Tuesday, May 1, 2007

One Way to Fight Against Torture

Valtin's diary at The Daily Kos presents an extremely important issue about torture that we can all take action against: the American Psychologists' Association (APA) and their support of the government's position on torture, especially at Guantanamo. As we know, the U.S. government is heavily involved in torture of detainees at Gitmo and elsewhere, relying heavily on psychological torture and mind torture in combination with physical torture. As we should know, in many ways, psychological torture in combination with physical torture is the worst there is. But what most of us don't know, is that the APA is actually involved in facilitating that torture, while, in typical hypocritical fashion, posturing that they are against torture, but merely assuring that what goes on is "ethical". The facts should show you the "values" behind those "ethics": money and power.

Now, psychologists at the American Psychological Association are trying to
stop members from participating in this criminal process, just as members of
other health organizations have so prohibited their members.
The psychologists are fighting what seems like a losing battle. But the struggle
isn't finished. It is time to reach out to the public to exert their influence
on the insular APA leadership. What follows is a brief description of the
situation, followed by a direct action call for messages to be sent to key
figures at APA...

One year ago (!), Neil Altman, an APA psychologist, presented a resolution
that was non-binding, but called for APA to take a stand against psychologist
participation in foreign intelligence interrogations, after the passing of the
Military Commissions Act of 2006 made clear that cruel and unusual methods of
interrogation, if not outright torture, would be allowed, and that Bush would
decide what met Geneva treaty norms and what didn't.
APA leadership could have fast-tracked this resolution, but they sunk it under a thousand tons of bureaucratic verbiage and the full weight of the serpentine process that is approval of a proposal at APA.

The APA basically started to congenially take apart that resolution on petty grounds, such as stating this should be up to individual psychologists rather than taken as an action by the organization, or challenging the meaning of such terms as "foreign detainees" and "detention centers".

But most importantly, they defined "torture" in such a way that it did NOT include psychological torture, specifically such things as sexual humiliation, forced nudity, sensory deprivation, "moral" degradation (direct attack on victim's moral sensibilities), use of extreme temperatures, drugs and other injected materials (such as saline to induce uncontrolled urination and thus degradation), food and mental-stimulus deprivation, isolation, sleep deprivation, threat of torture and abuse, constant lights and loud noise, and much more...

These are the forms of psychological torture that the Bush administration finds acceptable and that the APA also condones, but in such a way as to appear to not condone. Abu Ghraib was no "rogue camp" and the scandal that ensued was not because this was an exception to the rule - no, this is psychological torture in action, your administration in action, and this is approved from the highest levels in government and the military, and of course, the Commander-in-Chief. This type of thing goes on daily right now at Gitmo. Facilitated by the APA.

Join Valtin, Stephen Soldz (who wrote an excellent article that gives important background about this issue), and others in this campaign to take action against torture by writing to the APA expressing your outrage that they participate in any way with the U.S. torture program now in place (the following is taken from Valtin's DailyKos diary):

We can help to stop this.

Here's How...
  • Write or call the APA:
    American Psychological Association 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002-4242
  • (800) 374-2721 (202) 336-5500
    Write and call, now. Let them know how upset you are.
  • Send an email to the Public Affairs Office of the APA, expressing your outrage:
  • Phone the Ethics Office directly at (202) 336-5930 or use APA's toll free number (800) 374-2721, extension 5930, and give them a piece of your mind.
  • And finally, write to the President of the APA, Dr. Sharon Stephens Brehm. Be nice, be polite, but be firm (this is true for ALL communications). Dr. Brehm has a web page, Ask the President. Follow the link to leave an email message directly for her.

If we apply enough pressure, it might make the APA stand up and take notice. And, don't forget to write your congressman/congresswoman and senator, too! Even make others aware of the issue in a Letter to the Editor in your local newspaper. Or include this campaign on your blog.
We don't have to be powerless. We aren't helpless. Write, call, email today.

I want to see APA inundated with thousands of messages saying "Stop torture. Stop psychologist participation in coercive interrogations. Support Dr. Altman's moratorium".
Together, we can prevail.

I hope that We the People will be more than just some words on an historical document. I hope our democracy will prevail over this newfound rush to militarism, torture, and absolute government, friendly to xenophobia, and antagonistic to human rights and civil liberties. In the heady days when this country was founded, those ideals were not considered "patriotic" or "American" per se.

They were human values that our nation's founders hoped would one day be shared by the whole world. Now we have reversed that idea and decided that such rights and liberties are not "human rights", a word maligned as "leftist" and "liberal" - read "against national security" - no, now these are for the chosen few, for "Americans only" and "like-minded people only", even going to far as to wish to deprive such rights to those one disagrees with.

We are not at war with Al-Qaeda per se any more. That is just a public prop to drum up public support for another agenda. We are at war with our own values, on every street, under every bed, inside every email, and behind every wizard-of-oz surveillance/omniscience campaign. The only thing saving us at times is the sheer incompetence of execution. But don't rely on that. When it comes to torture, the execution is pretty competent. They've succeeded in destroying many innocent people's lives in the name of national security. And they're not worried...

Machiavelli in hand, Rove leads the charge: The end justifies the means! But he never asks what, pray tell, is the end??? It seems rather obvious: money and power. National security has never been worse. Helped by torture??? Apparently someone forgot that we lasted as a nation for over 225 years in spite of abuses, not because of some infallible national security plan, not because of torture - we supposedly didn't do it - but because we were able to maintain our moral stature in the world. We had not only power, but respect.

Now that's gone.

Dear We the People: Please show your conscience and write to stop the promotion and support of torture!

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