The APA and Guantanamo: Actions, Not Words
Yet again the American Psychological Association fails to honor its commitments.
Two years ago the American Psychological Association adopted its comprehensive “Policy Related to Psychologists’ Work in National Security Settings and Reaffirmation of the APA Position Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” (link is external) The stated rationale for this consolidation of previous ethics policies was that it would eliminate confusion and uncertainty. In turn, this heightened clarity would presumably facilitate greater adherence to APA policies and more effective enforcement of ethical violations.
To many, this seemed to be a sound and promising development. But on the ethics front, APA leaders have an abysmal track record when it comes to meaningful action that runs counter to the Pentagon’s own policies on detention and interrogation operations. Time and again in these situations, the APA has trumpeted its commitment to psychology’s do-no-harm ethics but then retreated into the shadows when those principled words required principled actions. A close look at the APA’s current stance toward the detention center at Guantanamo Bay sadly demonstrates that little has changed.