Interrogate This: Psychologists Take on Terror

Should psychologists help the military interrogate national security detainees?

Interrogate This presents a troubling and deeply human story illustrating the complexities encountered when national security, psychology, politics, ethics and morality collide.

Most are unaware that mental health professionals and others have been involved in the so-called war-on-terror. These professionals have been at odds with each other and policies limiting their participation in interrogations in national security settings have evolved over the past few years. 

Weaving intimate interviews, archival footage, animation, innovative visuals and original music, Interrogate This presents an even-handed representation of perspectives from both sides of this thin line in the sand. Thoughtful positions from individuals close to the issues include:

  • Military psychologists who served at Guantanamo and elsewhere;
  • A career military intelligence officer;
  • Lawyers representing detainees and human rights organizations;
  • Friends and family of one particular detainee;
  • Psychologists/activists promoting a moratorium on continued involvement in centers where detainees lack human rights; and
  • Representatives from the worlds largest professional organization for psychologists-the American Psychological Association (APA)

 Filmmaker Maryanne Galvin interviews Steven M. Kleinman, Strategist & Consultant on National Security, Senior Military Intelligence Officer. San Francisco, August 2007. Photo: Cyndi Lenz

National security experts point to a broad spectrum of terrorist groups and organizations, each with a different psychology, motivation and decision making structure.

Interestingly, there is a broad spectrum of American psychologists, each with a different perspective, rationale and problem solving approach when the discussion centers on ethics and interrogations of national security detainees in U.S. custody.

Over the past several years, members of the APA have gone head to head debating their continued involvement as consultants to those conducting the interrogations of suspected terrorists in detention centers throughout the globe.

Interrogate This puts 13 such individuals in the hot seat and asks the Question: Can reasonable people differ?

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