The American Psychological Association has a new PR firm, apparently. Rather than change the policies that provided cover for psychologists aiding torture, they have changed the term they use on their web site. Their policy of keeping psychologists involved in abusive interrogations is now filed under Detainee Welfare! See their:
The Timeline conveniently leaves out some of the most embarrassing moments in APA’s history [pdf] of apparent collusion with the military/intelligence establishment in support of our government’s torture program. For example, they leave out the February 2006 Presidential Column: Speaking Against Torture, with its never-to-be-forgotten lines:
A number of opportunistic commentators masquerading as scholars have continued to report on alleged abuses by mental health professionals. However, when solicited in person to provide APA with names and circumstances in support of such claims, no data have been forthcoming from these same critics and no APA members have been linked to unprofessional behaviors. The traditional journalistic dictum of reporting who, what, where and when seems notably absent.
Also left out is the 2007 statement by the Association’s Division of Military Psychology attacking the proposal for a Moratorium on psychologists’ participation in interrogations at Guantanamo and the CIA’s black sites, based as they claim on
the absence of any evidence substantiating instances of abuse or mistreatment of detainees by psychologists at these facilities.
This was years after it became clear that psychologists were helping design the abusive techniques used in the detention facilities. Despite the extensive public evidence, the Military Psychology Division bravely claimed:
Nor would detainees likely be well served by a moratorium. The ethical and clinical training of psychologists make them more likely to be protective of the detainees’ interests than those who have not had such training.
Also left out of the APA’s Timeline are various omissions and failures to respond, including:
APA leaders failure to respond adequately to reports that psychologists James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen designed and implemented the CIA’s “enhanced interrogations” torture program;
Their failure to respond to teports that a prominent APA member [who served on its Council of Representatives and is now a Division President] served as Chief Psychologist for the Joint Intelligence Group at Guantanamo when policies mandated a month of isolation for all new detainees to increase their dependence on interrogators;
Their failure to respond to the report that a former APA President was a Board member of the CIA torture firm, Mitchell Jessen and Associates; recent reports that this former Association President had long-time CIA connections;
The APA Ethics Director’s claim that one report that a psychologist stopped one interrogation and called a doctor to treat the abused demonstrated that the APA’s “policy of engagement” was effective;
The APA’s failure to discipline any of its members who reportedly participated in torture and abuse, despite repeated claims that they “stand ready to adjudicate” any such claims; reports that one of the APA’s ethics policy-makers on its 2005 ethics task force endorsed SERE-based torture in an NPR interview and went on to reveal APA-military collusion in setting up the task force.
Finally, the APA failed to respond to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s report that another member of this “ethics” task force trained Guantanamo behavioral scientists and interrogators in SERE-based torture techniques.But Timelines created by PR firms are generally designed to disguise the truth, not to reveal it.
Of course, changing the APA’s policies and taking responsibility for their years of protecting the government’s program of torture and abusive interrogations and detentions is harder than changing the web page title. And it would require taking a chance of upsetting the APA leadership’s pals in the military/intelligence establishment. better to hire a new PR firm.
July 7th, 2009