Sunday, August 17, 2008

Psyched out

Should psychologists take part in interrogations? For all the debate here, I don't think this is a hard question.

If an interrogation is a crime and particularly if it is a war crime, any participation is a crime. If the psychologist says he was trying to prevent harm, he'd better have some actual actions, not just a post hoc rationalization to show for himself. If he doesn't, far from extenuating his presence, his acknowledgement that he knew harm was likely incriminates him.

On the other hand, legal, ethical, and moral interrogations are not only possible, they're essential. Psychologists who know how to detect lies? They're needed. (I'm reading Telling Lies, by Paul Ekman.) Psychologists who can advise interrogators how to gain trust from their prisoners. Needed.

Enablers of torture? Uh, easy to say no to that.

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