CIA pscyhologists don't represent their field on torture

To the editor: As president of the largest association of American psychologists, I and my fellow members are outraged, saddened and pained that two psychologists allegedly devised and engaged in brutal interrogation methods. They inappropriately attempted to apply a classic model of learned helplessness to torture detainees. ("Two psychologists' role in CIA torture program comes into focus," Dec. 14)

Regardless of effectiveness, torture is unethical, abhorrent and morally reprehensible. That two psychologists allegedly received $80 million from this perversion of psychological science is shocking.


The two psychologists identified in the Senate report are not American Psychological Assn. members and therefore are beyond the range of our ethics enforcement program. But regardless of their membership status, if the allegations are true, they should be held accountable for inexcusable violations of ethical principles and legal standards.

There is no place in the field of psychology for individuals who are not respectful of human dignity and committed to human rights.

Nadine J. Kaslow, Atlanta

The writer, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, is president of the American Psychological Assn.


To the editor: Although the torture techniques may have been developed by psychologists John Jessen and James Mitchell, they could not have been implemented without the complicity of the political leadership in the CIA, the Department of Justice and the White House.

We are a country of laws, or so we say, and we cannot ignore violations that contradict those most precious values that were established by our founding fathers. Torture is torture, and those responsible should bear the legal consequences.

Nestor Fantini, Northridge

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