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|Clinician's Digest - Page 5|
Except for one previously leaked interrogation log showing that a psychologist advised interrogators on how to increase the suffering of the prisoner during one interrogation session, critics couldn't disprove the APA's contention that the role of psychologists was to insure more humane treatment of detainees. But the OLC memos now make clear that psychologists misrepresented others' research in order to show that "enhanced interrogation" produced no serious psychological damage. Critics insist that such misrepresentation helped provide legal cover for torture.
In approving the interrogation tactics used with Al-Qaeda recruiter Abu Zubaydah, for example, OLC attorney Jay Bybee wrote, "You have consulted with outside psychologists, who reported they were unaware of any long-term problems that have occurred as a result of these techniques." Another OLC memo, from attorney Stephen Bradbury, bases its approval of extreme interrogation tactics partly on a psychologist's citation of a study in which subjects, deprived of sleep for 8 to 11 days, suffered no significant, lasting effects.
These psychologists' opinions on the psychological harmlessness of "enhanced interrogation" failed to consider something so obvious that those justifying extreme techniques could hardly have been unaware of it. As British psychologist James Horne, the outraged author of the sleep-deprivation study mentioned in the OLC memo, points out, his subjects had a strong psychological buffer to the effects of sleep deprivation because they were volunteers participating in a carefully controlled study. Likewise, the expert opinions reported in Bybee's memo were based on evaluations of United States Army personnel who voluntarily participated in a military program that teaches soldiers how to endure extreme interrogation.
There's more evidence of psychologists' questionable involvement in interrogations. A May 10, 2005, memo from Bradbury to a CIA attorney notes, "You have . . . explained that, prior to interrogation, each detainee is evaluated by . . . psychological professionals from the CIA's Office of Medical Services to ensure that he is not likely to suffer any severe . . . mental pain or suffering as a result of interrogation." Psychologists also evaluated prisoners' psychological endurance during each session. Were these psychologists helping the prisoners or assisting their torturers?