Coalition for an Ethical Psychology: Statement on the APA’s failure to investigate Guantánamo Bay affair

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from ethicalpsychology.org

from the COALITION FOR AN ETHICAL PSYCHOLOGY  www.ethicalpsychology.org

The Ethics Office of the American Psychological Association (APA) has announced that it will not proceed with formal charges against military psychologist Dr. John Leso, despite extensive public documentation that this APA member designed and participated in abusive interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In fact, Susan Crawford, the convening authority on military commissions at Guantanamo appointed by President George W. Bush, refused to refer the case of detainee Mohammed al Qahtani to trial because she concluded his interrogation met the legal definition of torture. Dr. Leso is known to have been a supervisor and participant in that interrogation.

Because Dr. Leso’s documented actions so clearly violated psychological ethics and because this abuse of psychological expertise was undertaken at the behest of governmental authorities, this case represents a landmark test of the independence of psychological ethics and professional standards from governmental and institutional pressures. The APA’s failure to pursue charges against Dr. Leso jeopardizes our profession’s fundamental ethical principles. In this synopsis we review (1) APA’s repeated vow to bring such cases to account; (2) the public record of clearly documented violations by Dr. Leso; (3) APA’s justifications for closing the Leso case without formal charges; and (4) our procedural and ethical assessment of the APA’s resolution of this case.

read the full statement.

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Guantánamo Bay USA extraterritorial prison – call to end force feeding of hunger strikers

 HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO END

FORCE-FEEDING OF GUANTÁNAMO HUNGER STRIKERS

On August 12th, over 400 health care professionals and human rights leaders sent an urgent appeal to President Obama to order Guantánamo detention camp officials to stop force-feeding hunger strikers, immediately release the detainees approved for release, and make closing Guantánamo his first priority. Now in its seventh month, the hunger strike included 106 detainees at its peak, with as many as 46 of them force-fed.

The letter states that force-feeding mentally competent adults is a violation of medical and nursing ethics, and emphasizes that the method of force feeding in Guantánamo is “exceptionally brutal.” In describing the procedure in which the detainee is forcefully extracted from the cell by several soldiers and strapped into a restraint chair for up to two hours, the letter also notes that “Men weakened by significant weight loss are particularly at risk for serious injury during this regimen.”

Sponsored by Psychologists for Social Responsibility and signed by ten additional organizations, including the Center for Constitutional Rights and Physicians for Human Rights, the letter focuses on the ethical and professional dilemmas of Guantánamo health personnel who force-feed the detainees: 

“Health care professionals, including those in the military, must maintain their licenses in good standing, and to do so they must follow standards of good ethical practice. This is not what is happening during the hunger strike.”

Because information is classified at Guantánamo, doctors, nurses and psychologists cannot honor their ethical obligations to confer with independent experts in such dilemmas, and are “constrained from securing the support of their professional colleagues if they experience reprisals for registering a complaint or refusing to participate further.”

The signers urge President Obama to “act immediately before more prisoners die” and argue that as Commander-in-Chief he has the power to immediately stop the force-feeding, release the detainees approved for release, and make closing Guantánamo his top priority.

The full text of the letter with the list of all signers is available online at www.psysr.org/GTMO-Letter.

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APA Fiddles While Psychology Burns | Psychology Today

Hawaiian Mind Games: APA Fiddles While Psychology Burns | Psychology Today.

Here is an article by Eidelson and Soldz about the American (sic) Psychological Association’s continued collusion in abusive practices at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp in an occupied corner of Cuba.  Ironically enough the Polynesian Hawaiian islands were colonised by the USA in the 19th Century.  Here is a section of this excellent article:-

“As has been reported many times over the past decade, psychologists designed, implemented, supervised, researched, and provided ethical cover for abuses committed by the CIA and U.S. military. As a result, the APA has faced repeated calls to take action to prevent future abuses by members of the profession. But rather than engaging in a careful evaluation and reconsideration of the ethics of psychologists’ involvement in national security settings, the Association’s leaders have instead responded, over and over again, with little more than empty talk and feeble resolutions devoid of any real significance. And true to form, last week the APA successfully enacted one of the most vacuous of these recurring exercises.”
read more:  web version or  pdf version

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Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres | World news | The Guardian

Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres | World news | The Guardian.
Why is this relevant to libpsy.org?   Because the torture and counter-insurgency methods developed by the USA in Vietnam and perfected in Central America were later exported to Iraq and Guantanamo.  This investigation traces some of the lineage.  For psychology there have been at least three developments from this.
1)  The Central American context of conflict, counter-insurgency, torture and impunity led to Martín-Baró’s proposals on liberation psychology, and of course his own death was the result of this terror complex.
2)  The development of work on the recovery of historical memory, social-psychotherapeutic approaches, use of testimonies,  commemoration, etc. in various locations in Latin America also has its roots in this nexus.  These ideas are also of interest in other locations such as Turkey with its own legacy of State terror.
3)  The “APA controversy” on the involvement of organised psychology and military psychologists in interrogation and torture again comes from this latest phase of the US use of organised terror.
Congratulations to the Guardian and BBC Arabic service for this investigation.

Of related interest, see this article by Victoria Brittain:  Shadow Lives
How the War on Terror in England Became a War on Women and Children

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Psychologists’ Collusion in Ongoing Illegal Detentions

“Today, there are clear indications that psychologists continue to be involved in the detention and interrogation of detainees at Parwan/Bagram. Such activities stand in direct contravention of APA policy based on a 2008 petition resolution. Approved through a member-led referendum, this resolution prohibits psychologists from working in settings where “persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights” (or if they are providing treatment for military personnel).”

Read the full article on Counterpunch. by TRUDY BOND, ROY EIDELSON, BRAD OLSON AND STEPHEN SOLDZ  10/01/2012

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