Yale University is planning to train US Special Forces to detect lies by practicing on immigrants. The program strives to provide soldiers with such interview tactics by practicing on “someone they can’t necessarily identify with”.
Starting as early as April, the university will launch a new training center on its campus for interrogators to practice what they call “people skills”. But these skills would be acquired by relying on immigrants based in New Haven. The program leaders believe this would prepare the Green Berets for overseas interrogations.
The $1.8 million program is headed by Dr. Charles Morgan III, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, whose interview methods have sparked an interest with the Department of Defense, the Yale Herald reports.
“I want students to be interviewing someone they can’t necessarily identify with,” Morgan told the Herald. As a result, the associate professor said he will choose his ‘subjects’ from Moroccan, Columbian, Nepalese, Ecuadorian and other immigrant communities.
The program will compensate immigrants a minimum of $50 per hour, with up to $100 in bonuses if they succeed in deceiving the interrogator. But using immigrants as training tools has sparked outrage among a number of Yale students.
“Is there an assumption in Morgan’s desire to use more ‘authentic’, brown interviewees as test subjects, that brown people lie differently from whites – and even more insidiously, that all brown people might belong to the same ‘category’ of liar?” guest columnists Nathalie Batraville and Alex Lew write for the Yale Daily News.
“That Morgan’s test subjects are compensated does not resolve the ethical questions his project raises. In fact, their participation highlights the structural inequality that this research capitalizes on and that the center would ultimately exploit,” the columnists add.
The students also expressed frustration with Yale’s decision to launch such a program without the university community’s input, as well as Yale’s potential conflict of interest in working with the US military. The school cannot align its goals with the goals of the military, since that would conflict with the university’s pledge to build a global community of scholars discussing knowledge and perspectives from around the world.
“It’s purpose is not to promote the agenda of the US political elite,” the columnists write.
But by training US Special Forces who might use their newfound skills to interrogate foreign terrorists, as well as train them using immigrant test subjects, Yale is coming under intense scrutiny.
Opponents of the program have launched a petition to stop the school from opening the center. The petition, titled “Don’t Open a Department of Defense Training Center at Yale”, has already received 332 signatures out of a goal of 1,000.
“This goes against the values of the global community [Yale] professes to uphold,” the petition states.