2. A Guantanamo interrogator seeks to obtain a confession to justify an adolescent prisoner's detention. Concerned that this juvenile is experiencing severe psychological distress, as indicated by his talking to pictures on the wall and crying for his mother, the interrogator asked a BSCT psychologist to observe the next session. This psychologist recommends that the youth be placed in linguistic isolation, where no one speaks his language, and that he be told his family wants nothing to do with him. "Make him as uncomfortable as possible. Work him as hard as possible," she writes in her recommendations to the interrogator.
3. A psychologist at a military detention center helps to write and implement Standard Operating Procedures mandating that all new prisoners be subjected to 30 days of isolation indefinitely renewable. The purpose of the Behavior Management Plan is "to enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee in the interrogation process. It concentrates on isolating the detainee and fostering dependence of the detainee on his interrogator." After this SOP is promulgated, other psychologists are involved in the process of deciding when the isolation has been sufficient and the prisoner should be released into the general population.
4. A BSCT psychologist at Guantanamo is asked to evaluate the likelihood that a prisoner who has been imprisoned without evidence for over a decade will "return to the struggle" if given his freedom. If the psychologist concludes that this is more than a trivial possibility, the prisoner may continue to be indefinitely detained, perhaps for the rest of his life.
5. The Army Field Manual allows the following interrogation techniques in certain circumstances:
a. Emotional Fear-Up Approach: "the HUMINT collector identifies a preexisting fear or creates a fear within the source. He then links the elimination or reduction of the fear to cooperation on the part of the source."
b. Emotional Fear-Down Approach: "the HUMINT collector mitigates existing fear in exchange for cooperation on the part of the source."
c. Emotional-Pride and Ego-Up Approach: "It exploits a source's low self-esteem."
d. Emotional-Pride and Ego-Down Approach: "is based on attacking the source's ego or self image."
e. Emotional-Futility Approach: "the HUMINT collector convinces the source that resistance to questioning is futile. This engenders a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness on the part of the source."
A psychologist consults on an interrogation based upon these authorized techniques.
This article first appeared in Counterpunch.
Roy Eidelson is a clinical psychologist and the president of Eidelson Consulting, where he studies, writes about, and consults on the role of psychological issues in political, organizational, and group conflict settings. He is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, associate director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.
Stephen Soldz is a psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, where he teaches research methods and in the school's graduate programs on Psychoanalysis, Society, and Culture. He has been interviewed and written extensively on the involvement of psychologists in the US torture program. Soldz is a founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, one of the organizations working to change American Psychological Association policy on participation in abusive interrogations and is a former president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He served as a psychological consultant on several Guantanamo trials.
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