You may have heard from the US Senate report on terrorism and the “enhanced interrogations” that a small group of psychologists were involved in the interrogations of detainees from the 9/11 incident. How could psychologists, who have a long tradition of concern and adherence to ethical standards in the treatment of others, become involved in such activities? Is it justified? More important: would YOU have become involved in these activities in the swirl of confusion and fear after the attacks? We examine these issues in this episode of The Psych Files.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Might you have become involved in the development or monitoring of questionable “enhanced interrogation” techniques if you were asked to do so by the government? Remember the context: the time is just after the 9/11 attacks (though it did continue for years afterward) when there was a great deal of fear and uncertainty over what terrorists might do next.
- What do the results of the Milgram and Zimbardo studies suggest about your answer to the above question?
- If it is found that the APA altered its ethical code in order to allow psychologists to become involved in these questionable interrogations, what should the APA do next to rectify the situation?
- Does the fact that these were “bad men” make what we did okay?
- What do you think of B.F. Skinner’s comment that knowing that someone is a “bad man” does no good in helping us to make sure that man’s actions won’t be repeated?
Psychology’s Involvement in Detainee Interrogations
- APA Applauds Release of Senate Intelligence Committee Report Summary
- No Place to Hide: Torture, Psychologists, and the APA
- Psychologists and Torture
- New Report Links Psychologists and Medical Professionals to Detainee Abuse
- Psychologists to Review Role in Detainee Interrogations
- People’s support for torture in “ticking time bomb scenarios” is influenced by their desire for retribution
- James Risen vs. the American Psychological Association
- Senate Report Calls CIA Tactics Inhumane and Ineffective, Details Unethical Application of Psychology
- Questions for the APA Board Regarding Claims in James Risen’s Book “Pay Any Price”
- Stanley Milgram Obedience Study Finally Replicated
- Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War
- Nuremberg trials