Feedback to the article entitled: ‘Torture, and the Strategic Helplessness of the American Psychological Association’
July 21, 2008
I am distressed to learn that there are baseless allegations that I “provided assistance in the process” of torture spreading on the web.
This allegation is completely false.
I gave a three hour lecture sponsored by SERE (the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape branch of the American armed forces) at the San Diego Naval Base in May 2002. I was invited to speak about how American troops and American personnel could use what is known about learned helplessness to resist torture and evade successful interrogation by their captors. This is just what I spoke about.
I was told then that since I was (and am) a civilian with no security clearance that they could not detail American methods of interrogation with me. I was also told then that their methods did not use "violence" or "brutality." Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen were present in the audience of between 50 and 100 others at my speech, and that was, to the best of my knowledge, the sum total of my "assisting them in the process."
I have not had contact with SERE since that meeting. I have had no professional contact with Jessen and Mitchell since then and I have had no contact with any of the other relevant agencies since then.
I have never worked under government contract (or any other contract) on any aspect of torture, nor would I be willing to do work on torture.
I am grieved and horrified that good science, which has helped so many people overcome depression, may have been used for such bad purposes.
Most importantly, I strongly disapprove of torture and have never and would never provide assistance in its process.