There’s a new game in town
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
Stick’em with the pointy end
Virtual and not so Virtual Space
Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
The Never-ending Privacy Battle
The Many Sides of Bitcoin
Cyber Jihadists
Hacker Gangs
The New Old War
The Sacred Executioner
Scripting Aphrodites
There’s a new game in town My first foray into role playing games (RPGs) wasn’t actually an RPG at all. Rather, it was a computer based word puzzle, “The Colossal Cave” aka “Adventure.” I stumbled upon this game during a computer job back in the late 1970s. The game was written in Basic and ran on a PDP-11. I spent hours […]
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI I recently purchased the Cirago USB Bluetooth/Wifi combo to use with my raspberry pi. All things considered, I am quite pleased. Being reasonably versed in google-fu, helped, of course. Since I want the freedom to do some mobile tinkering, I need to access the pi sans a lan. That, and my latest wild hair project […]
Stick’em with the pointy end Since I have been spending a great deal of my time playing in the field of 3D design and printing, I have only recently stumbled upon, and had time to read, “Privacy for Me and Not for Thee,” penned by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, a human rights activist whom I first encountered in the virtual world […]
Virtual and not so Virtual Space Not long ago, someone asked if I liked 3D printing better than virtual worlds. The short answer is, equally but differently.
Be Still my Bleeding Heart … “Secure web servers are the equivalent of heavy armored cars. The problem is, they are being used to transfer rolls of coins and checks written in crayon by people on park benches to merchants doing business in cardboard boxes from beneath highway bridges. Further, the roads are subject to random detours, anyone with a screwdriver […]
The Never-ending Privacy Battle This brings me back to the Hundredpercent American. To some extent he is a pet of mine. I have always rather liked him, because he has some promising qualities. For instance, he has enormous hospitality. I used to feel personally complimented by the amazing warm-hearted hospitality showered on me by Americans. […] When I realized […]
The Many Sides of Bitcoin Pariah, darling, or somewhere in between. Bitcoin has continued to linger in the daily media spotlight since the shuttering of darknet’s black-market drug bazaar, Silk Road, and the subsequent announcement of the arrest of its alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht (aka DPR), on October 2, 2013. Media mavens have long cast bitcoin as a sort […]
Cyber Jihadists “We’re facing a very great threat of loosely-coupled, organizational networks that increasingly rely on IT infrastructure to coordinate their movements and recruit young disenfranchised, apathetic guys as suicidal pawns in a sophisticated, dispersed movement. (…)” (AHM, Usenet, September 21, 2001)
Hacker Gangs Meet Jim Script Kiddie (skiddie). He is the guy (usually in his early to mid teens) who comes into a hacker forum, asking inane questions like, “how can I be a hacker?” He also tends to over-indulge in “hacker speak” making him look pretty much like a moron to seasoned (and not so) computer netizens.
The New Old War In 1956, FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover initiated a program, code-named COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program) ushering in what would become the mainstay for how intelligence communities dealt with domesitic affairs. The sole directive of this program was “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of various dissidents and their leaders.
The Sacred Executioner In his book, “The Sacred Executioner,” Hyam Maccoby notes: “A figure in mythology that has received little attention is that of the Sacred Executioner. […] By taking the blame for the slaying, he is performing a great service to society, for not only does he perform the deed, but he takes upon himself the blame […]
Scripting Aphrodites On Wednesday, April 13, 2006, 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin was reported missing by her father. Investigators thought she may have been abducted by someone she met online. Oklahoma law enforcement suspected her abductor might be heading just across the border to Texas and requested Texas issue an Amber alert.
image There’s a new game in town
image Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
image Stick’em with the pointy end
image Virtual and not so Virtual Space
image Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
image The Never-ending Privacy Battle
image The Many Sides of Bitcoin
image Cyber Jihadists
image Hacker Gangs
image The New Old War
image The Sacred Executioner
image Scripting Aphrodites

Biscuits du jour

The field of forensic psychology is generally about psychology and the legal system. There is however one area of which few may be aware. Forensic psychologist also consult in domains that have an international impact. Take the war on terrorism, for example.

Over two years after the scandal broke,[1] the question of torturing POW’s continued to make headline news. By June 07, 2006, The New York Times had published an article regarding Psychiatrists and Psychologists participation in interrogation[2] igniting heated debates throughout our field. This, of course, was not the first time psychology professionals had participated in covert military operations.

At the onset of the and just on the heels of the , national security personnel were flumoxed by the anti-American sentiments coming from several POWs. Thus began one of the nations most extensive psychology research programs, which some believe continues today. The resulting program was code-named by then CIA director, , and involved 147 sub-projects and hundreds of thousands of dollars. The latter were funneled through several front organizations, including but not limited to the Human Ecology Society and the Geschickter Fund. It was during this period that a number of prominent psychiatrists and psychologist engaged in what is today considered unethical practices involving unwitting test subjects.

In 1963, the CIA published the Counterintelligence Interrogation manual. Under chapter eight,[3] the authors cite the late and his description of the “magic room” technique, which was later published in the book, “The manipulation of human behavior.” The goal of this technique is to convince the subject that they are under the hypnotic control of the interrogator. To accomplish this perception, a combination of drugs and props are used. For example, from the book, “this would be the case of the prisoner who is given a hypnotic suggestion that his hand is growing warm. However, in this instance, the prisoners hand actually does become warm, a problem easily resolved by the use of a concealed diathermy machine.” Dr. Orne additionally cautions readers, noting that the subject is no less resistant and that resulting material is unreliable.[4]

By 1972, the CIA’s research using unwitting subjects came to a screeching halt when the late ’s then adult son requested a formal inquiry into death of his father–an ex-CIA special operations agent. The inquiry resulted in a 1977 hearing led by Massachusetts Senator, . The outcome revealed that prominent psychologists and psychiatrists had engaged unwitting subjects in experiments that ranged from the mundane to highly unethical, and sometimes, even lethal. The latter were classified “terminal” with the knowledge that death was very much a probability. Dr. , of the Allen Memorial Institute, topped the list when it came to issues of gross ethical misconduct, with his “sleep room” and “psychic driving” experiments.

By the late 1980s, several victims of the CIA’s debacle had won lawsuits against both the United States and Canadian government. Due to this and other unethical research, medical and psychology associations, as well as educational institutions, began addressing research and human subjects in their respective code of ethics. As with the , the knowledge imparted regarding POWs psyche is invaluable, as it not only provides insight into their experience but also highlights important issues with regard to the medical and psychology professionals participation in present-day covert military operations.

For example, in his book “Journey into Madness,” Gordon Thomas describes the cycle of terror as it relates to prisoners of war. The cycle consists of four stages–surprise, desperation, chaos, and conversion. In the first stage the captive may experience “initial shock, disbelief, denial that it is happening to him/her, and unrealness.” During the second stage the captive may “experience frozen fright” (i.e., they cannot run or fight) and may “beg and/or cling to their captors.” Thomas explains that this stage is critical as the captive may also feel an “overwhelming and compulsive desire to talk.” To keep the captive off balance, the captors utilize a combination of isolation, sleep deprivation, interspersed with erratic scheduling–such as 4 hours of sleep, 12 hours awake, 1 hour of sleep, 30 minutes awake, 15 hours of sleep. This results in “disorientation, apathy, rage, insomnia, self-recrimination, exhausting reexamination, despair, and terror.” At this point, the captive is primed for what could be characterized as superficial conversion. During this final stage, the captive will engage in “logical dishonesty, shifting blame, superficial allegiance.[5]

The aforementioned is but a brief overview of the cycle of terror that prisoners experience. It is important however with regard to identifying and winnowing out ethical and moral responsibilities as psychology professionals. And had practitioners involved at , and later, the , remembered these small yet salient points of our collective historical experience, perhaps the report issued by the would have shed a much more favorable light on BSCTs.

On Thursday, December 2, 2004, Molly Ivins, of AlterNet, introduced the public at large to BSCTs–pronounced biscuits. These teams are comprised of psychologist, psychiatrist, psychology personnel, and physicians, whose job is to provide consultation with regard to interrogating POWs.[6] Ms. Ivins article was in response to the investigation by the International Red Cross earlier in the year. The resulting report indicated that prisoners were subjected to “humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions, exposure to loud and persistent noise, and some beatings.[7]

The public outcry compelled both APAs–the and the –to revisit their code of ethics as they pertained to psychology practitioners who worked and/or consulted with covert military operations. They eventually issued statements against participation of members of their respective organizations in torture.[8] [9] However, while the took a strong stand against psychiatrists participating in the interrogation of detainees, the noted that psychologist participation in POW interrogation is necessary to national security and therefore acceptable as long as their members proceed with extreme caution and their conduct falls within the APA code of ethics.[10] The further established a task force to review the code to determine if modifications and/or additions were necessary. The results identified several areas that warrant further consideration.[11]

Although the issue of psychology professionals providing consultation in covert military operations may seem cut and dried, lack of involvement by our psychology community could potentially result in disastrous outcomes, the least of which involves issues of military personnel with little to no training in the area of human psychology. The worst of which involves lack of insight as well as gatekeeping as it is related to mitigating, if not completely obviating, severe psychological abuses of our fellow human being–even if that individual may be, at that point in time, our sworn enemy.

In summary, it is quite likely that, in light of the ’s stance, the APA code of ethics will be revised to incorporate guidelines with regard to psychologists participation in covert military operations generally, and interrogations, specifically. As with research of human subjects, such addition is necessary to serve not only as a guide for professional and ethical behaviors, but also a reminder to psychology professionals regarding the Hippocratic Oath– –first do no harm.


  1. Hersh, S. M. 2004 Torture at Abu Ghraib
    The New Yorker

  2. Lewis N. A. 2006 Military Alters the Makeup of Interrogation Advisers
    The New York Times

  3. CIA 1963 KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation
  4. Orne, M. T. 1961 The potential uses of hypnosis in interrogation
    In A. D. Biderman & H. Zimmer [Eds.]
    The manipulation of human behavior
    New York: Wiley, 1961. Pp.169-215

  5. Thomas, G. 1989 Journey into Madness
    New York: Bantam Books

  6. Ivins, M. 2004 Is This American?
  7. International Red Cross 2004 Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross
  8. American Psychiatric Association. 2006 Psychiatric Participation in Interrogation of Detainees. POSITION STATEMENT
  9. American Psychology Association Council. 2006 Resolution Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  10. American Psychology Association 2006-2007 American Psychological Association Position on Ethics, Interrogations and National Security
  11. American Psychology Association 2005-2007 APA Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security. Final Report.