Psychologists on the Dark Side

(Originally posted at Daily Kos.)

Thursday’s hearing in Afghan national Mohammed Jawad’s case brought stunning testimony on serious abuse he suffered at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan as a teenager, as well as military psychologists’ role in crafting abusive interrogation methods for use on Jawad and other prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.

On Thursday Special Agent Angela Birt, an Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) investigator who investigated two homicides of prisoners at Bagram prison in Afghanistan, took the stand. Her investigation resulted in confessions from 18 military police for their role in abusing prisoners and findings of probable cause to charge 27 officers for the homicides. Birt’s investigation led her to Jawad because he had been imprisoned at Bagram at the time of the two homicides. Her investigation also uncovered a widespread pattern of abuse that corroborates Jawad’s claims of mistreatment at Bagram prison.

Birt testified that the types of abuse Jawad told her he suffered—being forced to stand for long periods of time in stress positions; forced sleep deprivation; being hit, kicked and beaten; being shackled to the door of his cell; and being hooded and shackled with hand irons, leg irons and a waist chain while moved and in one case pushed down the stairs—mirrored other Bagram detainees’ claims. She also said that Jawad’s claim that he heard the cries and screams of other detainees was a “fairly common” claim of other prisoners locked in isolation who heard other prisoners “crying for their parents and begging for the beatings to stop” during interrogations nearby.

Birt testified that the period of time Jawad was at Bagram—the same period in which these two homicides occurred and the period chronicled in the documentary film Taxi to the Dark Side —“was the worst period of abuse I’ve ever seen” in the 2,000 cases she's investigated in her 18-year career at CID.

The methods Birt uncovered at Bagram were part of a menu of abusive Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) interrogation techniques also used on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Thursday’s hearing in Jawad’s case brought attention to the role of military psychologists belonging to Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs), known as “Biscuit teams,” in developing and refining these abusive techniques for use at Guantánamo Bay. Since 2002 BSCT psychologists have evaluated prisoners’ fears and psychological weaknesses to craft individualized blueprints for torture and other mistreatment, which they passed on to the interrogators. For instance, a Guantánamo psychiatrist advised interrogators to exploit one detainee’s severe phobia of the dark by deliberately keeping him almost totally in the dark.

Earlier media reports (see here, here, and here, and a New England Journal of Medicine article revealed, and recent revelations from a June Senate Armed Services Committee Investigation confirmed, that military psychologists contributed to the development of these abusive interrogation methods.

Sadly, Thursday’s hearing did not add much to the public record on the workings of the BSCT program at Guantánamo Bay. The BSCT psychologist, "Lt. Col. Z," who was scheduled to testify for the defense today, invoked her right to remain silent—presumably because she feared recounting her role could incriminate herself in criminal activity. Her testimony would have been the first time a member of the BSCT team had testified in a military commissions hearing.

What we already knew was that leaked Guantánamo Bay interrogation logs—which must be read to be believed —show that a BSCT psychologist was present during the highly abusive interrogation of Guantánamo prisoner Mohammed al-Qahtani. (Charges against al-Quatani were suddenly dropped in May, some have speculated because a trial would have turned the spotlight to the torture he endured at Guantánamo Bay.) And BSCT psychologists’ role in aiding torture has been the subject of much controversy among the American Psychological Association (APA), which is holding a referendum among its members to disallow psychologists to participate in such mistreatment.

What we did learn Thursday was that, according to Jawad’s defense attorney Maj. Frakt, in September 2003, “when an interrogator observed Mohammad talking to posters on the wall of the interrogation room and was concerned about his mental health,” instead of calling a mental health professional to care for him, they summoned the BSCT team, whose psychologist made a “cruel and heartless assessment and recommendations.” Maj. Frakt called the BSCT psychologist’s report, which was classified secret and therefore not discussed in detail in the open court session, “the most chilling document of all.”

And on Wednesday, Dr. Bruce Menely, the chief medical officer at Guantánamo Bay, testified that when Jawad tried to hang himself only months later, on Christmas Day 2003, BSCT psychologists—not regular medical psychologists—were notified of Jawad’s suicide attempt. In Omar Khadr’s hearing Wednesday, Khadr’s defense lawyer Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler noted that, much like in Jawad’s case, military psychologists have met with Khadr to manipulate him and extract more information from him during interrogations.

During his emotional closing argument Thursday, Maj. Frakt asked, “What has this country come to when a licensed psychologist, a senior officer in the U.S. Armed Forces, someone trained in the art of healing broken hearts and mending broken minds, someone with a duty to do no harm, turns her years of training and education to the art of breaking people, to the intentional devastation of a lonely, homesick teenage boy?”

At the end of her examination of Birt, defense attorney Katharine Doxakis asked Birt whether her resignation from the military was because she had become disillusioned with the military after seeing the results of her Bagram abuse investigation. The prosecution’s immediate objection was sustained, and Birt never got to answer the question.

If, as implied by the defense, Birt’s resignation from the military was a stand against torture, why didn’t Guantánamo’s military’s psychologists do the same?  

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sheldon johnson

My family has suffered severely over the last 35 years from the hands of shadow predators masquerading as Psychiatrists, Physicians, Social workers, Teachers, Government officials and a host of other Professions in order to enact fear and paranoia in their savage campaign to gain control of my family’s mind and behavior thru their State sponsored unethical Human Research Programs.

It is a conspiracy that is so monstrous that no one would want to believe it actually happened. These Individuals operates with total Impunity with Gestapo like powers and they hide within our Government’s Administrations throughout this Country.

Thru prayer and countless research I discovered what I believe to be the truth of what has happened to my family. Base on uncanny similarities of victims of a secret Government program, Congressional Records and testimonials that can be substantiated through the Freedom of Information Act, I believe that my family has been targeted for Human Research thru an elaborate unethical program that changes its name often called MKULTRA.

It all started in the latter part of the 60’s when the Drew daycare facility that cared for my oldest sibling Ward Johnson, convinced my mother to enroll him into Dr. Margaret Lawrence of Harlem Hospital program for kids with special needs simply because he wouldn’t play with other kids – which they claimed.

A host of social workers and Dr. Lawrence eventually convinced my mother to enroll him into a special boarding school call Childville to correct his “problem” of playing by himself because they inform her that the board of education would not accept kids that are considered anti-social.

She was instructed to hold him out of school at the age of 6 and that they will provide her with a special school that would accept him and correct his “problem” of not wanting to play with other children.

In the summer of 1970 after Ward turn 7 years old he entered into Childville, a division of the Jewish child care association of New York City - Our lives has never been the same ever since his admission into that dreadful institution. It was there she found out that Ward was a prodigious savant who had incredible abilities... A fact that Dr. Lawrence hidden from her.

Shortly after his enrollment into Childville, Ward started to exhibit severe personality changes that alarmed my mother that made her wanting to remove him from their so call “boarding school.” - It was then that the staff of Childville informed my mother that my brother no longer belong to her because she signed away her parental rights to BCW, when she enrolled him into their program and that he now belong to the New York State Foster Care System.

My mother tried to get help as she fought valiantly for her son but the rogue elements within our Government flexed their muscle and utilized every agency imaginable in the City of New York to strip away her rights as they participated in this covert unethical experimentation of my brother.

My family has been terrorized and abused by these demented officials and physicians who all swore an oath to uphold the law and to protect and serve and preserve a human life.

Suddenly problems started to occur within our household as we became victims of repeated break-ins, vicious rumors and sabotage of reputation.

This is about the time that they went after my brother Trevis through a clandestine operation within the elementary school (public school 23) he attended. They covertly administered drugs to him while making him feel like it was his fault for being “a bad little boy.”

My mother was arrested after she “rescued” Ward from Childville by refusing to return him after a weekend visit - My brother’s and I was place into the custody of BCW because of the fact that she refuse to allow Childville to retain the parental rights to my brother Ward.

My brother’s and I were injected with some type of medication while in the custody of BCW after my mother's arrest in april of 1974. After that we all were diagnose with different types of physiological problems. My white blood cells became very low, Trevis started developing problems with his left eye (white mass bumps) and swelling in his left breast and Sean lost all the hair over his entire body.

Shortly afterwards, our problems escalated within our household as the vandalism intensified and we became the victim of gang stalking, rumors, harassment by housing employees and even betrayal by close friends and family members.

My mother has now become a target of psychological warfare from the conspirators as they focus their attention upon her to keep her quiet and occupied with problems.

Numerous attempts of witchcraft have been used to keep her psychological captive and manageable for their sadistic plot they had in store for her and her family. The harassment grew more bizarre and severe every time she reached out for help from the proper authorities.

She later found salvation in her newfound faith in Jehovah God, and was able to function with some sense of normalcy despite the many persecutions she experienced daily in everyday life. She had to endure further heartache when the conspirators turn their attention on her youngest son Sean whom they damaged severely with their behavioral modification program.

Trevis was severely damage by these predators as he was drugged thru the board of education, Children Services and when they rail-road him into prison - Where they expose him to untold persecutions and mind – altering Drugs. All this was done covertly without the consent of my mother.

I became “alienated” from my family because of the escalating trouble that we was having in our household and I began to rebel against my mother which force me into foster care at the tender age of 16. Once there they work feverishly to get me on mood- stabilizing medication and even threaten to withhold my allowance if I refuse to comply with their pharmaceutical regiment that they had laid out for me.

I refused to take the medication and went on to graduated with honors and started working in the construction business at the age of 18 after I finish school. I now realize that God preserved me for a purpose when he allowed me to be place into foster care and protected me from the human research predators – much like he allowed Joseph to be sold into Egypt and use him to protect his family and his people in a time of distress. Satan had Joseph brothers sell him into slavery for wickedness but God allowed it to happen for righteousness, because he had a purpose for Joseph.

My mother life seems to always be “troubled” and “busy” as she fought for the rights for her family. She didn’t even have the time to look into the huge amount of heir’s property that her late cousin (Wavy Lackey) promised her in Covington, Georgia which ended up in the hands of a powerful southern attorney by the name of Pat Campbell and an illegitimate relative name Lester Lackey.

Was she recommended for this illegal program to distract her from her inheritance that her cousin promise her when he told her that he was going to leave her as the administrator of the Lackey Estates and train her sons in the family business?

Or was she just a victim of double jeopardy as she and my brother’s continue to be victimized and terrorized by numerous governmental agencies? Her problems took a turn for the worse when they turn their attention to my niece Geneva Johnson who was "legally" kidnap by family court Supervising Judge Susan K. Knipps and Children Services (ACS).

The Predators decided to go after my mother and try to give her a psych history in order to discredit her. They used my niece Geneva as a ransom to try to get my mother psychologically evaluated. They endangered the welfare of my niece and exposed her to untold horrors that any child shouldn’t have to endure. These individuals would go to any extremities to prove a point that doesn’t exist.

My brother Trevis started disclosing facts about what happened to him and wanted to take civil action against his predators. They found ways to make his case disappear and out-dated as they forced him into a residential home (Pilby) and continued their illegal experiments on him until the day that he died.

Was my brother murdered to keep him from talking about the years of ritual abuse and force medication that was done to him by rogue physicians operating with total impunity from someone within our Government?

Why did the Hospitals, NYPD, Paramedics, Social Workers and the Medical Examiners office demonstrate gross-negligence and deceit, leading up to the unusual events of my brother’s death?

Was this part of their “final solution” to rid themselves of members of my family… and if so, who’s next?

Who in our Government is allowing these Hitler like atrocities to take place on unsuspecting American Citizens violating every Human, Civil and Constitutional law of God and Man?

This is domestic terrorism of the worst kind and this is why this story must be made public and the guilty must stand trial for their crimes.

My family and countless others that the Government deems to be expendable may be the beginning of what some rogue officials have in store for America's future. Please don’t forget that this is still a government for the people and by the people. We must all work together to bring this story to the light to rid ourselves of this social cancer - Because today it’s my family that is suffering and tomorrow it may be yours. Please help spread the word by forwarding and signing the Petition below to end ALL Illegal Human Research Programs In America!

Contact info: Sheldon Johnson


In this artilce there is the following statement:

"Her investigation resulted in confessions from 18 military police for their role in abusing prisoners and findings of probable cause to charge 27 officers for the homicides."

This statement naturally raises the question whether the 27 officers were charged, whether they will be charged, whether they will not be charged, etc,

Speaking for myself, this seems like something significant has been left out of the article. Is anything known about what action has been taken or is being considered regarding this result of the CID investigation?

Maurice Prout

When I was doing my research, I found writing research as one of the most exciting things to do. I used to spend my whole day in the college library finding information related to my research paper. Apart from this, the Internet was the best place to research for these papers, especially "Google". Ever since I was a student of Psychology, I was always curious about the subject, and one day while doing some research on Google, I came across an interesting bunch of articles written by Dr Maurice Prout (Psychologist). His website is a treasure trove of information about Psychology. His articles helped me a lot in devising my research papers.

david fulton

i also have been the target of experimentation under the direction of the cia. the paralel of the techniques are a smokeing gun.their activities are so horrific that they sound increadulous when you try to educate others of their existence.there is also the problem of trying to explain why they would do this to you and then you have to encapsulate your answer to fit within a timeframe that does not allow validation.people generaly dont want to believe that these mkultra style programs exist.belief preceeds knowledge.there is also the problem of contempt prior to investigation and qui bono(to whose benifit).it is so dificult to explain when you yourself do know its happening but do not know why,compounded by the ptsd,druging,learned helplessness,etc....What they have done to me and are still doing fits the patterns of techniques you my case this has been ongoing for 6 years so have my deepest empathy.if you wish to contact me i can be indirectly contacted at phone#781 913 8671,or 561 683 7104.all guilty parties need to be held fully accountable and we need full public disclosure.we need to expose what has been hidden under the guise of" in the interest of national security"needs to be laid bare and put under the microscope.theese programs can only exist when shrouded in secrecy.where secrecy exist evil will breed and prevail.we can not give an agency omnipotence and then expect for absolute power not to corupt absolutly.can an agency that has so injured the moral standing of the USA globaly with their war of terror(which they call"the war on terror")and use of torture in violation of domestic and international law, subvertion of the constitution and the governence of our goverment be trusted to decide what is in the interest of national security?!? '

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