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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/22/10

The "Black Jail": Obama's Afghan Torture Center and the American Psychological Association

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A recent pair of articles by Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic has shed new light upon activities in the secret so-called "black jail" on the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Among other aspects, these new revelations suggest that psychologists may be playing a major role inside the facility, raising questions about the reasons for American Psychological Association (APA) lobbying activities in support of the agency that Ambinder reports is running the detention center.

In recent months the Washington Post, New York Times, and BBC reported on a secret prison on the fringes of the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Referred to by former prisoners as the "black jail," this institution is reportedly a site where prisoner abuse is regular and systematic. The BBC reported that all nine former prisoners they interviewed

"told consistent stories of being held in isolation in cold cells where a light is on all day and night.

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"The men said they had been deprived of sleep by US military personnel there."

Thus, we can assume that psychological torture techniques of isolation, sleep deprivation, and hypothermia are routine aspects of treatment inside the facility.

The Washington Post provided additional details through interviews with two youths imprisoned in the black jail. As one young man, Rashid, who is "younger than 16" described:

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"At the beginning of his detention, he was forced to strip naked and undergo a medical checkup in front of about a half-dozen American soldiers. He said that his Muslim upbringing made such a display humiliating and that the soldiers made it worse.

"'They touched me all over my body. They took pictures, and they were laughing and laughing,' he said. 'They were doing everything.'

"He said he lived in a small concrete cell that was slightly longer than the length of his body. Food was tossed in a plastic bag through a slot in the metal door. Both teenagers said that when they tried to sleep, on the floor, their captors shouted at them and hammered on their cells.

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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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