The United States Defense Department has an ethical obligation to cease using psychologists in counterterrorism interrogations, says Leonard Rubenstein, a
human rights lawyer on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a letter to The New York Times.


In response to a July 30 article on the American Psychological Association’s planned policy to prohibit psychologists from involvement in all national security interrogations, Rubenstein writes, “the involvement of health professionals in interrogation is inconsistent with their obligations to use professional skills to avoid harm, to be truthful and to respect people with whom they have professional contact.”


The Times reports that the A.P.A. board decision is a reversal of a 2005 task force report concluding that it was ethically acceptable for psychologists to remain involved in interrogations. A new investigation “has concluded that the 2005 task force was stacked with psychologists from inside the government’s national security community, and that the task force’s pro-government report was part of an effort by association officials and other psychologists to collude with the Bush administration to keep the harsh interrogation program in operation.”


Rubenstein alludes to these new findings, asserting, “Now that the basis for opinions by the American Psychological Association that psychologists may ethically participate in counterterrorism interrogations has been exposed as the product of collusion and bad faith, the Defense Department must end the practice.”






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Leah Ramsay
Leonard Rubenstein

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