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AP’s Today in History for September 10th
Hungary lets East German refugees leave for West Germany; Louisiana U.S. Senator Huey Long fatally shot; Elias Howe gets sewing machine patent; ‘Gunsmoke’ premieres; Singer Jose Feliciano born.
Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below
Sometimes the good guys do win. That’s what happened on August 8th in San Francisco when the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association (APA) decided to extend a policy keeping its members out of the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The APA’s decision is important — and not just symbolically. Today we have a president who has promised to bring back torture and “load up” Guantánamo “with some bad dudes.” When healing professionals refuse to work there, they are standing up for human rights and against torture.
It wasn’t always so. In the early days of Guantánamo, military psychologists contributed to detainee interrogations there. It was for Guantánamo that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved multiple torture methods, including among others excruciating stress positions, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, and enforced nudity. Military psychologists advised on which techniques would take advantage of the weaknesses of individual detainees. And it was two psychologists, one an APA member, who designed the CIA’s whole “enhanced interrogation program.”
Here’s a disclaimer of sorts: ever since I witnessed the effects of U.S. torture policy firsthand in Central America in the 1980s, I’ve had a deep personal interest in American torture practices. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I wrote two books focused on the subject, the latest being American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes.
For a year and a half, I also served on a special ethics commission established by the APA after ugly revelations came out about how that organization’s officials had, in the Bush years, maneuvered to allow its members to collude with the U.S. government in settings where torture was used. In fact, an independent review it commissioned in 2015 concluded that “some of the association’s top officials, including its ethics director, sought to curry favor with Pentagon officials by seeking to keep the association’s ethics policies in line with the Defense Department’s interrogation policies.” Indeed, those leaders colluded “with important DoD officials to have [the] APA issue loose, high-level ethical guidelines that did not constrain [the] DoD in any greater fashion than existing DoD interrogation guidelines.”
In the wake of that independent review, the APA’s Council of Representatives voted that same year to keep psychologists out of national security interrogation settings.
It’s modestly encouraging that this August two-thirds of its governing body voted against a resolution that would have returned psychologists to sites like Gitmo.
What makes the new vote less than completely satisfying, however, is this: the 2015 vote establishing that policy was 157-to-1. This year, a third of the council was ready to send psychologists back to Guantánamo. Like much of the rest of Donald Trump’s United States, the APA seems to be in the process of backsliding on torture.
Something to think about over coffee prozac
NEW YORK (Reuters) – It was a case of hold the honey, double the mustard in Times Square at lunchtime on Tuesday.
Police shut part of 43rd Street near Seventh Avenue after a thick swarm of bees gathered atop a blue and yellow umbrella over a hotdog cart in an area of Manhattan already buzzing with swarms of pedestrians, tourists and traffic.
A police officer who keeps bees himself, arrived at the scene in Times Square, known as “The Crossroads of the World,” at 2:30 p.m. (EST), wearing a mesh-hooded beekeeper suit. He deployed a vacuum cleaner-like device to collect the bees unharmed, said New York Police Detective Sophia Mason.
The scene drew crowds of tourists taking photographs.
“It took about 45 minutes to suck them up,” Mason said. “They are at an undisclosed location. They will rehive them.”
No one was injured in the incident, Mason said.
“The bees just wanted some hot dogs,” she added.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Chris Reese)