American Psychological Association Finally Bans Torture

American Psychological Association Finally Bans Torture August 10, 2015

In very good news, the American Psychological Association has finally banned participation in any kind of torture by its members. This comes after many psychologists helped the CIA develop torture techniques after 9/11, making huge amounts of money in the process.

They call themselves “the dissidents.” Officially, they are the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. In reality, they’re just six psychologists united by a shared moral outrage at their profession’s involvement in torture.

Last month, these tenacious rebels were vindicated by a damning independent report, which concluded that the American Psychological Association (APA) colluded with the Pentagon to allow psychologists to help U.S. military interrogators employing brutal methods on terrorist suspects.

On Friday morning, amid emotional scenes, the APA’s governing Council of Representatives overwhelmingly backed the dissidents’ proposal to ban psychologists from taking part in national security interrogations…

The coalition came together in the wake of the APA’s Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS), which issued the 2005 report that has thrown psychology into crisis. Arrigo was a member, but quickly came to the view that the task force was a sham.

It came up with no firm rules to prohibit psychologists from being involved in interrogations using the harsh methods — including sleep deprivation, isolation, and painful “stress positions” — that were being used at CIA “black sites” and the U.S. military’s detention camp at Guantánamo.

“I was manipulated into the task force and then lied to with the result that I became complicit,” Arrigo told the APA meeting on Wednesday. “Even though I’m an introvert and would rather be reading poetry, I had to take this moral stand.”

And listen to this dishonest, self-serving defense of torture:

Larry James, formerly chief psychologist at Guantánamo, led the opposition, arguing that the ban would put psychologists employed by the federal government in a “dire” position by putting international law above the U.S. Constitution.

“I think we need to slow down and think very carefully,” he told the council.

Absolute nonsense. Torture is illegal under the Constitution as well. We are not only a signatory of the UN Convention Against Torture, we led the campaign to pass it under Reagan. And the Constitution says that treaties are part of the “supreme law of the land.” James is a rather shameless liar.

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  • Jason The Cripple

    Isn’t torture also banned by the 8th amendment? You know, the whole cruel and unusual punishment thing.

    • cassandraoftroy

      I think the argument that has been used in the past to get around that is that so-called “enhanced interrogation” isn’t punishment because it’s not being used as a sentence for a convicted criminal, but rather as a means of extracting information. I’m not sure how much I buy that argument, but since torture is still illegal as a result of other laws, it’s an academic question.

      • unbound55

        Justice Scalia is the one that pushed that interpretation back in 2008. Yes, the same justice that went into childish hysterics over the Obergefell decision.

        It’s sad that we have conservative politicians sitting on the Supreme Court.

        • sugarfrosted

          Conservative politically, not judicially. Judicially he’s not conservative, he’s quite radical.

  • David_C_Brayton

    It took ten years to achieve something that really was a no-brainer. Just think how long it would take them to adopt the Hippocratic oath. Hell, it would take them half a century to figure that Right Twix is better.

    • Artor

      I didn’t scroll down before I made my post. It’s a little creepy that we seem to have the same thought process. You should probably have that looked into.

  • eric

    the ban would put psychologists employed by the federal government in a “dire” position by putting international law above the U.S. Constitution.

    His argument is bogus because adopted treaties are constitutionally part of US law. But even if that wasn’t true, the APA is a private organization and can set whatever standards it wants. They could use the laws of Zimbabwe or the book All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten if they really wanted to.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Someone has not slowed down and is not thinking very carefully.

  • Artor

    Great! It only took the APA… 10 years since that bogus report came out to come to this decision? A decision that should have been a no-brainer from the start?
    While this is indeed good news, I have a hard time seeing it as the very good news Ed describes.

  • Ron Ruggieri

    All the names of the American psychologists and psychiatrists involved in CIA torture should be published on line for the whole world to read. Then these ” professionals ” should be sent for judgment before the World Court.
    American psychology and psychiatry have been completely corrupted by mindless devotion to the capitalist-imperialist social order.
    Publish every single name . We do have our very own Eichmanns ,don’t we ?
    [ ]

  • AliKat

    I was surprised that they hadn’t banned it sooner. The research on torture suggests that it is not useful for getting useful information-people say anything as in they make up crap. For psychologists working with the military there is a more effective method to use. That would be culturally sensitive/empathetic sort of strategy to lure the prisoners of war into trusting them.