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I was recently interviewed on the Pinky Show about the contributions of psychoanalysis to understanding our American culture and empire in the age of the War on Terror.

Here is the YouTube version:

Those preferring can read the transcript after the fold [reproduced with permission of the Pinky Show]:

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Recently a major 2003  Guantanamo Standard Operating Procedures [SOP] manual was posted on the wikileaksweb site. Ignored by most major sources for a week, Reuters, has picked up on the leak Thursday and the New York Times on Friday.

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Today I sent the following letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on behalf of a broad coalition of psychologists and other mental health professionals -- including Coalition for an Ethical Psychology; Psychologists for Social Responsibility; The Center for Victims of Torture, Minneapolis, MN; Psychologists for an Ethical APA; Withhold APA Dues; Monterey Bay (CA) Psychological Association  -- concerned about the roles of psychologists in the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program and other abusive interrogations. The SSCI is in the process of conducting classified hearings on these issues.

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A new survey by the British polling agency ORB reports over one million Iraqis have been killed by violence since the 2003 invasion. This number is even higher than that derived from the so-called "Lancet study" of Gilbert Burnham et al that last summer found about 650,00 total excess deaths from violence and deteriorating health conditions. The Lancet study has been subjected to relentless attack by the American and British governments, by Iraq Body Count, by those alleging that its methodology had a "main street bias,"and by others. During the controversy, independdent erplication of the Lancet findings were sorely missing. While it's early to be sure, as details are not yet available, this new survey provides the potential replication, supporting the claim that violent deaths in Iraq are in the many hundreds of thousands.

Here is the press release:

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Wednesday night  the following Open Letter to Sharon Brehm, President of the American Psychological Association was sent by over 40 psychologists.  [It is also available in pdf format at the above link. See also the related briefing paper: Q&A:  How the Pentagon?s Inspector General Report Contradicts What the APA Has Said About the Involvement of Psychologists in Abusive Interrogations.]

Read the Letter beneath the fold.

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The Defense Department (DoD) has just declassified a report from their Inspector General (OIG) looking at the various investigations that the Department has conducted into repeated claims of detainee abuse – a.k.a. "torture" and "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment" – banned by international and United States law.  The report documents that the various DoD "investigations were, individually and in total, inadequate:

Allegations of detainee abuse were not consistently reported, investigated, or managed in an effective, systematic, and timely manner. Multiple reporting channels were available for reporting allegations and, once reported, command discretion could be used in determining the action to be taken on the reported allegation. We did not identify any specific allegations that were not reported or reported and not investigated. Nevertheless, no single entity within any level of command was aware of the scope and breadth of detainee abuse.

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Thu May 17, 2007 at 05:36 PM PDT

The tale of Jo Wilding

by stephen soldz

One of the people I most admire is Jo Wilding. Realizing the Iraq Iraq invasion was drawing near, she went to Iraq to  relay the voices of ordinary people swept up in the delusions of world leaders, only to be expelledduring the war by the Iraqi government. After the war she decided to do something concrete to help Iraqis: she created and brought a circus to entertain poor Iraqi children trying, somehow, to survive the difficult times.

At one point, when I still had a fantasy of helping Iraqis deal with their mental health needs, I was put in touch with Jo. She offered to conduct some surveys on the mental health needs there. But, alas, events interfered.

[More after the fold.]

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In an attempt to get the American Psychological Association to come to terms with the moral crisis posed by psychologist participation in coercive interrogations at Guantanamo, Bagram, the CIA black sites, and elsewhere, psychologist Neil Altman last summer proposed a Resolution for a Moratorium on Psychologist Participation in Interrogations at US Detention Centers Holding Foreign Detainees, so-called "Enemy Combatants"  [pdf; see also the draft justification statement; and other related materials.]

Here is the Summary and Overview of the resolution:

This summary and overview emphasizes aspects central to the proposed moratorium resolution. The points below will also address certain misconceptions that have arisen concerning the resolution.

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Bioethicist Steven Miles informs us that his web archive of documents related to the role of medicine (including psychology) in the United States detention centers around the world will be online Monday morning here. His press release:


U of M's Center for Bioethics and Human Rights Library post

Online archive of documents on prisoners of the war on terror
  Documents focus on medical operations in prisons

  MINNEAPOLIS / ST.PAUL (April 23, 2007) -- The University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics and Human Rights Center have created a comprehensive archive of government documents describing medical operations in U.S. prisoner of war facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The archive, launched today, can be accessed from the homepage of the Human Rights Library ( or directly at

[More after the fold.]

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12,775 days in solitary confinement, 35 years, for crimes they likely didn't commit. This is justice in 20th and 21st century America, somewhere down near the pits of hell:

Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox are those men, who along with Robert King, are known as the Angola Three. (King established his innocence and was released in 2001 after almost 30 years in solitary.) Collectively, the three of them have spent 100 years in solitary confinement. Wallace asked this week, "Where is the justice?"

More after the jump.

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On January 24, 2003, National Guardsman Sean Baker, stationed as a military policeman at Guantánamo detention center, volunteered to be a mock prisoner, donning an orange suit and refusing to leave his cell as part of a training exercise. As planned, an Immediate Reaction Force team of MPs attempted to extract him from the cell. When he uttered the code word, "red," indicating that this was a drill and that he'd had enough, one of the MPs "forced my head down against the steel floor and was sort of just grinding it into the floor. The individual then, when I picked up my head and said, ‘Red,’ slammed my head down against the floor," says Baker. "I was so afraid, I groaned out, ‘I’m a U.S. soldier.' And when I said that, he slammed my head again, one more time against the floor. And I groaned out one more time, I said, ‘I’m a U.S. soldier.’ And I heard them say, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa,' ". Even though, unlike if Baker had been a real prisoner, the "extraction" was called off part-way through, he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and was left with permanent injuries, including frequent epileptic-style seizures.

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Micheal Gelles, the former Navy psychologist who reported to his superiors of abuses at Guantanamo, including abuses involving psychologists, has written a response to recent critics -- Neil Altman, Steven Miles, and Uwe Jacobs -- of his defense of the American Psychological Association's (APA) position on participation of psychologists in interrogations (for the original Gelles letter and the responses see "Whistle-blower" Michael Gelles throws in lot with American Psychological Association on interrogations issue and Uwe Jacobs of Survivors International asks questions of Michael Gelles):

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