Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ex-APA President Part of Torture-linked Firm -- APA: See No Evil, Hear No Evil

A former president of the APA, now almost a generation ago, Joseph Matarazzo, has been outed by SpokesmanReview.com as one of five "governing people" in the firm Mitchell, Jessen and Associates in Spokane, Washington. Mitchell-Jessen's primary partners, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen have been linked to the CIA and military use of torture in Afghanistan and Iraq. Matarazzo is also said to have a financial interest in the firm.

From the SpokesmanReview story by Bill Morlin:

Matarazzo refused repeated interview requests but said in an e-mailed statement that he "is not and never has been involved in the company's operational decisions," and that he only "attends brief and infrequent company meetings."

Matarazzo added in the e-mailed statement: "I have never been involved in the use either of torture or the legal or illegal interrogation of prisoners or anyone else. And I would strongly advise against it. I also have no knowledge of anyone who has been involved in such torture or interrogation."

Brad Olson, chairman of the APA Divisions for Social Justice, called the revelations "shocking and distressing".

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that besides being a well-known psychologist-teacher at Oregon Health & Science University's Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, Matarazzo, who retired last June, was heavily involved in the assessment of police officers, and was also a "Distinguished Visiting Professor" at an APA doctoral program for the Air Force at Andrews Air Force Base. The program included a "choice of optional rotations in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, [and] the National Security Agency", among other more health-oriented internship possibilities. (There's nothing necessarily sinister about these latter associations, but they are suggestive of the milieu with which Matarazzo associated.)

According to a recent New Yorker article, Mitchell and Jessen, Matarazzo's partners, were involved in some pretty heavy duty bad behavior:

... the SERE experts’ theories were apparently put into practice with Zubaydah’s interrogation. Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he was not only waterboarded, as has been previously reported; he was also kept for a prolonged period in a cage, known as a “dog box,” which was so small that he could not stand. According to an eyewitness, one psychologist advising on the treatment of Zubaydah, James Mitchell, argued that he needed to be reduced to a state of “learned helplessness.” (Mitchell disputes this characterization.)....

The C.I.A.’s interrogation program is remarkable for its mechanistic aura. “It’s one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever,” an outside expert familiar with the protocol said. “At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you’ve heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.”

Despite all this, according to Bill Morlin's article, the APA responded with a sputtering utterance of bizarre denial:

APA President Sharon Brehm and Stephen Behnke, the director of APA's Ethics Directorate, both declined comment last week when asked about Matarazzo's ties to the private psychology firm working for the CIA.

"Dr. Matarazzo was president of APA 18 years ago," Rhea Farberman, the organization's director of public affairs, said in a prepared statement.

"Since that time, he has had no active role in APA governance but has been actively involved in the American Psychological Foundation (APF), the charitable giving arm of APA. Dr. Matarazzo currently holds no governance positions in either APA or APF," the statement said.

Matarazzo's "professional activities are outside and independent of any role he has played within APA and APF," the statement said. "We have no direct knowledge about the business dealing of Mitchell's and Jessen's company; however, APA's position is clear – torture or other forms of cruel or inhuman treatment are always unethical." [emphasis added]

So, being involved in torture or associated with torturers, if it is part of one's "professional activities", are not considered any business of the oh-so-staid-but-"liberal" American Psychological Association, as long as those activities are "outside and independent of any role... played within APA". No words of condemnation or distress! Without shame, the leadership of the APA continues to bury their head in the sand, the better to assure long-time links between their organization and some of their members with military and intelligence agencies.

Later this week, the APA's Council of Representatives is meeting to consider the role of psychologists in interrogations. With revelations falling upon their heads left and right, they would do well to consider the fate of the APA as any kind of respectable institution and vote to pass a moratorium resolution forbidding the collaboration of psychologists in the U.S. government's illegal and immoral program of coercive interrogation.

No comments:

Search for Info/News on Torture

Google Custom Search
Add to Google ">View blog reactions

This site can contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my effort to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.