Posts tagged: torture

Will psychologists be held accountable for participating in torture or cruel and inhumane treatment?

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By , July 10, 2010 3:44 pm

I’ve blogged about the role of psychologists in the torture of detainees a number of times. This past week, there have been some stunning developments as complaints have been filed against two psychologists , Col. Larry James (pdf) and Maj. John Leso that could result in them losing their license as psychologists. And now, the American Psychological Association has issued a statement that it supports the investigation of allegations against James Mitchell. The complaint against Mitchell was filed last month in Texas by Jim  Cox, PhD.  The complaint against Leso was filed by the  Center for Justice & Accountability, and the complaint against James was filed by Harvard University’s International Human Rights Clinic.

In the past, state boards declined to open investigations, but in light of new/additional revelations, they might open up cases.

Certainly the APA cannot investigate or take action against someone who is not a member of the APA. But I am left wondering, yet again, what horrors might have been prevented had the APA taken a firmer stand earlier.

No Place to Hide: Torture, Psychologists, and the APA

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By , June 19, 2009 1:23 pm

Roy Eidelson, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, associate director of the Solomon Asch Center at Bryn Mawr College, president-elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, and associate member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Program in Ethnic Conflict has created this 10-minute video “No Place to Hide: Torture, Psychologists, and the APA.”

The video will take you through a time-line showing the evolution of APA’s policies governing psychologists’ participation in detainee interrogations. It includes documentary footage and direct quotations from international treaties, APA documents including the APA ethics code, U.S. government documents, etc.

If you’ve been meaning to get caught up on this issue or wonder why I keep posting about this issue, this overview will give you a “crash course.”

An un-Nature-al editorial

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By , May 26, 2009 5:16 pm

The latest issue of Nature (21 May 2009) has an editorial called “Responsible Interrogation” on the role of psychologists in interrogations. The editorial is, to put it simply, not worthy of that journal.  Here are some excerpts from the editorial, with my comments:

The most inflammatory issue, now that the [APA Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security]’s work has been thrust back into the limelight, is that six of its members were on the Pentagon’s payroll. This might seem reasonable: guidelines should be informed by people who know what they’re talking about.

To “stack” the list-serv with Pentagon employees gives a disproportionate voice to one small segment of the entire association. Whereas the majority of APA members might not feel that involvement is ethical or acceptable, that majority voice was not proportionally represented on the list-serv. If the American Medical Association created a task force to address ethical concerns about physician participation in pharmaceutical research, would it seem “reasonable” to Nature’s editors that half of that task force be physicians directly employed by pharmaceutical manufacturers?
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