Report: American Psychological Association Justified Torture For Bush Administration

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A 2013 protest by the group "Witness Against Torture" outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
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Last December, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on one of the biggest controversies in the Bush Administration: Torture.

The report condemned the Administration's use of torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and claimed that federal officials had repeatedly lied about the practice. The Committee also confirmed that some American psychologists had worked with the Administration, giving the CIA and the FBI a mental health carte blanche on the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

Reporter James Risen wrote about these psychologists in his recent book, "Pay Any Price." As he told The Takeaway's John Hockenberry, "After Abu Grahib, and after the scandal broke, a lot of American psychologists were very worried about what was going to come out about their role providing support to the torture program."

Now a new report finds that it wasn't just a few mental health professionals who worked with the Bush Administration—the entire American Psychological Association (APA) is implicated. According to three researchers, the APA secretly advised the CIA and the FBI on torture tactics, and even changed its ethics code to justify the Administration's use of torture.

Steven Reisner is a co-author of the report, a clinical psychologist, and a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. He discusses the APA's involvement in justifying the Bush Administration's torture tactics, and whether the APA can regain its credibility.

The Takeaway reached out to the APA to participate in this interview and they declined. They sent the following response: 

"A third party, independent review of the allegations in The New York Times article (April 30), Mr. Risen’s book and the Soldz et. al. report is being conducted by outside attorney David Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman has extensive experience in conducting such reviews and a strong reputation for independence.

"APA’s focus and priority are ensuring the complete independence of Mr. Hoffman’s work. For that reason we are not commenting on any allegations about APA support for the CIA torture program at this time. Mr. Hoffman’s review will determine the facts. Once his review is complete and his report received and reviewed by the APA Board of Directors it will be made public in its entirety, along with any responsive actions, that APA determines are needed.

"Mr. Hoffman has been asked to follow all leads and pursue all information he deems necessary to complete the review regardless of whether the information reflects positively or negatively on APA. Anyone with information they think Mr. Hoffman should have is encouraged to contact him directly atapareview@sidley.com or 312 456-9468.

"For a full chronology of APA’s action and policies concerning national security interrogations see: http://www.apa.org/news/press/statements/interrogations.aspx."