Is it ethical for mental health professionals to assist in interrogation and torture?

The June 7, 2006 New York Times brings news that the United States Department of Defense has decided to give preference to using psychologists over psychiatrists as advisers to its interrogation teams at Guantánamo and other unnamed locations based on “a recognition of differing  positions taken by their respective professional groups.” More specifically, The American Psychiatric Association unequivocally has adopted a policy stating that its members should not be part of these interrogation teams. The American Psychological Association has adopted a far weaker policy that, in practice, puts no constraints upon its members participating in interrogation, stating only that members consulting on national security interrogations should be "mindful of factors unique to these roles  and contexts that require special ethical consideration." This position is taken in spite of considerable pressure from many members desiring the Association  to state unequivocally that members should not participate in these interrogation teams in any capacity.

To see the petition click on the link below.

Link: Against Psychologists' Participation in Interrogation of 'Enemy Combatants' Petition.

Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now radio show, had a great show on June 16, 2006 during which she interviewed several people on this issue. You can listen to it streaming on line or download it. It is well worth listening to if you are interested in the issue of mental health professionals participating in interrogation and torture.

Should doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists participate in military interrogations? Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association have adopted policies discouraging their members from being involved. But their counterpart, the American Psychological Association has not. We host a debate with APA president Dr. Gerald Koocher, Dr. Steven Reisner, an APA member who is calling on the group to take a stand against the practice and Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist who is a retired Brigadier General in the Army Medical Corps.

To go to the Democracy Now archive of this show to download the audio or read the transcript click on the link below.

What would Jesus do?

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

from Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

April 4, 1967

As I read Martin Luther King, Jr.'s quote above, I wonder what George W. Bush thinks that Jesus' teachings were about? I wonder if he and the other religious right hawks have actually read their New Testments?

As we approach Good Friday is seems to me that the modern day Pharisees again are engineering the crucifixtion of Jesus because of their mis-understanding of His teachings.

  1. Would Jesus torture?
  2. Would Jesus send people off to kill other people?
  3. Would Jesus give tax cuts to the rich and remove assistance from the poor?
  4. Would Jesus imprison people without a hearing or notification to their families and friends?
  5. Would Jesus lie to stay in power?
  6. Would Jesus have criminals executed?
  7. Would Jesus discriminate and castigate and criminalize the immigrant?

George Bush was the most killing governor in the U.S. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture and killings should come as no surprise

The policy of torture in the ascendency in the U.S. should come as no surprise to Americans who are familiar with the Bush performance when he was governor of Texas. Heather Wokusch documents Bush's behavior.

In George Bush's America, denial about inmate mistreatment runs similarly rampant. As Texas governor, Bush oversaw the executions of 152 prisoners and thus became the most-killing governor in the history of the United States. Ethnic minorities, many of whom did not have access to proper legal representation, comprised a large percentage of those Bush put to death, and in one particularly egregious example, Bush executed an immigrant who hadn't even seen a consular official from his own country (as is required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which the US was a signatory). Bush's explanation: "Texas did not sign the Vienna Convention, so why should we be subject to it?"

Governor Bush also flouted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by choosing to execute juvenile offenders, a practice shared by only Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Significantly, in 1998 a full 92% of the juvenile offenders on Bush's death row were ethnic minorities.

Conditions inside Texan prisons during Bush's reign were so notorious that federal Judge William Wayne Justice wrote, "Many inmates credibly testified to the existence of violence, rape and extortion in the prison system and about their own suffering from such abysmal conditions."

Link: heather - From Texas to Abu Ghraib: The Bush Legacy of Prisoner Abuse.

FBI memos reveal allegations of abusive interrogation techniques

Knight Ridder's Washington Bureau reported yesterday, February 23, 2006, the following:

Military interrogators posing as FBI agents at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, wrapped terrorism suspects in an Israeli flag and forced them to watch homosexual pornography under strobe lights during interrogation sessions that lasted as long as 18 hours, according to one of a batch of FBI memos released Thursday.

Aren't you embarassed to learn that our U.S. government under George W. Bush is doing this stuff?

I am opening a new category labeled "torture" not because I really want to but because we, the people, need to be aware of what our government is doing in our name.Torture is obviously not good for the mental health of the person being tortured, but the torturers themselves, unless they are psychopaths, suffer a deterioration in their mental health as well. Further, this kind of activity conducted by a political entity to achieve its aims, winds up corrupting the very fabric of the society they claim to represent.

Link: KR Washington Bureau | 02/23/2006 | FBI memos reveal allegations of abusive interrogation techniques.