21:12 GMT18 January 2021
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    Following the scandal over its role in condoning the US torture program, the American Psychological Association (APA) forbade psychologists from taking part in military interrogations. Now, the Pentagon is asking the APA to reconsider its recently adopted stance against torture.

    Last July, a review conducted by former assistant US attorney David Hoffman revealed the extent to which the APA was involved in the US torture program. The organization allowed members to defer to government authorities when faced with ethical dilemmas, and the organization was used by the Bush administration to justify actions illegal in the Geneva Convention.

    In the wake of that report, the APA reversed its stance, forbidding any member from participating in the interrogation or torture of any person, for any reason.

    Less than six months later, the Pentagon is actively seeking to have US psychologists back in the fold.

    According to a memo that surfaced earlier this month, Brad Carson, acting principle deputy secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, called on the APA to reconsider its "blanket prohibition."

    "[Although] the Department of Defense understands the desire of the American psychology profession to make a strong statement regarding reports about the role of former military psychologists more than a dozen years ago, the issue now is to apply the lessons learned to guide future conduct," the memo reads.

    Carson’s reasoning is essentially that the APA should remain flexible, as one never knows when the US security or intelligence apparatus will require the ability to bend the rules of war due to encountering something "entirely unpredictable."

    "The context of future conflicts – whether a traditional international armed conflict like World War II or the Korean War, a defense of the homeland against international terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or something entirely unpredictable – is today unknown," according to the memo.

    "A code governing psychologists’ ethics in future national security roles needs to fit all such contexts," the memo adds. "We respectfully suggest that a blanket prohibition on participation by psychologists in national security interrogations does not."

    Carson also makes specific mention of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, asking the organization to reconsider its "views regarding the presence of psychologists" at the infamous facility.

    The APA is not known to have officially responded, but the organization’s August decision against the barbaric practices was overwhelmingly approved by a council vote. After a public backlash in the wake of the Hoffman review, it appeared unlikely the APA would so quickly return to condoning the use of torture by its members.

    Hoffman’s review found that the US Defense Department used the APA to shield the Bush administration from liability for what were known to be actions illegal in the Geneva Convention.

    "Senior APA staff has been currying favor with the Pentagon and the CIA, effectively facilitating torture," Dr. Yosef Brody, president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, told Radio Sputnik’s Brad Friedman in July.

    "And to top it off, they’ve engaged in this very sophisticated, decade-long cover-up."


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    US torture program, US Defense Department, Pentagon, American Psychological Association, Yosef Brody, David Hoffman, Brad Carson, Guanabara Bay, US
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