09/16/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

America's Psychologists Finally Call For An End To Involvement In Torture

The American Psychological Association should have taken a stand against torture years ago, when evidence first emerged that the Bush administration was condoning and even encouraging torture.

The organization finally took that stand today, August 16th, 2008, and we should applaud them for it, despite the delay.

Saying it was "deeply concerned about the alleged involvement of a psychologist in an abusive interrogation of a Guantanamo detainee," the APA declared that "no psychologist - APA member or not - should be directly or indirectly involved in any form of detention or interrogation that could lead to psychological or physical harm to a detainee."

The APA, the world's largest association of psychologists and related researchers and clinicians, listed 19 interrogation techniques that it described as torture, including waterboarding, hooding, forced nudity and the use of stress positions in interrogations.

The APA has taken heat for its refusal to act earlier. (See Deborah Korry's and Art Levine's informative 2007 posts, and Levine's article in the Jan./Feb. issue of Washington Monthly.) It lagged far behind even the conservative American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, who earlier barred medical doctors from participating in torture.

In its statement, the APA also calls on the Department of Defense and Congress to continue investigations of the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

The statement follows a 2006 resolution by the APA's Council of Representatives, a legalistic 12 "Whereas" clauses, and concluding with another dozen paragraphs beginning with "Be it resolved..." It took two years for the APA to distill that into the brief, three-paragraph condemnation of torture that it issued today.

The statement is not likely to change much. But it does remove one more fig leaf of cover from the Bush administration's endorsement of torture.