The Corpus Callosum

A
couple of months ago, I href="http://scienceblogs.com/corpuscallosum/2007/06/psychologists_and_torture.php">wrote
about the revelation that the a committee of the American
Psychological Association had been manipulated into tacitly supporting
the involvement of psychologists in developing harsh interrogation
techniques.  

A couple of weeks ago, journalist Katherine Eban published an article
with more detail on the subject.  Her article, href="http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/07/torture200707">Rorschach
and Awe
, appeared in Vanity Fair
on 17 July 2007.

Democracy Now recently aired an interview ( href="http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/30/1416256">transcript,
href="http://www.archive.org/download/dn2007-0730/dn2007-0730-1_64kb.mp3">MP3)
with Eban, in which she describes how she came to learn more about the
topic…


From
the interview:

I
began to probe their allegations. It didn’t quite
line up from an investigative point of view. It seemed very fishy.
There were accusations that the task force had been stacked with
military psychologists, that the conclusions were preordained, and
while there seemed to be a reasonable case for that, it didn’t quite
explain to me what psychologists were up to, because some of the
military psychologists on the task force had actually protested the
role of psychologists in interrogations.

And the more I investigated, the more I heard about a different set of
psychologists, a set of psychologists who worked for the CIA, who were
involved in some of the interrogations of high-valued detainees…


From the Vanity Fair article:

…The
agency [CIA] had famously little experience in conducting
interrogations or in eliciting “ticking time bomb” information from
detainees. Yet, remarkably, it turned to Mitchell and Jessen, who were
equally inexperienced and had no proof of their tactics’ effectiveness,
say several of their former colleagues. Steve Kleinman, an Air Force
Reserve colonel and expert in human-intelligence operations, says he
finds it astonishing that the C.I.A. “chose two clinical psychologists
who had no intelligence background whatsoever, who had never conducted
an interrogation … to do something that had never been
proven in the real world.”

The tactics were a “voodoo science,” says Michael Rolince, former
section chief of the F.B.I.’s International Terrorism Operations…

…The principals of Mitchell, Jessen & Associates are raking
in money. According to people familiar with their compensation, they
get paid more than $1,000 per day plus expenses, tax free, for their
overseas work. It beats military pay. Mitchell has built his dream
house in Florida. He also purchased a BMW through one of his companies.
“Taxpayers are paying at least half a million dollars a year for these
two knuckleheads to do voodoo,” says one of the people familiar with
their pay arrangements….


The whole thing is disgusting.  There simply isn’t anything
more to say about it.