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Letters: Military Psychologist

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Now, your letters. Yesterday's story on military psychologist Bryce Lefever and his defense of harsh interrogation tactics sent many of you to your keyboards. Our inbox was flooded this morning. And most of the email agreed with the sentiment expressed by Caroline Fischer(ph) of Annville, Pennsylvania who writes that she found the interview with Bryce Lefever to be chilling.

She goes on to say, psychologists participating in torture seems analogous to physicians participating in executions. The overall impression I had at the end of the interview was one of double speak - an attempt to say that black is white. Some things are always wrong.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Shane Tippit(ph) of Goochland, Virginia had a strong personal reaction to the story. He writes, after many moving driveway moments with NPR, this was my first pounding the steering wheel and roaring with rage moment. Alix Spiegel's reporting was extraordinary. Bryce Lefever's calm, measured suburban father voice describing how it is fascinating to watch people in extreme situations in the human laboratory of SERE school was surreal and infuriating.

My own SERE training was the darkest corner of a 21-year Marine Corp career. By school standards, I suppose, I did well enough. My performance under stress was characterized as arrogant unto death by the chief interrogator. What discouraged me was the knowledge that what was being practiced on me was being planned for others and that the people doing it enjoyed it.

It is heartbreaking to think a love of America is revealed by a psychologist helping plan the torture of a defenseless prisoner. The wickedness of the prisoner is taken for granted. And somehow this is supposed to forgive the wickedness of his jailers. Lefever says America is his client. I want him fired.

SIEGEL: Lefever also had his supporters. Among them, Curtis Potter(ph) of St. Petersburg, Florida. He writes this, Bryce Lefever should be applauded for his conviction and patriotism. It is difficult to imagine the courage it takes to stand up and publicly support the harsh interrogation techniques used on detainees to collect actionable intelligence.

It takes great strength of character to so publicly face the certain wrath of apologists, revisionists and those civil libertarians who so often seem to forget that the very civil liberties they defend were and are paid for with the blood of patriots and innocents alike. Mr. Potter continues, I'm sure ATC and Mr. Lefever will be lambasted in the mailbag by listeners with good intentions, who fortunately have never had to suffer the deprivations of war or physical assault.

I loudly support ATC for routinely airing all sides of nearly every issue and doing so with such good grace and professionalism. I also provide my strongest encouragement to Mr. Lefever for his honesty, integrity, unapologetic devotion to duty and plain old fortitude.

NORRIS: Well, please keep our inbox full, keep the letters coming. Just go to npr.org and click on Contact Us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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