Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: American Psychological Association removes psychologists from CIA interrogations

The American Psychological Association recently voted to ban psychologists from participating in national security interrogations, also referred to as enhanced interrogations, which are more commonly known as torture.

This is a departure from their previous policies, and I am incredibly happy to hear this news.

However, this news also means there was some involvement of psychologists in Bush-sponsored torture practices that were spurred on after the attacks on 9/11 and widespread panic about the word “terror.”

The Bush administration and the CIA hired two psychologists, Dr. James Mitchell and Dr. Bruce Jessen, to help design “enhanced interrogation” techniques in an attempt to garner information from detainees.

A number of other psychologists have been, and continue to be, used in CIA black sites and Guantanamo Bay, despite petitions to remove said psychologists.

During the administration, the CIA colluded with a number of the APA’s administrators to reword their ethics code and pass resolutions to the effect of allowing psychologists to participate in these interrogations.

If you’ve got the muscle, why not twist a few arms to get what you want?
Journalist James Risen obtained emails that proved the APA willingly bent to the CIA’s influence and has covered it up since then.

At first, the APA denied these allegations The organization releasing a response on their website after Risen published his book “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” critiquing it for “innuendo and one-sided reporting.”

An independent report was then ordered by the APA to determine the validity of this claim, which confirmed Risen’s findings.

Unfortunately, these practices were either accepted by a number of the top-ranking members of the APA or dismissed as impossible by the vast majority of its other members.

I feel the unwillingness to discuss the issue by most psychologists is on equal ethical ground with those who colluded with the CIA to change policies.

I am not any sort of science major — that said, the purpose of science is to discover the truth about the world around and, in psychology’s case, within us.

While we regularly make use of the applications of these discoveries, using the fruits of research in order to harm others is a perversion of this principle, as it has and can lead only to the obfuscation of the truth.

Furthermore, there have been numerous psychological studies proving torture does not yield intelligence, as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s torture program confirmed.

Why keep something in place we know harms others, doesn’t work and is demoralizing people of the psychology field?

Even though my uncle would say we need torture to get information out of the most stubborn terrorists, I cannot condone forcing some of our citizens to become as hateful and abusive as our enemies.

mccinkos@indiana.edu

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