The Slatest

Law Firm Report Backs Allegation That American Psychological Association Was Complicit in Torture

George Tenet was the director of the CIA during the development of the “enhanced interrogation” torture program.

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Earlier this year, a report put together by a human rights investigator and several prominent psychologists documented evidence that leaders of the American Psychological Association, contrary to the organization’s claims, had collaborated with CIA to help bolster the legality of the “enhanced interrogation” post-9/11 torture program. (The American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association forbade their members from participating in interrogations.) Now, the New York Times says, an investigation commissioned by the APA’s board and conducted by the law firm of Sidley Austin has backed some of the earlier report’s damning conclusions and uncovered further evidence of ethically questionable behavior. From the Times:

The report concludes that some of the association’s top officials, including its ethics director, sought to curry favor with Pentagon officials by seeking to keep the association’s ethics policies in line with the interrogation policies of the Defense Department, while several prominent outside psychologists took actions that aided the C.I.A.’s interrogation program and helped protect it from growing dissent inside the agency.

The APA’s top ethics official is in fact implicated in the investigation, which was led by a lawyer named David Hoffman.

The association’s ethics director, Stephen Behnke, coordinated the group’s public policy statements on interrogations with a top military psychologist, the report said, and then received a Pentagon contract to help train interrogators while he was still working at the association, without the knowledge of the association’s board.

The American Psychological Association issued a statement Friday in which an APA figure board calls the Hoffman report’s findings “deeply disturbing” and another writes that “we profoundly regret, and apologize for, the behavior and the consequences” of the failures the report describes. The statement also outlines a number of reforms that the group’s board has recommended, including a rule “prohibiting psychologists from participating in interrogation of persons held in custody by military and intelligence authorities.”