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New York Times Decides Guantanamo Detainee Committed Suicide

8:24 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

Jason Leopold continues to do superb reporting on the mysterious death last September of Guantanamo detainee Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif. Monday, Leopold posted breaking news that a government autopsy report on Latif, not yet officially released, concludes that the 36-year-old prisoner died of suicide.

Guantanamo protesters in prisoner outfits with 'CLOSE GUANTANAMO' Banner

Despite years of pressure (& a presidential promise) Guantanamo remains open.

Leopold sourced the revelation to Yemeni government officials and “a US military investigator close to the case.” The Department of Defense has not yet officially stated any cause of death for Latif, who was discovered inert in his cell at Guantanamo’s Camp 5 on September 8.

Leopold wrote that a “spokesman for United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), Joint Task Force-Guantanamo’s (JTF-GTMO) higher command” told Truthout that DoD would “issue a statement as soon as [Yemen] accepts [Latif's] remains.” Just two days after Latif’s death, a Guantanamo spokesman told Associated Press, “There is no apparent cause [of death], natural or self-inflicted.”

But none of this stopped the New York Times from stating in an editorial Sunday calling for Guantanamo’s closure that Latif had in fact committed suicide. Coming out of nowhere, such a statement was, frankly, bizarre.

Here’s what the Times wrote, some 12 hours before Leopold even posted his story at Truthout, and with no published source anywhere definitively reporting Latif’s cause of death as suicide (bold emphasis added):

In September, a member of this stranded group, a Yemeni citizen named Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, killed himself after a federal judge’s ruling ordering his release was unfairly overturned by an appellate court. It was the kind of price a nation pays when it creates prisons like Guantánamo, beyond the reach of law and decency, a tragic reminder of the stain on American justice.

Narratives R Us

There is a lot wrong about the claims in the NYT op-ed, as much as I might agree with the overall thrust of the editorial about shutting down Guantanamo. The Times editors may have thought the latest death of a prisoner at Guantanamo highlighted the crime of keeping Guantanamo open. And they are right about that, but their conclusion — their narrative of Latif’s death — closes off inquiry into what actually occurred, and in doing that they are not acting as a watchdog upon possible government abuse.

First of all, there is no affirmative statement by the government that Latif’s cause of death was suicide. In fact, as Leopold points out in his article, all the earlier statements from DoD led one to believe that suicide was not a cause of death. The only recent article to claim otherwise was by Leopold, and it was not published until many hours after the NYT made their claim.

Secondarily, not only does the New York Times supposedly know how Latif died, they also imply they know why he killed himself, i.e., he “killed himself after a federal judge’s ruling ordering his release was unfairly overturned by an appellate court.”

Well, yes, he did die after the appellate court ruling — nearly eleven months afterward, as the ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia came in October 2011. A subsequent appeal by Latif’s attorneys to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected last June, also approximately three months before Latif died.

Since no one reads articles very carefully, and it is enough to spread a particular narrative in mainstream media sources to manufacture a version of Truth, the NYT does its readers a disservice by producing a bogus narrative of the death of Adnan Latif. According to the Times, Latif killed himself, and it was likely because his court case was overturned.

To be fair to the Times, there were stories in the press that speculated upon just such a scenario, as the Reprieve spokesperson in this Alternet article from last September appeared to do. In addition, the Swiss chapter of Amnesty International wrote about the Latif death on November 1, and indicated that the Guantanamo prisoner had died of suicide. (“Le suicide du détenu yéménite Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif en septembre 2012 nous rappelle la cruauté de ce régime de détention qui permet une détention illimitée et illégale.”).

But statements by human rights groups are not the same as statements by the editorial board of the New York Times. One wonders what led them to assert that Latif had died from suicide, when no public source, indeed no story in their own paper had reported the same, until Truthout published Leopold’s story nearly 12 hours later.

“Questions Remain”

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CCR Files Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld Appeal on Behalf of Detainees’ Families

11:50 am in Military, Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

Center for Constitutional Rights has filed an appeal for the families of two of the three men who died in mysterious circumstances in June 2006. The U.S. government called it “asymmetrical warfare” by the detainees, who are said to have killed themselves in some belief that would hurt the U.S. government. As bizarre as that theory is, Defense Department investigations found the men committed suicide in a multiple, timed series of three planned suicides.

But as an investigation by Scott Horton at Harper’s Magazine, and one by Seton Hall School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research, demonstrated, the investigation did not hold up to scrutiny. Indeed, the legal case hinges on new eyewitness testimony from four Guantanamo guards who have come forward to tell what they saw that fateful night.

The legal maneuvers throw recent media attempts to discredit the Horton investigation, which won a prestigious magazine journalism prize last month, in a new and more ominous light. (See my story on one such hit piece published in Adweek.)

But the D.C. District Court is citing secrecy issues to keep the new evidence from even being presented. CCR released a press release on Monday discussing the case:

June 13, 2011, Washington and New York – Today, nearly five years to the day after three men died at Guantánamo in June 2006 under still-unexplained circumstances, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel are appealing the dismissal by the District Court for the District of Columbia of a civil lawsuit Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld. The military has maintained that the deaths were suicides, having once famously called them “acts of asymmetrical warfare.” In January 2010, new evidence from four soldiers stationed at the base at the time of the deaths came to light, suggesting that the military’s narrative was a cover-up and that the men may have been killed at a black site at Guantanamo.

“My son Yasser was 17 when he was taken to Guantánamo and 21 when he died there,” said Talal Al-Zahrani, father of Yasser Al-Zahrani. “I have waited for five years for meaningful answers to my questions about how my son died, but the U.S. government has never contacted me. Not when my son died, not in response to my questions afterwards and not to this day. And the fact that the government has not only failed to properly investigate his death but is also attempting to block review by the courts is both hard to believe and very painful for my family. We just want the truth and for those responsible to be held accountable.”

Nashwan Al-Salami, whose brother Salah also died at Guantánamo, said, “For five years the U.S. government and courts have blocked my family’s efforts to know the truth about how my brother died. My father died without ever learning what happened to his son, and I continue to hope for real answers and justice.”

The families had presented the new evidence from the soldiers to the district court, requesting that it reconsider its prior dismissal of the case. The court denied the request, holding that even with allegations of an off-site killing, national security “special factors” continue to bar the constitutional claims and that the defendants are further protected by qualified immunity. With respect to the international law claims, the court held that the new evidence was insufficient to challenge the presumption that the defendants were acting within the scope of their authorized duties and were entitled to absolute immunity. Courts have consistently relied on “special factors,” “state secrets” and the “political question” doctrines to dismiss torture and abuse cases brought before them. Not once in the past decade has a court either evaluated the actual facts of such a case or ruled on the legality of the conduct.

CCR attorneys pointed to other documented examples of deaths and killings covered-up by the military in the recent past, including the falsification of records in the death of former football player Pat Tillman and the premeditated murders of Afghan civilians by members of the Army’s Bravo Company.

“The new evidence is not the result of the wild speculations of the families, or their attorneys, or a journalist. It comes from the eye-witness accounts of four decorated soldiers who were compelled to come forward by their consciences, out of a sense of duty, and at great personal and professional risk. In this context, where the only people who know the truth are our clients’ dead sons and individuals within the government, the information these four men have brought forward is critical. It must give these families a chance to reopen their case. It is shameful that this information hasn’t been given greater consideration by the court,” said CCR staff attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, lead counsel in the case.

Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights called on supporters to demand an independent investigation into the deaths and to ask the Obama Justice Department to change course from the prior administration’s policy of attempting to block every torture and abuse case, including Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, from proceeding. In all these cases, the victims and their families seek accountability, justice and answers.

The case, filed on behalf of the families of two of the deceased men, Yasser Al-Zahrani of Saudi Arabia and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salami of Yemen, charged the government and 24 federal officials with responsibility for the men’s abuse, wrongful detention and ultimate deaths. Early last year, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case. Following the dismissal, the families filed a motion for reconsideration on the basis of the evidence from the soldiers, as reported by Scott Horton in Harper’s Magazine in January 2010, arguing that the new facts compelled the court to reopen the case.

The suit was brought by CCR and co-counsel William Goodman of Goodman & Hurwitz, P.C. and Johanna Kalb of the College of Law at Loyola University.

The decision, the complaint, the government briefs and other court documents, as well as video of Mr. Talal Zahrani addressing the U.S. government, courts and people regarding his son’s death can be found on CCR’s legal case page or http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/al-zahrani-v.-rumsfeld.

See also Andy Worthington’s two recent articles covering this news:

Teleconference: Five Years After Disputed “Suicides” at Guantánamo, Father of Dead Man Appeals Court’s Refusal to Consider His Case

Relatives of Disputed Guantánamo Suicides Speak Out As Families Appeal in US Court

In the article on the teleconference, Andy quoted Terek Dergoul, a former detainee who spent two years at Guantanamo and was released in 2004. He shared a cell right next to Yasser al-Zahrani, and spoke about the dead men, each of whom he knew fairly well.

Tarek Dergoul said:

I knew Yasser, Salah, and Mani personally, for a long period of time, and I knew of their deep will to resist being broken by Guantánamo and to live. These were beautiful men, and Yasser and Mani used to sing songs and recite poetry to lift the spirits of the other detained men. They always fought for the rights of all of us to be free from the abuses we were tormented with, and they were repeatedly subjected to harsh treatment because of this. I have never believed these men committed suicide as the government claims.

Adweek Article Misrepresents Autopsy Results on Guantanamo “Suicide”

7:08 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

Charles Fried and Scott Horton (Harper's, human rights attorney) at Justice After Bush Panel, Princeton

Charles Fried and Scott Horton (Harper's, human rights attorney) at Justice After Bush Panel, Princeton by Cheryl Biren

A lot of people were apparently very upset when Scott Horton beat out Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article on the Koch brothers and Michael Hasting’s Rolling Stone article on Gen. McChrystal and won the National Magazine Award for Reporting this year. Horton’s January 2010 article in Harper’s, “The Guantanamo Suicides,” was based on a number of named sources, including the guard in the watch tower mere yards away from the scene of much of the action, and questioned the official story given by the Department of Defense about the purported suicide of three detainees on the evening of June 10, 2006.

Despite articles written that Horton claimed the murder of the detainees, Horton, along with a report by Seton Hall University School of Law, Center for Policy and Research released around the same time, strongly questioned the procedure and results of the DoD investigations and called for a new investigation. Guantanamo authorities had already announced their position within 24 hours of the discovery of the dead bodies: the deaths were supposedly planned suicides, part of an act of “asymmetrical warfare” on the part of the Taliban and Arab prisoners.

After Donald Rumsfeld and ex-DoD flak Cully Stimson wrote articles last month lambasting those who would question the official investigation, former Salon.com WarRoom editor Alex Koppelman produced his own critique in the pages of Adweek. The story, “The National Magazine Award and Guantánamo: A Tall Tale Gets the Prize,” posted May 23, got a big reception.

I’m not going to repeat all that was wrong with that story here. I’ve already produced a comprehensive examination of Koppelman’s points in an article posted at Truthout. But I will highlight one crucial area here, and expand upon the Truthout article.

What did Patrice Magnin’s Autopsy report really say?

After the death of one of the detainees, Ali Abdullah Ahmed (ISN 693), a 27-year-old Yemeni national, Ahmed’s father, not believing his son would transgress Islamic law and kill himself, asked for an independent autopsy after his son’s body was returned to the family.
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Torture & the Art of the Gratuitous Lie: Dissecting Rumsfeld & Thiessen’s Wild Whoppers

1:56 pm in Torture by Jeff Kaye

As if we already didn’t know the media is full of lies and stupidity, two new examples have surfaced in recent days, with former administration officials and their media mouthpieces vying for who can pronounce the most incredible lies about the torture policies of the U.S. government. What’s even more amazing is that one ostensibly progressive website and its members have taken at least one of these lies as good coin, a lie so blatant that it only takes a moment’s reflection to realize it’s total BS.

First, though, precedence should be given to the op-ed by Donald Rumsfeld in last Thursday’s Washington Post. Titled “How WikiLeaks vindicated Bush’s anti-terrorism strategy,” the former Secretary of Defense — who was the Bush administration official who authorized aggressive torture techniques based on SERE torture resistance training for use in DoD interrogations, a fact the Washington Post forgot to mention in its brief bio on Rumsfeld — manages to dredge up every falsehood and canard spewed out by the government to justify the torture they used, from Al Qaeda’s purported threats to unleash a “nuclear hellstorm” if Bin Laden was captured, to the supposed “dirty” bomb plot (dreamed up from “confessions” made under torture by Binyam Mohamed, who had looked at a joke website on nuclear bombs online, and was originally a charge against Jose Padilla, later dropped because it would have been laughed out of even Bush’s courts).

But the oddest lie, gratuitously thrown in, concerns Rumsfeld’s claims about what the Wikileaks documents allegedly reveal about the purported “suicides” of three Guantanamo prisoners in June 2006. Readers might remember the Scott Horton article in Harper’s Magazine back in January 2010, “The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle.” (Horton’s article produced an upset of sorts at the National Magazine Awards last week, winning the “Reporting” award, beating out Michael Hasting’s Rolling Stone article on Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and Jane Mayer’s New Yorker exposé on the Koch brothers. — Congrats, Scott!)

While Horton’s article laid out compelling evidence of a cover-up over the possible killings of these three detainees, one of whom had already been cleared for release and return to Saudi Arabia only weeks prior to his death, Rumsfeld claims that the recent Wikileaks release of Guantanamo documents (Detainee Assessment Briefs, or DABs) provide evidence backing the government’s contention the three prisoners committed simultaneous suicide.

The documents should also disprove some myths that have dogged Guantanamo and the reputations of those who honorably serve there. The classified record, for example, confirms that three detainees who died in 2006 were suicides — not, as some have irresponsibly alleged, victims of brutal interrogations.

Yet nowhere in the Wikileaks documents, and nowhere in the DABs for Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, or Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani — the three men who died — is there any evidence or claim that their deaths were suicides. Nowhere in these documents is there even a discussion of these suicides, so it is very odd that Rumsfeld, who was sued by the parents of two of the deceased prisoners, should even bring up this story. In Horton’s article, it’s noted that Rumsfeld might have put the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in charge of a secret interrogation black site at Guantanamo, called unofficially Camp No by some Gitmo personnel, where the three men were seen taken by guards on duty that night. Rumsfeld has never spoken out on the “suicides” before. I wonder what he’s trying to preempt.

For a thorough demolition of Rumsfeld’s lies, readers may wish to peruse former Col. Larry Wilkerson’s declaration under oath “that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld all knew — and didn’t care — that ‘the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent.’”

Marc Thiessen’s Theater of the Absurd

Even more gratuitous, and a lie easily disprovable on its face, is the recent assertion, as reported by the overly-creduous Josh Gerstein at Politico, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “figured out” how to outlast his 183 waterboardings by CIA torturers (bold emphasis added).

“He figured out the limits,” Marc Theissen, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, said during a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. KSM “actually mocked his interrogators by holding out his arm and counting off the seconds with his hand. He knew exactly how far we could go and when the terrorists know how far you can go it’s very very hard to break them.”

Aside from the ridiculous, if not scandalous assertions about the efficacy of torture — a crime considered “jus cogens,” a crime against humanity, and a war crime outlawed by U.S. treaties — the idea of KSM “holding out his arm to count off the seconds with his hand” would be amazing… if it weren’t that his arms and legs were strapped down to a gurney!

Such a blatant lie should have been caught by Gerstein, or by the naive diarist that posted the story over at Daily Kos, winning a spot on the “recommended” list, even though the diarist and many of the commenters there took Theissen’s mendacious fiction to be fact.  It wouldn’t take more than a few minutes on Google to find this description from the 2002 Office of Legal Counsel memo by Jay Bybee and John Yoo (bold emphasis added): “In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual’s feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner.

Additionally, one could go to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and read the CIA’s own guidelines from its Office of Medical Services (OMS) (PDF). Except for the manner in which breathing was obstructed in the prisoner (as discussed in the CIA IG report on the torture program – PDF), the CIA’s waterboarding followed the SERE model, in which, OMS noted (bold emphasis added), “the subject is immobilized on his back, and his forehead and eyes covered with a cloth.”

The idea that frustrated CIA torturers were repeatedly waterboarding KSM as he stubbornly held up his arm and hand to count off the seconds of torture is ridiculously absurd, not least because it was physically impossible. What the CIA medical personnel did have to report about the waterboarding showed that some resistance was, in their opinion, possible: “While SERE trainers believe that trainees are unable to maintain psychological resistance to the waterboard, our experience was otherwise. Some subjects [KSM?] unquestionably can withstand a large number of applications, with no immediately discernable [sic] cumulative impact beyond their strong aversion to the experience.”

Now, the CIA is no more believable than their mouthpiece, Marc Theissen, but it’s notable that even for the unnamed detainee or detainees who supposedly could “withstand a large number of applications,” the torture produced a “strong aversion.” What the words “withstand” or “aversion” even mean when issuing from the offices of the CIA, I’m not even sure anymore. But it certainly is far different than the picture of an obstreperous KSM that Thiessen provides in order to show that Al Qaeda had learned how to “resist” even a technique as powerful as the waterboard. That this says nothing about the legality or logic of using such torture is an example of how an implicit and dangerous lie is hidden within the blatant outer husk of an absurd lie, i.e., that U.S. torture was not harmful.

As for waterboarding, the fact that SERE training had largely banned waterboarding as too dangerous for their trainees, and the fact that government lawyers hid that fact in the memos they wrote to approve Bush’s “enhanced interrogation program,” was revealed in a series of exclusive articles I wrote here at Firedoglake last year (see here and here).

News and Analysis You Can Count On — Become a FDL Member Today

No matter what news source you like, you’re not going to find truth-telling and analysis on issues like torture as often as you will at Firedoglake. FDL has initiated a membership program to help put this great site on a firmer financial basis, free from corporate influence or subservience to the mainstream media. If you’re reading this, you already know that in-depth reporting and analysis by Marcy Wheeler, Jane Hamsher, David Dayen, Jon Walker, and many others is an everyday occurrence here. And then there are the movie discussions, the Book Salon every weekend, with important and relevant authors interacting with our readers, webinars for FDL members, and more.

When you can be an FDL member for as little as $5 or $10 per month, you’re doing yourself a favor by signing up right now. It will be the best few dollars you’ll have spent recently, and you’ll become part of a thriving and growing online community.

Obama Interrogation Official Linked to U.S. Mind Control Research

2:42 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

A new article at Truthout, by H.P. Albarelli and Jeffrey Kaye, describes how the CIA’s Artichoke Project* was the contemporaneous and operational side of the MK-ULTRA mind control research program. It was not superceded by MK-ULTRA in the 1950s, as often supposed. Even more, Artichoke-derived methods of using drugs, hypnosis, sensory deprivation and overload, behavioral modification techniques and other methods of mind control have resurfaced as a primary component of U.S. interrogation practice.

The Truthout article includes some amazing revelations, including the largest description to date of the roles of then-Ford administration officials Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in working hand-in-glove with the CIA to suppress information on Artichoke from surfacing.

The article also references the November 2006 release of an “Instruction” from the Secretary of the Navy (3900.39D) regarding its “Human Research Protection Program.” While this memo specifically prohibits the use of research upon prisoners, including so-called “unlawful enemy combatants,” waivers of informed consent for research, or suspension of the protections enumerated in the memo can be made by the Secretary of the Navy under conditions of “operational contingency or during times of national emergency.” It is likely the latter rests upon the legislative language within the September 18, 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, where terrorist acts are said to “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

The waivers allowed for normal human research testing gains further piquancy when one considers the kinds of research referenced in the Secretary of the Navy’s memo. Section 7(a)(2)(a) describes the Undersecretary of the Navy as the “approval authority” for research done upon prisoners, as well as “Severe or unusual intrusions, either physical or psychological, on human subjects (such as consciousness-altering drugs or mind-control techniques)” [emphasis added].

This referencing of “mind-control techniques” in a document specifically discussing human subjects protections by then Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, is not an anomaly, but a rare instance in which the actual activities of the government in this area are openly revealed. Some of these activities can be documented via publicly available materials. This article describes how some of the individuals involved in U.S. government mind control and torture activities can be tracked and identified.

APA, CIA: “How might we overload the system or overwhelm the senses…?”

Another instance in which the curtain was pulled back on mind control research by the U.S. government involved the online description by the American Psychological Association (APA) of a CIA and Rand Corporation workshop which it co-sponsored in July 2003 at Rand’s Arlington, Virginia headquarters. The event was attended by approximately 40 research psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, as well as “representatives from the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense with interests in intelligence operations.”

One of these workshops, ostensibly on detection of deception, specifically described how participants should consider “sensory overloads on the maintenance of deceptive behaviors,” including the use of “pharmacological agents. “How might we,” the workshop asked, “overload the system or overwhelm the senses and see how it affects deceptive behaviors?”

The man in charge of “recruiting the operational expertise” for the workshop was Kirk Hubbard, Chief of the Research & Analysis Branch, Operational Assessment Division of the CIA. It appears likely that Hubbard was responsible for the presence at the workshop of SERE psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who were instrumental in the construction of the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program. Hubbard was also reported (by Scott Shane of the New York Times) to have brought James Mitchell to an informal meeting “of professors and law enforcement and intelligence officers… to brainstorm about Muslim extremism” at the home of former APA president Martin Seligman in November 2001.

Sometime in the past six months, the APA eliminated all references to the webpage described above, even going so far as to eliminate linked references to it on other webpages on its site. While the webpage that described the workshops has been scrubbed, mirrored images of the site remain available at well-known web archive sites, as I described in a recent article on this attempt to rewrite or hide APA’s offensive history. In one sense, this attempt to hide its history is not surprising, because the kind of activities discussed in these workshops are exactly like those that involved CIA and military mind control torture programs going back fifty years or more, and evidently still operational today.

The Role of Government Psychologist Susan Brandon

In a recent article, Scott Horton at Harper’s picked up on the unique link between the APA/CIA workshop and the recent revelations about torture at a hitherto unknown black site prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. That link was an individual, Susan Brandon.

Referenced by Horton as working for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA), Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC), a recent publication identified Brandon more fully as Chief for Research in the DCHC’s Behavioral Science Program. As Horton notes, a recent column by Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic described the DCHC as providing “intelligence operatives and interrogators….. [performing] interrogations for a sub-unit of Task Force 714, an elite counter-terrorism brigade.” Interrogations at the Afghan black site reportedly have included use of sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, brutality, isolation, relying on the guidelines of the Army Field Manual, including its Appendix M. Many human rights groups have criticized Appendix M as including techniques tantamount to torture and/or cruel, inhumane and degrading and illegal by domestic and international law.

Back in 2003, according to an APA news article, Brandon “jointly conceived” the APA/CIA workshops with Rand Associate Policy Analyst, Scott Gerwehr. (Mr. Gerwehr reportedly died a few years ago.) At the time, psychologist Susan Brandon was the Program Officer for Affect and Biobehavioral Regulation at the National Institute of Mental Health, and worked on the APA/CIA program while also serving as “Senior Scientist” at the APA.

In the early 2000s, Dr. Brandon served as Behavioral and Social Science Principal at the Mitre Corporation, a company highly linked to U.S. Air Defense. Subsequent to her stint as APA’s Senior Scientist, she went on to work in for the Bush administration as Assistant Director of Social, Behavioral, and Educational Sciences for the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. In addition, she became an instrumental member of the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBES) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committees on Science and Homeland and National Security.

Subsequently, as described in an important article by Stephen Soldz that extends many of the points in this essay, Brandon joined the Defense Department’s Counterintelligence Field Activity group (CIFA), which was later disbanded and reformed as part of the DCHC. Soldz also reminds us that Brandon was “one of the silent observers at the [APA] PENS [Psychological Ethics and National Security] taskforce described by dissident taskforce member Jean Maria Arrigo as exerting pressure on members to adopt a likely pre-approved policy in favor of participation in Guantánamo, CIA, and other interrogations. According to a 2005 article by Geoff Mumford, APA’s Director of Science Policy, Dr. Brandon “helped steer much of the association’s scientific outreach relevant to counter-terrorism after 9/11.”

One example of such outreach would include the June 11, 2002 meeting between Brandon, and other top APA officials with “two senior staff members in the National Security Council’s (NSC’s) Office of Combating Terrorism” (OCT). Since Vice Admiral William McRaven was head of OCT at that time, perhaps Brandon’s acquaintance with the world of Special Operations dates to that time, as McRaven was to become Commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

JSOC is the other Defense Department component, besides DIA, that has been linked currently with the management of the black site prisons run by the Obama administration, subsequent to President Obama’s apparent closure of the CIA black sites. One reputable source has informed me that there are eight such black site prisons in Afghanistan alone. A recent report by the BBC corroborated earlier reports by the New York Times and the Washington Post. The article by Ambinder further elaborated upon this story.

Why is the Obama Administration Still Involved in Torture?

It is not known if Dr. Brandon has been involved in any of the reported abuses of prisoners coming out of Bagram’s Tor prison, or elsewhere. Yet one would think the Obama administration and the Pentagon has a lot to explain in utilizing as their behavioral chief of research for an agency involved in intelligence operations, including interrogation. But then, why is the Obama administration involved in torture or operating secret prisons at all? President Obama has manifestly broken his promise to the American people to end torture and close all secret prisons. Nor has Congress done their due diligence in investigating these matters. Only when the American people fully understand the extent to which these activities have occupied the government and their various collaborators, like the APA, will society be able to take the necessary steps to end these abuses, and hold those accountable for what amount to crimes against humanity.

As for psychologists, Dr. Soldz rightly notes, “Psychology as a profession is at a crossroads.” The same holds true for other professions involved with this abusive and criminal history, including the activities of anthropologists in the military’s Human Terrain System teams in Afghanistan, researchers in numerous academic departments across the country, and the many reports of doctors and other medical personnel involved in the monitoring of torture activities for the CIA and Defense Department. The use of torture has suborned U.S. civil society as a whole in activities that are dark and evil, and the society as a whole must make a tremendous effort if it is to extirpate such evil from its midst.

*For an early document referring to Artichoke’s history, see CIA, Memorandum for the Record, Subject: Project ARTICHOKE, January 31, 1975. While this MOR downplays Artichoke’s history, it represents the degree to which the CIA was willing to reveal such operations. The Truthout article discusses Operation Dormouse, where then Ford administration officials Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld worked with the CIA to limit revelations about Artichoke and other CIA torture and assassination operations.