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American Psychological Association colluded with US officials to bolster CIA torture program, report alleges

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 05 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2380
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

During the administration of President George W Bush, senior personnel of the American Psychological Association (APA) secretly colluded with US officials in the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Central Intelligence Agency to support the ethical justification of the spy agency’s “enhanced” interrogation program, while the APA misled the public about its involvement, says a report by human rights activists and critics of the association released on 30 April.1

After the terrorist attacks in the United States on 9 September 2001, the US government ruled that suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere were “unlawful combatants” who did not qualify for the protection afforded to prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions and could be subject to “enhanced” interrogation techniques that included stress positions, sleep deprivation, waterboarding, and other techniques generally viewed as torture.

“The APA’s complicity in the CIA torture program, by allowing psychologists to administer and calibrate permitted harm, undermines the fundamental ethical standards of the profession. If not carefully understood and rejected by the …

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