American Psychological Association Aided CIA/Military Torture Program
A blistering internal report by the American Psychological Association (APA) made public on this day revealed that top leaders of the APA had assisted torture programs operated by the CIA and the Pentagon in the war on terror. The report concluded that the association’s ethic office “prioritized the protection of psychologists –even those who might have engaged in unethical behavior- ab0ve the protection of the public.”
Both the CIA and the military conducted what were referred to as “harsh interrogations” –or what critics labeled torture– on terrorist suspects who were captured following the terrorist attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Allegations of torture became one of the major controversies over the policies of President George W. Bush’s conduct of the war on terror. See, for example, the notorious “torture memo” of August 1, 2002, which justified interrogation tactics that many people around the world regarded as torture. (See, for example, the 2014 U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA torture program: December 9, 2014.)
The report was commissioned by the APA and directed by Chicago lawyer Stanley Hoffman as an independent review of the conduct of past leaders of the association. It concluded that the”collaboration” between APA leaders and both the CIA and the military was “much more extensive that was previously known.”
Incredibly, some member of the CIA’s own Office of Medical Services complained about interrogation techniques was using. The Hoffman Report concluded that top APA officials “colluded” with the military to ensure that the APA’s policy on interrogation techniques did not conflict with what the CIA and the military were doing. The APA subsequently repudiated its own 2005 ethics guidelines that had allowed psychologists to participate in harsh interrogations.
Learn more: Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture (2006)
Read other key documents: Karen Greenberg and Joshua Dratel, eds, The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib (2005)
Read Goldsmith’s account: Jack Goldsmith, The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration (2007)