The American Psychological Association is under fire from some of its members and other professionals for declaring that it is permissible for psychologists to assist in military interrogations.
An online petition against the group's policy has garnered more than 1,300 signatures from members and other psychologists. Protest forums are being planned for the APA's convention next month in New Orleans. And some members have threatened to withhold dues or quit.
The unrest stems from an APA policy, issued last year, that says that while psychologists should not get involved in torture or other degrading treatment, it is ethical for them to act as consultants to interrogation and information-gathering for national security purposes.
That stand troubles some members of the organization in light of the reported abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.
"The issue is being couched as psychologists helping out with national security at the same time that psychologists are opposed to the issue of torture," said Chicago psychologist William Gorman, an APA member who signed the petition and works with refugee survivors of torture. "That stance in the present context appears to me incongruous."
News reports have said that mental health specialists who are helping U.S. military interrogators have helped create coercive techniques, including sleep deprivation and playing on detainees' phobias, to extract information.
I guess that "First do no harm" thang doesn't apply here.