Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Evidence-based psychotorture

The US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE's COUNTERINTELLIGENCE FIELD ACTIVITY (CIFA) BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE DIRECTORATE (APPLIED BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE) recently issued what they call a 'Presolicitation Notice' (Solicitation Number: Reference-Number-BAA-CIFA-DB-07-01) tendering for some good old applied research. They frame it so:

'The purpose of the research is (1) to develop, test and evaluate the application (translation) of known principles and findings of the behavioral and social sciences to enhancing capabilities relevant to current and future intelligence, counter-intelligence, and human intelligence collection; and (2) to understand threats to national security in terms of the principles and methods of the social and behavioral sciences. A portion of the funding may be made available for meritorious proposals from minority institutions and historically Black colleges and universities, and these entities are encouraged to participate.'

They continue:

'This research is primarily focused on: (i) developing and evaluating reliable, valid, behavior-based methods of evidence and human intelligence sources ssessment; (ii) developing and evaluating methods for understanding terrorist groups and their relationships to populations of interest; and (iii) methods for the translation principles and models in the social and behavioral sciences developed in laboratory settings to field and operational settings.'

A colleague of mine correctly summarises the aims of this, er, solicitation, in the following way: 'The call states that many of the techniques currently in use often are based only on the individual experiences of the interviewers, anecdotal information, and shared beliefs, rather than on empirical behavioral and social science. It goes on to say that until evidence-based approaches to interviewing and elicitation are established, little progress will be made in our ability to distinguish effective from ineffective techniques. Is it just me or is the Department of Defense asking for research to identify best practice methods to torture people?'

You can send your applications or well-wishings to:

Counterintelligence Field Activity
Department of Defense
251 18th Street Crystal Square 5 Suite 1200
Arlington VA 22202
Attn: Loretta Buckley (Contract Specialist, Phone (703) 699-7283, Fax (703) 699-7740, Email


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