[Ppnews] The American Psychological Association Meets Dr. Mengele

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 23 13:32:42 EDT 2006


http://www.counterpunch.org/bond08232006.html

August 23, 2006


The American Psychological Association Meets Dr. Mengele


APA Confab Whitewashes Torture by Shrinks

By Dr. TRUDY BOND

Even as the unindicted war criminal Donald Rumsfeld persists in the 
totally-discredited fiction that the U.S. military doesn't torture, 
the American Psychological Association (APA) provides cover for its 
uniformed professionals to continue to devise torture plans for 
inmates at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and perhaps other secret prisons of 
the far-flung American empire. Mimicking the Pentagon lie model, the 
APA recently uttered a gratuitous self-serving pronouncement that 
participation in torture by its psychologist members is forbidden, 
while at the same time failing to modify its more permissive Code of 
Ethics to reflect such high piety.

The APA Council passed an updated 
<http://www.apa.org/convention06/notortureres.html>Resolution on 
Torture at their recent annual convention. In the press release from 
<http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=49459&nfid=rssfeeds>APA, 
the Resolution reaffirmed

"the organization's absolute opposition to all forms of torture and 
abuse, regardless of the circumstance. . . The Association 
unequivocally condemns any involvement by psychologists in torture or 
other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 
This APA policy applies to all psychologists in all settings. The 
resolution, approved on August 9, 2006, further underscored the duty 
of all psychologists to intervene to stop acts of torture or abuse as 
well as the ethical obligation of all psychologists to report such 
behavior to appropriate authorities."

"'Our intention is to empower and encourage members to do everything 
they can to prevent violations of basic human rights -- at Guantanamo 
Bay or anywhere else they may occur," said Gerald P. Koocher, PhD, 
President of the American Psychological Association. 'It is not 
enough for us to express outrage or to codify acceptable practices. 
As psychologists, we must use every means at our disposal to prevent 
abuse and other forms of cruel or degrading treatment.'"

Such is the basis of all the press releases coming from the 
convention. A good sound byte, a sweet-smelling smoke screen, or in 
military parlance, a great psyops.

Mark Benjamin had written a 2-part trailer in Salon of what was to 
occur at the APA convention when psychologists across the country 
rose en masse to protest the role of psychologists in the torture 
process in our current military, which has been given the green light 
by Rumsfeld, Bush and Gonzales to ignore the Geneva Convention.

The mutiny never occurred. We won't know whether it was due to the 
fact that Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the Army's surgeon general, was 
present at the Council's meeting to discourage antitorture sentiment, 
or the fact that the Resolution simply served to appease the APA 
members who didn't understand the reality of what was occurring. It 
is apparent, however, that the highly-touted "Resolution on Torture" 
is worthless in the face of the equivocal APA Ethical Code.

In his article in the July/August 2006 volume of the 
<http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug06/interrogations.html>Monitor on 
Psychology, Stephen Behnke, JD, PhD and director of APA's Ethics 
Office, stated "APA derives its position from Principle A, "Do No 
Harm," in the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct 
(2002), and from Principle B, which addresses psychologists' 
responsibilities to society. By virtue of Principle A, psychologists 
do no harm; by virtue of Principle B, psychologists use their 
expertise in, and understanding of, human behavior to aid in the 
prevention of harm."

Dr. Behnke also referred to the report, 
"<http://www.apa.org/releases/PENSTaskForceReportFinal.pdf>REPORT OF 
THE PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE ON PSYCHOLOGICAL ETHICS AND NATIONAL 
SECURITY," which delineates the role of psychologists in the 
military. The PENS report served as justification for the role of 
psychologists in torture:

"Principle B of the Ethics Code, Fidelity and Responsibility, states 
that psychologists 'are aware of their professional and scientific 
responsibilities to society.' Psychologists have a valuable and 
ethical role to assist in protecting our nation, other nations, and 
innocent civilians from harm, which will at times entail gathering 
information that can be used in our nation's and other nations' 
defense . . . The Task Force looked to the APA Ethics Code for 
fundamental principles to guide its thinking. The Task Force found 
such principles in numerous aspects of the Ethics Code, such as the 
Preamble, 'Psychologists respect and protect civil and human rights' 
and '[The Ethics Code] has as its goals the welfare and protection of 
the individuals and groups with whom psychologists work'; Principle 
A, Beneficence and Nonmaleficence, 'In their professional actions, 
psychologists seek to safeguard the welfare and rights of those with 
whom they interact professionally and other affected persons'; . . .

The Task Force concluded that the Ethics Code is fundamentally sound 
in addressing the ethical dilemmas that arise in the context of 
national security-related work."

And thus the psychologists have endorsed the Orwellian groupthink 
process, that by repeating the mantra that Pentagon psychologists 
don't torture but are busily safeguarding the nation's defense, they 
can believe that psychologists are not aiding torture. Perhaps 
Orwell's survivors should sue APA for copyright infringement.

To verify the reality that the recent Resolution on Torture did not 
supersede the Code of Ethics, or in other words the reality that 
psychologists were fully empowered by APA to participate in any form 
of torture as long as they believed it was in the realm of national 
defense, I wrote to Dr. Behnke requesting a clarification. In 
response to my question, "Did the new resolution passed by APA at the 
convention erase Principle B as referred to in your article in the 
Monitor, which addresses psychologists' responsibilities to 
society?", Dr. Behnke cheerfully responded, "Hi Dr. Bond, Not at 
all--this Resolution was intended to update the 1986 Resolution 
Against Torture. Have you had a chance to read it? APA's press 
release can be found at: 
<http://www.apa.org/releases/notorture.html>http://www.apa.org/releases/notorture.html."

To rub more salt in the wounds of the tortured prisoners, on the last 
morning of the conference, APA Council of Representatives voted to 
suspend all rules and regulations in order to commend military 
psychologists for their many significant contributions and 
sacrifices, and to direct Dr. Koocher to convey thanks and support in 
an individual letter to each. Apart from the tragic irony in this 
action, it is quite clear that APA knows the names and locations of 
those psychologists specifically involved in torture.

Perhaps a letter of commendation is not enough. I propose that APA 
create the "Mengele Award" for those psychologists who have 
sacrificed so much to protect their nation in the "war on terror" by 
assisting in torture for prisoners of Guantanamo, Bagram and Abu 
Ghraib. Even though Dr. Mengele was not a psychologist, he made 
valuable contributions to the science of torture which no doubt has 
been inspiration to some of our own APA members. As psychiatrists 
have refused to participate in torturing others in any form including 
devising torture, there won't be much competition.

Dr. Trudy Bond is a psychologist in Toledo, Ohio. She has been a 
member of APA for 28 years though soon to resign in protest (if not 
kicked out first). She can be reached at 
<mailto:armordilo at aol.com>armordilo at aol.com


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