NO TORTURE, NO COLLABORATION: Psychologists Rally Against Torture & U.S. War Crimes

As mentioned previously here, a movement is taking place in the American Psychological Association to ban participation by American psychologists in the torture of detainees held by the United States. Dr. Steven Reisner, who is a co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, spoke of the shocking kidnapping of children by the CIA, then held hostage to coerce Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to give himself up and start talking. Psychologists gave “the best of care” to the children, in what amounts to state terrorism and which according to a UN human rights rapporteur on torture makes those psychologists prosecutable for acquiescence in a war crime. A movement of American psychologists rallied in Boston on Saturday, August 16, 2008, at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association (APA) in support of a referendum banning psychologists from participating in interrogations. The current APA leadership opposes this referendum. The American Anthropological Association passed its own resolution in 2006, “condemning the use of anthropological knowledge as an element of physical and psychological torture, and to prosecute all individuals who have violated laws prohibiting torture.”

Also, California is now the first state to officially condemn the participation of any and all health professionals, including psychologists, in coercive interrogations of prisoners in the so-called war on terror. Senate Joint Resolution 19, which passed in the state legislature on Thursday, August 14, 2008, instructs the state’s licensing boards to inform California health professionals they may one day be subject to prosecution if they participate in interrogations that don’t conform with international standards of treatment of prisoners. This is from a report by Democracy Now! that also featured the senator who pushed the resolution, Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, who said:

it is entirely appropriate, in light of the radical departure from international, federal and state law initiated by the Bush administration, that made it more possible and tolerable for physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, dentists, nurses, just the whole range of those in the helping profession, health professions, to become complicit. And we deemed it appropriate to call it to the attention of the nation and start in the California state legislature, and I’m pleased that my colleagues, albeit on a partisan vote, chose to send this message to all our licensees. And it will be significant.

For more, including a transcript, see Democracy Now!. See also American Torture. For a video of the program, see below, and scroll to the 33rd minute:

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