[Marxism] American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 30 15:30:30 MDT 2015


(The author of this article stated that he would rather go to jail than 
reveal the name of his confidential sources. He is a fearless critic of 
the CIA and probably the best reporter working for the Times.)

NY Times, Apr. 30 2015
American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, 
Report Says
By JAMES RISEN

WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association secretly 
collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to 
bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners 
swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report 
by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the 
interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that 
the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation 
program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration 
officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of 
graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu 
Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White 
House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on 
national security interrogations which comported with then-classified 
legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program,” the report’s 
authors conclude.

The involvement of health professionals in the Bush-era interrogation 
program was significant because it enabled the Justice Department to 
argue in secret opinions that the program was legal and did not 
constitute torture, since the interrogations were being monitored by 
health professionals to make sure they were safe.

The interrogation program has since been shut down, and last year the 
Senate Intelligence Committee issued a detailed report that described 
the program as both ineffective and abusive.

Rhea Farberman, a spokeswoman for the American Psychological 
Association, denied that the group had coordinated its actions with the 
government. There “has never been any coordination between A.P.A. and 
the Bush administration on how A.P.A. responded to the controversies 
about the role of psychologists in the interrogations program,” she said.

The Bush administration relied more heavily on psychologists than 
psychiatrists or other health professionals to monitor many 
interrogations, at least in part because the psychological association 
was supportive of the involvement of psychologists in interrogations, a 
senior Pentagon official explained publicly in 2006.

The American Psychological Association “clearly supports the role of 
psychologists in a way our behavioral science consultants operate,” said 
Dr. William Winkenwerder, then the assistant secretary of defense for 
health affairs, describing to reporters why the Pentagon relied more on 
psychologists than psychiatrists at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. 
“The American Psychiatric Association, on the other hand, I think had a 
great deal of debate about that, and there were some who were less 
comfortable with that.”

By June 2004, the Bush administration’s torture program was in trouble. 
The public disclosure of the images of prisoners being abused at the Abu 
Ghraib prison earlier that year prompted an intense debate about the way 
the United States was treating detainees in the global war on terror, 
leading to new scrutiny of the C.I.A.’s so-called enhanced interrogation 
program. Congress and the news media were starting to ask questions, and 
there were new doubts about whether the program was legal.

On June 4, 2004, the C.I.A. director, George J. Tenet, signed a secret 
order suspending the agency’s use of the enhanced interrogation 
techniques, while asking for a policy review to make sure the program 
still had the Bush administration’s backing.

“I strongly believe that the administration needs to now review its 
previous legal and policy positions with respect to detainees to assure 
that we all speak in a united and unambiguous voice about the continued 
wisdom and efficacy of those positions in light of the current 
controversy,” Mr. Tenet wrote in a memo that has since been declassified.

At that critical moment, the American Psychological Association took 
action that its critics now say helped the troubled interrogation program.

In early June 2004, a senior official with the association, the nation’s 
largest professional organization for psychologists, issued an 
invitation to a carefully selected group of psychologists and behavioral 
scientists inside the government to a private meeting to discuss the 
crisis and the role of psychologists in the interrogation program.

Psychologists from the C.I.A. and other agencies met with association 
officials in July, and by the next year the association issued 
guidelines that reaffirmed that it was acceptable for its members to be 
involved in the interrogation program.

To emphasize their argument that the association grew too close to the 
interrogation program, the critics’ new report cites a 2003 email from a 
senior psychologist at the C.I.A. to a senior official at the 
psychological association. In the email, the C.I.A. psychologist appears 
to be confiding in the association official about the work of James 
Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the private contractors who developed and 
helped run the enhanced interrogation program at the C.I.A.’s secret 
prisons around the world.

In the email, written years before the involvement of the two 
contractors in the interrogation program was made public, the C.I.A. 
psychologist explains to the association official that the contractors 
“are doing special things to special people in special places.”

More than a decade later, the association’s actions during that critical 
time are coming under new scrutiny. Last November, the association’s 
board ordered an independent review of the organization’s role in the 
interrogation program. That review, led by David Hoffman, a Chicago 
lawyer, is now underway.

“We have been given a mandate by the A.P.A. to be completely independent 
in our investigation, and that is how we have been conducting our 
inquiry,” Mr. Hoffman said. “We continue to gather evidence and talk 
with witnesses and expect to complete the investigation later this spring.”

The three lead authors of the report are longtime and outspoken critics 
of the association: Stephen Soldz, a clinical psychologist and professor 
at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis; Steven Reisner, a 
clinical psychologist and founding member of the Coalition for an 
Ethical Psychology; and Nathaniel Raymond, the director of the Signal 
Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian 
Initiative, and the former director of the campaign against torture at 
Physicians for Human Rights.

“In 2004 and 2005 the C.I.A. torture program was threatened from within 
and outside the Bush administration,” Mr. Soldz said by email. “Like 
clockwork, the A.P.A. directly addressed legal threats at every critical 
juncture facing the senior intelligence officials at the heart of the 
program. In some cases the A.P.A. even allowed these same Bush officials 
to actually help write the association’s policies.”

Ms. Farberman, the association’s spokeswoman, said that the group would 
wait until Mr. Hoffman’s investigation was complete before responding 
further, and so would not comment in detail on the critics’ report.

“We are focused on the independent review,” Ms. Farberman said.

For years, questions about the role of American psychologists and 
behavioral scientists in the development and use of the Bush-era 
interrogation program have been raised by human rights advocates as well 
as by critics within the psychological profession.

The critics frequently criticized the 2005 findings of an association 
committee, the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and 
National Security, or PENS, which concluded that it was appropriate for 
psychologists to remain involved with interrogations, to make sure they 
remained safe, legal, ethical and effective. The PENS report eventually 
drew so much criticism from within the psychological profession that the 
association was forced to retract its permissive guidelines.

But the degree to which the association allowed psychologists and other 
behavioral scientists from the national security agencies to help craft 
the PENS Task Force’s report was not fully understood until the recent 
disclosure of a trove of emails from one behavioral science researcher 
who died in 2008.

The emails are those of Scott Gerwehr, a researcher who worked at the 
RAND Corporation and later at a defense contractor who had close ties to 
behavioral scientists both at the psychological association and in the 
national security agencies.

The Gerwehr emails include many between association officials and 
government psychologists on which he was copied by friends and 
colleagues. The new report by the association’s critics is based in part 
on a comprehensive analysis of his email archive.

After the PENS Task Force completed its work in 2005, Mr. Gerwehr was 
copied on an email from Geoffrey Mumford, the director of science policy 
at the association, to Kirk Hubbard, a psychologist at the C.I.A., 
thanking Mr. Hubbard for helping to influence the outcome of the task force.

“Your views were well represented by very carefully selected task force 
members,” Mr. Mumford wrote. “I thought you and many of those copied 
here would be interested to know that A.P.A. grabbed the bull by the 
horns and released this Task Force report today.”

By that time, Mr. Hubbard had just left the C.I.A. to work for Mitchell 
Jessen and Associates, the company the contractors had created to 
conduct their work on the interrogation program.



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