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Do 9 Out Of 10 Psychologists Really Recommend Waterboarding?

The Federalist Society has decided Dick Cheney shouldn't have to go it alone in sticking up for waterboarding. Ben Smith blogs a conference call the conservative legal group held for journalists to defend the Bush lawyers who wrote the torture memos. One of the Federalist Society members, Chapman University Law School Dean John Eastman, had this to say, according to Smith:

Eastman responded to The New York Times's Scott Shane about the use of waterboarding during the Spanish Inquisition and by the Japanese military, and responded "that psychological reviews of graduates of the military's SERE program, in which members of the U.S. military were waterboarded, is a more relevant example.

"Why would I go and look at something the Spanish Inquisition did just because it was also called 'waterboarding'?" he asked.

The problem with that argument is that the psychologists who conducted those reviews say you can't compare graduates of the military's SERE program to the detainees who were waterboarded. As Gary Hazlett, a research scientist who studied stress among soldiers who went through SERE training, told NPR:

"One group has a lot of control and can say no and stop the process at any point along the way, but that really doesn't hold for the detainee group," he said in an interview.

Alas, I'm not aware of any psychological reviews done on those who were waterboarded in the Spanish Inquisition, but if such reviews do exist, it seems like those would be the relevant academic literature.

--Jason Zengerle