Tag Archives: torture

Is the APA Altering Its Past?

According to a blog post by psychologist and anti-torture activist Jeff Kaye, the APA may have been altering and deleting articles from on-line versions of its own publications that documented its participation in torture workshops co-mounted with the CIA and the Rand Corporation.

Kaye cites articles from the APA’s Science Policy Insider News website and from APA’s Spin that have been previously cited in major publications such as Vanity Fair, but whose URL’s now only bring up a “page is not available” message. He says that the originals can now be found only through “a web archive search engine.”

Kaye concedes that  “the scrubbing of the page describing truth drugs and sensory overload could be attributed to some normal archiving decision, or the victim of a web do-over” but insists that “the excision of the text and link to the site on the referring page cannot be an accident.” (Indeed, the APA launched a major overhaul of its web site in the past year.) Kaye continues:

APA has a history of bad faith on such issues. Recently, they rewrote a problematic section of their ethical code, dubbed the Nuremberg loophole by some, which allowed psychologists to violate their ethical rules if done to comply with “law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.”

Kaye’s blog item item has been picked up by the website of Harper’s magazine.

(Thanks to Ron Sheese for alerting me to this.)

APA: Ludy Benjamin resigns over AHAP, torture

Ludy Benjamin Jr.Breaking news: Ludy Benjamin Jr. has resigned from the American Psychological Association.

In addition to his well-known and long-standing scholarly involvement in the Society for the History of Psychology, for which he was recognized as a Fellow in 1981, he has also shaped the last quarter-century of several APA divisions: Teaching (Division 2), for which he was recognized as a Fellow in 1982; General Psychology (Div. 1) and Psychology of Women (Div. 35) in 1990; and Experimental Psychology (Div. 3) in 1997. 

His presence will surely be missed.

But the reasons for his resignation run deeper than the recent cuts made to the Archives of the History of American Psychology. In a note sent to the listserv of the Society for the History of Psychology, he explained:

I began thinking about resigning when APA Council began passing resolutions on the involvement of psychologists in torture and interrogations that were opposite to positions taken by other national associations in health care and public welfare. But I stayed in because of the AHAP funding issues. As I indicated in my resignation letter to James Bray, I was not resigning because APA cut funds to the Archives. But I was resigning because the process was, in my opinion, one of subterfuge from the initiation of the cuts in Central Office through what I perceived as the rigged debate on the floor of Council in Toronto.

He will also return his Presidential Citation, awarded for his many contributions to the Association.

I have been a student affiliate member since my senior year in college and a member since 1971. I have been to every APA convention since 1974. In the nearly 40 years of my membership I have held many offices in APA on boards and committees and APA Council, as well as spending two years in APA Central Office as Director of the Office of Educational Affairs. APA has given me much and I have worked hard for the Association in return.

Yet, even as he resigns from the APA, he won’t be leaving History.

Resigning was not an easy decision for me. It is something that until recently I never imagined that I would do. APA has meant much to me and it pains me to leave the Association in this way. However, I feel that my own values do not mesh well with those of the Association’s leadership. I will continue to support the Society for the History of Psychology and maintain my membership there.

To join the Society for the History of Psychology, without first joining the American Psychological Association, find information here.  For information about how to support the Archives of the History of American Psychology (both financially and in terms of donating historical materials), look here.

APA “Regrets” Torture

The Board of Directors of the the American Psychological Association today issued the following letter regarding the participaton of psychologists in torture over the past several years.

June 18, 2009

An Open Letter from the Board of Directors

Dear Colleague,

As a psychologist and member of the American Psychological Association (APA), you no doubt share our serious concerns about reports regarding the involvement of psychologists in torture and abusive interrogations as part of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” We recognize that the issue of psychologist involvement in national security-related investigations has been an extremely difficult and divisive one for our association. We also understand that some of our members continue to be disappointed and others angered by the association’s actions in this regard. Although APA has had a longstanding policy against psychologist involvement in torture, many members wanted the association to take a strong stand against any involvement of psychologists in national security interrogations during the Bush administration. Continue reading APA “Regrets” Torture

Ongoing Debate About APA & Torture

Even though the membership of the American Psychological Association (APA) voted overwhelmingly in a referendum last year to strengthen the organization’s ethical guidelines to ban its members participating in the kinds of “harsh” interrogations that were being practiced by the US government at Guantanamo and various other “dark sites”  during the time of the Bush administration, the debate over the APA’s actions and how it got to be the kind of organization that would behave as is it did, continues unabated. Two recent items seem to crystalize one side of the debate particularly clearly Continue reading Ongoing Debate About APA & Torture

CIA Didn’t Know History of SERE

Soldiers waterboarding in the field in VietnamIn a stunning confirmation of George Santayana’s adage that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it*, the New York Times reports that none of the Bush cabinet members, including then-CIA director George Tenet, knew that the “Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape” (SERE) methods they used while interrogating inmates at Guantanamo and other “off-shore” prisons, had been developed decades before by the US military, “to give American pilots and soldiers a sample of the torture methods used by Communists in the Korean War, methods that had wrung false confessions from Americans.” Continue reading CIA Didn’t Know History of SERE