In November 2014, the American Psychological Association (APA) appointed David Hoffman, Esq., of the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin, to assess whether there was any factual support for the assertion that the APA engaged in covert activities that would constitute collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support, and/or facilitate the use of enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror.
When it was made available in July 2015, the report: https://web.archive.org/web/20200308055218/https://www.apa.org/independent-review/revised-report.pdf concluded that prominent psychologists worked closely with DoD to blunt dissent within the APA over an interrogation program that is now known to have included torture. It also found that APA staff colluded with the Pentagon to ensure that the association’s ethics policies were never stronger than the DoD’s own policies. The APA is revealed to be an organization that, while insisting on its impeccable human rights record and repeatedly arguing that its ethics code had prohibited participation in torture since 1987, continually revised the ethical guidelines in such a way that they did not depart in substance from DoD policies. In this way, the organization simultaneously made it possible for members to engage in coercive interrogations while actively shielding them from ethics complaints.
Coming as it did, a month before the APA’s annual August convention in 2015, the report gave the Board of Directors (BOD) an opportunity to entertain new motions that would address the most obvious ethical loopholes that Hoffman revealed, It was resolved that psychologists “shall not conduct, supervise, be in the presence of, or otherwise assist any national security interrogations for any military or intelligence entities, including private contractors working on their behalf, nor advise on conditions of confinement insofar as these might facilitate such an interrogation. Psychologists can only provide mental health services to military personnel or work for an independent third party to protect human rights at national security detention facilities deemed by the United Nations to be in violation of international law, such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.”
Since its passage in August 2015, some members of Division 19, the Division of Military Psychology of the APA, have tried to overturn it either by introducing new motions to return psychologists to Guantanamo Bay or by challenging the Hoffman report in print. This website documents those attempts and summarizes our responses.