The Complicity of Psychologists in CIA Torture

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

The Complicity of Psychologists in CIA Torture

WASHINGTON - ROY EIDELSON, reidelson@eidelsonconsulting.com
TRUDY BOND, drtrudybond@gmail.com

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.  

Bond is a counseling psychologist in independent practice in Toledo, Ohio. She is a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and on the steering committee of Psychologists for Social Responsibility.  

They just wrote the piece "The Complicity of Psychologists in CIA Torture," which states: "Earlier this week the Senate Intelligence Committee released the long-awaited executive summary of its 6,000-page classified report on the CIA’s brutal post-9/11 detention and interrogation program. The report provides gruesome details of the abuse that took place in several 'black site' prisons -- waterboarding, confinement in a coffin-sized box, threatened harm to family members, forced nudity, freezing temperatures, 'rectal feeding' without medical need, stress positions, diapering, days of sleep deprivation, and more.

"Two names appear dozens of times in the committee’s summary: Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar. These are the pseudonyms that were given to James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. It has been known for several years that these two contract psychologists played central roles in designing and implementing the CIA’s torture program. Now we also know how lucrative that work was for Mitchell and Jessen: their company was paid over $80 million by the CIA. ...

"Responding to the new Senate report, the American Psychological Association (APA) was quick to issue a press release distancing itself from Mitchell and Jessen. The statement emphasized that the two psychologists are not APA members – although Mitchell was a member until 2006 -- and that they are therefore 'outside the reach of the association’s ethics adjudication process.' But there is much more to this story. After years of stonewalling and denials, last month the APA Board appointed an investigator to examine allegations that the APA colluded with the CIA and Pentagon in supporting the Bush Administration’s abusive 'war on terror' detention and interrogation practices.

"The latest evidence of that collusion comes from the publication earlier this fall of James Risen’s Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. With access to hundreds of previously undisclosed emails involving senior APA staff, the Pulitzer-prize winning reporter concludes that the APA 'worked assiduously to protect the psychologists…involved in the torture program.' The book also provides several new details pointing to the likelihood that Mitchell and Jessen were not so far removed from the APA after all.

"Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, APA member and CIA head of behavioral research Kirk Hubbard first introduced Mitchell and Jessen to the CIA as 'potential assets.' A few months later, in mid-2002, Hubbard arranged for former APA president Martin Seligman to present a lecture on his theories of 'learned helplessness' to a group that included Mitchell and Jessen at the Navy SERE School in San Diego. And in 2003 Hubbard worked closely with APA senior staff in developing an invitation-only workshop – co-sponsored by the APA and the CIA – on the science of deception and other interrogation-related topics. Mitchell and Jessen were both participants (having returned from overseas where they were involved in the waterboarding of detainees Abu Zabaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed). ..."

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

###

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.

Share This Article