Recent Articles and Publications

PSOT in the News

First 100 Days

January 26, 2017

PSOT Director Dr. Allen Keller speaks with CNN's Robyn Curnow about the moral and pragmatic failings of torture.

Victim to Victor: The Story of Souleymane Guengueng

January 19, 2017

“Three years in prison.  Nine years struggling in Chad without contact with the outside world.  More than sixteen years of legal battles.  Altogether, I have fought more than twenty-six years for justice,” said Souleymane Guengueng, a human rights activist and a victim of torture during Hissène Habré’s Chadian dictatorship. 

He Helped Topple a Dictator. In New York, He's Another Face in the Crowd

January 6, 2017

Every public housing complex in America is filled with individual tales of struggle and survival. This is the story of a dapper man in a black fedora who lives in unit 16G in the Bronx. His name is Souleymane Guengueng, and he brought down a murderous African dictator. 

Raising Children in an Uncertain World

December 13, 2016

The second world war left many families on uncertain footing – a familiar feeling in modern days with the refugee crisis, climate change and economic fears leaving an air of instability

A Refugee Crisis in Our Own Back Yard

September 20, 2016

President Obama’s support for Syrian refugees is to be commended. However, his administration’s enforcement-based policies toward thousands of Central American women and children arriving at our border, seeking compassion and safety, are inhumane and a disgrace.

Physician Who Cares for Torture Survivors: How U.S. Detains Refugee Women and Children is a Disgrace.

September 7, 2016

We continue our conversation with Dr. Allen Keller, an expert in the evaluation and treatment of detained immigrants and asylum seekers, who was disturbed by what he saw when he visited the Berks County Residential Center in August where women and children are on hunger strike to protest their prolonged detention.

Torture is Against 'America's Core Values and Security'

March 21, 2016

"Owning Up to Torture," by Eric Fair, a former private contractor in Iraq, is a chilling reminder of how easy it is to become a torturer yet how difficult it is to live as a former torturer. Combine a superior's order with vilifying the "other" in the midst of real or perceived danger, and almost anyone will torture. 

Inside a Clinic Devoted to Helping Refugees Who Have Survived Torture

February 8, 2016

Hawthorne Smith doesn't just read the international section of the newspaper to stay up to date on global affairs: He does it in anticipation of who might walk into his office next. A crackdown on protesters in Tibet, a flare up in a West African civil war, and intensifying homophobia almost anywhere in the world—all clues.

The Syrian Refugees, Morality and Trump's Bombast

November 23, 2015

The xenophobic backlash against Syrian refugees defies both morality and logic. Have we not learned from our misguided policies of the past, including internment during World War II of Japanese-Americans for fear that they were not loyal citizens, or turning away Jewish refugees?

Doing Harm: Health Professionals' Central Role in the CIA Torture Program

December 16, 2014

Health professionals, given their ethical and legal obligations to protect the health and welfare of all individuals, have historically represented one essential barrier to the inhumane treatment of detainees and prisoners. The complicity of health professionals themselves in such abuse indicates that egregious violations of public trust, ethics, and law have taken place.

The Last Refugee

April 18, 2013

I walk in at seven o’clock on the dot, expecting to be one of the first to arrive at the benefit concert for the NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture (or PSOT). To my surprise, as I step into the third-floor event space of an otherwise nondescript Times Square sports bar, I find there’s already quite a crowd.

May I Have the Waterboard Please...

February 2, 2013

Neither waterboards, nor Zero Dark Thirty, which won but ½ an Oscar for sound editing, received much attention at last night's Academy Awards. Perhaps the better films won or it was luck of the draw. Perhaps, as British commentator Glenn Greenwald said "The stigma attached to the pro-torture CIA propaganda vehicle, beloved by film critics result(ed) in Oscar humiliation."

Outsourcing Torture

February 8, 2013

In his Senate confirmation hearing, Thursday, CIA director nominee John Brennan noted that the United States "needs to make sure we are setting a standard for the world." We can only hope that when it comes to our country outsourcing torture, Mr. Brennan has learned that's not the way to go.

After Torture Cases, a Need for Accountability

September 7, 2012

While it is deeply troubling that no criminal charges were filed against American personnel who committed torture, the need and opportunity for accountability remain.

Traumatized Detainees

January 16, 2012

“My Guantánamo Nightmare,” by Lakhdar Boumediene (Sunday Review, Jan. 8), is a chilling reminder that most terrorist suspects imprisoned at Guantánamo were released without ever being charged — but not before suffering the physical and emotional pain of abuse such as stress positions, sleep deprivation and the gnawing uncertainty of indefinite detention.

Seeking Asylum: Some Lie, but More are Legitimate

July 18, 2011

As staff members of a torture treatment center in New York, we provide medical, mental health, and social services to hundreds of asylum seekers fleeing trauma and abuse. With over 15 year of experience working with this population, we simply cannot reconcile the description of asylum defrauders in this article with our clients. 

From Safety of New York, Reporting on Distant Home

November 19, 2011

When news breaks in Nigeria, Omoyele Sowore is there. His Web news operation was the first to publish a photo of the Nigeria-born “underwear bomber” arrested in December 2009, and when a suicide bombing this summer shook a United Nations building in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, he was the first to publish on-the-ground reports and photos. During the presidential election in Nigeria in April, he published real-time photos, videos and reports from the field, exposing instances of ballot rigging, and attracting over eight million page views in one month.

How the Bush Administration Tortured Medical Ethics

December 1, 2010

Former President George W Bush publicly admitted in his newly published memoir, Decision Points, to having personally authorized waterboarding. Director of the Central Intelligence Agency George Tenet asked if he had permission to use "enhanced interrogation techniques", including waterboarding. "Damn, right," was the president's reply. The fact that a former president feels comfortable publicly admitting his approval of torture is disturbing. President Bush explains, "No doubt the procedure was tough, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did no lasting harm."

How to Treat Those Who Aid Torture

March 1, 2010

Health professionals were central in developing and carrying out our country's misguided torture policies and practices. Given that health professionals are licensed at the state level, states have a central role in holding health professionals who participate in torture accountable and in preventing torture.

If Only the Torture Memos Were a Game Show

February 22, 2010

If those who provided misguided and unethical legal cover for the Bush-Cheney administration’s torture policy get away with it, at least we can still hope that those who would dare to undermine the integrity of a television game show will be held accountable.

Make Sure Health Care Reform Isn't "Bah, Humbug!"

March 18, 2010

The Senate has wrapped up a much needed gift to our nation of health care reform. But it will be incumbent upon the Senate/House conference who will determine the final bill to ensure the package doesn’t contain a lump of coal for states, such as New York, that have led the way in caring for the uninsured and vulnerable.

Call Health Care What It is: A Basic Human Right

November 8, 2009

For those seeking a guiding principle (this sounds much better than “sound bite”) for health care reform here it is: “Health care is a basic human right.” Or put another way: “As members of American society, we have a fundamental right to health care.”

Now That's Trampling

September 13, 2009

The juxtaposition on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times was chilling. A photograph showed an irate town hall attendee screaming at Arlen Specter with the accompanying caption “You’re trampling on the Constitution.” Beneath, was an unrelated article entitled “Two US Architects of Harsh Tactics in 9/11’s Wake.” The “trampling of the constitution” refers to the debate about health care reform. “The architects of harsh tactics” refers to two psychologists who oversaw the development and implementation of an interrogation program utilizing torture.

Torture, Healing, and Accountability

July 27, 2009

You may not know it, but June 26 is United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. It was on this day 25 years ago, that an international treaty banning torture, cruel inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment went into effect. Our country is a signatory to this treaty and played a central role in its drafting.

Pictures of Torture, the Fact of Torture

May 14, 2009

While release of the photos depicting torture by United States military personnel may "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger troops, the torture itself is what truly inflames our enemies and allies. 

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