After an order issued by the U.S. general in charge of Guantanamo Bay this month, most psychologists will no longer be employed at the infamous prison. Why? Because the American Psychological Association no longer believes that working where prisoners are held without trial and tortured is ethical, and the general doesn’t want to place any employees in violation of the new rules.
The New York Times reported on the order today, which will bar psychologists from working with detainees at the prison. The change in the association’s ethics policy, approved earlier this year, came in response to psychologists’ involvement in Gitmo’s “enhanced interrogation” program—a fancy name given to the U.S. government’s torture of inmates there. The program was allowed to operate legally in part because it was supposedly being monitored by psychologists for safety, and the association’s previous ethics rules were reportedly crafted specifically to ensure that they wouldn’t block such involvement with the government’s violent interrogations.
Psychologists have all but vacated from Guantanamo as of two weeks ago. They will no longer participate in interviewing detainees, the Times reports, but will also be blocked from performing their less nefarious roles there, such as administering mental health programs. On one hand, the removal of those counseling jobs might be an overstep, but on the other, offering a prisoner a therapy session after slapping him around and depriving him of sleep sounds like a cruel exercise in futility. (Counseling will be taken over by “Navy corpsmen and nurses specializing in mental health,” per the Times.)
But not all of the psychologists are gone: those who treat U.S. military personnel are permitted to stay under the new rules. Counseling the unjustly jailed is unethical; counseling their jailers, apparently, is not.