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Psychology of Suffering Detainees Examined

POSTED: 02:23 PM ET, 06/18/2008 by Derek Kravitz

The most extensive medical study of former detainees published so far has found that uncharged or innocent former terrorism suspects are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and lingering physical injuries and scars that can be traced to their imprisonment, The Associated Press reports.

The release of the study comes a day after the Senate Armed Services Committee released previously secret documents shed light on efforts by top aides to then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to research and reverse-engineer techniques used by military survival schools to prepare U.S. service members.

The techniques -- sensory deprivation, forced nudity, stress positions and exploitation of phobias, such as fear of dogs -- would eventually be approved for use at Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq, The Post's Joby Warrick reports.

In prepared testimony during yesterday's hearing, Dr. Jerald Ogrisseg, a psychologist with the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, said he was contacted by Lt. Col. Dan Baumgartner, then chief of staff of the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, about the psychological effects of interrogation methods.

Ogrisseg, who had supervised the use of interrogation tactics on some of his students, said the use of some techniques, such as waterboarding, resulted in compliance and a type of "learned helplessness" 100 percent of the time.

"The final area I recall Lt. Col. Baumgartner asking me about were my thoughts on using the waterboard against the enemy. I asked responded by asking, 'wouldn't that be illegal?' He replied that some people were asking from above about the utility of using this technique against the enemy for the same reasons I wouldn't use it in training," Ogrisseg said. "I replied that I wouldn't go down that path because, aside from being illegal, it was a completely different arena that we in the Survival School didn't know anything about."

Ogrisseg served from 1999 to 2002 as the "Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE)" psychologist for the U.S. Air Force Survival School at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington.

By Derek Kravitz |  June 18, 2008; 2:23 PM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Is the Washington Post going to make any reference to McClatchey's excellent series on detainee abuse? Or does "Not Invented Here" syndrome apply?

Posted by: Steve | June 18, 2008 3:18 PM

The Post's investigations blog looked at McClatchey's detainee abuse series earlier this week:

Posted by: Derek Kravitz | June 18, 2008 5:08 PM

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