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APA Says No No Psychologist Should Be Involved In Interrogation

Armen Hareyan's picture

The American Psychological Association is deeply concerned about the alleged involvement of a psychologist in an abusive interrogation of a Guantanamo detainee. While the psychologist who has been named is not an APA member, the Association's position is steadfast. No psychologist - APA member or not - should be directly or indirectly involved in any form of detention or interrogation that could lead to psychological or physical harm to a detainee. APA has specifically prohibited 19 interrogation techniques as torture, noting that this list is not exhaustive. No psychologist should ever have any involvement, direct or indirect, in the use of such techniques, which include waterboarding, hooding, forced nudity or stress positions, in an interrogation. Doing so would be a clear violation of the profession's ethical standards.

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APA calls on the Department of Defense and Congress to continue to investigate the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere to ensure that all professional ethical standards are being upheld. In 2007, the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives stated that all psychologists “have an ethical responsibility … to cooperate fully with all oversight activities, including hearings by the United States Congress and all branches of the United States government.”

APA strongly supports the full implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to judicial review of their detentions. We are closely monitoring all available information relevant to the role of psychologists in detainee treatment. The American Psychological Association will pursue ethics investigations where evidence indicates that an APA member has violated our ethical standards.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.