Interrogation Abuses – A Letter to the Editor of the New York Times

To the Editor:

Re "Advisers Fault Harsh Methods in Interrogation” (front page, May 30):

The abusive interrogation methods reverse-engineered from the military's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape torture-resistance program cause enormous psychological harm ranging from psychosis and suicidal ideation to post-traumatic stress disorder. They are not only unreliable and immoral; they constitute torture and violate the United States' commitment to respect the most basic human rights.

Yet according to the Pentagon's inspector general, psychologists, under the guise of behavioral science, have used their credentials to develop and carry out these highly abusive techniques at Guantánamo, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The abuses are a direct result of trying to rely on science and scientists to break down detainees.

The only appropriate response, for the profession and for the government, is to end the direct participation of psychologists, who have an ethical obligation to minimize harm, in interrogations.

Leonard S. Rubenstein
Stephen N. Xenakis, M.D.
Washington, May 30, 2007

The writers are, respectively, executive director, Physicians for Human Rights; and a retired Army brigadier general who is a former commander of the Southeast Medical Command.

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