BEN OLSEN | Scroll Illustration

BEN OLSEN | Scroll Illustration

The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with George W. Bush to legally and ethically justify torture, a new study by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists reported, according to The New York Times.

“The APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House and Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security programs which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program,” according to The New York Times.

The report said the justification was specifically for torture of prisoners after Sept. 11 at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

“In 2004 and 2005 the CIA torture program was threatened from within and outside the Bush administration,” said Stephen Soldz, a lead author of the report, according to The New York Times. “Like clockwork, the APA directly addressed legal threats at every critical juncture facing the senior intelligence officials at the heart of the program. In some cases, the APA even allowed these same Bush officials to help write the association’s policies.”

The U.S. government does a lot to protect and serve us as its citizens. But there are still problems it needs to address.

Torture is one of them.

Torture is never acceptable.

While the CIA says the use of enhanced interrogation led to vital information about Osama bin Laden, critics argue the same information can be obtained with non-abusive tactics, according to PBS.

According to the British Psychological Society, disclosure was 14 times more likely early in an interrogation when a relationship building technique was used and confessions were four times more likely when the interrogators remained neutral and respectful.

When we condone torture, it sends a few different messages to the rest of the world, and each with its own set of problems.

First, some of us say it’s OK to torture one person if it helps to save 500 people; but this is wrong.

By torturing others, whatever the reason, we are telling the rest of the world we believe in “the greater good.”

We tell the world that the ends justify the means, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our people, but forget about yours. We take an extremely inhumane approach to ethics and morality when we adopt this attitude.

We essentially communicate, “We don’t care how we get to our goal, but we will achieve it. Not even human life matters.”

Torture is a physical manifestation of using people.

Torture is using people for his or their information to accomplish what we need.

This frame of mind is dangerous because it reduces the ability to empathize and sympathize with those we capture, who are still people with real lives and real families.

It reduces them to objects unworthy of rights or compassion.

Whether we get the correct information or not is irrelevant because in the end, that person will never be the same.

If we do have the right person and get the right information, we saved lives, but we sacrificed our morality and our humanity to get it.

If we get it wrong, we have destroyed someone’s life and we send him or her on his or her way home with a half-baked apology and some money.

It tells the rest of the world we can, and will, throw people away once we are finished using them.

The countries of the rest of the world may see our tactics and perceive, “The United States does whatever it takes, so we will too.”

As the United States, we often consider ourselves better than the rest of the world for various reasons, including democracy and our emphasis on human rights.

In this thinking, we must also hold ourselves to a higher standard.

How can we expect others to abstain from or adhere to different practices if we don’t follow them ourselves?

Some might say that others practice torture, so why should we be the only ones to condemn it?

But that is the lowest form of thinking. We should not do what is immoral just because others are doing it.

If we are really as good a country as we say we are, we will set an example for the rest of the world by not contributing to this cruel practice.

We say torture is wrong; it’s time we start acting like it.

Approved by an 18-0 vote of the Scroll editorial board.