World Bulletin / News Desk
The largest association of psychologists in the United States is teetering on the edge of a crisis with a report in the Guardian that report that an independent review revealed that medical professionals lied and covered up the extent of their involvement in post-9/11 torture. The discovery, which damages years of denials, has already led to at least one leadership firing and creates the potential for loss of licenses and even prosecutions.
According to the article in the Guardian, for the past ten years, the Amerian Psychologists Association (APA) has rejected media reports on the complicity of psychologists’ in torture; the suppression of dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of any misconduct; and portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse. However, the independent review now which was conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, undermines the APA’s denials in full – as well as vindicating the dissenters.
Several officials are likely to be sacked with those who have access to the report also expecting a wave of resignations. A past APA president also confirmed that Stephen Behnke the APA’s ethics chief has been ousted. He was leading figure in recasting its ethics guidelines in a manner conducive to interrogations that, from the start, relied heavily on psychologists to design and implement techniques like waterboarding.
Behnke was not the only psychologist involved in the establishment and application of torture.
The findings could also reopen something human rights groups have urged for years: the potential for prosecutions of people that were complicit in torture.
Sources also believe there will be grounds to initiate ethics charges against responsible individuals both within the APA and in the states in which they conduct their business, which would be the first step toward the loss of professional licenses.
The APA has wthstood all public criticism, until a reporter working with the New York Times James Risen revealed, based partly on emails from a deceased behavioral-science researcher named Scott Gerwehr, the behind-the-scenes ties between psychologists from the APA and their influential counterparts within the CIA and the Pentagon. In his book, Pay Any Prise, Risen claims that this was necessary as without it then the CIA would not have the legal approvals for "the interrogation tactics".
Risen later reported six of the 10 psychologists on the 2005 APA taskforce “had connections with the defense or intelligence communities; one member was the chief psychologist for US Special Forces”. The subject of tremendous internal controversy, the APA ultimately rescinded the taskforce report in 2013. Although the APA rejected it in October, the following monththe association announced that it had requested Hoffman to investigate any potential “collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use of ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror”.
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