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The Torture Trainers and the American Psychological Association

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The CIA's Torture Teachers, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen [see Eban and Mayer for a reminder of their work], are in the news again. In a front page New York Times article on the interrogation of Khalid 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.

And 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.

As Katherine 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 explians, 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 was authorized 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 Science of Deception, Mitchell, Jessen, and their likely CIA supervisor, Kirk Hubbard, were invited. 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 five "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 quotes from APA leadership when Matzrazzo's involvement was revealed last summer:

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Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and is President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He was a psychological consultant on two of (more...)
 

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It's so sad tat articles like this continue to... by Stephen Soldz on Tuesday, Jun 24, 2008 at 7:45:10 PM
Put that way, I look forward to the day I don'... by Dave Wheeler on Wednesday, Jun 25, 2008 at 1:14:27 AM
Why They Torture... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Jun 24, 2008 at 8:58:35 PM
SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!There are some good ones among th... by Wolfie on Wednesday, Jun 25, 2008 at 1:56:58 PM
With respect to psychologists (of which I am one) ... by richard on Wednesday, Jun 25, 2008 at 8:58:15 PM
And cool people such as you.Why are the best and t... by Wolfie on Thursday, Jun 26, 2008 at 1:29:43 AM
'detritus' but every time I see it, I cann... by richard on Thursday, Jun 26, 2008 at 6:09:27 AM