“Despite what appears to be substantial information of collusion between the APA, the White House, the CIA and the Department of Defense to legitimize the policy of torture, the APA has yet to accept responsibility for its part in the program.”
History Repeats Itself with the APA’s Collusion in Human Rights Abuses
By Kelly Patricia O’Meara
May 18, 2015
The latest investigation into the American Psychological Association’s (APA) participation in the CIA’s illegal torture program provides additional details about the extent of the APA’s complicity in the brutal human rights violations that occurred during the War on Terror post 9/11.
According to the report, entitled All the President’s Psychologists: The American Psychological Association’s Secret Complicity with the White House and US Intelligence Community in Support of the CIA’s “Enhanced” Interrogation Program, 16 select emails (out of more than 600) reviewed reveal that, when called upon to assist in bolstering legal and ethical justification of questionable government interrogation policies, the APA’s role was significant.
Rather than learning from well-known past collusion in government-sponsored human rights violations, the psychological association’s participation in justifying torture continues to be steeped in obfuscation and denial. The following are a few examples, in part, of the APA’s reported working relationship with government entities and its role in the “enhanced” interrogation program.
- The APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program.
- A US government research scientist who had recently served as President Bush’s behavioral science advisor, is reported to have secretly drafted “language related to research” inserted by APA officials into the 2005 APA ethics policy on interrogations.
Despite consistent denials, the APA had numerous contacts with CIA contract psychologists Drs. James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, including contacts related to interrogation techniques.
- APA did not disclose Dr. James Mitchell’s past APA membership.
- There is no evidence, based on emails reviewed, that the APA officials expressed concern over mounting reports of psychologists being involved in detainee abuse.
The APA’s continued refusal to admit its participation in creating an ethics policy that became a kind of sanctioned primer for the CIA’s torture program appears to be standard operating procedure among the psychiatric and psychological industry when called upon by government entities.
Recall that it took more than six decades for the German version of the American Psychiatric Association, the German Association for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (DGPPN), to not only admit psychiatry’s premier role in the holocaust saying it “is one of the darkest chapters in the history of our discipline,” but to take responsibility for its complicity.
It was during the association’s 2010 meeting, President of the DGPPN, Prof. Frank Schneider detailed psychiatry’s complicity with Nazi Germany’s government and its brutal and deadly culpability in the holocaust, pleading “in the name of the German Association for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, I ask you, the victims and relatives of the victims, for forgiveness for the pain and injustice you suffered in the name of German psychiatry and at the hands of German psychiatrists under National Socialism, and for the silence, trivialisation and denial that for far too long characterised psychiatry in post-war Germany.” [sic]
While better late than never, the timing of the DGPPN’s admission of wrong-doing by psychiatrists, in lock-step with their government masters, insured no personal accountability, making the psychological association’s current stand all the more interesting.
The “President’s Psychologists” report states that “by allowing psychologists to administer and calibrate permitted harm, undermines the fundamental ethical standards of the profession.” These actions also led to actions that are in direct violation of human rights, which are well-delineated by the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, of which the U.S. is a signatory.
“Near drowning,” “water boarding,” “rectal rehydration,” “extended sleep deprivation,” “naked dragging and slapping” all meet the U.N.’s definition of torture and, regardless of “enhanced interrogation techniques” being utilized under the guise of “research,” they are no less inhuman than the admitted psychiatric abuses, like sterilization, euthanasia, and murder, now admitted to being carried out by the German psychiatrists during World War II.
Too often the “mental health” industry has shown its willingness to accommodate and collude to legitimatize government policy, including the torture and murder by the People’s Republic of China’s Falun Gong, the CIA’s 1950’s MKULTRA mind-control programs, and the Soviet Union’s incarceration of political dissidents in psychiatric hospitals and sentenced to labor camps, no name a few.
As part of Prof. Schneider’s apology for Germany’s psychiatrists for the human rights violations committed during WWII, the professor admits that while the psychiatric association never “officially” endorsed killing patients, he also makes the point that “it is also true that it never officially condemned the practice either. There was never a single word of apology or reprimand.”
Despite what appears to be substantial information of collusion between the APA, the White House, the CIA and the Department of Defense to legitimize the policy of torture, the APA has yet to accept responsibility for its part in the program… and psychiatry’s and psychology’s shameful history, again, repeats itself.
Kelly Patricia O’Meara is an award-winning former investigative reporter for the Washington Times’ Insight Magazine, penning dozens of articles exposing the fraud of psychiatric diagnosis and the dangers of the psychiatric drugs—including her ground-breaking 1999 cover story, “Guns & Doses,” exposing the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed book, Psyched Out: How Psychiatry Sells Mental Illness and Pushes Pills that Kill. Prior to working as an investigative journalist, O’Meara spent sixteen years on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer to four Members of Congress. She holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Maryland.