The Boston Globe also covered Saturday’s Psychologists for an Ethical APA Rally.
Holding signs that read, “Do no harm” and “Abolish torture,” about 100 people attended a rally outside the American Psychological Association’s annual convention yesterday, urging the organizations to ban its members from being involved in military interrogations and torture as part of the war on terrorism.
A resolution to that effect is being weighed by the organization’s 148,000 members, and debate on the topic has permeated the discussion at this year’s meeting, held at the Boston Exhibition and Convention Center. Members are sending in their votes on the issue this month.
The actions of psychologists have been called into question lately as their role in the Bush administration’s interrogation policies in detention centers around the globe increasingly has been made public.
“We need to make policy changes to ensure that this never happens again,” said Steven Reisner, a New York psychologist who spoke at the rally and is running for president of the association.
He noted that psychologists’ involvement in interrogations that include prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, or sensory overload violates the primary responsibility of all medical personnel to do no harm.
“These are standard operating procedures,” Reisner said….
“Psychologists are very directly engaged,” … said [PHR President Len Rubenstein]. “Behavioral science teams make sure everything a detainee sees or hears enhances the interrogation process . . . they are involved in the whole effort to break detainees down.”
Psychologists have helped define lines of questioning for detainees, suggested techniques to get them to divulge information, and advised military personnel on when a person has had enough or when they should push harder in a confrontation. Some say such practices are tantamount to torture.
“They are really at the heart of it,” Rubenstein said. “It’s not enough to say that you can’t participate in torture, it’s the interrogations.”