An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Truth and Consequences and Secrecy

By Steven

So far three psychologists who allegedly aided in the torture of detainees have found their licenses to practice coming under review. The state licensing boards in New York, Ohio and Texas have received complaints about Army psychologists as a result of evidence mostly found in a 2008 Senate Committee report (a large .PDF may take a long time to download). Democracy Now has the best report on this I can find, and the article in contains some interesting quotes. In particular, this statement in the complaint filed with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists by Northwestern University law professor Joseph Margulies:

"Regardless of what legal categories these techniques fall within, one conclusion is clear: a psychologist who helps inflict such cruel and shocking abuse on a defenseless human being would appear to have violated basic standards of conduct of the profession,"

Let that sink in for a moment. "Regardless of what legal categories these techniques fall within ... " This constitutes the first explicit rejection of what an administration and Congress chose to make legal. Just because some fools and maniacs made this legal does not make it right.

Another observation pertains to secrecy. Dr. James Mitchell, facing a complaint filed in Texas, had this to say (from the article):

"Obviously, I'm not free to discuss any work I may have done for the CIA," Mitchell told the AP. He called the complaint libelous and said it is "riddled throughout with fabricated details, lies, distortions and inaccuracies."

Let me see if I understand this correctly: Mitchell claims that the U.S. Senate report is "riddled throughout with fabricated details, lies, distortions and inaccuracies." He may have directed his remarks to the complaint, but the source of the information comes from the Senate report. Best of luck with that defense, Dr. Mitchell. And secondly, for once secrecy does not necessarily afford protection. Once the cat is out of the bag, poor Dr. Mitchell is not able to provide any additional context to support his defense because of secrecy rules when one works for the CIA. I hope I am not getting ahead of myself when I say "hoist on your own petard?" Maybe you should not get mixed up in torture in the first place?

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