Help APA Anti-Torture Candidate Win Election

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Monday, December 1, will be the last day members of the American Psychological Association can vote for president of the organization. Members can vote online at this link. They should cast their vote for the only progressive candidate standing for election, Steven J. Reisner, Ph.D.

According to the ranked nature of the APA ballot, members must mark Dr. Reisner #1 on the ballot. In a letter to his supporters, Steven describes his opponents’ tactics:

The APA leadership has mounted a coordinated effort to combat my campaign for change at the APA. Nearly identical emails have gone out from members of the APA’s ‘old guard’ urging members to stop my bid for the APA Presidency by giving their top four votes to the other candidates, in whatever order, just so long as they put Steven Reisner last.

Such campaigning is perhaps not unusual, although with five candidates for office, it does represent a kind of pile-on by the opposition. The other candidates are united in one thing: stop Steven Reisner.

One reason is his association with and support of those APA members who successfully passed a referendum to change APA policy on having psychologists at military and CIA sites that violated human rights of detainees, as recognized in domestic and international law. Psychologists in particular had been associated with abusive interrogations as part of Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs) at Guantanamo and in Iraq. Psychologists were associated with similar actions with Special Forces in Afghanistan. Finally, some psychologists were intimately involved in implementing torture procedures, reverse-engineered from the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) program.

Most recently, a key group of anti-torture psychologists led by Stephen Soldz, a close associate of Dr. Reisner, initiated a successful petition campaign against a possible CIA directorship for torture apologist and CIA insider John Brennan. The campaign was widely viewed as contributing to the downfall of any Brennan appointment. It’s precisely this kind of action that probably scares some of the APA old guard, who heavily support the military and intelligence services, believing them the source of a bevy of important jobs for current and future psychologists.

While the anti-Brennan campaign came only recently, the successful referendum campaign, which had been opposed by key APA insiders, still rankles, as demonstrated by this post from the APA Council representative for military psychologists on their division listerv (Division 19, the Society for Military Psychology):

Thank you to those who voted in the recent APA special ballot on the petition regarding the so-called “torture” resolution. Unfortunately, as we feared, relatively few APA members voted, and the resolution passed. This will be a difficult resolution for us to live with, but things could get even worse if one of the leaders of the petition movement, Steven Reisner, is elected president of APA…Soon you will receive a ballot to vote for APA president-elect. You will be asked to rank order the five candidates. Because of the vote-counting system that APA uses, it is very important that you use all five positions, and that Dr. Reisner be ranked in the #5 spot. Your Executive Committee is uncomfortable endorsing specific candidates for APA president.

According to Dr. Reisner, similar emails have gone out to the division for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and various state psychological associations. Dr. Reisner’s letter gives a powerful and systemic analysis of his opponents’ motivations, and offers a progressive program to address the imbalance of military and intelligence influence within APA:

We know that the status quo was roundly rejected by an overwhelming majority of APA members through the referendum vote. Yet, the authors of these emails are contemptuous of the referendum (“Unfortunately…the referendum passed”) and are still trying to delegitimize its validity (“relatively few members voted”). In fact, the referendum passed with a larger number of votes than any previous policy change and with a larger turnout than all but two elections in APA history.

For years, the APA leadership has been on the wrong side of this issue, to our shame, and to the detriment of our ability to speak as professionals with moral authority. The persistence with which the leadership maintains this position has caused some to suspect that APA’s policy has much more to do with economics and power than with ethics. Many of the opponents of policy change work directly for the military and many others work for corporations, like HUMRRO, that garners millions in military contracts each year. For this reason I have called for transparency in APA dealings with government, military, and intelligence organizations, including full disclosure of government ties or contracts of any member who is involved in setting APA policies with regard to these agencies.

APA elections are often decided by razor-thin margins. This is a very important election. A relatively small group of psychologists are going to decide what direction a key civilian component of the military-industrial-academic complex takes in the coming period. No one knows what direction exactly national security and military matters will go under an Obama administration. This vote is a way to show the right way for both a President Obama and the incoming Congress.

All APA psychologists: vote for Steven Reisner in the upcoming elections, putting him as #1 choice on the ballot.

To Vote:

You may vote online by Monday, December 1, at You will need your membership number (on your APA card or on any APA journal mailing label) and your ‘ballot control number’ (located above your name and address on your paper ballot).

If you are missing either of these, you may call Garnett Coad of the APA election office at 202-336-6087, or email him at [email protected].

Please pass this information on to all APA members you may know, and please encourage them to vote by Monday!

For those with further questions, I suggest you email Dr. Reisner, or visit his website,

For the record, I have no association with Dr. Reisner’s campaign. No member of his campaign has asked me write this, or asked for my support. I have no current association with APA. I am writing this, and supporting Dr. Reisner, because of concern for my profession (psychology), and an even larger concern for the direction of my country.

Originally posted at Invictus, as “APA Old Guard Campaigns Against Progressive Reisner.”


    • Valtin on November 28, 2008 at 22:33

    A progressive leadership of APA will have a real impact upon the incoming administration and the Congress.

    I hope some readers here are or know APA members. Vote for Steven Reisner, and take a real step at continuing the movement for progressive change in this country.

    • Valtin on November 28, 2008 at 23:24

    for the promotion of the issue. I know, if I haven’t said it, that it helps get the info out to influential people, and many who care. So this thanks is on behalf of them.

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