By Benjamin Greenberg (Thursday, May 7, 2009)
ProPublica and Salon.com have posted online emails from the list-serve of the 2005 APA ethics task force on national security interrogations (PDF). The internal APA documents indicate that the APA developed its ethics policy to conform with Pentagon guidelines governing psychologist participation in interrogations.
Physicians for Human Rights is calling for an independent, outside investigation of the American Psychological Association (APA). PHR also calls on the Pentagon’s Inspector General to investigate whether any federal employees exerted influence over the APA’s Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS).
Steven Reisner, PhD, PHR’s Advisor for Psychologogical Ethics said:
These serious allegations require an independent investigation to determine whether APA leadership engaged in unethical conduct. The American public deserves to know if there were inappropriate contacts or conflicts of interest between APA officials and the Pentagon. In 2005 PHR first called for the APA’s ethics policy on interrogations to be rescinded. Now is the time for the APA to replace those flawed guidelines with standards that put a psychologist’s ethical obligations to human rights principles ahead of following orders.
PHR has long been critical of the APA’s PENS policy on psychologist involvement in interrogations. There needs to be, instead, a “bright line” prohibition against health professional participation in interrogations.
Following the Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainee abuse by the Department of Defense, we have confirmation that psychologists rationalized, designed, supervised and implemented the Bush Administration’s torture program. Nathaniel Raymond, Director of PHR’s Campaign Against Torture, said:
The Senate Armed Services Committee report confirms that psychologists were central to the Bush Administration’s use of torture. In the context of these revelations, the American public needs to know why a supposedly independent ethics policy was written by some of the very personnel allegedly implicated in detainee abuse.
- PHR Calls for Investigation of American Psychological Association’s Ties to Pentagon
- APA internal PENS list-serve documents (PDF; hosted by ProPublica)