complete helplessness and 
dependence. With that goal in mind, the C.I.A. 
team began building a coffin in which they planned to bury the detainee alive.

It seems that the coffin may not in the end have been used.

So Deuce Martinez, so according to the Times 
followed torture sessions with “rapport-based” 
session, getting KSM to talk. They report that he 
turned down a CIA offer of specialized training 
in the “enhanced interrogation techniques,”  aka 
torture, not because he objected but because he 
believed his talents lay elsewhere. As Eban 
explains, that training would have been with the torture duo:

Interrogators who were sent for classified 
training inevitably wound up in a Mitchell-Jessen 
“shop,” and some balked at their methods. Instead 
of the careful training touted by President Bush, 
some recruits allegedly received on-the-job 
training during brutal interrogations that 
effectively unfolded as live demonstrations.

The very fact that he accepted employment with 
the nation’s premier torture firm indicates that 
he had no ethical qualms about the Mitchell-Jessen approach.

The American Psychological Association has a long 
relationship with Mitchell and Jessen. Their firm 
to give APA Continuing Education credits, though 
rumor indicates that may no longer be the case:

Mitchell, Jessen, and Associates, LLC (MJA) is an 
executive consulting firm specializing in the 
area of understanding, predicting, and improving 
performance in high-risk and extreme situations. 
MJA develops specialized assessment and selection 
programs for high-risk occupations, devises and 
conducts tailored training for related, high-risk 
programs, and is additionally approved by the 
American Psychological Association to offer 
continuing professional education for psychologists.

After the Mitchell-Jessen directed torture of Abu 
Zubaydah resulted in numerous false leads that 
wasted thousands of hours of law enforcement 
time, the CIA together with the APA and the Rand 
Corporation conducted an invitation-only workshop 
on the 
<http://www.apa.org/ppo/spin/703.html>Science of 
Deception, Mitchell, Jessen, and their likely CIA 
supervisor, Kirk Hubbard, were 
Many APA leaders were likely also there, so it 
strains credulity that they are not intimately 
aware of Mitchell and Jessen’s work. 
Interestingly, the APA leadership has conveniently “lost” the attendance list.

As a further indication of APA’s connection to 
the CIA’s torture firm, one of the 
“governing people” on the torture firm’s Board is 
former American Psychological Association 
President, Joseph Matarazzo. The APA is intensely 
disturbed by President Matzrazzo’s possible 
involvement in torture as can be gleamed from 
these ethically-principled 
from APA leadership when Matzrazzo’s involvement was revealed last summer.

Then APA President Sharon Brehm: “No comment.”

APA Director of the Ethics Office and APA point 
man  on torture and interrogations: “No comment.”

But one official did have a comment, which says 
everything one needs to knopw about the ethics of APA leadership.

“Dr. Matarazzo was president of APA 18 years 
ago,” Rhea Farberman, the organization’s director 
of public affairs, said in a prepared statement.

“Since that time, he has had no active role in 
APA governance but has been actively involved in 
the American Psychological Foundation (APF), the 
charitable giving arm of APA. Dr. Matarazzo 
currently holds no governance positions in either 
APA or APF,” the statement said.

Matarazzo’s “professional activities are outside 
and independent of any role he has played within 
APA and APF,” the statement said. “We have no 
direct knowledge about the business dealing of 
Mitchell’s and Jessen’s company; however, APA’s 
position is clear – torture or other forms of 
cruel or inhuman treatment are always unethical.”

Notice the deep concern for Mitchell and Jessen’s 
and, potentially, Matarazzo’s, actions expressed 
in this statement. Notice the (missing) promise 
to investigate and, if confirmed, discipline this 
former APA President. After all, while “torture 
is unethical", this former President's 
“professional activities” are no concern of the APA.

Meanwhile, the Times article informs us that 
Mitchell & Jessen  Associates is still in the 
CIA’s good graces. Most likely they still have 
the torture contract. And as for the APA, they 
will most likely continue to forget about the 
firm’s connection to them. Coincidentally, the 
morning before the new New York Times article 
appeared, a member of the APA’s Board sent out to 
various listserv’s an odd statement:


I wanted to share the fact that APA is aware of 
the concerns that two Washington state 
psychologists were employed by the Department of 
Defense to reverse-engineer survival and 
resistance training (which is designed to help 
U.S. military personnel in the event they are 
captured) for use in interrogations. These two 
psychologists are not APA members so are out of 
the reach of the APA’s ethics enforcement process 
but, nevertheless, APA’s position on 
inappropriate interrogations techniques is very clear.

In August of 2007, the APA Council of 
Representatives passed a resolution condemning 
the use of 19 interrogation techniques because 
they were unethical, abusive and constituted 
torture. These condemned techniques included 
waterboarding, forced nakedness, sexual 
humiliation, stress positions and the use of dogs to intimidate.

In terms of active duty military psychologists 
being used as trainers of harsh interrogation 
techniques, the media reports that I have seen 
suggest this was not the case. Rather, these 
reports have singled out military psychologists 
as raising concerns about aggressive 
interrogation techniques including waterboarding, 
forced nakedness and sleep depravation.

Notice that this esteemed APA board member cannot 
distinguish between the Defense Department, the 
subject of this week’s Senate Armed Services 
Committee (SASC) hearings, and the CIA that 
employed Mitchell and Jessen. Notice too that she 
conveniently ignores former APA President 
Matarazzo’s possible involvement in Mitchell and 
Jessens's activities and also ignores the fact 
that APA invited Mitchell and Jessen to the APA-CIA-Rand conference.

One also may wonder what “media reports” this 
Board member read which featured military 
psychologists protesting abuse as the main story. 
After all, the 
Press began its first story on the SASC investigation by stating:

"Military psychologists were enlisted to help 
develop more aggressive interrogation methods, 
including snarling dogs, forced nudity and long 
periods of standing, against terrorism suspects, 
according to a Senate investigation."

Further, SASC Chair Carl Levin described in his 
<http://levin.senate.gov/newsroom/release.cfm?id=299242>opening statement how:

 senior CIA lawyer, Jonathan Fredman, who was 
chief counsel to the CIA’s CounterTerrorism 
Center, went to GTMO, attended a meeting of GTMO 
staff and discussed a memo proposing the use of 
aggressive interrogation techniques. That memo 
had been drafted by a psychologist and 
psychiatrist from GTMO who, a couple of weeks 
earlier, had attended the training given at Fort 
Bragg by instructors from the JPRA SERE school.

While the memo remains classified, minutes from 
the meeting where it was discussed are not. Those 
minutes (TAB 7) clearly show that the focus of 
the discussion was aggressive techniques for use against detainees."

If this esteemed Board member had paid greater 
attention to these SASC hearings she would have 
discovered that they revealed the direct 
involvement of several psychologists in planning 
Guantanamo torture. Col. Morgan Banks, who had 
been appointed a member of the APA’s PENS 
Ethics and National Security ethics task force) 
by one of the SASC witnesses as requesting 
training in “exploitation
 of detainees” from the 
military’s SERE (Survival, Evasion, resistance, 
an Escape) program, which administered 
torture  to US military personnel in case they 
were captured by a force that doesn’t respect the Geneva Conventions.

But, most chillingly, at the SASC  hearings, 63 
pages of documents were released, including the 
minutes of an October 2, 2002 meeting at 
Guantanamo to develop torture strategy and 
techniques. Psychologist Maj. John Leso, a member 
of the Behavioral Science Consultation Team, and 
the psychologist described by Levin in the quote above, attended the meeting.

According to these minutes, the BSCT proposed an 
approach to detainees based upon the following principles:

What’s more effective than fear based strategies 
are camp-wide environmental strategies designed 
to disrupt cohesion and communication among detainees

The environment should foster dependence and compliance

Psychological stress = extremely effective (i.e., 
sleep deprivation, withholding food, isolation, loss of time)

Disrupting the normal camp operations is vital, 
We need to create an environment of “controlled chaos”

Evidently, according to this esteemed APA Board 
member, creating an environment of 
“controlled  chaos” designed to “foster 
dependence and compliance” and utilizing “sleep 
deprivation, withholding food, isolation, loss of 
time” constitutes objecting to torture. I’m sure 
most who paid attention to the evidence might conclude otherwise.

Unfortunately, to this date the APA has 
multiple ethics complaints extending back several 
years against Maj. Leso based upon his 
in the 
of Mohammed al-Qahtani, Guantanamo prisoner 063. 
Perhaps this esteemed colleague, rather than 
making unsubstantiated claims about supposed 
anti-torture activities, will push the 
organization to discipline this military 
psychologist who is documented to have participated in abuse.

<mailto:ssoldz at bgsp.edu>Stephen Soldz is a 
psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health 
researcher, and faculty member at the 
<http://www.bgsp.edu/>Boston Graduate School of 
Psychoanalysis. He maintains the 
for Peace and Justice web site and the 
Science, and Society blog. He is a founder of the 
Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, one of the 
organizations leading the struggle to change 
American Psychological Association policy on 
participation in abusive interrogations.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20080625/64881954/attachment.html>

More information about the News mailing list