Psychologists in Denial About Torture

At a fiery APA town-hall meeting after the vote, Dr. Steven Reisner, one of the leading proponents of a moratorium, asked, “I want to know if passing this resolution prohibits psychologists from being involved in the enhanced interrogation techniques that the president of the United States authorized can take place at CIA black sites.”

Defenders of the APA’s position are clear: Psychologists need to be present at these interrogations to protect the prisoners, to ensure that the interrogators do not go over the line. Critics argue that psychologists are there to help interrogators push the line further and further, to consult with the interrogators on how best to break the prisoners.

Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, a psychologist with Survivors International, a torture survivors group, says there is a loophole: Psychologists cannot participate in harsh interrogations, but they can participate in harsh detention conditions. He said: “You see, they don’t use sleep deprivation while they’re interrogating you, they use it before they interrogate you, as part of the conditions of detention, to soften you up for the interrogation. So the winner today, and I’m sure their lawyers are very happy, is the CIA.”

As the convention began, Anthony Romero of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a letter to the APA, urging a moratorium, warning that psychologists faced legal liability or even prosecution. “We have found troubling evidence of the collusion of medical psychologists in the development and implementation of procedures intended to inflict psychological harm on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other facilities. read full article

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