Streams

Rorschach and Awe

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vanity Fair writer Katherine Eban asked why psychologists were participating in military interrogations at Guantánamo Bay, and she uncovered the alarming story of two C.I.A. contractors who were, in secret, designing torture techniques. Learning how and why took her deep into a world that our military and intelligence agencies would rather keep hidden.

Read her article, "Rorschach and Awe."

Weigh in: Should torture ever be used during interrogations of suspected terrorists?

Guests:

Katherine Eban

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Comments [9]

Donald G. Livingston from Morristown, New Jersey

I'm an 80-year-old Ph.D. psychologist with national Board standing and a current state license. My background has included very limited service as a psychologist with the US Navy conducting then-classified research and some dealing with penal events. Never in my career have I heard of such contemptible and unethical practices as reported in this article, nor do I know of any practitioner who would condone such inhumane activities. I wish the author had told us where these guys received their education and not leave me here just guessing.

Jul. 28 2007 01:45 PM
Arthur from Staten Island

Like many, if not all psychologists, I have undergraduate and graduate education in behavior modification and neurophysiology. Your listeners should be aware that most
psychologists are familiar with techniques for torturing individuals. Main techniques are sensory deprivation and sleep deprivation.

I am equally convinced that nearly all psychologists are opposedto torture for any reason. You can easily drive individuals to insantiy but get nothing from it that is credible. A few may do it for big fees.

Jul. 27 2007 01:45 PM
MILTON GARIN from MANHATTAN

I CAUGHT PART OF YOUR TORTURE BIT. I FOUND IT A COINCIDENCE SINCE I FINISHED READING A BOOK "THE FIELD OF SPEARS" THE LAST MISSION OF THE JORDAN CREW. A B-29 SHOT DOWN 4 WEEKS BEFORE THYE ATOMIC BOMB WAS DROPPED. 4 CREW KILLED RIGHT AWAY WITH 7 TAKEN PRISONERS. WRITTEN BY AN AMERICAN PROFESSOR NIIGATA UNIVERITY NEAR WHERE THE PLNE CRASHED.

WHAT OCCURED TO ME WAS THAT NO MATTER THE TORTURE, THE AMOUNT OF USEABLE INFORMATION OBTAINABLE FROM THE OFFICERS AND CREW WAS OF LITTLE IMPORTANCE.THEY JUST DON'T KNOW IMPORTANT INFO.

THIS WAS MY CREW. I WAS THE NAVIGATOR FOR ALL BUT THE LAST FEW MISSIONS. I WAS THE SOLE PERSON WOUNDED ON A PREVIOUS MISSION. WHEN I PUT MYSELF IN THEIR SITUATION, I COULD TELL THEM ANYTHING EVEN THOUGH THE ENOLA GAY WAS PARKED NEAR US.

MY THOUGHT IS THAT THE MAJORITY OF PRISONERS WE ARE HOLDING ARE IN THE SAME SITUATION

Jul. 27 2007 01:18 PM
Samuel

Torture as a tactic is amazingly effective! After all, if it weren't for the Spanish Inquisition Spain wouldn't have been a purely Catholic state! Sarcasm aside, torture seeks to verify an already determined conclusion-- in the case of the Spanish Inquisition the conclusion was "Spain must be rid of it's Jewish population". Torture was a (superficial--though this is not to deny the deep psychic and physical wounds that torture inflicts) means of "removing" the Jewish population by forcing conversion or exile.
This trouble with torture, that it can only lead to information that conforms to the conclusions that are held prior to the actual torture-event, renders this tactic of information gathering amazingly flawed. Only in a "perfect world scenario" would torture ever work, namely, if the conclusions held prior to the torture-act are known to be air-tight facts.
In the wake of the released "Family Jewels"-- not to mention the monumental intelligence failures that lead to the Iraq war!-- do we really wish to place the CIA (or any other such "intelligence" agency) with the ability to torture?

Jul. 27 2007 01:12 PM
Peter from New Jersey

Is there historical evidence for various scenarios - on the battle field, behind closed doors, pre-modern, post modern times, etc. -- on the effective of torture in obtaining information that is reliable and useful for the purpose of a greater good for individuals or institutions that themselves are not corrupt? this idea of torture to obtain infomraiton is not new, it must of come from somewhere -- we are not the first or the only to use it....

Jul. 27 2007 12:38 PM
eCAHNomics from nyc

Psychologists' professional ethics--an oxymoron.

Jul. 27 2007 12:37 PM
RD

With respect to torture tactics that "work", I was curious if the guest knows if any of the government agencies maintain a databse with results of certain interrogation procedures; i.e. is keeping a log of the information arrising out of these interrogations and then verifying/checking the accuracy of such information?

Jul. 27 2007 12:35 PM
eCAHNomics from nyc

Of course torture works. The purpose of torture is to get the victim to say what you want him to say. The Bush Administration is getting all the information it needs to continue to perpetrate their wars. This is the long history of torture and I don't know why everyone seems unaware of it.

Jul. 27 2007 12:22 PM
M.T. from Boston, Ma.

I don't trust torture; the Victorian in me notes how enthusiastic some of my countrymen are for it, and decides that this means that it's a base passion. Too many people, especially white guys who were raised to believe that the world is _supposed_ to be theirs, live unsatisfying lives that make them gluttons for other people's punishment.

It's possible that in a ticking-bomb situation I would try torturing someone to get information. However, I would like it to be illegal so that
1.) I could remember that it's wrong, and
2.) I would know that I would have to face a judge and/or jury to justify the action afterward as a matter of grave necessity.

Without the check of illegality, we will descend into barbarism, and no simple barbarism is as bad as barbarism operating with the tools of and under the colour of civilisation. We would have lost on two counts:
1.) We would have become barbarians, and the civilised world would see anything that further happened to us as _definitely_ our due, and
2.) Torture would inevitably be performed for the gratification of the torturer rather than for the purpose of getting vital information.

Jul. 27 2007 11:24 AM

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