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Background article by Associated Press from before the American Psychological Association vote on interrogation techniques.

US psychologists weigh ban on Guantanamo interrogations

Date Published:

Aug 18, 2007 03:00 AM

Author: Sudhin Thanawal

Source: The Associated Press

SANFRANCISCO: The largest U.S. group of psychologists is to decide Sundaywhat role, if any, its members can play in interrogating terrorsuspects at Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. military detention centers.

TheAmerican Psychological Association, which is holding its annual meetingin San Francisco, is scheduled to vote Sunday on two competing measuresconcerning its 148,000 members’ participation in militaryinterrogations.

One proposal, which is backed by APA’s board ofdirectors, would reaffirm the group’s opposition to torture andprohibit members from taking part in more than a dozen specificpractices, including forced nakedness, mock executions and simulateddrowning.

An APA member who violates the torture resolutioncould be expelled from the Washington-based organization, which couldlead to the loss of the professional’s state license to practice, saidspokeswoman Rhea Farberman.

The other measure would bar membersfrom any involvement in interrogations at military facilities whereforeigners are detained. The moratorium would not be backed bysanctions, but it would carry the APA’s “moral authority,” saidpsychologist Neil Altman, who wrote the proposed resolution.

Theassociation’s vote follows reports that have implicated mental healthspecialists in prisoner abuse scandals at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraibprison in Iraq. Among other things, psychiatrists and psychologists areaccused of helping interrogators increase prisoners’ stress levels byexploiting their fears.

A recently declassified DefenseDepartment report said that since 2002 psychiatrists and psychologistshave helped military interrogators develop new techniques to extractinformation from detainees.

Military interrogation has become adominant issue at this year’s meeting of the APA, which represents mostof the United States’ psychologists.

Supporters of themoratorium say they want the APA to follow the examples of the AmericanMedical Association and American Psychiatric Association, which havesaid their members have no legitimate role in interrogations atdetention centers like Guantanamo.

Critics of the moratorium say the presence of psychologists helps ensure interrogations are not abusive.


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