I blogged briefly about a plan by Yale University’s School of Medicine, to establish a center for the training of Department of Defense interrogators in “people skills”. A Yale academic, Charles Morgan III, will run the center, and there is a plan to invite Apollo Robbins, a pickpocket, who will instruct interrogators about deception.
Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health and a 1990 graduate of the Yale School of Medicine, has raised substantive objections to Morgan’s research which led him to question his role in the proposed center.
In 2010, a study was published in which researchers at the school of medicine studied the use of advanced interrogation techniques to determine whether suspected Islamic terrorists are telling the truth or not. And this study involved Arab immigrants and other Muslim immigrants in New Haven and basically used these immigrants as guinea pigs to test out advanced interrogation techniques. And I think that not only is this unethical, but it violates informed consent, because were these subjects given full information about the Central Intelligence Agency and its use of the advanced interrogation techniques?
But the bigger problem here is that this is not medical research, and it violates the mission of the medical school. This has nothing to do with whether we should be conducting advanced interrogation; it has to do with whether the school of medicine should be involved in developing advanced interrogation techniques. The mission of the school of medicine is to improve the practice of medicine and to improve—to treat disease and improve health. There is no way that this research has any relationship to improving disease or improving health. This is strictly research designed to develop advanced interrogation techniques. That’s a military goal, a military responsibility, and it has no place at a school of medicine.
Nathalie Batraville, a graduate student in the French Department at Yale University and Alex Lew, a sophomore at Berkeley College have raised additional ethical concerns.
First, intelligence does not exist in a vacuum. It is gathered to support a particular foreign policy agenda, the morality of which is not beyond question.
Second, there is the issue of transparency. As students, we have seen this administration’s complete lack of accountability to its constituents.
Finally, Morgan’s research and, by extension, this proposed center target people of color — brown people exclusively.
This has all the marks of condescension and lunacy I’ve come to expect from military intelligence officials: the lack of consultation with the public and hiring a pickpocket come to mind. It’s as if a previous generation of old-school professionals were frozen for a post-Watergate, post-Vietnam era when Americans would have stopped wondering what their “solons” do, and now they have emerged without having learned humility and restraint.