Psychologists To Assist In Military Interrogations
There could be a future civil war in America -that is, between members of the American Psychological Association over their role in military interrogations. An APA policy issued last year states that "while psychologists should not get involved in torture or other degrading treatment, it is ethical for them to act as consultants to interrogation and information-gathering for national security purposes." and it’s creating an uproar within their membership.
There is now an online petition with 1,300 signatures from APA members and other psychologists on it. Protest forums will be held at the APA’s convention in New Orleans next month.
There’s a few interesting tidbits in this Associated Press story. Check out this first passage:
News reports have said that mental health specialists who are helping U.S. military interrogators have helped create coercive techniques, including sleep deprivation and playing on detainees’ phobias, to extract information.
How come the U.S. military is using psychologists to do their dirty work instead of doctors? Consider the following item:
The American Medical Association last month adopted what many view as a stronger stand against physician involvement in prisoner interrogation, echoing a position held by the American Psychiatric Association, whose members are medical doctors. The U.S. military has indicated it will therefore favour using psychologists, who are not medical doctors and are not bound by the other groups’ policies.
That’s why the APA membership is in an uproar. So how come the leadership has changed its stance on assisting in military interrogations? Here’s what Salon.com had to say on Wednesday:
...six of the 10 people on the APA task force that drafted the psychologists’ policy have close military ties, including four who have worked at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib or Afghanistan.
Now it all makes sense. The Bush administration is not only changing the laws to suit their purposes, but like their PPO health plan they are choosing which health professionals to use to carry out their dirty work. We can only hope that the APA’s leadership comes to their senses by the time they convene in New Orleans on August 10th.