At the height of the post 9/11 surge of patriotism, it wasn’t just a few wayward neocons like Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz who were willing to accept torture as a way of gaining intelligence from “enemy combatants,” a terrible mood of let’s-take-the-gloves-off vengeance infected the whole nation. One of the most damning manifestations of that patriotic fervor was the wholesale corruption of the American Psychological Association. Psychologists were recruited by the CIA to sit in the torture rooms and monitor what was going on, giving the whole enterprise their professional seal of approval. The do-no-harm ethic of an entire profession was blatantly sacrificed.
When the New York Times did an exposé on how the APA colluded with the CIA, this topic had a brief moment in the sun. But like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and the black sites, it soon faded away, just another passing outrage to take note of.
And yet this episode reveals something very ominous about America. If an entire profession with hundreds of thousands of members can sanction State torture the way the APA did, then America is much closer to being a Fascist State than anyone could ever have imagined. Down the road, if there is a major 1929 downturn in the economy, or if Israel attacks Iran, China flexes its military muscle, or if ISIS finds a way of terrorizing American cities with lethal drones, it is easy to imagine how the neocon right could whip the whole nation into a hyper-vengeful mode.
— Kono Matsu
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