Psychologists Say Nay to Torture

From the Washington Post:

APA Rules on Interrogation Abuse

The American Psychological Association ruled Sunday that psychologists can no longer be associated with several interrogation techniques that have been used against terrorism detainees at U.S. facilities because the methods are immoral, psychologically damaging and counterproductive in eliciting useful information.

Psychologists who witness interrogators using mock executions, simulated drowning, sexual and religious humiliation, stress positions or sleep deprivation are required to intervene to stop such abuse, to report the activities to superiors and to report the involvement of any other psychologists in such activities to the association. It could then strip those professionals of their membership.

The move by the APA, the nation’s largest association of behavioral experts, is a rebuke of the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policies. Many of the techniques deemed unacceptable have been widely reported to be used at military facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as in Iraq and at various CIA detention centers.

But it also has practical effects. Psychologists who have their membership revoked can lose their license, since many state licensing boards require psychologists to be in good standing with the national association.

Also ruled out of bounds are the exploitation of prisoners’ phobias, the use of mind-altering drugs, hooding, forced nakedness, the use of dogs to frighten detainees, exposing prisoners to extreme heat and cold, physical assault and threatening the use of such techniques against a prisoner or a prisoner’s family.

Several psychologists declared that these methods are not only physically and psychologically damaging to both inmates and captors but also counterproductive for obtaining useful intelligence. Data from several wars and from a range of criminal justice settings show that once prisoners start to fear for their lives and safety, they start trying to guess what their captors want to hear, and the resulting bad information is often worse than having no information at all, several psychologists said. [full text]

One thought on “Psychologists Say Nay to Torture

  1. It’s not as if torture hasn’t been tried, and proved to make people say whatever their interrogators want to hear, and been rejected as immoral or uncivilized, over and over. Someone was hung-over in history class.

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