Psychologists Oppose Torture Yet Vote to Attend Terror Interrogations

August 21st, 2007 - by admin

Jonathan Curiel / San Francisco Chronicle – 2007-08-21 23:01:15

SAN FRANCISCO (August 20, 2007) — After a raucous debate about what role – if any – psychologists should play in U.S. government interrogations of terror suspects, the American Psychological Association voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to reject a measure that would have in effect banned its members from those interrogations.

Instead, the association passed a competing measure that reaffirms the organization’s position against torture “and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” of terror suspects.

For the first time on record, the resolution lists specific treatment that the association opposes, including mock executions, water-boarding, sexual humiliation, induced hypothermia, hooding, using dogs to threaten and intimidate suspects, and sleep deprivation.

In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, these techniques have been used by U.S. authorities against terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other U.S. prisons to extract information, according to military officials and human rights activists.

Sunday’s vote by the association’s 165-member legislative council took place at the APA’s convention in San Francisco. With 148,000 members, the American Psychological Association is the largest body of psychologists in the world.

Psychologists have overseen past U.S. interrogation of terror suspects, and are currently in Guantanamo Bay working with military authorities, said APA member Bill Strickland, a former U.S. Air Force research director and one of many speakers on Sunday who urged voting against the measure that would have banned participation in those interrogations.

The presence of psychologists at Guantanamo Bay and other military-detention centers helps guarantee the well-being of the terror suspects because it adds a layer of official oversight, said Strickland and Army Col. Larry James, who was the chief military psychologist at the Cuba prison in 2003.

“If we removed psychologists from these facilities, people are going to die,” James told the convention.

Supporters of the failed measure, which called for members not to cooperate with interrogations connected to prescribed practices, argued that psychologists’ presence at these interrogations rubber-stamps various practices that are tantamount to torture.

“We’re talking about places where people being interrogated don’t have human rights!” said Neil Altman, a supporter of the moratorium.

In the large hall at the Marriott Hotel where the vote was taken, the speakers who advocated a ban were greeted with loud applause, as were those who argued in favor of the counter measure that reaffirmed the APA’s stance against torture. But when two separate hand-votes were taken, an overwhelming number of council members rejected the ban and then supported the “reaffirmation” motion.

Steven Reisner, a New York City psychologist, said he would continue his effort to push for an outright ban.

He said the APA’s listing of torture measures it opposes was an important first step, but that “this fight is going to continue as long as it has to.”

“The APA named the abuses that are most widely used at CIA ‘black sites’ to torture detainees, and said they are unacceptable,” said Reisner. “That is the positive thing I see here, and that will help the U.S. government to understand that this is unacceptable.”

Before Sunday, other major health organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association, had previously proclaimed their opposition to various abusive interrogation techniques.

The American Psychological Association had also gone on record stating its vehemence to torture during interrogations, but until Sunday, it hadn’t defined what it considered these techniques to be.

Sunday’s passed resolution includes “an absolute prohibition against psychologists’ knowingly planning, designing, and assisting in the use of torture and any form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

© 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.

Posted in accordance with title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

rebellibrarian August 20th, 2007 12:34 pm
Are there psychologists working to make sure that the soldiers involved in this are processing these horrible things that they’re doing?
The APA needs to be involved at every level…
Sadly, nobody can make anyone listen to them.

Beekeeper August 20th, 2007 12:43 pm
It’s notable that one of the other APAs, the American Psychiatric Association, already forbids members from participating in torture. Clearly at issue is what “participating” means. Is simply observing “participating”? Or does one need to do more? Consider an analogy. If I watch my friend shoot another person, I have a responsibility to report the shooting. My observation brings a concomitant duty, otherwise my observing is a form of participation. Now the American Psychological Association’s stance should emphasize the requirement that any member witnessing torture has a duty to report the torture to a) the APA, b) the appropriate legal officials, and c) the media. Obviously, b has been left out of most torture situations such as those at Guantanamo, an c has been fairly complicit in these operations. Thus, the only party that might do something is the American Psychological Assocation. They have an incredible responsibility that we should hold them to, as b and c have failed us.

simonhhh August 20th, 2007 12:46 pm
This is all very reminiscent of the way mental health and allopathic professionals were duplicitous and complicit in war crimes in Hitler’s Germany….
The majority of the German people were either too afraid to speak up or brainwashed into silent consent….Welcome to BushCo’s fascist state….

shikantaza August 20th, 2007 12:55 pm
The America I hope for does not yet exist…
this just in… broken nuze… the CIA has voted to tell the Psychologists and other apologists to go F themselves…
The memo appears to be signed by the VP…
Seriously, we should let all the psychologists who work with this program a free week at Michael Vicks kennels. Sleeping with the dogs as it were…

normvincent August 20th, 2007 1:14 pm
…I am reminded of the old Sci-Fi Series “Babylon 5Åç. The most feared Bureauocracy then was the “Psy-Corps” headed by a Cosmic Scumbag named Bester. Officially there to help, but in actuality, nefarious Psy-Ops are the Order of the Day. No One is Safe, even in their own Thoughts. Every sort of psychological ‘conditioning’ is used to support the status quo.
I think, this is not Sci-Fi anymore… Shame on these highly educated professionals… Immoral and unethical in the extreme.

jlocke123 August 20th, 2007 1:35 pm
Army Col. Larry James is right. We don’t want America’s prisoners to die, at least not until they have been sentenced to death by their duly appointed secret military tribunal. If the presence of psychologists in military-detention centers can keep them alive until then, their presence is justified. I am certain that those psychologists who designed and participated in the American torture program in Cuba, Iraq and elsewhere will henceforth abstain from practices the American Psychological Association has disavowed. Of course these paragons of ethics, Larry James being just one example haven’t disclosed what techniques they do use but I’m sure they will respect the APA’s list as well as not devise any new techniques. Just because American psychologists participate in a program stripping prisoners of their basic human rights doesn’t mean they might not be able to help the army glean some useful information.

Twister22 August 20th, 2007 1:36 pm
“Educated”.. you mean they were similarly brainwashed. I wish more ‘educated’ people would think for themselves. One reason I hated school so much was because of the realization that the purpose of this environment and instruction was not to learn how to think, but to be a ‘good worker’.
And yes I am sure a good number of these so-called Psychologists are CIA trained in psy ops, of that I have no doubt. They can just self hypnotize themselves into believing whatever they need to to maintain ‘national security’. How else would they get to stay in Gitmo for so long yet never in this many years have witnessed any abuse.. or minimal abuse. It doesn’t make sense or ring true.

saywhat August 20th, 2007 1:45 pm
Can we trust members of the APA in private treatment now that the organization has voted to be a component of military interrogations?
Has this vote improved their credibility as healers of people?

COMarc August 20th, 2007 2:00 pm
The problem is that the psychologists become party of the team conducting interrogations. Their real purpose their is to better tortureinterrogate the prisoners. For instance, there might be a time where the torturers are thinking maybe this guy has reached his limit, and its the psychologist that says …No, he can take more of this.
Or, the psychologist has an inherent conflict of interest because a part of his job there is to identify the prisoners psychological weak spots and direct the interrogators to attack there. But then the same psychologist is supposed to tell them to stop attacking these same weak spots because that’s putting the mental and physical health of the prisoner at risk?
But the key part is that these psychologists are officers in the US military serving as a part of the team doing the interrogations. That’s where their loyalties will lie. The only way the spin the military spin doctor puts on this would be if there was a second psychologist involved who’s sole responsibility was the health of the prisoner and who had the authority to act to stop something that threatened the health of that prisoners. That’s the only way you’d really get the so-called positive effect that the military spin-master is putting out there. And since one of the goals of the interrogation is to convince the prisoner that he’s alone and with no help and that giving his interrogators everything they ask for is the prisoners only hope, the last thing the army is going to do is to put a psychologist in there to advocate for the health of the prisoner.
Face it, no matter the military spin, these are psychologists that are working to break down and destroy the mental health of other human beings. They are there to make the interrogation more effective. To me, that’s just plain wrong if the morals of a profession say that you are supposed to help people. I say anyone doing this work needs to plainly and obviously cross the line into the dark side and be barred from the professional organizations of those who are committed to helping people.

jlocke123 August 20th, 2007 1:35 pm
“Just because American psychologists participate in a program stripping prisoners of their basic human rights doesn’t mean they might not be able to help the army glean some useful information.”
Any potential gain from aiding and abetting “War Crimes” at Gitmo or other nefarious sites of torture will be far outweighed by the loss in America’s international human rights reputation….
A stain on American international kudos for generations….Historians diktat will be severe….

Anita Linker August 20th, 2007 4:28 pm
Damn! Am I ever glad I quit therapy!
I know more that most of these slap-happy headshrinkers any day!

grandma August 20th, 2007 5:00 pm
It’s very simple, really – “First, do no harm.” – Hippocrates.

canuckchuck August 20th, 2007 5:31 pm
sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, except when the burning end is shoved up someones rectum, then it is a penis

Dichterfreund August 20th, 2007 6:01 pm
“The presence of psychologists at Guantanamo Bay and other military-detention centers helps guarantee the well-being of the terror suspects because it adds a layer of official oversight, said Strickland and Army Col. Larry James, who was the chief military psychologist at the Cuba prison in 2003.
“If we removed psychologists from these facilities, people are going to die,” James told the convention.”
Colonel Larry gets the Dr. Mengele Memorial Award.
Sadly, so do all the brutes who voted to keep supporting torture by “monitoring” it.

mrraven500 August 20th, 2007 6:18 pm
Amy Goodman has been tracking this issue closely on Democracy Now. Check out last weeks archives for more info.

ejmurphy414 August 20th, 2007 6:47 pm
My regard for the APA and its standards has just dropped. They are a perfect example of what happens when the myriad arms of government become buddy-buddy with civilian professionals who are in disciplines supposedly devoted to truth and healing individual or societal ills. The civilians lose perspective and can no longer see clearly the line that should separate them from such agencies as the military and the intelligence services. Obviously too many APA members believe they have a positive role to play in interrogations; this view is self-serving, and dilutes clean professional standards.

corvo August 20th, 2007 7:08 pm
Once it renounced shock therapy and other “cures” for homosexuality, the APA had a narrow window of opportunity to make basic human decency a standard of behavior.
Today the APA slammed the window shut.

jcrumb August 20th, 2007 8:37 pm’s one for the listen UP you in the basement of the NSA with your warrentless searches and Self Deluding Hypocrasy…
I is time to begin to SHOW the individuals who COLLUDE with the Corporate Fascist Theocrasy..the REALITY of the behaviours they are allowing, and ‘participating’ in…for example, maybe Mr. Strickland will be..uhh..grabbed off the street outside his home, brought to an abandoned building and given INSIGHT into the REALITY of TORTURE…hmmmm..yes..I think that is ALL THAT IS LEFT.
These HYPER-ARROGANT individuals who so callously participate in the New World Order, with their lame duck excuses, need a wake-up call..and that can ONLY be..DIRECT EXPERIENCE, for as Descarte said..’..experience does NOT err..’ and thus..
Other than actual Rendition and torture of these people these Mini Fascists, these Wannabe Tough guy’s..maybe they should be exposed to their neighbors, and the business that they frequent as the malignat Narcissists that they are..(the most dangerous form of Sociopath..) and simply be..DESCRIMINATED AGAINST…Spit on as it were…it is time..time to find SOME WAY to make these types ACCOUNTABLE for their screwed up belief system..and what better way than a little of THEIR OWN MEDICINE..’OH YOU THINK TORTURE IS OKAY? WELL..WAIT TILL YOU GET A TASTE OF YOUR OWN FECES..CAUSE I AM GOING TO PUT SOME IN YOUR MOUTH UNTIL YOU TALK..’
FOLKS!We are in a New Cold War..but THIS is a Cold CIVIL war…and a method of not allowing those who would COLLUDE WITH IMPUNITY as supporters of the WORST FORM OF BEAURACRATIC FASCISM WE HAVE SEEN IN DECADES is required. Where are the Counter Measures? for everything from invasive cameras, to email searches, and also to the people who are allowing Bushies to get away with it…where are the COUNTER MEASURES? What would happen if 2000 protestors all showed up wearing the SAME UNIFORMS AS THE POLICE? see the point? What would happen if Col.larry and Mr. Strickland were OUTED to the Public, so they could NOT HIDE THEIR EVIL ODOR? As the C.F.T. GAINS A TIGHTER AND TIGHTER STRANGLEHOLD ON AMERICAN CULTURE…I SAY ENOUGH!..GRAB EM UP, TIE EM UP, CUT THEIR EYELIDS OFF AND STUFF THEIR GENITALS IN THEIR MOUTHS…OR AT LEAST JUST SPIT ON THEIR CARS…until they understand what it is that they are ENDORSING..

shakker August 20th, 2007 10:11 pm
Torture is always wrong. The names of each of these people and their vote on torture should be disclosed to all potential clients before any treatment is allowed.
People with problems that could be made worse by psychotic practitioners should be warned.

luckylefty August 20th, 2007 10:28 pm
Little Eichmanns indeed. We are the IVth Reich, complete with constant war, torture chambers, bent shrinks, and killer Drs – all of them as Arrogant as Goebbels or Mengele or Goering or any member of the Waffen SS – chosen by the flat earth blood god Yahweh to RULE PLANET EARTH for a 1000 years. And yes, our guys are even better at breaking the minds of the helpless than our predecessors, they didn’t have shrinks to find the cracks and fissures in a personality. We are become vile Death,cruel Death, ravening Death.
Which means we’re about 10 minutes from total collapse of this Last Aryan Empire.
The perfect storm is actually upon us, the waves of the sunami are lapping at our feet. If you look up you can almost see the top of the wall of water against the sky as it moves towards us with gathering speed. Look around. Take photographs. In less than a decade everything you see around you in your world will be gone.
If it’s any consolation virtually everything you see in your world is owned by Master and is designed to rape your life and hold you as a slave.
Many will reject being freed in this fashion, they have no identity outside of an insulated bubble of artificial light that binds them to Master. Many slaves in history have identified with their Master and have died for Master. Too bad. Those lights are all going out and Master will betray even these loyal ones because that is who Master is.
Sorry, the avalanche has begun, too late for the pebbles to vote.
May we meet in a better place where no Shadows fall.

Here are some comments by a man who stood by Gandhi
Badshah Khan, who led a 100,000 person army of non-violent Pashtuns. He was a Pashtun (Afghan) political and spiritual leader known for his non-violent opposition to British Rule during the final years of the Empire on the Indian sub-continent. He was a lifelong pacifist and a devout Muslim. He was known as Badshah Khan (sometimes written as Bacha Khan), the `King of Chiefs’, and `Frontier Gandhi’.

“To me nonviolence has come to represent a panacea for all the evils that surround my people. Therefore I am devoting all my energies toward the establishment of a society that would be based on its principles of truth and peace.” – Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

“Today’s world is traveling in some strange direction. You see that the world is going toward destruction and violence. And the specialty of violence is to create hatred among people and to create fear. I am a believer in nonviolence and I say that no peace or tranquility will descend upon the people of the world until nonviolence is practiced, because nonviolence is love and it stirs courage in people.” – Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan to an interviewer in 1985

His story is contained in “Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan, A Man To Match His Mountains”, by Eknath Easwaran (Published by Nilgiri Press

Hide Behind August 20th, 2007 11:38 pm
I have only a few comments to those who keep bringing up non violence as a means to change the world and the usage of ghanadi and Khan is one of the prime examples of dumber than rocks red neck thinking of the left.
Britian never left India except in the military sense and the reason they left was economics.
They could make more managing the fiancial side of India than the actual possession of the lands.
Unlike British ruling familys of then compared to the British, Aisan European ruling elites of today who are backed by the worlds most militaristic and powerfull nation in earths history,USA, and at a time in past where Britian once felt it would have to kill tens of thousands and as a nation and a people would not do so; today they and their allies would kill hundreds of millions without a whimper or second thought.
The next context left out of equation is you could search the earth today and find not even a hundred thousand who would keep alking inot the guns thinking they would stop befgore all were dead.

Hide Behind August 21st, 2007 12:06 am
For those of you who hae tgaken Psy classes for more than a tri-mester you know that the field of study poses more as a science than it can prove to be and is one of those subjects that students need quite a bit of ouside study in many other fields, or else it rutns into a mental matrubnation contest between angels with different angels upon how to sit on head of a pin.
There is no morality in the science itself!