Friday, July 10, 2015

Lawyers and psychologist-torturers: the heart of darkness of this tale

I've just read the 72-page executive summary of the report from the Sidley Austin law firm on the American Psychological Association's complicity with the CIA and the Pentagon in carrying out torture and other crimes against humanity.

The report was written under the purview of David Hoffman, a hot shot Yale law school grad who clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, served as a congressional staffer, was a high-ranking federal prosecutor in Illinois, and spent five years as Chicago's Inspector General.

Of Jewish and Puerto Rican descent, he ran for U.S. Senate as an anti-establishment "independent voice" a few years ago, but not even the bullshit factory formerly headed by Obama's David Axelrod was able to sell that one and Hoffman lost.

Hoffman's report, while thoroughly and systematically documenting the cynical and corrupt conspiracy by the association's leadership in enabling and covering up the participation of psychologists in torture and other crimes against humanity, can't even bring itself to call a criminal conspiracy by its right name, instead parsing the word "collusion" in the style of Bill Clinton explaining the different meanings of the word "is" during his Monica Lewinsky testimony.

And even while noting the clear evidence in the public domain and therefore before the association that the U.S. military and intelligence agencies were violating the Geneva Agreements, carrying out forced disappearances, torture and other war crimes, the report constructs an Eichmann-like defense, saying the group could not have really proved the suspicions it should have had, so it may not really be guilty of hiding its head in the sand.

The report even refuses to call torture by its right name, ridiculing the Bush Administrations' memos but pointedly refusing to accept how torture is defined by international law ... even as the report criticizes the APA's chief ethics officer's underhanded maneuvers to exclude any reference to the Geneva Agreements from the group's ethics policies.

You might say --as the report argues-- such characterizations go beyond the brief given to Hoffman and his accomplices. I disagree. Under these circumstances, a law firm charged with a full and impartial investigation that uncovers such facts and actions is duty bound to call things by their right names.

They are not the defense attorneys for the APA but have been (supposedly) explicitly tasked with only one responsibility: to investigate and report the truth. That means calling things by their right names.

And the truth is that here you have shameless violations of the laws of war, forced disappearances, torture, research on human subjects without their consent including by applying such tactics of terror as to break them utterly.

And these are not just crimes against humanity, but crimes  by a state, carried out with the guarantee of total and complete impunity that these little Eichmanns believe government sponsorship gives them.

Given the facts in the report, to temporize, equivocate, play games like, "on the one hand, on the other," and obfuscate with dictionary defintions is to become an accomplice after the fact.

I believe there is one more way that the Sidley law firm has failed to live up to its duty, in this case, to its direct client, the American Psychological Association. I think given the facts it uncovered, the firm was duty bound to violate the terms of its engagement which said it should not draw conclusions for the APA about what it found and tell the group what it should do.

I think the investigators had an inescapable ethical responsibility to tell the APA that it must disband.

Violating the explicit charge of a client is such a serious breach of a client's trust in a case like this that I can think of only one circumstance where it is called for. And that is when the investigator discovers that the client that hired them, seemingly in good faith to simply find out the facts, cannot be trusted to draw the inescapable conclusions that flow from those facts.

And that is conclusion is that behind the duplicity, committee-stacking, nepotism, manipulation, bad faith and corruption documented by the report, there is a central, inescapable conflict of interest.

The APA tries to represent both those practitioners who seek to use their scientific knowledge to help their clients as well as those practitioners who use their training for other purposes, including hurting the interests, well-being, health and even sanity of the individuals who are the objects of their professional attention.

There should not --must not-- be a common professional association for those two groups of people because there cannot be a common code of ethics between practitioners of a healing art who seek to help their patients, and those who have other purposes, especially helping the tormentors of those the healer would be helping.

What the Sidley law firm found was that the motivation of the APA leadership was to promote "the profession," and especially protect and expand the role of psychologists in Washington's military and intelligence apparatus, i.e., in waging war.

The fundamental corruption is that they did that in an association that projects itself as having the ultimate aim of helping people, rather than killing them.

The horror is not the monstrous criminality of the APA's leaders, but the very pedestrian venality that made it possible -- and that also led to the emasculation of the report we have before us.

That is the heart of darkness of this tale.

No comments:

Post a Comment