Anti-Torture Platform for APA President

Dr. Steven Reisner is running for American Psychological Association (APA) president. The main thrust of his campaign is that psychologists should not be involved in torture in any way. Here is the beginning of his platform statement:

I am seeking nomination for President of the American Psychological Association because I believe that the APA must take a principled stance against our nation’s policy of using psychologists to oversee abusive and coercive interrogations of detainees and ‘enemy combatants at centers like Guantánamo and secret CIA black sites, that operate in violation of international law and the Geneva conventions.

Reports from military investigations, as well as from the press, have revealed that our nation has undertaken a program of systematic abuse and torture of detainees and ‘enemy combatants’ captured in the ‘war on terror.’ More ominously for our profession, psychologists have been instrumental in the planning, research, execution and supervision of the processes of that abuse.

Since 2005, the APA leadership has supported psychologists’ roles in the machinery of abusive CIA and military interrogations. Most recently, after significant pressure from the membership, the APA Board proposed a resolution that purported to restrict such activity, but the carefully crafted language of that resolution undermines its effectiveness. The most commonly used abusive techniques are prohibited only if they can be shown to cause “significant” or “lasting” harm. Thus, the APA’s “Resolution Against Torture” actually maintains our profession’s departure from our first ethical principle, which is to “do no harm.” I ask for your vote because the APA’s policy on detainee interrogations continues to have serious and detrimental consequences – not only for detainees held outside of international law, but for our colleagues, our profession, and our nation.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.

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