Recently a major 2003 Guantanamo Standard Operating Procedures [SOP] manual was posted on the wikileaks web site. Ignored by most major sources for a week, Reuters, has picked up on the leak Thursday (Nov 15) and the New York Times on Friday (Nov 16). This has lead to among other things an interesting article in Harper's Weekly attacking the APA:
Of all the major professional organizations addressing the torture and prisoner abuse issue, one has an unbroken record of clear ethical evasion. It has adopted a new professional mantra, it seems: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.Also of interest in this extensive and detailed article regarding the impact this is having on the APA (Page 1, Page 2.) entitled "APA On the Road to Damascus?". It seems that the APA is struggling with the practical application of the concepts of ethics and Human Rights vs the short term profits in their political ties.
Just a few days ago Major General Geoffrey Miller’s operations manual for Guantánamo was posted on the internet. It got a lot of attention because it contained provisions making clear that certain detainees were not to be identified to or permitted access to the Red Cross. That was, of course, a criminal act. And why was the Red Cross being kept away? The circumstances make the answer to that question readily apparent: they were being tortured, and the Bush Administration was extremely eager to conceal that fact as long as it could.
But this manual contains a number of less dramatic, but still extremely important disclosures. And among them is the use of isolation and sensory deprivation techniques as a means of “preparing” detainees. It’s been clear for some time that the CIA favors this over the truly “rough stuff.” And legal scholars and ethicists have also been clear that these practices may also constitute torture over sustained periods, and certainly constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Now psychologist Dr. Stephen Soldz has taken a close look at the manual, and applied it retroactively to the debate inside of the American Psychological Association. And it provides further information suggesting that the organization’s leadership, which is filled with individuals with unmistakable financial and business ties to the U.S. Government, has misled the membership in an effort to protect the Bush Administration and its torture practices.
[extensive quote from Dr. Steven Soldz, link to original article here]
And how did all of this play within the APA? As Soldz notes, it is now apparent that from the outset of the debate the APA leadership pursued a strategy of protecting the actual techniques of abuse which were being used in Guantánamo. And we have specific reason to believe that some in the APA leadership had actual knowledge of those techniques.
The leadership pursued its plan by involving a key military officer who was probably an author of these processes as its voice in presenting the matter.
This information has erased any doubt as to the role played by the APA throughout this process. The APA alone among all professional organizations dealing with the issue has provided cover to the Bush Administration’s program of torture and official cruelty. It is an abettor of the procedures adopted and used, not a professional organization exercising detached and objective ethical oversight of its members. It has brought the reputation of psychologists in America down several pegs. And it has a lot of explaining to do–both to its members, and to the public as a whole.