The American Psychological Association’s (APA) role in supporting torture [Encouraging the BPS to take an ethical stance]

Dear All, 

I'm sure many of you may be aware of the role that Psychologists have played in facilitating torture. But if not the recent judgement from the European Court of Human Rights (Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland, no. 7511/13, provides an overview. (CTRL + F 'Psychologist') to find info. 

56.  According to the 2009 DOJ Report, the CIA psychologists eventually proposed twelve EITs to be used in the interrogation of Mr Abu Zubaydah: attention grasp, walling, facial hold, facial or insult slap, cramped confinement, insects, wall-standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, use of diapers, waterboard – the name of the twelfth EITs was redacted.

Dr Roy Eidelson and Dr Trudy Bond who are active on the Psychologists for Social Responsibility mailing list have recently written an article detailing new evidence as to the extent that the American Psychological Association has collaborated and worked to support the CIA in its program of Torture. With allegations of cooperation going right to the top of the organisation.  

These emails document that the CIA and the Bush Administration played a direct role in guiding APA’s stance and actions in regard to the ethics of psychologists’ involvement in national security detention and interrogation operations. As Risen writes:

The e-mail archives of one researcher with ties to the CIA, who died on the cusp of becoming a whistleblower, provide a revealing glimpse into the tight network of psychologists and other behavioral scientists so eager for CIA and Pentagon contracts that they showed few qualms about helping to develop and later protect the interrogation infrastructure. The e-mails show the secret, close relationships among some of the nation’s leading psychologists and officials at the CIA and Pentagon. And the e-mails reveal how the American Psychological Association (APA), the nation’s largest professional group for psychologists, put its seal of approval on those close ties – and thus indirectly on torture. (pp. 178-179)

Please see  

On the 16th October - Physicians for Human Rights  called for an investigation into the American Psychological Associations role in this programme. - See info at:

I was therefore wondering, if the Community Psychology Network might consider taking a position on this and perhaps place some pressure on the British Psychological Society with regard to its relationship with the APA.

The British Psychological Society has previously made a Declaration concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. They write (see attached):

Psychologists shall not knowingly provide any premises, instruments, substances or
knowledge that facilitates the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or that diminishes the ability of the victim to resist such

Which sits inconsistently with the memorandum of understanding The BPS signed with the APA on 03/04/2008 where amongst other things, they pledge to assist, support or work together for the betterment of psychology (see attached). 

I would hope that a position taken by the Community Psychology Network might encourage the BPS to offer assistance to the APA as to their ethical conduct. 

Interested in your thoughts,


Scott Bartle.

Views: 482


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Another article released today via  on how Scott Gerwehr first contacted @nattyray11 of Physicians for Human Rights.


Featured photo - Blowing the Whistle on CIA Torture from Beyond the Grave

In the fall of 2006, Nathaniel Raymond, a researcher with the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights, got a call from a man professing to be a CIA contractor. Scott Gerwehr was a behavioral science researcher who specialized in “deception detection,” or figuring out when someone was lying.  Gerwehr told Raymond “practically in the first five minutes” that he had been at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo in the summer of 2006, but had left after his suggestion to install video-recording equipment in detainee interrogation rooms was rejected. “He said, ‘I wouldn’t operate at a facility that didn’t tape. It protects the interrogators and it protects the detainees,’” Raymond recalls.

Gerwehr also told Raymond that that he had read the CIA inspector general’s report on detainee abuse, which at the time had not been made public. But “he didn’t behave like a traditional white knight,” Raymond toldThe Intercept. Though he had reached out to Raymond and perhaps others, he didn’t seem like a prototypical whistleblower. He didn’t say what he was trying to do or ask for help; he just dropped the information. Raymond put him in touch with a handful of reporters, and their contact ended in 2007.

In 2008, at the age of 40, Gerwehr died in a motorcycle accident on Sunset Boulevard. Years after Gerwehr died, New York Times reporter James Risen obtained a cache of Gerwehr’s files, including emails that identify him as part of a group of psychologists and researchers with close ties to the national security establishment. Risen’s new book, Pay Any Price, uses Gerwehr’s emails to show close collaboration between staffers at the American Psychological Association (APA) and government officials, collaboration that offered a fig leaf of health-professional legitimacy to the CIA and military’s brutal interrogations of terror suspects.


Risen describes Gerwehr as “living a highly compartmentalized life.” A Santa Monica liberal who “expressed distaste for George Bush,” he was nonetheless tightly connected to people involved in the administration’s interrogation program. He had top secret/sensitive compartmented information clearance, according to Risen, and a psychologist told Risen “he seemed optimistic about the possibilities of testing out psychological theories on interrogation issues.” Indeed, in a 2005 New York Times op-ed that reads as almost naïve in the wake of the Abu Ghraib revelations, he and a co-author wrote that the idea “that harsh treatment of prisoners can be less effective than showing compassion…now deserves a test in Iraq.” Treating prisoners well “would help reverse the terrible propaganda defeat suffered with the revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib,” he wrote, and “prisoners released by our forces would return to their communities with stories of American generosity and tolerance.”

Risen says that Gerwehr’s files don’t contain “explosive bombshells,” or indicate “the extent of his knowledge of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs.” But they narrate a period in 2004 and 2005 when the APA was being forced to respond to revelations about detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and the role of psychologists in designing and condoning brutal questioning tactics. (Subsequentgovernment investigations and reporting would show the foundational roleof psychology, and in particular, two psychologists and CIA contractors, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.)

The APA in 2002 famously revised its ethics code to permit a psychologist to follow “governing legal authority” even if it clashed with the APA’s own code of ethics. It was, essentially, the Nuremberg Defense of “just following orders.” (In 2010 the APA definitively disavowed it.) As Risen writes, the 2002 change allowed psychologists to be involved in CIA and military interrogations, and “helped the lawyers in the Justice Department to argue that the enhanced interrogation program was legal because health professionals were monitoring the interrogations to make sure they stayed within the limits established by the Bush administration.”

In 2005, after the revelations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, the APA put together a task force on ethics and national security, which, while affirming the organization’s opposition to torture, determined that psychologists could be involved with interrogations “to assist in ensuring that such processes are safe and ethical for all participants.”

Gerwehr was copied on emails discussing a confidential APA lunch meeting in July 2004, attended by psychologists from the CIA, Department of Defense, and other agencies. (The invited CIA psychologist, Kirk Hubbard, wrote that “all the DOD shrinks will be tied up…I will represent both of us.”) The draft proposal creating the task force was circulated to Gerwehr and others invited to the meeting before it was given to APA members. Other members of the task force later complained it was stacked in favor of the government, with six of the panel’s ten members having ties to the military or intelligence.

After the task force recommendation went public in 2005, the APA’s Mumford wrote an email thanking Hubbard for his “personal contribution…in getting this effort off the ground,” and mentioned that Susan Brandon, a Bush White House official, had “helped craft some language related to research” for the report. (Hubbard says that “I was not directly involved in the task force itself, though I know it was reported that I provided some input.” Brandon is now head of the research unit for the FBI’s high value detainee interrogation group, according to her bio for an upcoming conference. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment from Brandon. In a statement responding to Risen’s book, the APA said those contacts were “not in any manner unusual or inappropriate” and allowed “for frank discussion of the ethical and practice challenges facing psychologists working in national security settings.”)

Gerwehr’s emails about the APA also caught the interest of the FBI. In 2010, after learning of Gerwehr’s death and believing that he might have had critical information, Raymond sought out a meeting with John Durham, the assistant U.S. attorney who was leading the criminal probe related to CIA detention and interrogation. Durham had also been specifically tasked with looking into the CIA’s destruction of interrogation videotapes. (Raymond now directs the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Signal Program on Human Security and Technology, which applies satellite imagery analysis and other technical approaches to humanitarian crises. He is mentioned as a researcher for an unnamed human rights group in Risen’s book, but his conversations with Gerwehr and the FBI are being reported for the first time here.)

Raymond and PHR’s then-Washington director, John Bradshaw, met with Durham at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., in September 2010. Raymond and Bradshaw noted that they weren’t in the visitor logs, and Durham took them up a back elevator to a briefing room, Raymond recalls. Besides talking about Gerwehr, Durham’s team said that they had read PHR’s recent report “Experiments in Torture,” which concluded that medical personnel’s involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program constituted illegal medical research and experimentation. Durham’s team seemed “interested in the broader architecture of the legal heat shield” on torture, Raymond said. In Bradshaw’s recollection, “Durham was not particularly forthcoming in saying that he accepted our conclusions. But they were interested and had read our work.” (Durham did not respond to a request for comment.)

Two years later, Durham’s overall probe ended with no charges. At that point, Raymond reached out to Durham’s office again, to ask if anyone had looked into the information about the APA from Gerwehr’s emails, which Raymond by then had access to. Durham directed him to an agent from the FBI’s public corruption unit, who asked for a memo gathering what he had—Gerwehr’s correspondence and additional emails and interview notes from other sources, including former APA and CIA officials—which Raymond believed could amount to evidence of criminal racketeering. In an email, the agent said she had discussed the issue with Durham, and they thought that the alleged criminal activity fell outside a five-year statute of limitation, but would forward information to the FBI’s Washington field office.

Neither Raymond nor anyone at PHR heard anything more of it, until a law enforcement official confirmed to The Intercept that the FBI in Washington received material, and “did review it,” but “did not find any criminal violations, and therefore did not open any investigation.”

Raymond told The Intercept that the FBI’s decision not to investigate was unsurprising, given the overall lack criminal charges related to CIA torture.

“The response of the U.S. government, given the whole raft of revelations about torture in the post-9/11 world, has been to deny, and then to use the language that we’re going to move forward, we’re going to move on,” said Widney Brown, director of programs for Physicians for Human Rights. “But even setting aside the legal concerns, we feel very strongly as a voice for physicians that there’s no compromise on this issue of medical professionals’ involvement in torture. And it’s very clear in Risen’s book that the APA was very involved in discussions with the government on this issue.”

In the book, Risen suggests that the APA’s close relationship with the government was motivated at least in part by financial concerns, saying the profession was “so eager for CIA and Pentagon contracts that they showed few qualms about getting involved” with interrogation programs.

The APA, in its statement, said that any suggestion that “that APA had a financial motivation” to support U.S. detainee policies “is absurd.” The CIA declined to comment on Gerwehr or the allegations raised from his emails.

“I can’t confirm that he was at Gitmo when he says he was. But I believe that Gerwehr encountered something deeply disturbing,” said Raymond. “I think that there needs to be a serious and robust federal investigation into Gerwehr’s past in terms of whistleblowing.”

Taken from:

Sent via the psychologist for social responsibility mailing list
Nb: it says for sharing.

Dear All,

I will state up front that I have not read Dr. Kaslow's response to Risen's book. I am sick and tired of APA's lies and obvious denial of facts that have implicated APA members and the organization at large in its complicit cooperation with the Bush administration coercive interrogation tactics. If any of you want to disput this fact, I refer you to the May 18th, 2007 report of the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense investigative report, which clearly implicates APA. APA has never publically responded to this very public report by the DoD in spite of being questioned during a 2007 Town Hall meeting (see below). APA simply chose to ignore and deny the clear implications of this report and numerous others produced during the past 12 years. this includes the multimillion dollar no bid contract awarded to Martin Seligman to train our troops in "positive psychology" to hopefully "prevent PTSD", eg. to not be impacted by the horroe and devestation of war. Please note, this is a non-empirically based experiment being imposed without consent on our troops. Apparently being in the military means you forfeit your right to consent in being part of psychological study.

APA has consistently refused to implement policies that membership has voted on and its own Task Force(s) endorsed. The casebook regarding interrogation being the primary "in the works" document for almost 10 years, since the initial PENS Report recommendation in 2005. So, do I believe this APA President anymore than I have believed the past 10? the answer is a resounding no! Dr Kaslow's email address is conveniently not listed in her contact info, but her cell phone number is listed. I will call her and read my email to her and the question I asked over 7 years ago at an APA Town Hall meeting, but for which I never received an answer.

Power corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I unfortunately believe I belong to an organization, that is unfortunately just like the kingdom run by the emporer who has no clothes. I have tried to work from within for almost 10 years and am tired of fighting a dishonest professional guild. This may be the year I finally resign and donate my APA dues to an organization worthy of my money. Please read my statement below; it consists primarily of quotes from the DoD report. If anyone would like a copy, I'm happy to share. How long can APA deny report, after report, after report - by well-respected journalist and the government itself.

Shame on us for allowing our profession to be dishonored and besmirched by our leadership.


(aka Fly in the APA Ointment)

DR. SAND: Hi, my name is Shara Sand… On May 18th, 2007 the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense released its investigative report… And to my knowledge it’s the only place where there’s actually an indication that psychologists perhaps have been involved in the development of these techniques…
“Between June and July 2002 the Chief of Staff of the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, the agency responsible for organizing SERE training, working with the Army Special Operation Command’s psychological directorate, developed a plan designed to teach interrogators how to exploit high-value detainees. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September 2002 recommended that the Federal Bureau of Investigation Behavioral Science Unit, the Army’s Behavioral Science Consultation Team, and the Southern Command Psychological Operations Support Element, the group at GITMO, and JTF 170 clinical psychologists develop a plan to exploit detainee vulnerabilities.” Once again, this is the government speaking, not me.
“On September 16th, 2002, the Special Army Operations Command and the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency co-hosted a SERE psychologist conference for JTF 170 interrogation personnel. The Army’s Behavioral Science Consultation Teams, BSCTs, from Guantanamo Bay also attended the conference. The JTF 170 personnel understood that they were to become familiar with SERE training and be capable of determining which SERE information and techniques might be useful in interrogations at Guantanamo. Guantanamo Behavioral Science Consultation Team personnel understood that they were to review documentation and standard operating procedures for SERE training in developing the standard operating procedure for the JTF 170 if the Command approved those practices.” They also supported a SERE psychologists competency area.
My question is, why has APA not addressed exactly what is said in this report, which does indicate that there has been some psychological involvement in these practices? Here is the link to the transcript/audio of the 2007 Town Hall meeting:

From: APA Division Officers list [mailto:DIVOFFICERS@LISTS.APA.ORG] On Behalf Of Jordan, Sarah
Sent: Friday, October 17, 2014 5:17 AM
Subject: [DIVOFFICERS] FW: APA's Response to Risen's New Book

Dear Division Leaders:

As some of you may be aware, James Risen’s new book : Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War was released this week. Risen is a New York Times reporter. He has covered the war on terror for over a decade. His book is getting a fair amount of media attention including a review in the Times Book Review section to be published this coming Sunday.

One chapter of the nine chapter book includes reporting on APA’s actions and motivations concerning national security detainees and the use of torture. The chapter is full of inaccuracies and assumptions based on innuendo.

As you will note in the attached statement, Mr. Risen contacted APA when he began work on his book and was offered an opportunity to have whatever questions he had answered by staff. Unfortunately he never provided questions so his later reporting was one-sided and inaccurate.

Our statement provides important context to the issue and corrects many false assumptions Risen made in his writing. The Board of Directors wanted you to have this information and we encourage you to share it with your constituent groups and other psychology colleagues.

If you have any questions or concerns please let us know.


Nadine J Kaslow, PhD, ABPP

Professor, Vice Chair, Chief Psychologist (Grady)

President, American Psychological Association

Editor, Journal of Family Psychology

Emory Dept of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Grady Hospital, 80 Jesse Hill Jr Dr

Atlanta, GA 30303

404-616-4757 (office); 404-547-1957 (cell)

This e-mail message (including any attachments) is for the sole use of
the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged
information. If the reader of this message is not the intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution
or copying of this message (including any attachments) is strictly

If you have received this message in error, please contact
the sender by reply e-mail message and destroy all copies of the
original message (including attachments).

Click on this link to unsubscribe from this list UNSUBSCRIBE

An email will automatically open with "Unsubscribe" in the subject area. Just Send the message, as is, to unsubscribe from this list..

Click on this link to unsubscribe from this list UNSUBSCRIBE

An email will automatically open with "Unsubscribe" in the subject area. Just Send the message, as is, to unsubscribe from this list..


The Division 44 Discussion Listserv is a benefit of membership in the Division. For more division resources, visit

Click on this link to unsubscribe from this list UNSUBSCRIBE

An email will automatically open with "Unsubscribe" in the subject area. Just Send the message, as is, to unsubscribe from this list.

Shara Sand, Psy.D.
Director of Counseling, Manhattan School of Music
Associate Professor, LaGuardia Community College
Co-Chair, Sexualities and Gender Identities Committee, Div 39 (Psychoanalysis), APA
825 West End Ave. #1D (entrance on 100th St.)
New York, NY 10025
Licensed Psychologist
NYS #012174

The full summary of the Senate Report into Torture released today.

The CIA paid the two clinical psychologists over $80mil to develop the torture programme.

An update via psychology & human rights mailing list from Stephen Soldz

As you know, Steven Reisner and I met with the APA board on July 2. We agreed to confidentiality until the rep ort was public, which happened today. We, therefore, are distributing the Opening Comments that Steven and I made at that meetings. We believe that they provide a guide with which to judge APA’s actions in the coming weeks. Feel free to distribute. [Apologies for cross-posting.]

Opening Comments of Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner to the

American Psychological Association Board, July 2, 20115

Last October, James Risen published allegations of American Psychological Association (APA) complicity in the Bush era torture program in his book Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. In the wake of these allegations, the APA Board in November 2014 commissioned an independent investigation of these allegations. This allegation was conducted by Chicago attorney David Hoffman of Sidley Austin LLC and his colleagues.

In late June, 2015, as they prepared to receive the Hoffman Report, the APA Board asked to meet with us (Steven Reisner and Stephen Soldz). We presume we were asked because over the last nine years we have been leaders of the movement to remove psychologists from abusive and sometimes torturous national security interrogations. Further, we have researched and published extensively on these issues and extensively shared the results of our research with Hoffman and his team. Most recently, we were the psychologist coauthors of the report All the President’s Psychologists: The American Psychological Association’s Secret Complicity with the White House and US Intelligence Community in Support of the CIA’s ”Enhanced” Interrogation Program, which was featured in a May 1, 2015 New York Times article.

The Board requested and we agreed to keep the substance of our discussions confidential until the report became public. However, with the public release of the report, we are now free to speak. Below are our opening comments to the Board.

Stephen Soldz Comments:

Thank you for having us here. I wish it was under less disturbing circumstances. We have come to discuss with you what we believe needs to be done by the American Psychological Association (APA) in the wake of the imminent release of the Hoffman Report. The conditions of confidentiality requested by the Board and agreed to by us have precluded our being able to discuss our ideas with our colleagues who have joined us for the last decade in our attempts to unveil the web of collusion beneath APA’s policies and actions regarding psychologist participation in sometimes abusive national security interrogations. However, our ideas have benefited from hundreds of hours of discussion with colleagues regarding the steps necessary to put APA on an ethical course. We believe that these ideas reflect those of many others besides ourselves, though we also consider it vital that the voices of those many others be actively heard as we proceed.

I would like to make some opening comments, following which Steven Reisner will describe our ideas for the initial steps needed for APA to right itself and weather the storm that is just over the horizon. We would like to emphasize that these comments and ideas were put down less than 48 hours after we obtained access to the 500+ page Report. Neither of us has even read the entire report, much less absorbed it. Thus, these ideas are preliminary and may well be supplemented by others as we fully absorb the report and discuss with colleagues what should be done.

I would like to begin with a very brief summary of what we take to be the gist of this report. The report documents in exhaustive detail the existence of a years long conspiracy to engage in collusion between senior leadership in the APA and the intelligence community, including the CIA and, most notably, the Department of Defense (DOD).
This collusion involves a two-pronged strategy by the APA: First, there was a concerted attempt to generate so-called “ethical” policies on psychologist involvement in interrogations that would provide no constraints whatsoever on psychologists in the military working for DOD and other agencies. The second prong consisted of an elaborate deceptive and dishonest public relations strategy to falsely portray APA policy as concerned with the protection of detainee welfare and human rights.

This collusion included the development of apparently fine-sounding policy statements that were, as the report documents, virtually always vetted directly by DOD officials; manipulation of critics of APA policy to ensure that attempts to change that policy were toothless and did not in fact challenge DOD policies or practices; a strategic decision to turn heads away from increasing evidence on torture and other detainee abuse, including homicides, and on psychologist involvement in that abuse; and the dismissal and/or failure to investigate in any serious way ethical complaints against psychologists alleged to have participated in abusive interrogations, accompanied by repeated assurances from APA officials that all complaints would be comprehensively investigated. This collusion was accompanied by systematic manipulation of APA governance procedures, the active solicitation of opposition to critics by APA staff, and even the recording, in at least two known instances, of falsely claimed “unanimous” votes.

This years-long collusion was accompanied by false statements from every Board and every elected President over the last decade denying the existence of the collusion described in such detail by Mr. Hoffman. The collusion was also accompanied by squelching of critics and, sometimes, by personal attacks upon them in the face of overwhelming evidence in the public record, including media reports and the results of multiple government investigations by Congress and other agencies. Most notable, are the vicious personal attacks upon PENS task force member and national hero Jean Maria Arrigo, who first revealed the collusion, attacks that in one case was distributed widely by the president of the Association; responses to those attacks went unanswered by that President or any other Association official. Other critics have been banned from state psychological association listservs; been attacked by an APA president in the official Monitor on Psychology as “opportunistic commentators masquerading as scholars;” been threatened with possible libel suits and ethics complaints; been disinvited from speaking to and writing for state psychological associations; been surreptitiously recorded by APA staff when having a private conversation with reporters; had venues where they were speaking criticized and even implicitly threatened with loss of accreditation; and called “clowns” in a national psychological newspaper by an individual given numerous awards by APA and its divisions and who is often in APA governance. This, sadly, is only a partial list of the attacks on critics. In none of these instances did people in APA leadership positions stand up to defend the right of critics to speak. These actions were all undertaken against those who sought to uncover the collusion that was denied by Association leadership, including this Board and the current CEO only a few months ago.

That is the background to our meeting today to discuss how the APA should respond to the crisis facing the Association, the profession, and the country. I suspect that some of you have not yet fully grasped the magnitude of this crisis. As the result of its collusion, the APA is likely to become the public face of torture. The press storm will be fierce. Editorials will condemn the Association’s actions. Congress members will weigh in. Human rights groups, frustrated with the lack of accountability for torture, will be lining up to raise money off of suing the APA.
There may be a decade of lawsuits, draining the budget and staff and elected officials’ time. Members will flee and young psychologists will be even more reluctant to join. And the Association’s 501©(3) nonprofit status may be threatened.

More importantly, if not handled correctly, torture collusion will become the public face of the profession we love. There is little doubt that the APA’s actions will go down in history books next to the chapter on the Tuskegee and Guatemalan syphilis experiments. The actions we take in the coming weeks, months, and years will determine how that chapter ends.

I would like to end by outlining what I believe are the fundamental principles that should guide the APA’s actions forward. These are: contrition, accountability, transparency, inclusiveness, and genuine change. Notice that I did not list “healing” or “reconciliation.” Healing and reconciliation are needed, certainly, but this is not the time to talk of them. Before healing can start, we need painful surgery to remove the tumor that our work and the Hoffman Report demonstrate have been at the heart of the APA for the last decade.

Now Steven will describe the preliminary steps necessary to start removing this tumor.

Steven Reisner Comments:

Following on Stephen's comments I want to reiterate: There is a cancer on the APA. You here will have to decide whether to do the necessary surgery or whether you will preside over the death of the association:

There are four issues here:

1. The APA sacrificed its reputation and independence – perhaps its 501c3 tax exempt status – to align its policies with those of the CIA and the DOD. This was an active campaign, with constant behind the scenes consultation, in order to do the bidding of these agencies, first the CIA, then the DOD.

2. There was an active campaign to undermine the will of the membership and of the council when they attempted to institute ethical restrictions on such activity. Simultaneously efforts were made to prop up and expand opposing efforts in support of such activity. Sometimes efforts were made to create opposing efforts to such activity. Thus APA ceased being a member-driven or democratic organization. The letter and spirit of the organizations by-laws were thwarted in favor of this secret agenda pushed by a staff that is supposed to be neutral and facilitative of the will of membership and governance. Instead staff manipulated the council and the membership.

3. There was a public relations campaign directed to deceive the public and to manipulate governance. To the public the PR campaign made the false claims that APA was acting independently for human rights at the behest of its membership, while in fact it was doing the opposite. Within the organization there was a campaign to influence and manipulate those who opposed the policy or were uninformed and to bully those who would not be manipulated.

4. All of this was done to advance a program of torture and abuse. It continued long after that program and the psychologists’ role in that program were public knowledge. If this level of manipulation and deception were done solely to secretly promote a government agenda, it would be a scandal; the fact that it was done to support torture and abusive monitoring of and research on detainees, is more than a scandal – it reaches the level of support for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The numbers of APA staff and members of governance involved actively in this disgrace is staggering. It began with a few and rapidly incorporated increasing numbers from top to bottom.

Before I lay out what we believe APA must do, I want to make clear what you are dealing with. If the report is released on July 20th, there will be front-page articles in every major newspaper in this country and around the world on July 21st.

The headlines will read: Report Finds APA Leadership Colluded With Bush Administration in Support of Torture.

What will the subheading read?

“Many named remain in leadership positions”


“APA removes tainted leadership in response to investigation”

This is not a PR problem. This is a survival of the association problem. And there is no good way to get through this. You will face numerous lawsuits and secondary investigations. You will face a hemorrhage of membership and the loss of public trust. And APA is going to lose its central leadership of the past decade and a half.


I will now follow on Stephen’s list of five essential categories of steps that must be taken if the association has a chance of surviving:





Genuine Change


· Let’s be clear that contrition is not a PR maneuver. Contrition requires thoroughgoing acknowledgement, remorse and change. APA must publicly acknowledge the depth and scope of this failure.

· Apology to all affected – to the people harmed (detainees), it includes the public and the congress (for not upholding public trust and deceiving them), to the profession, members, former member and non-members for undermining our ethical foundations, opening us up to ridicule and scorn, and damaging our reputation. And to Jean Maria Arrigo.

· I would like to see an op-ed written by APA leadership in the Times expressing this contrition.

Accountability and Housecleaning

· Staff involved must be fired

· Members involved must be banned from governance

· Bring ethics charges where appropriate.

· More importantly, APA must publicly recommend state ethics charges where appropriate.

· Make sure there is no hint of conflicts of interest in any part of governance or staff

· Those found to be part of the collusion should be stripped of association awards, standing and honors.

· And then you can give a special award to Jean Maria for being willing to stand up to an onslaught of power and manipulation that no one in this room was willing to stand up to.

I will start with staff. I see that some of the people who need to go are in this room. That in itself tells me that you don’t really yet understand the seriousness of your situation. I want to say that this list is possibly incomplete, because I haven’t yet read every page of the report.

Staff to be fired

Anderson, Honaker, Gilfoyle, Farberman, Garrison, Kelly, Mumford, Behnke.

Governance prohibition effective immediately

Levant, Koocher, Banks, Dunivin, Moorehead-Slaughter, James, Deleon, Gelles, Newman, Gravitz, Shumate, Breckler, Strassberger, Sternberg, Matarrazo, and Anton

Recusal for conflict of interest and investigation of role required


APA needs to recommend to Division and State Association that they do the same.

But housecleaning is a small piece of what is necessary for full accountability.

How do we hold leadership and governance itself accountable?

How do we answer the question, how did this happen and what must we do to insure it doesn’t happen again?

We must have a thoroughgoing and independent institutional review. We need to appoint a blue ribbon panel to evaluate the organizational processes, structures, procedures and culture that allowed this to happen.
The panel must recommend changes in processes, structures and procedures geared to preventing this kind of power manipulation from happening again. It must review APA’s overly close ties to military, intelligence agencies and government; it must in particular look at the potential for corruption in the directorates, in particular the ethics office, the ethics committee and the science directorate. It must investigate the APA voting processes and investigate the opaque entity that counts our votes: Intelliscan

It must further address:

· The power of staff and how it oversteps its institutional bounds

· The progressive minimization of the oversight role and authority of Council and restore its authority and responsibility

· Investigate how staff managed to impede the will of Council and prevent it from happening again (e.g., 1.02, statue of limitations).

We need a committee of ethicists to redesign APA ethics policy and procedures. It may be true that 1.02 was not changed with torture in mind – the fact that it and other standards were weakened under the influence of APAIT is a second scandal unto itself that must be investigated. We also need to reopen ethics cases closed as part of this conspiracy. And if those to be investigated are no longer members, we must recommend state board investigation.

There must be a financial accounting, including DOD, CIA and government money, awards, fellowships and quid pro quos.

We must refer this report and its findings to the FBI and we must cooperate fully in any ensuing investigation.

We must also refer the report to the appropriate Congressional committees, as per Senator Feinstein’s request. These committees include Senate Select CI, SASC, Senate Judiciary, and Senate Committee Health and human services and their counterparts in the House of Representatives. (Like the PENS report)

Policy change

All policies regarding APA and national security must be annulled, including the approval of operational psychology as a subspecialty.

Review of the ethics of national security and operational psychology:

Blue ribbon panel #2 to do a thoroughgoing independent ethical review of the role of psychologists in national security operations. JMA should be a part of such a panel, along with internationally recognized medical ethicists and human rights advocates.

Moratorium on participation in national security interrogation and detention operations during the review process.

No statute of limitation on TCID ethics charges, automatic ethics committee investigation for TCID charges when these arise in the context of national security operations, detention or interrogation activities.

We need to develop guidelines for undertaking such investigations.

For Non-members, APA has to recommend full investigation from the state boards in national security sites and offer them guidelines.


Let this be the last time that APA discussions of such import are held in secret. We need to make all such discussions transparent and easily accessible. We also need to report in plain language:

· The salaries and perks of staff

· The lobbying APA does

· Who gets to represent APA to congress and government and how such people are chosen.

· Anything else members of council, the membership, or the public wants to know or should be informed of.

We need to make all our deliberations and actions transparent, including these discussions.

We should have APA books publish the Hoffman report; The American Psychologist and the Monitor should publish the Executive Summary.

We should deposit the entire record of the Hoffman investigation deposited into the APA PENS Debate Collection at the archive of the University of Colorado
And we should call for a Congressional investigation into the role of health professionals and health professional organizations roles in support of the torture program and invite the other health professional organizations to do the same.


All stakeholders must be represented in these discussions. These include the broader psychological community, including those who opposed now-tainted APA actions when they occurred and the hundreds or thousands who quit the APA because they recognized this complicity while the elected leadership and staff denied it. In addition, equally important stakeholders are the medical ethics community, human rights advocates, Congress (as seen by the expressed desire of Sen. Feinstein to review the report), and the broader public, as attested to by the extensive press interest in our April report. All of these have a stake in the decisions and initiatives you and we undertake today and in the coming weeks.

Ultimately, and importantly, we must set aside a time in August for a lengthy Town Hall Meeting at the convention where we give the membership a chance to discuss these revelations

Genuine Change - ???

Stephen Soldz

Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis


Sorry for multiple posts the comment system only allows for a certain world count.



Thanks for posting these Scott - really useful.

Reply to Discussion


Latest Activity

Sarah Bradley updated their profile
Mar 9, 2022
Birgitte Solveig Rustand (Bri) posted a discussion

Access to our profile

there is a Joseph Maclaughlin 500 gmail intruder phishing and accessing community psychology uk…See More
Nov 20, 2021
Profile IconPaul Rainey, Kate Quinn, kenneth flaherty and 6 more joined CommunityPsychologyUK
Jul 4, 2021
Josephine Schamp updated their profile
Apr 11, 2021

© 2023   Created by Sally Z.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service