Journalism in the Public Interest


Mark Danner and ProPublica’s Dafna Linzer Talk Torture

ProPublica senior reporter Dafna Linzer and Mark Danner, a New York Review of Books contributor and University of California at Berkeley journalism professor, discuss the details of the Red Cross torture report, what happened to some of the “ghost detainees” and whether there should be an investigation, prosecution or truth commission to sort out who is responsible for what.

Dr. Julien Arbor

May 13, 2009, 10:19 p.m.

I have a quite a bit to add to this discussion and will do it in piece meal fashion… although it is difficult for me to do so as I am dealing with a TBI and my stamina and writing (among other things) are effected. Mine is what is known as an Acquired Brain Injury and it was brought about solely as a result of severe and prolonged stress. This resulted in an acute metabolic disruption that led to brain damage. Some of the symptoms that you are describing that are being experienced by some of the prisoners can be explained by this same metabolic disruption &/or an ABI. The example that you gave regarding the discrepancy in the number of times one of the detainees was water boarded may very well be as a result of brain damage and impairments to his memory. I have some of this as well… although not nearly to that degree. Likewise… the loss of urine and some of the other symptoms that I’ve read and heard about can also be explained by the same metabolic problem &/or brain damage.

I have already spent quite a bit of time on the computer today and am not able to do a whole lot more. I would like to add though that the “migration” that you’ve spoken of and the history involved goes back much farther and is far more geographically encompassing… including within the U.S. You are absolutely correct when you state that this is a highly sensitive situation that will require considerable care for both those that have been subjected to torture, those that have done the torturing, and those that have present and future contact with them. In addition to shedding a light on this issues… my roll in this is that of a healer and to provide whatever assistance I can to that end. In order to do that most effectively, however, I am needing to address the very same health conditions myself. I have also been working on research in this area as I have been laid up for the last year… and am also working on putting a treatment protocol together. I would be most interested in hearing more about the physical, cognitive and emotional conditions of the detainees… even in very minute and what might seem like insignificant changes by those in the allopathic health care system. If you could direct me to where I might find this information… I would greatly appreciate it.

Dr. Julien Arbor

May 13, 2009, 10:22 p.m.

I have just spent several hours preparing a comment for the following article that is relevant to what I have stated above regarding the magnitude of this. Please see the following…

This was my response…

I want to make it perfectly clear that I am of the very strong conviction that anyone who was involved in acts of torture should be held accountable. I am myself a licensed clinical psychologist who has not been a member of the American Psychological Association for many years, and I am appalled by the actions of some of my colleagues, including those that were directly involved as well as the American Psychological Association for not taking an immediate and clearly spelled out and highly publicized stand against any psychologist being involved in the interrogation techniques or any other aspect of the barbaric practices that were utilized on prisoners who had been denied access to any sort of judicial process, and therefore innocent.

I am still making my way through the tremendous amount of material that has been released, but became extremely alarmed when, in addition to reading about what had been taking place with the prisoners abroad, also learned while reading the PENS listerv that the American Psychological Association had additionally been aware of a CIA Project known as MK-ULTRA that involved human experimentation using LSD, other drugs and excessively high voltages of ECT on citizens and including children, some of whom were unaware that they were subjects. This experimentation was headed by Dr. Ewen Cameron, a Scottish-American psychiatrist who later became the President of the World, American and Canadian Psychiatric Associations. This program also included the use of psychologists. This is only one of many human experimentation programs that the OSS/CIA/NSA sponsored and MK-ULTRA falls under the broader umbrella of Mind Control. Further information can be found at the following link…

The last reference is particularly relevant to the current topic of the torture of prisoners abroad. While I have not yet carefully read through it, of what I have read, there are many overlapping similarities between some of the practices listed in those documents and those which pertain to the interrogation of the detainees. The American Psychological Association had a duty to make psychologists aware of these programs as some of the subjects have turned to those within the mental health community including clinicians that had no knowledge that such experimentation existed, and therefore drew false conclusions regarding the accounts that their patients were reporting to them. Psychologists were not provided with very critical information in order to appropriately administer services to their patients. This was a betrayal of both the public trust in obtaining psychological services as well as of the clinicians that were provided clinical services to the public.

There are other significant concerns that I have relative to the activities of the American Psychological Association and some of its members. However, rather than solely focusing on psychologists and the APA, there is a considerable need to correct a great deal of misinformation regarding the participation of psychiatrists in these activities, including the interrogation techniques that were employed on the detainees. I had noted this inaccurate information in various media sources, and am dismayed that a highly-regarded medical journal would likewise engage in this charade.

It is common knowledge that the general public is unclear regarding the differences between psychiatrists and psychologists, and the two are quite frequently used interchangeably. The following information was obtained from a few news sources.

MAJ Paul Burney… identified as a PSYCHOLOGIST…

(Note that this was redacted, although his name still appears with the incorrect title.)

MAJ Paul Burney identified as “a medical professional attached to interrogation efforts at Guantánamo..”, from the following…’s_torture_programs/?page=entire

There is also a rather ambiguous description as well as misleading content from the following…

Dr. Julien Arbor

May 13, 2009, 10:23 p.m.


Psychiatrist Maj. Paul Burney, psychologist John Leso and a psychiatric technician had been sent to Guantánamo in June 2002 with a combat stress control company. The three had expected to help U.S. soldiers cope with their extremely stressful deployments, but were “hijacked and immediately in processed into Joint Task Force 170, the military intelligence command on the island,” Burney told Senate investigators.

The three were instructed to form a Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) and help ramp up intelligence collection at Guantánamo. But they lacked training in how to support interrogations, and there was no standard operating procedure in place to guide their work. “Nobody really knew what we were supposed to do,” Burney told Senate investigators.

End quote.

Note the use of the word “hijacked” as well as the statement,  “Nobody really knew what we were supposed to do,”.

MAJ Paul Burney is a PSYCHIATRIST. Given the identification of the individual being a psychiatrist, that would most likely be MAJ Paul Burney’s name that is blacked on the following document, unless there were more than one psychiatrist that was involved.

There is also a psychologist who’s name is Dr. J. Paul Burney,  but he too goes by the name of Dr. Paul Burney, and he is a former President of the Texas APA…

Regarding MAJ Paul Burney (PSYCHIATRIST) additional information is available at the following link…


“In his testimony to the Senate Committee, Maj. Burney wrote that “a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”

In an article to follow, I’ll look at how Maj. Burney — almost accidentally — assumed a pivotal role in the implementation of torture techniques in the “War on Terror,” but for now I’m going to focus on the significance of his comments, which are, of course, profoundly important because they demonstrate that, in contrast to the administration’s oft-repeated claims that the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” foiled further terrorist attacks on the United States, much of the program was actually focused on trying to establish links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that would justify the planned invasion of Iraq.

Maj. Burney’s testimony provides the first evidence that coercive and illegal techniques were used widely at Guantánamo in an attempt to secure information linking al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, but it is not the first time that the Bush administration’s attempts to link a real enemy with one that required considerable ingenuity to conjure up have been revealed.”

End quote.

This begs the question, “How does one “...almost accidentally — assume[] a pivotal role in the implementation of torture techniques in the “War on Terror”?

Dr. Julien Arbor

May 13, 2009, 10:27 p.m.

From the following source… Report Final_April 22 2009.pdf


On December 16,2002, BSCT psychiatrist MAJ Paul Burney responded to LTC
Beaver’s email, stating that “if these techniques are employed at GTMO, our training/preparation must match that of the instructors who are allowed to use these same techniques at SERE school.,,768 MAJ Burney described some of the requirements for SERE instructors, such as having them “go through SERE school themselves,” ‘‘undergo strict psychiatric screening,” and be strictly supervised while doing their jobs at the SERE school. 769 MAJ Burney said that “there are still times when instructors go a bit too far and have to be redirected by other instructors. The SERE school takes this training VERY seriously. It clearly is not a see one, do one, teach one kind of situation"770 The psychiatrist warned: The environment down here is much different than at SERE school. There is not a cadre of experienced SERE instructors. The interrogators have not gone through SERE school or been subjected to this treatment themselves. There is not a psychiatric screening process in place. The interrogators are away from home, family, friends and are under a lot more stress than SERE instructors at the SERE school. The detainees being questioned are the enemy and are not U.S. personnel posing as the enemy… All these factors make using this kind of pressure much more dangerous in this environment compared to at the SERE school. 771 _As to the utility of the SERE resistance techniques, MAJ Burney also stated that “t is quite possible that employing these techniques exactly as employed in SERE school may actually strengthen a detainee’s ability to resist interrogation rather than overcome it.“772 MAJ Burney stated that he was “not suggesting that the use of physical pressures should be totally abandoned,” but recommended that they should bring an experienced senior SERE trainer to GTMO to discuss the issue stating “the interrogation element feels these tools will greatly assist the interrogations process. It would be very interesting to me to know if senior SERE trainers… agree with this assessment or not.“773 MAJ Burney also recommended that, if If F-GTMO determined the techniques might be effective, then they should institute the same screening processes that SERE schools use and that SERE school instructors be “sent to GTMO to help with the interrogation process.,,774 767 SASC

End quote.

It is quite clear from that communication that MAJ Paul Burney was very well aware of what was to be done and was a key figure in providing advice regarding the interrogation process. Furthermore, I had become alarmed when reading the following article regarding Abu Ghraib and the hiring practices of the CIA.


The latest reaction to the released memos came as it emerged that the two psychologists hired by the CIA to craft the techniques that were used on terror suspects were paid $1,000 (£673) a day. Neither had carried out nor overseen an interrogation.

End quote.

While I am unable to verify that information it begs the question, “Why was the CIA hiring two psychologists at such a high pay rate who were inexperienced to do the job for which they were hired?”. My conclusion is that either that information is altogether inaccurate or the psychologist were not inexperienced or there was an ulterior motive for the CIA to hire inexperienced psychologists.

Dr. Julien Arbor

May 13, 2009, 10:28 p.m.

Based on all this information in combination with the documentation from the PENS listserv…

... and the documents from Program MK-ULTRA, it is quite clear that psychiatrists and the American Psychiatric Association have engaged in unethical and illegal practices against citizens both domestic and international… and both abroad and on United States soil. They have also established a pattern of recruiting psychologist into these projects, and at least as we know now, at Guantantamo, have been instrumental in establishing these procedures and then turned them over to psychologists who are now taking the fall.

There has been an adversarial relationship between psychiatrist and psychologists for some time. This has escalated considerably over the years regarding the issue of psychologists seeking to obtain prescription privileges. That the American Psychological Association is quite actively pursuing obtaining these privileges, it comes as little surprise to me that they have not been doing a better job at protecting the reputation of the profession of psychology and of those psychologists who would have no interest or even object to the obtaining of prescription privileges.

There are ample other examples of the poor job that psychiatrists have been doing with regard to promoting the health and well being of patients. The growing concerns regarding psychotropic medications, the lengthy list of conflicts of interest between psychiatrists and pharmaceutical and ECT equipment companies, and the increase in forced and coercive institutionalization and administration of drugs and ECT that have been growing at an alarming rate are additional examples of the ingenuous claims that are being made in this article. There are numerous other examples and references that I could list, but those that I have presented should suffice for the topic at hand.

It is beyond the jurisdiction of psychiatrists and psychologist to be functioning as law enforcement or as a substitution for the judicial system, and it is most concerning that this is becoming more commonplace. It is despicable that those who are entrusted with the health and well being of others and have been given the privilege of functioning as healers are instead using their education and training to inflict harm and are more motivated by their own professional, political and economic gains than by caring for their patients and fellow human beings. It is also a fallacy that all of these health care professional are still taking the Hippocratic Oath as it is no longer a requirement.  Quite clearly it should be!

It is also evident that there is ample responsibility regarding the issue of torture to go around for all of these professional associations and for many that are in “health care”!