As a psychologist identified as the "architect" of the CIA’s torture program admits he personally waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, we look at allegations that the American Psychological Association — the largest association of psychologists in the world — secretly colluded with U.S. abuses. Speaking to Vice News, retired Air Force psychologist James Mitchell confirmed for the first time he personally waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mitchell was hired to help create the interrogation program along with his partner, Dr. Bruce Jessen. The Senate report says Mitchell and Jessen were paid $81 million to help design the CIA’s torture methods, including some of the most abusive tactics. The Senate’s findings come as the American Psychological Association has launched a review to determine whether its leadership also played a role in CIA torture. The APA’s probe was prompted by revelations from Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter James Risen. In his new book, "Pay Any Price," Risen reveals how after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the APA formed a task force that enabled the continued role of psychologists in the torture program. There has been a deep division within the APA’s policy on interrogations for years. Unlike the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, the APA never prohibited its members from being involved in interrogations.
We are joined by two guests: Steven Reisner, a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and psychological ethics adviser to Physicians for Human Rights; and Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror," as well as "Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation."
As President Obama continues to reject a criminal probe of torture in the George W. Bush administration, former Vice President Dick Cheney has said he has no regrets about the torture of foreign prisoners, including innocent people. Speaking to NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Cheney said, "I’d do it again in a minute." Cheney’s claim highlights a key question: Are top officials above the law — and will the impunity of today lead to more abuses in the future? We discuss the issue of impunity and the history of U.S. torture with Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of the books, "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror," as well as "Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation." We are also joined by Steven Reisner, founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and psychological ethics adviser to Physicians for Human Rights.
On the Senate floor last week, outgoing Democratic Sen. Mark Udall called for a purge of top CIA officials implicated in the torture program and cover-up, including current Director John Brennan. But as he enters the final days of his Senate term, Udall is facing calls to take action of his own. The Senate findings released last week amount to only a fraction of the full report — 480 heavily redacted pages out of more than 6,000 pages total. The White House has blocked the report’s full release in deference to the CIA’s wishes. That’s sparked demands that Udall invoke a rarely used congressional privilege and make the report public. There is precedent for him to follow: In 1971, then-Alaska Senator Mike Gravel entered more than 4,000 pages of the 7,000-page Pentagon Papers into the Senate record, insisting the public had a right to know the truth behind the Vietnam War. More than four decades later, Gravel joins us to talk about his historic action and why he is now calling on Udall to follow in his footsteps with the full Senate report on CIA torture.
Full episodes of Democracy Now! can be viewed at the link: https://www.freespeech.org/collection/democracy-now.
Sign up for Our Newsletter
Get updates about the policies and topics that matter the most to you. Progressive news directly to your email.