August 22nd, 2008
As if the stakes in the APA Referendum were not clear, the Defense Department has issued a statement opposing it. The statement recycles all the falsehoods being circulated against the Referendum. The Press Release shows how afraid the DoD and the Bush administration are of psychologists voting to stop participating in the administration’s program of torture and abuse.
The Statement makes clear why the Referendum is desperately needed:
Humane treatment and ensuring detainees are not subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is required in accordance with U.S. law.
Behavioral science consultants do NOT support interrogations that aren’t in accordance with applicable law.
Exactly! The US program of torture and abuse is perfectly legal, according to this administration’s redefinition of legality. Military psychologists can safely follow “applicable law” as they participate in abuse. The only solution is to pull them from these abusive sites, which is exactly what the Referendum does.
APA members are now faced with a stark choice: They can vote for ethics and change, or they can vote to support the APA leadership, the Defense Department, the Bush administration, and the US torture program.
As the old union song says:
“They say in Harlan County, there are no neutrals there.
You’re either with the union or a scab for J.H. Blair [the police chief and chief strikebreaker].
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?”
Each APA member must decide for him or herself: “Which side are you on? Are you with the torturers or with those resisting the torture regime?”
The Statement raises an additional concern, however. If the Defense Department and the Bush administration, which exert enormous influence over the APA and its leadership, are this afraid of the Referendum passing, how can we trust the vote counting processes? APA/DoD have shown themselves willing to utilize every trick to get their way keeping psychologists in Bush administration interrogations and detention facilities. A little vote manipulation is surely not unimaginable. We need independent monitoring of the voting, both on the Referendum and this fall’s APA Presidential campaign. Nothing less can assure a fair and transparent vote.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Department of Defense Statement on 2008 APA Petition Resolution Ballot
Some members of the American Psychological Association (APA) are circulating a “Petition Resolution Ballot” with the proposed intent of prohibiting psychologists from playing a role in aspects of interrogation where conditions of human rights can be brought into question. Such settings might include jails, prisons, psychiatric hospitals/emergency rooms, and forensic units. This document provides a statement and talking points that address this matter from the Department of Defense (DoD) perspective.
It is DoD policy that inhumane, cruel or degrading treatment are not permitted. DoD is charged with protecting and safeguarding the detainee population and policy directs specific standards and procedures for protecting detainee integrity in the delivery of any medical program support. Behavioral Science Consultant Team (BSCT) personnel, who provide forensic consultation in support of the intelligence gathering mission, are present to observe but are not permitted to engage in clinical practice at any time while they are assigned to the BSCT. Nor are they able to access or review the medical or mental health treatment records of the detainees. If they observe practices that represent a violation of human rights, they are obligated to report it.
* Humane treatment and ensuring detainees are not subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is required in accordance with U.S. law.
* Behavioral science consultants do NOT support interrogations that aren’t in accordance with applicable law.
* Behavioral science consultants may advise the responsible authorities on deciding the release or continued detention of a detainee based on professional assessment of a detainee’s potential to engage in terrorist, illegal or similar activities against the U.S.
* Among the requirements of DoD Directive 2310.08E on Medical Program Support For Detainee Operations:
- Protects vulnerable populations and sets explicit requirements for upholding principles of ethical, moral and legal practice of practitioners working in these settings.
- Directs upholding humane treatment in accordance with U.S. law, and ensure detainees are not subjected to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, or punishment.
- Defines as a duty and responsibility the protection of physical and mental health and the provision of appropriate treatment of disease.
- Health care personnel, whether or not in provider-patient relationship must apply knowledge and skills only in accordance with applicable law or applicable DoD standards.
- Health care personnel may not certify fitness for any form of treatment or punishment not in accordance with applicable law, nor participate in any way in administration of any such treatment or punishment.
- Defines the purpose of the practice and provision of healthcare for detainees as being solely to evaluate, protect or improve the physical and mental health of the persons being detained.
- Ensures training for all health personnel deployed in support of or whose duties might involve detainee operations.
- Sets forth rules that healthcare providers must adhere to, upholding standards of practice, consent for treatment, and suspected violation reporting requirements.
- Provides an explicit distinction between the practice of psychology in working directly with the detainees for the provision of healthcare and other detainee consultant or assessment activities.
- Establishes specific behavioral expectations and scope of practice for behavioral science consultants.
* APA members can perform ethically in less than ideal conditions and in a variety of roles which may not include clinical duties. APA policies and resolutions have consistently, over a long period of time, made clear that inhumane treatment is unethical and always prohibited.
* The APA has previously passed resolutions barring psychologists from participating in cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Even if approved, this petition would not result in a direct effect on ethics standards.
* Currently established APA ethical standards do prohibit dual relationships; that means a clinician cannot have two different types of relationships with a person. One cannot provide clinical care to an individual while having another, different relationship. These standards were considered in establishing DoD policy on roles and responsibilities of psychologists in BSCTs.