Lack of ethics institutionalised at American Psychological Association

That members of the American Psychological Association actively participated in and helped to design the torture programme during the Bush era has been known for some time. But for over 10 years the APA has shielded its members and covered up their involvement. In fact they have had an Ethics Officer whose primary job has been to conceal the lack of ethics. The New York Times has details about a new investigation report which focuses on the failings of the members of the American Psychological Association.

NYT Editorial:

The first detailed accounts of the brutal interrogation program the Central Intelligence Agency established after the Sept. 11 attacks noted that psychologists and other medical professionals played key roles in abetting the torture of terrorism suspects. However, much about their role and their degree of responsibility in one of the most macabre and shameful chapters of American history has remained shrouded in secrecy.

A new report by a former federal prosecutor, first disclosed by James Risen in The Times, contains astonishing, disturbing details. It found that top members of the American Psychological Association, the largest professional organization of psychologists, colluded with officials at the Pentagon and the C.I.A. to keep the group’s ethics policies in line with tactics that interrogators working for the agency and the military were employing. …….. 

On Friday, Physicians for Human Rights justifiably called on the Department of Justice to begin a criminal investigation into the psychologists association’s role in the Bush administration’s torture program.

The Obama administration has so far refused to prosecute the torturers. As more evidence about this program comes to light, that position becomes increasingly indefensible.

There are no “good guys” if the behaviour of the “good guys” is no different to that of the “bad guys”. And the degree of “badness” is worse, I think, when the bad behaviour is institutionalised and not just that of rogue individuals.

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