Doctors who helped U.S. torture detainees could face charges after new report details their post-9/11 'collusion'

[Read the post]


I misread the headline as “Doctors who helped the detainees that the U.S. tortured.” In essence, I thought that they were being prosecuted for doing their jobs in helping the detainees recover from torture.

I was relieved to see that, even though the U.S. government is unwilling to prosecute those who tortured the detainees themselves, they’re at least not that evil (to define “helping people recover from torture” as “collusion”).

How did we get to the point where health professionals whose whole job is to help people in distress, instead facilitate putting them into distress, and provide cover for those who do so?


Huh… Maybe those scientologists were onto something…?

No, it’s Australia that’s gearing up for that one.


Do psychologists get the courtesy title of “Doctor” in the US? They’re plain Mr. or Mrs. anywhere I’ve practiced, unless they have a PhD.

How about charges for government lawyers who figured out ways to justify torture?
How about charges for administration personnel who directed the lawyers to justify torture?


I thought all “psychologists” had PhDs. I didn’t think you can be called be called a “psychologist” (as opposed to “therapist”, or something) without one, or maybe I just always assumed that. I don’t think anyone with a BS in psych is considered a psychologist.

Just as long as the John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales, Don Rumsefeld, George Tenant, Dick Cheney, George Bush, and the rest of the architects, are above charging, we’ll still be America.



Masters degree and board registration in NZ.

Postgraduate Doctorate in the UK, but in the hospitals I encountered them they weren’t using the title ‘Dr’ to avoid confusion (and the stress of being mistaken for a Medical Practitioner in an emergency). But things may have changed — I haven’t worked in a Psychiatric hospital for a very long time …

Yes, you cannot be a psychologist - and a practicing dr - without a PhD. In which case, you are a doctor.

One can dub oneself a ‘therapist’ without a PhD but even that requires a license in some places.

That would be very very good indeed. If you have any influence, campaign for that.

But the APA really needs to fix this. The 2002 amendments to their Ethics code were reversed in 2010. But they still need to censure and de-register any members who condoned and assisted with torture or helped to cover it up. Professional organisations are supposed to clean up their own messes. It’s the price they pay for independence.


These people are complicit in war crimes. Take these people down, Then move upward and take those people down too.


I am deeply afraid a few doctors will be pilloried, and then our national conscience will be satisfied. A few doctors is not enough.


Sadly, I’m a flesh&blood person, not a corporate entity, and economically a member of the 99% so the amount of influence I have is pretty much squat. I do vote my convictions and support campaigns I believe in.

Yes, we made a mess on so many levels…


That’s possibly true for the US as a whole, but psychological torture techniques rely on people who actually know some psychology to be really effective. If the APA really cleans up, then it sends a message to future practitioners —and that’s a good thing.

With a proper ethical foundation, American psychologists could have taken the moral high road. The way Australian health and teaching workers are doing over the recent gagging laws there.


Given how ineffective the torture program was for any purpose aside from pure sadistic indulgence, and how much of what went on appears to have been hacked together on the fly; it’s actually sort of baffling where all the fancy expertise they bothered to co-opt went.

Either the DoD was making do with sadists and hacks, or team psych’s attempt to understand how humans work has actually provided them with surprisingly little that the various malignant amateurs hadn’t already worked out by experience. I imagine that having them around was valuable for whitewashing the program; and giving it a veneer of medical polish; but it’s actually somewhat surprising how little the collaborators appear to have contributed to any novel insights or techniques.

The fact that they were willing to try is more than enough reason to drum them out of the profession permanently, and ideally see the rotting in jail for a good long time; but it is actually somewhat baffling how little use they appear to have been for anything except constructing justifications.


Leave the doctors alone, they are small fishes. Go after their handlers. Cheney, Yoo, that gang.

Of course the small fishes are more disposable and less capable of defending their positions.


Small fish are guilty too, even if not as important about it. Plus, you can often get valuable testimony out of them: the overlords have to give their minions incriminating orders at some point, if they want things to get done; and getting the minions to tell you about it is usually easier.

One should not be distracted by small fish, to the exclusion of larger targets; but these guys weren’t hapless conscripts or forced to work for the man under threat of death. These were active collaborators. Plenty of guilt to go around. And we aren’t talking such a large number that logistical impracticality force us to settle for some ‘truth and reconciliation’ stopgap measure. There is room for everyone; and we should use it.


Do both.

Changing a whole profession’s ethical code to allow complicity and participating in torture —no matter how ineffective— means that they are unworthy of the titles, honours and registration as professionals. They are individually small fry, but the image and future of psychology as a profession is not.