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APA condemns torture

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by psychanon, 08.14.07.

  1. psychanon

    psychanon

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    SDN Members don't see this ad. (About Ads)
    http://salon.com/news/feature/2007/08/15/apa_torture/

    About time. Any thoughts?

    Note- if you don't have a subscription to Salon, you may have to watch an ad to read this article.
  2. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    I like how the article offers not one shred of proof that any of these things are actually going on, or that military psychologists are doing them.

    I also like terms like "so called War on Terror" as if it is a made up concept.

    Oh well, it has been fun since day one of graduate school being the only person within 100 miles who actually thinks this endeavor is worthwhile.

    I just hope that if there is a detainee with information about an impending mushroom cloud, he is pressured to give up the information.
  3. psychanon

    psychanon

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    Well, I don't want to turn this into a political conversation. I have strong views, but that's not what this forum is about. Salon isn't an objective news source, there's no doubt about that. But regardless of whether torture is or is not going on at Gitmo and other places, I think that APA's taking the right stand-- torture isn't an ethical way to apply psychological knowledge. Going beyond the basic human rights issues-- not that those should be brushed over-- psychological research shows that torture doesn't work. Everyone has a breaking point, whether or not they actually know information, so what torture does is get a lot of false leads, which only slows down investigations. The image of a mushroom cloud is used frequently-- it is, after all, evocative, activating all of our amygdalas and all--- but realistically there are more effective methods that don't trample all over human rights, make us look our enemies look sympathetic to people who may be considering whether or not to support them, sully our global image, and put our troops in danger of receiving the same behavior if they are ever taken prisoner.
  4. Squarepants

    Squarepants

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    That pretty much subs it up. I know there'll always be psychologists without morals (and doctors without morals, and lawyers without morals...etc), but it's some consolation, I guess, that they didn't wait all the way until 2008 to take a stand on this - particularly since it's almost certainly been occurring since we invaded Afghanistan (much less Iraq).
  5. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Our troops don't blindfold people and chop their heads off while they gurgle on their own blood.

    I have always been fascinated by the "terrorism exists because of the way America operates" argument. What was America doing wrong during the 94 WTC attack, the cole and September 11th?
  6. acidicspecies08

    acidicspecies08

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    we stuck our nose into middle eastern affairs from israel to getting saddam hussein in power to assisting al quiada during the cold war. you play with fir, you're gonna get burned.
  7. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    It is true that false positives can come about, but what about all of the GOOD leads they were able to get, and the lives they were able to save because of the information; we don't live in a world where everyone can hug and it will be okay. It is a sad reality that sometimes (not always) torture is necessary. It is truly a shame that things have gotten to that point, and I'd hope that all other avenues are explored before this is done, but in times of conflict....it is sometimes necessary.

    I am morally opposed to many things that have gone on in regard to what is happening over there, and I try not to participate in anything that encourages the actions (I was heavily recruited post 9/11 to be a senior analyst at a few of the top defense contractor firms, but declined because of my beliefs).

    I wish the APA was more PRO-active, instead of agreeing with the obvious....yes, torture by definition is wrong, etc. This is yet another chance to educate the public, and not just by a long-overdue press release. The policies and whatnot they draft don't seem to have much teeth.

    -t
  8. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    This is a good one. Let's take these one at a time.

    What is the alternative to being allies with Israel? Remember, Israel was formed during the aftermath of the holocaust, after which America made a promise to the world that wherever we could stop it--there would never be another genocide. We have since failed in keeping this promise in Vietnam, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan, etc. But make no mistake about it, if Israel's crazy neighbors thought we would not come to their resucue, they would attacked the very next day. (And they would all die). They are also the ONLY country in the region with 1. Human rights laws, and 2. Free elections. The United States has always been the nation that helps this type of country succeed.

    In the 1980's, Iran was threatening stability in the region and Sadaam was the "lesser of two evils" at the time. Could Ronald Reagan have known what Hussein would do a decade later? It is the nature of foriegn policy that it is messy and complicated.

    Al Queda in Afghanistan was the same story. The people of Afghanistan wanted to fight back a communist state. America always comes to the aid (again) of countries that wish to rid themselves of such tyranny.

    OR--you are an isolationist and think that it is all a waste of time, in which case I say, America was pretending to be an isolationist country for most of WWII. If we had taken our heads out of our assess sooner, maybe it only would have been 3,000,000 Jews.
  9. RayneeDeigh

    RayneeDeigh

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    That's kinda like saying the US deserved what it got. I'm a) Canadian and b) strongly against the war in Iraq (or any war for that matter, I'm a pacifist and I don't care how naive that makes me seem). But I definitely would never agree that the US deserved 9/11.

    This thread is getting so political so fast though. There are tons of APA seminar thingies on terrorism, torture, and psychology at the convention and I refuse to go to any of them because I just know it's going to turn into a propagandafest.
  10. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    The USA has an unfair amount of responsibility, and we are damned if we do....and damned if we don't. Just because we can probably handle it all, doesn't mean we should. We are not in a position where we are expected to help out, and the world can take pot shots at how/when/where we help.

    To apply this to the APA.....what if psychs went into the camps and evaluated for proper treatment? I know certain groups do that now, but I'm not sure what kind of training the people receive. THAT is something we can use our training for.

    Genocide still happens today: Darfur, the Congo, Rawanda, etc. I'm glad the APA has stepped up and postured that they don't agree, but until they do something meaningful, I don't really seeing them be effective.

    Yup. I don't mind some OT, since much of this still ties in with the original topic of torture, our role as psychs, etc.

    -t
  11. psychanon

    psychanon

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    Wow, when did I say that??? I absolutely never made that argument, and I would appreciate it if you didn't imply that I did. I did say that torturing our enemies sullies our world image. Um, yeah. That's a far cry from saying that America brought on 9/11 and other terrorist attacks. Things like that are never, ever justified, ever.

    Torture happens to be another thing that can never be justified. We're supposed to be fighting to uphold our ideals, right? Since when it is OK to throw aside our morals out of fear? Since when is it OK to say "oh, well, they're doing worse things, so it's OK for us to do abhorrent things?" Where does the line get drawn? What if by torturing a child, you could stop a possible terrorist attack? Would that be OK? Why not torture the entire family of the person, guilty or not, to try to get them to crack? That'd probably be effective right? How about kidnapping newborns from families suspected of sympathizing with the enemy, so they don't raise enemy children? I'm not making up wild ideas-- these are things that have happened in the not-so-distant past around the world when governments endorsed torture. There has to be a line, and we can't cross it even if others do, or else we are very likely to fall down the slippery slope. That's what makes us better than them.
  12. psychanon

    psychanon

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    i'm sure that'd be OK under the policy. I don't know what kind of training people who do that have. I'd think psych, but they'd have to have a lot of cross-cultural knowledge as well.
  13. Squarepants

    Squarepants

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    We aren't. We just have more technology than they do.
  14. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    Amnesty International probably has some info on this. I never was big into cross-cultural stuff, but I've gotten a bit more interested in it as of late.

    Does anyone have any experience doing this kind of intervention work? (Not necessarily at this level, but going into foreign territory to provide services?)

    -t
  15. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Abu Grhaib pictures were on the front page of the NYT for a total of 18 days in a row.

    Half the DOD got fired over it.

    There were congressional hearings over it.

    The country was outraged.

    The APA has been to Guantanamo Bay more than once to inspect.

    Contrast to:

    Every week there is a new video taped beheading of an innocent. (Not soldiers. They get burned alive, dragged through the streets and strung up by bridges for everyone to see.) From middle eastern Islamofascist countries? Crickets.

    THAT is what makes us better than them. It is the MASSIVE amount of self policing. I do not compare us to Utopia, I campare us to everyone else. It's a realistic comparison that assumes bad things happen even in good countries.

    And besides, my initial response to the article is that we DON"T TORTURE. It downgrades and minimizes what people who have actually been tortured experienced.

    When I get deployed in a few years (it is inevitable after internship I think) I PRAY that if I get captured I am treated the way the US treats POWs.
  16. perfektspace

    perfektspace Member

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    Our troops/the US aren't better than the islamo-nuts in the middle east?! What the hell does technology have to do with it anyways.

    More generally, if our military can extract information that results in saving American lives I don't really care what they do. Rather see them dead then US troops or civilians.
  17. Squarepants

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    Who are the "islamo-nuts"? The Iraqis fighting occupying troops in their own country?

    It allows you to kill far more people, far more impersonally. It's really hard to stab someone. It's even harder to strangle someone. But it's a lot easier to shoot someone, and it's even easier to drop a bomb on someone. Distance facilitates depersonalization and dehumanization. It also makes it easier to kill lots of people at a time. It often seems we just get mad at "uncivilized" people because they can't kill as quickly or as impersonally as we can.

    Yeah, I don't consider American lives to be any more precious than the lives of any other human beings on this planet. Besides that, I'm unconditionally against torture, so I'd have to disagree on both counts.
  18. Ollie123

    Ollie123

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    Did anyone else think this thread was going to be about a reform to the application process?
  19. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    They actually have positions at defense contractors who figure out the most effective ways to implement their various wares to 'neutralize' the enemy. For whatever reason my analytical and management skills were such that they wanted me to manage these people. I got on some recruiter's radar because within a couple weeks, I was contacted by all of the major DC contractors. The way they spun the position was pretty scary. I will admit though, it paid really well. I couldn't say no quick enough.

    If *I* had to do it, *you all* have to do it!! :smuggrin:

    -t
  20. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Not sure about this, but I think he/she means the thousands of terrorists who have entered Iraq from Syria, Iran etc since the start of the war. They werent all Iraqi shoe salesman minding their own business and then all of the sudden they were invaded. They were terrorists elswhere, planning to blow innocent civilians up and we inturruputed them and made them come to Iraq to fight.
  21. perfektspace

    perfektspace Member

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    The Islamic extremists who would kill or convert everyone in disagreement with their twisted ideology. By most accounts the people we are fighting in Iraq are coming in from other nations. That doesn't mean I don't want us out of there ASAP but to leave now would be a disaster. Don't buy into all the media hype that it's a lost cause.


    I do.

    Without the US (warts and all) the world is a much darker place. I am not happy we are in Iraq but we have the opportunity to destroy a threat to our security.

    "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing". I don't buy into the moral relativistic point of view that they are just different and I should be more tolerant. If history is any indicator the terrorist groups we are fighting respect nothing beyond force. If torture is necessary to protect US lives then it is a necessary evil.
  22. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    Torture is such an emotionally-laden buzzword these days. Shall we just ask politely? This is condemnation by people who know nothing of how that aspect of the world works. They don't live in it. The perspective that Salon represents has always been very good at self-loathing.
  23. nononora

    nononora Dis Member Moderator Emeritus

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    You could replace "Islamic" with "American" and it'd still be true :laugh:

    Perhaps there's one thing we can agree on - no one should assert their personal beliefs on others through the use of force. In an ideal world of course.
  24. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Indeed.
  25. JockNerd

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    I think its telling that the only presidential nomination candidate who actually WAS tortured came out against it, even if the info gained could supposedly save lives. And that's even after McCain became a total wimp compared to who he was only a few years ago. I think he's right that the better part of the planet would turn on America if US forces were to continue institutionalized torture.

    I'm completely in favor of military intervention when the situation warrants it. International military intervention. But when government administrations appoint people to the UN who have a clear agenda to stall all international diplomacy so that the US military can move, there's a huge problem. Militaries should be mobilized to help stop genocides and atrocities, but not just in countries that have oil and a dictator-in-waiting willing to give nine-tenths of it to his western backers.
  26. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Which presidential nomination candidate is "for" torture? Being against torture is like comming out in favor of the extremely controversial supposition: "kids. Aren't they swell?"
  27. JockNerd

    JockNerd

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    The republican candidates were asked about it in a debate. Only McCain said he would not authorize torture to be used on prisoners or captives in order to try to get info about a potential impending attack. The others gave politician-esque answers that were more to the affirmative and as close as anyone in politics gets these days to just saying "yes" (I believe Guliani's words were "I would tell them to use whatever means necessary to obtain the information." He used that phrase twice over when the moderator tried to get a more straight answer out of him).
  28. Squarepants

    Squarepants

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    http://youtube.com/watch?v=axmCVvuWRTM Nearly all of the Republican candidates do.

    You believe human beings have a greater right to be alive because they're American citizens, and a lesser right to life if they aren't? Impressive.
  29. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    Democrats tend to have a severe case of I'm ok, you're ok syndrome and suffer from the delusion that standing around with your arms open and saying, "can't we all just be friends?" is effective foreign policy.
  30. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    The world isn't always a nice place and there are many people around it that would rather you dead just because you're an American or you are not *insert stupid religion here*. I'd rather do what we need to do to innoculate the problem be it better marketing/propaganda or blowing them up (whatever). It's not that I might believe American citizens have a greater right to life. . . but, better them than me, right?
  31. perfektspace

    perfektspace Member

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    In an ideal world the Chinese/Russians/Iranians etc. are looking out for me and my families best interests because we are all human beings...but in the real world they don't give a ****.

    So yes, I tend to value American life to a greater extent because it ultimately has an effect on myself, my country (my freedom and way of life), and my families survival. The necessity of self-preservation outweighs humanistic idealism.
  32. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    I watched the whole thing. Which candidate said "I think we should torture people?"
  33. psychanon

    psychanon

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    The problem with the "it's a choice between us blowing them up or them blowing us up" is that it's really not a realistic choice. The chance of a catastrophic terrorist attack is low. The chances of you personally dying of a terrorist attack are far lower than your chances of dying from getting struck by lightening or getting legally executed. The chances of terrorists in fringe groups such as al quaeda getting a nuclear bomb without help from a state is basically zero. Nuclear bombs are not things you can smuggle under your coats-- they're big and volatile, and they take a long time and lots and lots of resources to make. (the threat of a nation such as Iran getting nukes is somewhat higher, but the chances of them using them are still exceedingly low, and that's a whole different debate anyway). Yet the image of the mushroom cloud is frequently used by politicians. It's evocative. It gets people to go along with what you're saying out of fear.

    Bringing this train of thought back to psychology, why do people fear terrorist attacks so much, when they are so unlikely to die from one? Any given person living in the US is FAR more likely to die in a traffic collision or of something like cancer or a heart attack, so why pour colossally more money into fighting terrorism than in to fighting these other things? Given the obesity epidemic, chicken friend steak is far more likely to kill you than al quaeda. Why do people continue to eat, smoke, and not exercise in a way that is likely to slowly kill them, but support drastic measures like torture in order to prevent being killed by something that is exceedingly unlikely to do so?
  34. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    Oh, I agree. I've often made the point that your odds of dying in a plane crash on the day of 9/11 are low.


    The threat isn't really this piddly terrorism stuff, at its current level, though the level can be much worse (e.g., Israel). The threat is spread of the diseased ideology and creation of greater problems in the future.
  35. perfektspace

    perfektspace Member

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    This is largely true. Although the more realistic scenario is a former Soviet bloc country selling off nuclear material or weapons. As far as Iran goes, once you know how to make a bomb and have the industry in place it takes approximately 4 years to produce enough weapons grade plutonium to make a bomb. Iran is a major supporter of Islamic extremist groups that would use nukes. I don't like that scenario.


    I'm thinking along the same lines as JS. It's the ideology more so than the actual threat of harm due to terrorism. If the ideology becomes entrenched the violence follows. This isn't a time to make concessions. Western Europe has been doing that for years and it's starting to bite them in the ***.

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