Report: C.I.A. Torture Program was Aided by American Psychological Association

The A.P.A. is accused of allowing Bush administration officials "to actually help write the association's policies."


As reported by James Risen in the New York Times, a just-released report co-authored by seven "dissident health professionals and human rights activists," accuses the American Psychological Association of providing ethical and scientific cover to the Bush administration's use of "enhanced interrogation" or what is non-euphemistically known as torture.

If the psychologists say it's ok…

Risen writes:

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.

Crucially, according to the report, the A.P.A. dispensed with any skepticism of the administration's tactics just as "the C.I.A. torture program was threatened from within and outside the Bush administration." 

One of the report's co-authors, Stephen Soldz, told Risen in an 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."

The A.P.A. will not offer comment on the report, pending the results of an independent review they commissioned last November

Read the full report here, and check out Reason's expansive archive on torture here.