Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Guantanamo Psychology

Reason's Hit & Run discusses a New York Times article on how we are using military psychologists to help in interrogations at Guantanamo Bay.
The former interrogators said the military doctors' role was to advise them and their fellow interrogators on ways of increasing psychological duress on detainees, sometimes by exploiting their fears, in the hopes of making them more cooperative and willing to provide information.
Some question whether this is unethical. I think this is the most humane action we can take.

We treat prisoners the way we do precisely because we care about the life and liberty of potential victims of terrorism. The greedy strategy principle to 'first do no harm' and not attempt to collect information to prevent terrorism is the most inhumane action we could take. It would be nice if we had the capability to precision target information from detainees mentally without causing physical discomfort but we don't have that capability. We must use the same tactics uses by all regimes throughout history, creating a large difference in the 'payoff' for the prisoner to get them to voluntarily choose to reveal the information that we want. By precision exploition of their fears and cultural taboos we can make prisioners willing to provide information by causing discomfort and not by torture. Exploting discomfort, especially cultural discomfort, to obtain information from prisoners in order to protect victims is the strategy that will lead to the least inhumane outcome.


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