The Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association put out an open letter today reaffirming with greater emphasis the unethical nature of all torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Money quote:

The Ethics Committee and APA governance as a whole are focused intently on Ethics Code Standards 1.02 and 1.03, which address conflicts between ethics and law and between ethics and organizational demands, respectively. In light of Bush administration interrogation policies and uncertainty among our membership, the Ethics Committee has issued the attached statement, “No defense to torture under the APA Ethics Code.” Invoking language from the U.N. Convention Against Torture, this statement clarifies that the Ethics Committee “will not accept any defense to torture in its adjudication of ethics complaints.” APA will continue to monitor material in official reports related to psychologist mistreatment of national security detainees, will investigate reports of unethical conduct by APA members, and will adjudicate cases in keeping with our Code of Ethics. The association’s focus on these ethical standards is consistent with its position that no psychologist involved in detainee abuse should escape accountability.

The background to this story - and the sorry passivity of the APA in the past in noting and condemning psychologists involved in the Bush-Cheney torture program - can be found here. This is a start, but accountability hasn't advanced in the psychological profession as in the political profession. For the record, the APA's defintion of torture is after the jump. Cite it when these armchair torturers insist they were just "enhancing" their "interrogations":

An absolute prohibition against the following techniques therefore arises from, is understood in the context of, and is interpreted according to these texts: mock executions; water-boarding or any other form of simulated drowning or suffocation; sexual humiliation; rape; cultural or religious humiliation; exploitation of fears, phobias or psychopathology; induced hypothermia; the use of psychotropic drugs or mind-altering substances; hooding; forced nakedness; stress positions; the use of dogs to threaten or intimidate; physical assault including slapping or shaking; exposure to extreme heat or cold; threats of harm or death; isolation; sensory deprivation and over-stimulation; sleep deprivation; or the threatened use of any of the above techniques to an individual or to members of an individual's family. Psychologists are absolutely prohibited from knowingly planning, designing, participating in or assisting in the use of all condemned techniques at any time and may not enlist others to employ these techniques in order to circumvent this resolution's prohibition.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.