Science Journal Nature Publishes Irresponsible Editorial Entitled "Responsible Interrogation." PEAPA Members Respond with Letter-Writing Campaign
The English journal of science, Nature, recently published an editorial entitled "Responsible Interrogation." Among other things, the editorial sought to play down the significance of the extensive military and interrogation involvements of the majority of PENS Task Force members, and it carefully omitted any mention of the September, 2008 APA Referendum banning members' participation in chains of command in extralegal U.S. prisons such as Guantanamo Bay. The net result was a profoundly misleading document that utterly misrepresents current APA policy regarding its members' participation in such settings.
Kim Mills, the APA's Associate Executive Director for Public and Member Communications, noted that "APA staff worked with one of the editors to provide detailed history and background, which led to what we think is a fair and balanced piece." Indeed!
Members of Psychologists for an Ethical APA (PEAPA) promptly mobilized, writing nine letters to the editor of Nature, which included, along with scathing criticism of the editorial itself and its misrepresentation of APA's policy, demands for a retraction of the editorial and an accompanying clarification of APA's current policy which bars its members from working within the military chain of command in such sites.
PEAPA encourages all interested persons, psychologists or not, to write their own letters to the editor of nature, or to send an email voicing your displeasure over this deliberate misrepresentation of APA policy to Kim Mills.
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, Issues Call to the APA to Abide by its Own Policies and Remove All Psychologists from Military Detention Centers that Operate "Outside of or in Violation of International Law."
On August 7, as the American Psychological Association's annual convention was getting underway in Toronto, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, drafted a letter to APA President James Bray, calling on Dr. Bray to abide by the Referendum and remove member psychologists from U.S. military detention facilities that operate "outside of or in violation of international law." In his letter, Nowak refers to "the now public record of psychologists' involvement in the design, supervision, implementation, and legitimization of a regime of physical and psychological torture at US military and intelligence facilities," notes that these sites continue to operate in violation of international law, and calls on the APA to invoke the Referendum, to ensure it is complied with, and also to remove the "Nuremberg Defense" contained in the APA's Ethics Code Standard 1.02. He ends his letter with this powerful admonition: "Every day that you delay invoking the referendum is another day where psychologists are, by their presence and participation in these operations, acquiescing in human rights violations."
A Formal Complaint was sent to President Bray yesterday by Frank Summers along with three other signers, Roy Eidelson, Ryan Hunt, and Mary Pelton-Cooper. The Complaint was the result of work and research by the Complaint Working Group, which studied the APA Bylaws and Rules and found a way to lodge a legal, official complaint about the PENS policy and process that has teeth. Association Rule 90-1 require the APA President to appoint a blue ribbon, three-psychologist Committee on Constitutional Issues (CCI) to adjudicate the Complaint and make recommendations to the Council. The signers of the Complaint must approve all members that the President appoints to the CCI. The Formal Complaint contains 20 specific allegations about how the Board, Ethics Office/Committee, and APA officials violated APA rules for making a new policy, and fought efforts to reverse it against overwhelming evidence that it was a disaster. Documentation with original sources is presented to back the allegations and witnesses have offered to provide further information about irregularities in the PENS process. For redress, the Complaint demands nullification of the PENS decision, full implementation of the Referendum, and an investigation into the role of the Board, Ethics and Public Affairs Office, Practice and Science Directorates, and Senior Staff of the APA in making and sustaining this reprehensible policy.
The signers are members of the APA who will remain members and follow through on the stages of the Complaint process. Besides its signers, Frank, Mary, Ryan and Roy, the Complaint Working Group included Dan Aalbers, Martha Davis, Sharon Gadberry, Brad Olson, Jay Pozner, Jack Stewart, and Bryant Welch. We thank them all for their contributions and hard work.
Four APA Members Have Issued a Formal Complaint to APA President James Bray, Calling on him to Appoint a Committee to Investigate Procedural Irregularities Surrounding the PENS Policy, Ethics Code Statement 1.02, and APA Support for Interrogation Efforts Generally
Psychologists for an Ethical APA (PEAPA) Initiates Movement for Mass Resignation of APA Members, Along With a Formal Petition Site to Collect Signatures of Those Resigning, For Delivery to APA CEO Norman Anderson
On November 9, PEAPA members initiated a movement to coordinate a mass resignation from the American Psychological Association (APA) on the part of APA members who are concerned about APA's actions and policies regarding psychologists' participation in interrogations and detention in extra-legal War on Terror prisons, as well as about APA's unresponsiveness to widespread member efforts to change these policies. PEAPA encourages concerned members to read, sign, and circulate the petition, either by emailing it to friends and colleagues or by circulating this pdf-format letter regarding the petition to help spread the word further, and we thank all who participate for your efforts in this regard. In addition to signing the petition, we encourage concerned members to write a letter to APA CEO Norman Anderson articulating their reasons for resigning, and thus formalizing their resignations.
"Doctors Without Morals:" In their Recent NYT Op-Ed, Leonard Rubenstein and Stephen Xenakis Make the Case for Investigating Doctors and Psychologists Involved in Torture
In their Feb. 28 New York Times Op-Ed "Doctors Without Morals," Leonard Rubenstein and Stephen Xenakis suggest that the release of the DOJ's long-awaited "OPR Report" offers a suitable occasion for launching investigations of health professionals thought to be complicit in U.S. torture. After all, in contrast to the government lawyers (whom many felt got off far too easy in the OPR Report), Rubenstein and Xenakis observe that "government doctors and psychologists who participated in and authorized the torture of detainees have escaped discipline, accountability or even internal investigation." However, they note, this need not remain the case: "It is not too late to begin investigations. They should start now."
Rubenstein and Xenakis point to a significant and growing body of evidence to back up the need for such investigations—they specifically mention the "torture memos," the al-Qahtani interrogation log, Guantanamo Bay's Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedure documents, and the CIA Inspector General's Report. Sadly, despite the ever-mounting evidence, as of February 2010, Rubenstein and Xenakis report that "no agency — not the Pentagon, the C.I.A., state licensing boards or professional medical societies — has initiated any action to investigate, much less discipline, these individuals." Let us hope the same cannot be said a year from now.
New Report from Physicians for Human Rights, "Experiments in Torture," Alleges Health Professional Involvement in Human Experimentation as Part of CIA's Torture Program
In addition, several days after these complaints were made public, APA President Carol Goodheart herself announced her support for the revocation of psychologist James Mitchell's license in the state of Texas for his involvement in the development and implementation of the CIA's torture interrogation program. This statement by the APA was also covered in the Washington Post and Huffington Post, the latter of which quotes APA representative Rhea Farberman as stating that "the allegations put forward in the complaint and those that are on the public record about Dr. Mitchell are simply so serious, and if true, such a gross violation of his professional ethics, that we felt it necessary to act."
Most recently, the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology issued a letter to APA President Goodheart, along with an accompanying press release. In their letter, they encourage Goodheart and the APA to back the investigations of Leso and James, as well as Mitchell, and they also call for investigation of a fourth case of complicity in torture: "That is the case of the American Psychological Association itself and its own complicity in supporting and empowering Mitchell, James, Leso and other psychologists to develop, research, supervise and/or implement such terrible methods with impunity." As the APA holds its annual convention in San Diego, it is time for its members to support all four of these investigations!