Skip to main content

The Swedish Journal of Psychology has covered the role of psychologists, and the American Psychological Association  in Bush administration interrogations. It includes an overview article by the Journal's editor, Eva Brita Järnefors and answered to question posed by her to APA and myself. The APA questions were answered by Rhea Farberman. I also answered a set of questions. With permission, I posted all three articles in English here. My original response was too long and was cut by the editor. I thus posted my original response after my published response. The original of all three articles is available as a pdf here.

As Bob pointed out in the comments, I should have three substantive paragraphs. So, following his lead, here are the first three paragraphs:

   U.S. psychologists have developed brutal interrogation methods that have been used at the U.S. military base at Guantánamo, in prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in secret prisons run by the CIA. The fact that psychologists have also taught these techniques and participated in interrogations of detainees has created deep divisions among the members of the American Psychological Association, APA.

   We have all seen the brutal photographs from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which were widely publicized in April, 2004. Among other things, the pictures showed blindfolded, naked prisoners forced to form human pyramids, while laughing prison guards used dogs to scare them.

   Since then, more information has leaked in the U.S. press concerning abuse and torture in U.S. prisons for suspected terrorists. This information shows that the methods used at Abu Ghraib formed part of a policy that had been sanctioned at the highest political level. U.S. president George W. Bush has declared these prisoners to be "unlawful combatants," as opposed to "lawful combatants," and maintains that they therefore cannot be counted as prisoners of war and thus are not covered by the rules of international law. On December 2, 2002, former U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld signed a document allowing the use of a number of violent methods in connection with interrogations at the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay.

And here is one of questions posed to me and my answer:

How can the psychologists promote ethical interrogations if they do not stay engaged in these activities?

   - Why assume that psychologists have any special role in promoting ethical interrogations?

   -If one truly wants to promote ethical interrogations, transparency is the solution. The Abu Ghraib abuses became public only when photographs appeared. If one truly aimed to reduce abuse, it would only require cameras in every detention center and videotaping of every interrogation, with independent access to the tapes. Instead, the Defense Department reaction after Abu Ghraib was to order all cameras removed from detention centers.

   - Further, we need independent human rights monitors in the detention centers, with full access. The independent monitors need the right to report publicly on abuses they witness. Of course this is "utopian." But this is no more utopian than the fantasy that psychologists have any unique qualities that will lead them, any more than anyone else, to risk their careers and oppose abuse. Psychologists, with all we’ve learned about the powerful effects of settings upon individual behavior, should be the first to recognize this truth.

Originally posted to stephen soldz on Sat Feb 23, 2008 at 03:09 PM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site