Lt. Gen. 'Cover-Up' Kiley

The Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, may be the next person fired or forced to resign in the wake of the Walter Reed outpatient care scandal that has already cost the jobs of the Secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, and Walter Reed's commander, Maj. Gen. George Weightman.

It was Harvey's appointment of Kiley, who essentially brushed off for years concerns about the squalor and degrading care facing Walter Reed's outpatients, to replace the fired Weightman that helped trigger Harvey's forced resignation on Friday.

The only question on Kiley's future is this: Will he be fired before the week's out, after he testifies before Congress, or will he keep his job until assorted independent reviews and panels finish their work investigating outpatient care and issue their scathing critiques?

But the Walter Reed scandal isn't the first time that Kiley has covered up abuses. He was a point person for the Army's coverup of the torture and degrading treatment of detainees by health professionals, including psychologists, at Guantanamo and other unaccountable military detention sites. He commissioned whitewashed "studies" of the problem that concluded that there wasn't any abuse abetted by health professionals -- even though his investigators never talked to any detainees or their attorneys.

The problems were so widespread that the American Psychiatric Association banned its members from being involved in interrogations, but the American Psychological Association allowed its members to continue to aid military interrogators. (The American Prospect and Salon, among others, helped publicize these issues in the last two years.)

Even so, Kiley appeared last year at the psychologists' conference to plead for its continued involvement, while blithely downplaying the impact of coercive interrogation strategies.

As I reported recently in The Washington Monthly, opening my article on the psychologists' role in torture with a presentation by Kiley:

At around six-foot-eight and clad in combat fatigues, Kevin Kiley, the army surgeon general, cut an imposing figure. It was August 2006, and Kiley was in New Orleans to address the governing council of the American Psychological Association (APA) on the subject of psychology in the war on terror. For over a year, the organization had been under fire from human-rights groups and many of its own members, because psychologists had been tied to coercive interrogations and abuse at Guantanamo Bay and other places. Now, many APA members wanted the organization to draw up a firm policy -- one that mandated adherence to international standards barring abuse -- to prevent psychologists from participating in such practices again.

Art Levine is a contributing editor of The Washington Monthly, and a fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute. He has also written for Mother Jones, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, Salon and numerous other publications.

It was Kiley's job to convince them not to bail out on interrogations. It's an open question how much psychologists have contributed to the art of interrogation in the war on terror, but the APA provides a seal of legitimacy that the government values. If it joined the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychiatric Association by barring their members from joining the Guantanamo interrogations, it would further stigmatize the military's practices. So, armed with PowerPoint slides, Kiley argued for keeping psychologists on the offensive against "sworn enemies" of the country. "Psychology is an important weapons system," he explained. For the APA to draw up an explicit definition of abuse would be counterproductive. After all, "is four hours of sleep deprivation? How loud does a scream have to be? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"

Valtin, an expert commentator on torture at Daily Kos, supplements this look at Kiley by adding new information about abusive military interrogation techniques, including sleep deprivation, that fit with Kiley's views:

But why mention "four hours" in relation to sleep deprivation? Perhaps Army Surgeon General Kiley was thinking of the new Army interrogation manual, "Human Intelligence Collector Operations" most specifically, Appendix M -- Restricted Interrogation Technique -- Separation. As I wrote in a diary describing the new Army manual last October:

Briefly, it allows for complete separation, sometimes with forced wearing of goggles and earmuffs, for up to 30 days (after which approval for more must be sought). It allows for keeping sleep to four hours a day, for 30 straight days. It allows for the use of other concurrent techniques, including "futility," "incentive," and "fear up" (It does ban "hooding").

As Valtin noted in a commentary last fall in Daily Kos, Kiley's approach to downplaying abuses -- now known to those millions following the Walter Reed scandal -- was already quite evident:

Kiley was a very interesting choice for [the] APA [presentation]. As Army surgeon general, he is one of the main apologists for U.S. interrogation policy, especially as it concerns use of medical personnel. Here he is at a Defense Department briefing back in July 2005. He is defending the use of mental health personnel in Behavioral Science Consultation Teams at Guantanamo Bay and various prisons in Iraq. (For more on these BSCT teams, see Jane Mayer's New Yorker expose, "Deadly Interrogation" [and "The Experiment"]).

Here's Kiley's whitewash to the press:

Kiley: We interviewed 11 psychologists and psychiatrists who were serving in roles of what we now are teaming the BSCT teams. And the sense of their interviews was that they clearly understood that they were not health-care providers, that they were consultants to the interrogators. And every single one of them, to one extent or another, voiced a sense of responsibility to ensure the welfare of detainees during the interrogation process.

Question: Did you find any evidence to support or deny the allegations in the New England Journal that caregivers, not BSCT team members, but caregivers were sharing that type of either physical or psychological information in order to give interrogators a hint as to how they might get more out of people?

Art Levine is a contributing editor of The Washington Monthly, and a fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute. He has also written for Mother Jones, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, Salon and numerous other publications.

Kiley: We did not find any indication of that in our assessment. The interrogators and the BSCT team members have a firewall -- if we can use that term -- between them and medical records. And in our assessments with the BSCT team members, we found no evidence that we were -- that there was a passing of clinical information that would be used in a detrimental way to torture.

In Alfred McCoy's "A Question of Torture," McCoy notes that a July 2005 survey of detainee medical care found the BSCT teams lacked clear guidelines, and "recommended the Army stop using psychiatrists and physicians to assist in interrogation." McCoy's narrative continues (p. 184):

Rejecting these recommendations … Lieutenant General Kevin C. Kiley, the Army's surgeon general, said they found, "no evidence of systemic problems in detainee medical care," praised the military's worldwide treatment for detainees, and deferred assessment of the BSCT teams to "more studies." In defense of his position that the role of these behavioral teams is "safe, legal and ethical," Kiley cited the APA task force report , noting that it reminded members to maintain "an ethical view of their duties. But it doesn't prohibit them from assisting in interrogations."

Thus do APA internal documents and resolutions make themselves into the very heart of Pentagon policymaking.

The bureaucratic cover-ups and flat-out lying by Kiley have been emblematic of the U.S. government's response to those victimized by the Bush administration's so-called War on Terror. That includes our wounded, brave soldiers, suffering with traumatic brain injury, mental illness and amputations, who come home to be neglected as outpatients at Walter Reed and the VA -- and the detainees swept up to be tortured at Gitmo.

Art Levine is a contributing editor of The Washington Monthly, and a fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute. He has also written for Mother Jones, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, Salon and numerous other publications.

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