The Society for the
Psychological
Study of Social Issues

    

The resolution below was approved in September 2008 by an historic 8792 to 6157 vote of the APA membership. The following message of appreciation was distributed to participants on the SPSSI Listserv on September 18, on behalf of Brad Olson, Dan Aalbers, and Ruth Fallenbaum:

To all of you who took the trouble to think about, read carefully, question, discuss, and finally send in your votes in favor of the referendum, we want to say thank you. You represent the soul of our profession, and your action is the beginning of a new day for American psychology. This victory was a democratic effort; it belongs to all of us. Our job now is to ensure that your intention, to get psychologists out of the CIA black sites and Guantanamo, is carried out.

And we also want to add a thank you to SPSSI in general for taking leadership on this issue from the beginning in 2005 up through its recent endorsement of the referendum, which must have been initiated solely by those associated with the executive committee. It was exactly what was needed at the time, and it meant a great deal to all of us.

With best wishes, Dan Aalbers, Ruth Fallenbaum, and Brad Olson

BACKGROUND:

SPSSI Supports Approval of APA Resolution on Psychologists' Participation in Interrogations at US and Foreign Detention Camps

The following message was sent by the SPSSI Executive Committee to SPSSI/APA Division 9 members on August 22, 2008:

There has been a great deal of professional and public debate over the role of psychologists in interrogations conducted at U.S. detention centers for foreign detainees (e.g., the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba).  If you are an APA member, you should have received a ballot for a resolution on psychologists working in contexts in which people are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law or the US Constitution.  Unlike previous resolutions on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment that were adopted by APA Council of Representatives in 2006 and 2007, the current resolution comes directly to members for vote through a provision in APA bylaws that provides for mail votes of Association members upon petition of 1% of the membership.

The SPSSI Executive Committee has reviewed this referendum.  It has endorsed sending an email message to Division 9 members encouraging them to vote in the APA referendum on no participation in detainee camps.  The referendum states:

"Be it resolved that psychologists may not work in settings where persons are held outside of, or in isolation of, either International law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights."

The SPSSI recommends voting YES to the referendum, thereby limiting the conditions when psychologists shall work in settings where persons are held outside of, or in isolation of, either International law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate).  

You should have received a ballot from the APA. In the event you haven’t voted but don’t have your ballot, you can obtain a ballot from Garnett Coad at gcoad@apa.org. The ballots must be received by the end of the business day, September 15.

Below, we list some APA and non-APA websites that should be helpful in learning more about the petition and previous APA actions: www.apa.org/governance/resolutions/work-settings.html, for the petition itself; www.apa.org/governance/resolutions/qa-work-settings.html, for information in a Question & Answer format; www.apa.org/ethics, for information on APA's position on interrogations; www.ethicalapa.com, for background on the petition, frequently asked questions about its purposes and intent, and the list of original sponsors. For a brief video explaining why Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) is supporting this referendum, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GDH4V8A_Qc.

Finally, we wish to remind you of SPSSI's work on this issue.  SPSSI previously adopted a policy statement on "The Use of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment as Interrogation Devices" (see http://www.spssi.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=1061&parentID=471). Among other things, this policy statement 1) condemns the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as interrogation devices, 2) calls for an independent investigation of the extent to which psychologists have been involved in using such interrogation tools, 3) calls on the APA to unambiguously condemn the use of these interrogation devices and expressly forbid psychologists from planning, designing, assisting or participating in interrogations that involve their use, and 4) calls on the APA to develop specific guidelines and explicit codes of conduct that are consistent with international treaties and human rights covenants for psychologists working in contexts of war and imprisonment.

In addition, SPSSI Council previously stated its support for a resolution that had been introduced into APA governance that called for a moratorium on all psychologist involvement, either direct or indirect, in any interrogations at U.S. detention centers for foreign detainees (see SPSSI Forward newsletter article at http://www.spssi.org/_data/n_0001/resources/live/SPSSI%20Newsletter_Fall%202007.pdf ).  

In short, in this and other work, SPSSI has consistently and strongly spoken out in support of human rights.  We are proud that SPSSI’s representatives (Bernice Lott, 2002-2007, Allen Omoto & Maureen O'Connor) on APA Council of Representatives have spoken out vigorously on this issue and ask that you now make your voice heard by carefully reading the petition and the pro and con arguments that accompany it and returning your ballot by September 15, 2008.


Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin