Where Terrorism Research Goes Wrong

TERRORISM is increasing. According to the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland, groups connected with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State committed close to 200 attacks per year between 2007 and 2010, a number that grew by more than 200 percent, to about 600 attacks, in 2013.

Since 9/11, the study of terrorism has also increased. Now, you might think that more study would lead to more effective antiterrorism policies and thus to less terrorism. But on the face of it, this does not seem to be happening. What has gone wrong?

The answer is that we have not been conducting the right kind of studies. According to a 2008 review of terrorism literature in the journal Psicothema, only 3 percent of articles from peer-reviewed sources appeared to be rooted in empirical analysis, and in general there was an “almost complete absence of evaluation research” concerning antiterrorism strategies.

The situation cries out for the techniques of prevention science. For a given problem (like terrorism), prevention science identifies key risk factors (like alienation), develops interventions to modify those risk factors (like programs to promote positive relations with the dominant culture) and tests those interventions through randomized trials. Using this methodology, scientists have identified interventions that effectively prevent problems as diverse as antisocial behavior, depression, schizophrenia, cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, academic failure, teenage pregnancy, marital discord and poverty.

Jon Baron, who leads the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, which advocates for the use of randomized trials to evaluate government programs, reports that his organization has been able to identify only two experimental evaluations of antiterrorism strategies. One of them, a field experiment reported in a paper from a World Bank office in 2012, randomly assigned 500 Afghan villages to receive a development aid program either in 2007 or after 2011. The aid program had significant positive effects on economic outcomes, villagers’ attitudes toward the government and villagers’ perceptions of security. The aid program also reduced the number of security incidents, though that effect was not maintained after the program ended and was observed only in villages that were relatively secure before the program began.

Thus the study found an unequivocal but limited benefit of an aid program in reducing insurgent violence. I say “unequivocal” because randomizing villages to receive or not receive the aid made it extremely unlikely that differences in attitudes and security resulted from anything other than the aid program itself.

The second study was published last year in The Economic Journal. The researchers randomly assigned neighborhoods and villages in Nigeria to have, or not have, a campaign to reduce pre-election violence. The campaign made use of town meetings, theater and house-to-house distribution of material. The study found that the campaign increased empowerment to counteract violence and voter turnout, and reduced both perceptions of violence and the intensity of violence.

Imagine how much more we would know about the prevention of terrorism if even a small proportion of the hundreds of antiterrorism efforts implemented worldwide in the past 15 years had been properly evaluated. As it is, we can say almost nothing about their efficacy. Do we know whether drones are increasing or decreasing the rate of terrorists’ attacks? Whether our current surveillance activities are thwarting more terrorists than they are radicalizing young people?

In 2012, the National Institute of Justice (the research arm of the Department of Justice) began a program to study domestic radicalization. Over the first three years it has funded nearly $9 million in research. While the studies underway will undoubtedly contribute to our understanding of the risk factors that contribute to radicalization, none of the projects funded thus far are adequately evaluating a strategy to prevent radicalization.

One of the projects, for example, is an effort to increase awareness of risk factors for radicalization as well as civic-minded responses to them among members of the Muslim community. The program’s impact will be assessed by comparing outcomes for those who never participate, those who participate once and those who participate multiple times. If the project finds that those who participated multiple times were less radicalized than those who never participated, you might be inclined to conclude that the program is working. But experience from evaluation research over many years has taught us that such a difference could just as likely be because those who were less inclined to become radical were more likely to participate.

The only way to really be confident that it is the program that is making the difference is to randomly assign some people to get it and others not. That way any differences are very unlikely to be caused by pre-existing differences between the two groups.

Estimates of the cost of the war on terror have varied between one and five trillion dollars. Surely we can invest a tiny fraction of that in improving our antiterrorism strategies through rigorous experimental evaluations.

Correction: March 15, 2015
The Gray Matter feature last Sunday misstated an estimate for the growth in the annual number of attacks by groups connected with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. It was more than 200 percent, not more than 300 percent.

MARCH 6, 2015
By ANTHONY BIGLAN

Find this story at 6 March 2015

© 2015 The New York Times Company

Dubieus onderzoek van VU en NSCR naar cybercriminaliteit

Medewerkers van de Vrije Universiteit en het NSCR hebben in samenwerking met het Openbaar Ministerie ruim 2.000 personen geënquêteerd voor een onderzoek naar cybercriminaliteit. De respondenten is niet verteld dat zij benaderd zijn omdat zij als veroordeelden of verdachten te boek staan.

In juni dit jaar zijn allerlei mensen benaderd voor een onderzoek van de Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam en het Nederlands Studiecentrum Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving (NSCR). Het betreft personen die door het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie ervan worden verdacht zich in het verleden schuldig te hebben gemaakt aan enigerlei vorm van cybercriminaliteit, of daarvoor zijn veroordeeld. Dat wordt echter niet vermeld in de brief die is gedateerd van 15 juni 2015 en ondertekend door prof.dr. Wim Bernasco (VU Amsterdam/NSCR) en Marleen Weulen Kranenbarg, MSc (NSCR).

 

Het NSCR maakt deel uit van de NWO, de Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek. Op haar website stelt de NSCR dat zij ‘zich toelegt op fundamenteel wetenschappelijk onderzoek naar criminaliteit en rechtshandhaving.’ Het instituut werd in 1992 opgezet door het toenmalige Ministerie van Justitie en de Universiteit van Leiden. Op dit moment wordt het NSCR mede gefinancierd door het Ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie en de Vrije Universiteit.

 

Het onderwerp van de uitnodigingsbrief betreft ‘Onderzoek NL-ONLINE-OFFLINE‘ waaraan respondenten kunnen deelnemen middels een online survey. Op de gerelateerde website wordt gesproken van een onderzoek onder dezelfde naam. Het lijkt allemaal volstrekt onschuldig aangezien er gesproken wordt over de ‘kennis van computers en het internet en over uw ervaringen met online en offline veiligheid.’ Respondenten wordt voorgehouden dat zij een tegoedbon van Bol.com, VVV of Zalando ontvangen ter waarde 50 euro (vet gedrukt!). Daarnaast wordt expliciet vermeld dat de mening van respondenten voor de onderzoekers van groot belang is.

 

CyberCOP

 

In werkelijkheid wordt het onderzoek niet NL-ONLINE-OFFLINE genoemd maar ‘Cyber Crime Offender Profiling (CyberCOP): the human factor examined.‘ Oftewel, onderzoek naar het profiel van de cybercrimineel, want de menselijke factor moet natuurlijk een beeld/profiel scheppen van de persoon van de ‘crimineel’ ten behoeve van de opsporing door het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie en haar diensten. Het onderzoek richt zich dus op verdachten en plegers van cybercriminaliteit en niet zomaar op kennis en ervaringen met computers, internet en veiligheid. Een medewerkster van het Openbaar Ministerie (OM) laat weten dat de uitnodigingsbrief zo is opgesteld dat ‘niet op te maken is dat de respondent zelf verdachte is geweest van een delict.’

 

Uit het besluit van het Agentschap Basisadministratie Persoonsgegevens en Reisdocumenten (BPR), de dienst waarvan onderzoekers de adressen van de respondenten gekregen heeft, blijkt in het geheel niet dat het uitsluitend om verdachten of veroordeelden gaat. ‘In het verzoek van 10 juni 2014, 2014-0000658731, heeft het Nederlands Studiecentrum voor Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving verzocht om autorisatie voor de systematische verstrekking van gegevens uit de basisregistratie personen in verband met het uitvoeren van het onderzoek CyberCrime Offender Profiling (CyberCOP): the human factor examined.’

 

Artikel 2 lid 1 van het besluit luidt: ‘Aan de onderzoeksinstelling wordt op zijn verzoek een gegeven verstrekt dat is vermeld op de persoonslijst van een ingeschrevene, indien het een gegeven betreft dat is opgenomen in bijlage II bij dit besluit.’ Het BPR heeft op 26 februari 2015 toestemming verleend voor het verstrekken van gegevens. Uit bijlage 1 van het besluit blijkt duidelijk dat het om daders gaat. Of het ook gaat om verdachten maakt het besluit niet duidelijk. ‘Het Nederlands Studiecentrum Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving is recentelijk begonnen aan een meerjarig onderzoeksproject naar de plegers van cybercrime.’

Bij navraag blijkt dat het onderzoek ook gericht is op daders: “Voor dit onderzoek zijn zowel personen benaderd die ooit verdacht zijn geweest van het plegen van een online delict als personen die ooit verdacht zijn geweest van het plegen van een offline delict.”

 

Als een van de respondenten de onderzoekers van het NSCR benaderd, wordt gesteld dat ook slachtoffers benaderd zijn. Het BPR maakt echter helemaal geen melding van slachtoffers in het besluit. Er is dus geen toestemming verleend voor het verkrijgen van gegevens over slachtoffers van cybercriminaliteit. Slachtoffers zijn dus niet benaderd. Bijlage 1 stelt dat het bij ‘centraal doel/probleemstelling van het onderzoek’ gaat om ‘het zicht krijgen op (verschillende typen) cybercriminelen, hoog-risico groepen te identificeren en effectievere en beter gerichte interventies en sancties ontwikkelen.’ De onderzoekers schrijven in een email bericht met vragen over het onderzoek dat zij “niet alleen geïnteresseerd zijn in offline en online daderschap, maar ook in de vraag of deze mensen wel eens slachtoffer worden. Vandaar de keuze voor deze meer algemene naam en beschrijving.”

 

Daders en verdachten

 

Het onderzoek is duidelijk gericht op daders en verdachten van cybercriminaliteit. De medewerkers van het NSCR stellen dat het onderzoek dat uitgevoerd wordt op basis van de gegevensverstrekking uit de BRP zich richt op ‘bekende plegers van cybercriminaliteit (op basis van door het Openbaar Ministerie aan ons verschafte verdachten-registraties).’

 

Er is een selectie gemaakt bestaande uit 1.050 verdachten van cybercrime-delicten en 1.050 verdachten van overige delicten, in totaal 2.100 personen. ‘Zij worden bevraagd over hun achtergronden, motieven, persoonlijkheid en sociale netwerken.’ De steekproef is volgens de medewerkster van het OM uitgevoerd middels een ‘abstractie van registers’. Daarvoor zijn twee selectiecriteria gebruikt. Een daarvan houdt in dat de pleger zijn delict in de periode tussen 2000 en 2014 moet hebben gepleegd. Het lijkt dus te gaan om mensen die veroordeeld zijn, maar een medewerkster gaf ook dat het ook om verdachten gaat.

 

De vragenlijst voor de respondenten is opmerkelijk omdat het vragen oproept waarvoor de verstrekte antwoorden zullen worden gebruikt. De respondenten worden uitgedaagd om hun kunde te tonen en er worden technische vragen gesteld. Een van de respondenten heeft de indruk dat de onderzoekers de respondenten proberen te stimuleren om zich te bewijzen om aan een van de stereotyperingen van cybercriminelen te voldoen.

 

In het onderzoek wordt om zeer specifieke daderkennis gevraagd, maar daarnaast ook kennis die voor opsporingsdiensten van groot belang kan zijn, zoals bijnamen van kennissen, delicten die recent zijn begaan en de contacten van de respondent. Het wordt duidelijk dat de vragen zijn gericht op wat het onderzoek zegt te te bestuderen: ‘de typische persoonlijkheidskenmerken van cybercriminelen, hun sociale (criminele) netwerken, hun primaire motivaties en hun criminele carrière.’ De onderzoekers stellen in de bijlage van het BPR besluit dat het onderzoek zich richt op de gelijkenis tussen ‘cybercriminelen’ en ‘criminelen uit de offline wereld’, hun persoonlijkheid en of ‘ze deel uit maken van criminele organisaties.’

 

Wetenschappelijk onderzoek is noodzakelijk, maar waarom wordt de respondenten niet verteld dat het in dit geval niet over computers, internet en veiligheid gaat? Het onderzoek lijkt onafhankelijk, maar er is op allerlei fronten samenwerking met het openbaar ministerie en de respondenten wordt dat niet gemeld. Het is duidelijk dat de onderzoekers bang zijn dat als de geadresseerden dat weten ze niet meedoen. De respondenten worden dus als een soort geblinddoekt proefdier behandeld voor een onderzoek dat niet het echte onderzoek is wat uitgevoerd wordt.  Waarom wordt de  werkelijke naam van het onderzoek niet aan de geadresseerden gegeven? Waarom wordt de bijlage van het besluit van Agentschap BPR niet aan de geselecteerden toegestuurd? Waarom staat in de aanvraag bij BPR niet de naam van het NL-ONLINE-OFFLINE onderzoek?

 

In antwoord op vragen over het onderzoek, wordt geen antwoord gegeven op de vraag waarom niet de werkelijke naam van het onderzoek aan de proefpersonen is vermeld. Wel schrijven de onderzoekers: “In de brief vermelden wij expliciet niet dat er in dit onderzoek personen zijn aangeschreven die ooit verdacht zijn geweest van een strafbaar feit. De reden hiervoor betreft het waarborgen van de privacy omdat het altijd mogelijk is dat iemand anders dan de aangeschreven persoon de brief open maakt.”

 

De onderzoekers stellen dat zij: “Bij al onze onderzoeken hanteren wij een uitgebreide en zorgvuldige toetsingsprocedure voordat deze worden uitgevoerd. Hierbij wordt de opzet van het onderzoek en de benaderingswijze van de respondenten getoetst door zowel het College van Procureurs Generaal van het Openbaar Ministerie en tevens voorgelegd aan de commissie Ethiek Rechtswetenschappelijk & Criminologisch Onderzoek van de Rechtenfaculteit van de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Daarnaast wordt er een melding gedaan bij het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens. In deze procedure wordt de meest zorgvuldige benaderingsmethode bepaald. Dit is ook gebeurd voor het NL-ONLINE-OFFLINE onderzoek.”

 

Middels de Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur zijn bij het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie en het College van Procureurs Generaal stukken opgevraagd over het NL-ONLINE-OFFLINE onderzoek. Beide bestuursorganen stellen dat zij geen stukken met betrekking tot dit onderzoek hebben. In een presentatie over het onderzoek ‘Cyber Crime Offender Profiling (CyberCOP): the human factor examined’ worden de volgende partners van VU en NSCR genoemd: “Team High Tech Crime, Nationale Politie Landelijk Parket, Openbaar Ministerie en Reclassering Nederland.”

 

Vermanende woorden

 

NL-ONLINE-OFFLINE is een profielonderzoek van de overheid over cybercriminelen. Het heet geen NL-ONLINE-OFFLINE maar ‘Cyber Crime Offender Profiling (CyberCOP): the human factor examined.‘ Hierbij gaat het vooral om mogelijke interventies en sancties. Aan het einde van de enquête wordt het de respondenten nog eens benadrukt hoe belangrijk het wel niet is dat zij de vragen serieus hebben ingevuld. Hiervoor wordt hen een vraag voorgelegd om te controleren of ze wel écht de vragen goed hebben gelezen en beantwoord. Want als dat niet het geval is, lopen zij de beloning van 50 euro mis.

 

Na deze vermanende woorden wordt de respondent het volgende voorgelegd: ‘Voor wetenschappelijk onderzoek is het relevant om de gegevens die u zojuist heeft verstrekt te koppelen aan gegevens die over u bekend zijn in lokale of landelijke registers (zoals het Sociaal Statistisch Bestand en het Justitieel Documentatie Systeem). Dit zal alleen gebeuren als u hiervoor toestemming geeft. Uiteraard zullen ook die gegevens uitsluitend worden gebruikt voor wetenschappelijke doeleinden en volstrekt vertrouwelijk behandeld, anoniem verwerkt en veilig bewaard worden.’

 

Nu hebben de onderzoekers in Bijlage 1 van het besluit van het Agentschap BPR aangegeven dat ‘de gegevens uit de BRP worden gebruikt om een vragenlijst op te sturen naar de persoon.’ Er wordt tevens vermeld dat ‘op geen enkel moment tijdens het onderzoek een persoon herleidbaar wordt gerapporteerd.’ Dit zal mogelijk betrekking hebben op het doorgeven van mogelijke strafbare feiten die de respondenten in de enquête hebben ingevuld.

 

Er wordt in de bijlage echter niet vermeld dat de verstrekte gegevens van de ondervraagde worden gekoppeld aan de data van justitie: ‘koppelen aan gegevens die over u bekend zijn in lokale of landelijke registers.’ In principe hoeft dat natuurlijk niet omdat die gegevens niet in het bezit zijn van het Agentschap BPR, maar het roept wel vragen op over de mate van ‘eerlijkheid’ van de onderzoekers en het openbaar ministerie.

 

Volgens de onderzoekers wordt “geen van de verzamelde gegevens gedeeld met derden, ook niet met het OM. Er zal nooit zonder expliciete toestemming van de respondent koppeling plaatsvinden met data van het OM. Het OM heeft ons enkel geholpen met het verzenden van de brieven. Het OM en het BPR helpen echter niet alleen bij de mailing aan de proefpersonen, ook bij het koppelen aan ‘gegevens die over u bekend zijn in lokale of landelijke registers (zoals het Sociaal Statistisch Bestand en het Justitieel Documentatie Systeem)’. Dit zou anoniem zijn, maar dat kan niet bij koppeling aan die bestanden, daarnaast krijgt iedere proefpersoon een persoonlijke deelnamecode, die maar een keer is te gebruiken.

 

Lok-onderzoek?

 

Het VU/NSCR-onderzoek is gericht op cyber profiling. Daarvoor worden personen benaderd die zelf niet weten dat ze benaderd zijn als veroordeelde of verdachte. Zij krijgen een vragenlijst voorgelegd waarmee ze uit de tent worden gelokt om daderkennis te presenteren. Maar dat niet alleen, ook info over mogelijke mededaders en andere gegevens over strafbare feiten waarvoor zij veroordeeld zijn, en/of mogelijke strafbare feiten die zij recentelijk zouden hebben gepleegd en waarvoor zij niet veroordeeld zijn. Dit laatste over de connecties van de respondent is natuurlijk gericht op het in kaart brengen van criminele netwerken.

 

Verdachten worden ook op deze wijze benaderd, dus het zou net zo goed een lok-onderzoek kunnen zijn. Vraag is of de respondenten op hun rechten ten aanzien van de gegevens die zij mogelijk prijsgeven, zijn gewezen? Waarom spelen de onderzoekers geen open kaart omtrent het werkelijke doel van het onderzoek? Vanwaar die omslachtigheid en vaagheid? Is dit een wetenschappelijk onderzoek waarbij geënquêteerden worden ingelicht over de ware doelstelling, of is hier soms sprake van een phishing expeditie van een instituut dat gefinancierd wordt door het Ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie en direct samenwerkt met het OM? Probeert het openbaar ministerie via een onderzoek het zwijgrecht te ondermijnen of te omzeilen?

 

Respondenten zijn reeds strafrechtelijk vervolgd of niet verdachten meer omdat er geen bewijs werd gevonden voor hun schuld. Toch worden zij verleid om aan te geven met wie, waar, wanneer en waarom zij mogelijke strafbare feiten hebben begaan. Los van het profiling en phishing gedeelte van het onderzoek, roept de aanpak vragen op over de wetenschappelijke verantwoording ervan. Want welke serieuze data levert het op om de stoere veroordeelde en/of verdachte cyber criminelen uit de tent te lokken om hun kunde te tonen en met wie ze contact hebben. Het enige waar het onderzoek op gericht lijkt te zijn is de bevestiging van bestaande stereotypering over de cyber criminelen. Dat is zowel voor de wetenschap als voor de opsporing weinig vruchtbaar.

 

 

Buro Jansen & Janssen, augustus 2015

 

 

Brief aan respondenten

http://respubca.home.xs4all.nl/pdf/briefvanvunscraanproefpersonen.pdf

 

besluit agentschap BPR

http://respubca.home.xs4all.nl/pdf/besluitBPRinzakeonderzoek.pdf

Welkomstekst bij onderzoek NL-Online-Offline

http://respubca.home.xs4all.nl/pdf/Welkomnlonlineoffline.pdf

 

presentatie over het onderzoek Cyber Crime Offender Profiling (CyberCOP): the human factor examined

http://respubca.home.xs4all.nl/pdf/NWOCyberCrimemetTeamHighTechCrimeetc.pdf

 

For American Psychological Association, National Security Trumped Torture Concerns

A new report disclosed by James Risen of the New York Times on Friday tells in greater detail than ever before the story of how members of the American Psychological Association colluded with the CIA when it came to the application of brutal interrogation techniques.

The report describes how repeated expressions of concern from within the CIA itself that psychologists had no place in the abusive treatment of detainees were brushed asided by leaders of what was supposed to be a highly ethical professional association. Psychologists with close ties to the CIA, in some cases even involving financial relationships, cited national security as the reason to ignore their fundamental oaths to do no harm.

As one example, when the CIA asked Melvin Gravitz, a long-time APA governance member and former CIA contractor, to weigh in on whether or not it was ethical for psychologists to participate in torturous interrogations in early 2003, he concluded that it was fine because ethics need to be “flexible” in the face of national security.

The report details Gravitz’s response, in a February 13, 2003 e-mail titled “Ethical Considerations in the Utilization of Psychologists in the Interrogation Process.”

Recently, some questions have been raised regarding the ethical implications of psychologists applying their skills by assisting in the interrogation process of certain persons who have been detained in the currently ongoing world-wide war against terrorism. . . .

The following comments are based upon a review of the principles of the Ethical Code as they may be relevant to certain psychological services rendered by Agency staff psychologists and contractors, all of whom are required by regulation to be licensed.622 In the interrogation of detainees, such services may include (1) acting as a consultant to officers who design and conduct interrogations, (2) acting as observers but not actually participating in the interrogations, and (3) participating in the interrogation process themselves.

The authors of the report write that “Gravitz identified a number of ethical standards that might be relevant to psychologists’ involvement in interrogations, including conflicts between ethics and law (Standard 1.02), conflicts between ethics and organizational demands (Standard 1.03), management of alleged or possible ethical violations, boundaries of competence, providing services in emergencies (Standard 2.02), bases for professional judgments (Standard 2.04),624 and cooperation with other professionals.”

Nevertheless, Gravitz concluded:

While the APA Ethics Code focuses primarily on concern for the individual (i.e., client or patient), it also recognizes that the psychologist has an obligation to the group of individuals, such as the Nation. The Ethics Code is in its essence a set of aspirations and guidelines, and these must be flexibly applied to the circumstances at hand.

The complaint Gravitz was asked to address was raised by the head of the CIA’s Office of Medical Services, Terrence DeMay, in late 2002, very early in the “enhanced interrogation program.”

DeMay was not the only naysayer. Multiple CIA officers questioned the morality of involving psychologists in the interrogations over the course of several years.

CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard sent an inquiry in March 2004 to the APA Ethics Office, writing in an e-mail to the office’s director that his staff had “been discussing a problem that is experienced by both psychiatrists and psychologists alike…both specialties are being asked to provided consultation to law enforcement, the military, and other organizations that have a role in national security,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, some of what they are asked to do runs counter to [their] code of ethics.”

Andy Morgan, the CIA psychiatrist who first raised the issue with Hubbard, told the authors of the report that he was worried mental health professionals were being misled about their roles in interrogations. He said psychologists he knew working in Guantanamo Bay were “placed in roles that were different from what they had been told before deployment,” according to the report. He told the report’s authors he was worried psychologists might start becoming interrogators themselves.

Morgan’s concerns were dismissed by APA members who insisted that “the code” of ethics does not extend to matters of national security.

When CIA psychologist Kirk Kennedy also raised concerns that psychologists were involved in abusive tactics without scientific evidence of their effectiveness, his complaint was “received poorly,” according to a footnote in the report, and he decided to transfer out of the operational assessment division.

The new report was commissioned by the APA’s board, and was the result of an investigation led by David Hoffman, a lawyer with the firm Sidley Austin.

CIA torture techniques, which it called “enhanced interrogation,” included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other egregious practices, most extensively detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s December 2014 “torture report.” The APA shielded the program, and enjoyed a “harmonious working relationship” that brought them money and media attention, according to the new report.

“The military and CIA’s insensitivity to professional medical and psychological ethics continues to this day,” says Katherine Hawkins, national security fellow at OpenTheGovernment.org told The Intercept. “If the medical and psychological community wants to make real amends for clinicians’ role in the torture program, they should put serious pressure on the U.S. government to change this.”

Jenna McLaughlin
July 14 2015, 3:13 p.m.

Find this story at 14 July 2015

Copyright https://firstlook.org/

Three senior officials lose their jobs at APA after US torture scandal

American Psychological Association framed the departures of its chief executive officer, deputy CEO and communications chief as ‘retirements’ and resignations

The torture scandal consuming the US’s premiere professional association of psychologists has cost three senior officials their jobs, part of a reckoning that reformers hope will lead to criminal prosecutions.

US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 ‘collusion’

As the American Psychological Association copes with the damage reaped by an independent investigation that found it complicit in US torture, the group announced on Tuesday that its chief executive officer, its deputy CEO and its communications chief are no longer with the APA.

All three were implicated in the 542-page report issued this month by former federal prosecutor David Hoffman, who concluded that APA leaders “colluded” with the US department of defense and aided the CIA in loosening professional ethics and other guidelines to permit psychologist participation in torture.

Despite rumors of the three oustings circulating for over a week, the APA framed the departures of longtime executive officials Norman Anderson and Michael Honaker as “retirements”. Rhea Farberman, who served as APA’s communications director for 22 years, “resigned”, the APA said in a statement.

While CEO Anderson’s retirement was scheduled before the Hoffman report was released, the APA stated: “Dr Anderson felt that moving up his retirement date to the end of 2015 would allow the association to take another step in the important process of organizational healing, and to facilitate APA’s continuing focus on its broader mission.”

Psychologist accused of enabling US torture backed by former FBI chief
Read more
Anderson, Honaker and Farberman join Stephen Behnke, the APA’s former ethics chief also implicated in torture, in the first wave of APA departures as the organization seeks to rebuild its credibility. Behnke has issued a combative statement threatening unspecified legal action.

“This is a major step toward reforming the APA and the profession,” said Stephen Soldz, a longtime APA critic on torture affiliated with Physicians for Human Rights.

“I hope it is only the beginning of change. The selection of the right CEO will be crucial.”

Soldz is part of a group pushing for the APA to refer the Hoffman report to the FBI and justice department for potential criminal inquiries. Thus far, the APA has committed to providing the report to the Senate committees overseeing the military and CIA, and a call to end all psychologist participation in US interrogation and detention operations is slated for APA consideration at a major conference next month.

Thus far, there is no indication from the justice department that it intends to revisit the politically fraught question of legal accountability for torture, which ended in 2012 without prosecutions. The defense department, which still assigns psychologists to Guantanamo Bay, has yet to comment; and the White House has stayed out of the fray.

Hoffman’s report identifies Behnke, a defense department contractor, as a chief culprit in maneuvering the APA toward loosening its opposition to torture while denying doing any such thing; and the departed APA officials as complicit.

Behnke undertook “extensive efforts to manipulate” the APA’s council of representatives “in an effort to undermine attempts to keep psychologists from being involved in national security interrogations”, Hoffman found. Other “APA officials involved with Behnke in these efforts included “Anderson, Honaker [and] Farberman”.

Nevertheless, Farberman insisted to the press that the APA had taken a consistent position against torture.

After the Guardian reported that the APA had declined to take action against a psychologist who participated in a brutal Guantanamo interpretation, Farberman told the Guardian: “A thorough review of these public materials and our standing policies will clearly demonstrate that APA will not tolerate psychologist participation in torture.”

It is unclear if the three officials are the APA’s last to leave. Barry Anton, the APA’s current president, is also listed in the “Key Players” section, as Anton is said to have “participated in the selection” of members of a critical task force on psychologist involvement in torture that was stacked with US defense department officials.

The APA will meet in Toronto beginning on 6 August for its annual convention, which former president Nadine Koslow told the Guardian she expected to be consumed with the issue of what reforms the organization must adopt in the wake of the Hoffman report.

Tuesday 14 July 2015 17.43 BST Last modified on Tuesday 14 July 2015 18.51 BST

Find this story at 14 July 2015

Find the report
© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited

Robert Jay Lifton, Author of “The Nazi Doctors”: Psychologists Who Aided Torture Should Be Charged

Robert Jay Lifton, the prominent psychiatrist famous for his study of the doctors who aided Nazi war crimes, speaks out on the role of the American Psychological Association in aiding government-sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. A new report alleges the APA, the world’s largest group of psychologists, secretly coordinated with government officials to align its ethics policy with the operational needs of the CIA’s torture program. “What the APA did was a scandal within a scandal,” Lifton says. “[This] is something we have to confront as a nation.”

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: New details have emerged on how the American Psychological Association, the world’s largest group of psychologists, aided government-sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. A group of dissident psychologists have just published a 60-page report alleging the APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House and the Pentagon to change the APA ethics policy to align it with the operational needs of the CIA’s torture program. The report also reveals a behavioral science researcher working for President Bush secretly drafted language that the APA inserted into its ethics policy on interrogations.

AMY GOODMAN: Much of the report is based on hundreds of newly released internal APA emails from 2003 to 2006 that show top officials were in direct communication with the CIA. In 2004, for example, the APA secretly took part in a meeting with officials from the CIA and other intelligence agencies to discuss ethics and national security.

Still with us, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, leading American psychiatrist who has spoken out against the APA’s practices. So, the American Psychological Association has about 150,000 members, the largest association in the world. That’s the APA. The little APA is the American Psychiatric Association, which I assume you’re a part of. Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, your thoughts on what the APA did?

ROBERT JAY LIFTON: What the APA did—and I read that report—is what I call a scandal within a scandal. That is, I have been much concerned with the behavior of professionals and their ethics, not just in terms of how they conduct their everyday profession—that’s important enough—but their relationship to the world ethically. I became interested in this in working with veterans of the Vietnam War. And in that war, military psychiatrists would be in a position, when examining a soldier who was brought to them with anxiety and a sense of outrage at what was going on—would be in the position of helping that soldier to be strong enough to return to duty, which meant daily atrocities. And I asked myself, how did a psychiatrist find himself in that situation? And it had to do with a military structure of medicine and with the psychiatrist entering into what I called an atrocity-producing situation. In my work with Nazi doctors, it was even, of course, much more extreme, probably the most extreme example of any profession of any country engaging in extremely immoral behavior, engaging directly in killing, because Nazi physicians were in charge of the killing in Auschwitz. And that’s what I studied in that research. But, you know—

AMY GOODMAN: What’s interesting, both Nermeen and I saw you speak last night on a very different issue, on the Armenian genocide, and you talked about the significance of Dr. Josef Mengele dying without acknowledging what he did.

ROBERT JAY LIFTON: Yes, when Mengele, who was a notorious fanatical Nazi, quite unusual in that way among doctors, was found to be dead in a lake in Argentina, survivors of Auschwitz were upset that there wasn’t the opportunity to bring him to the dock so that he could confront his crimes. It wasn’t so much a desire for revenge as it was for justice. So I mentioned that survivors of holocaust or genocide, or survivors in general, are what can be called collectors of justice. They need a sense of justice for their own healing.

But now, here we have American psychologists. There were psychiatrists involved early also in the enhanced interrogation, which spilled over into torture in American use. Fortunately, American Psychiatric Association had slightly more enlightened leadership, and we had the advantage of doctors’ Hippocratic Oath, which is “do no harm,” and there could be developed a resolution prohibiting any physician, any psychiatrist, from being in the interrogation room. The American Psychological Association took an opposite tendency. It’s one thing—and there were a couple of psychologists, who are well known, who helped create the torture and the whole psychological regimen for the torture, crudely and very unscientifically, but with the claim of psychological science. It’s still another level when the professional organization supports torture by meeting with the administration and those people who were looking for some legitimation coming from a professional group for torture. And that’s what the American Psychological Association did.

And that’s all too reminiscent of what the Nazis called Gleichschaltung. I’m not saying they’re Nazis. We’re not Nazis. We’re still a sufficiently open society to confront this, criticize it and do something about it. But with the Nazis, there was this process of Gleichschaltung, meaning reordering or re-gearing all professional organizations, not destroying them, but breaking them down and reconstructing them to serve the Nazi project. That’s the kind of thing we must and can confront and avoid here.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, last December, psychologist James Mitchell, who was contracted by the CIA while still a member of the American Psychological Association to design its interrogation program, appeared on Fox News to talk about his role in the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah. He was interviewed by Megyn Kelly.

MEGYN KELLY: So you—were you the one actually conducting the techniques on Abu Zubaydah, or were you in more of a sort of background role?
JAMES MITCHELL: It depends on when you’re talking about. Initially, I was in a background role. Then, after we shut down and the enhanced interrogations were approved, I was in an administration role.
MEGYN KELLY: OK, so did you personally waterboard him?
JAMES MITCHELL: Yes.
MEGYN KELLY: We’re going to get to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a minute, but sticking with Abu Zubaydah for now, were all of the methods that were cited in the Senate report employed, like nudity, standing sleep deprivation, the attention grab, the insult slap? Were those all used?
JAMES MITCHELL: The ones you mentioned were used.
MEGYN KELLY: The facial grab, the abdominal slap, the kneeling stress position, walling?
JAMES MITCHELL: Walling was used. The others—if they showed up on the list, they were used. We didn’t typically use a lot of those stress positions. We didn’t use any stress positions with Abu Zubaydah, because he had an injury.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was psychologist James Mitchell speaking on Fox News last December. He was the psychologist who was asked by the CIA to design its interrogation program. Could you talk about that, Dr. Lifton? And in particular, in the context of what you called earlier an atrocity-producing situation, what enabled this to occur?

ROBERT JAY LIFTON: Professionals are as prone to being socialized to the norm of a group, including being socialized to evil, as are any other groups in American society. What that means is that psychologists, in this case—and there are others from other professions—internalize what is considered to be acceptable and appropriate for them in carrying out their profession. So, torture exists. There is the nod from the administration: Go ahead with torture. And psychologists then adapt to that and, in this case, become not just participants in torture, but the creators of the methods of torture.

That’s a shocking clip because it shows him kind of slightly reluctantly admitting that they do all those things. Of course, it’s denied that they’re torture, and that’s absurd. They’re out-and-out torture. But the fact that they’ll come on a network program and describe it as something legitimate is another level of scandal. After all, torture has been conducted, you know, from the time of the beginning of history. It’s always been seen, and especially in recent centuries, as something evil. You can judge a society as to whether it engages in torture. You condemn a society that engages in torture.

In our case, looking at the sequence, one can praise the Obama administration for ending that torture, but one must criticize the Obama administration for blocking any examination or confrontation of our role in torture. You showed an interesting clip about the city of Chicago confronting and at least recognizing that the police had engaged in torture of certain suspects. Well, that doesn’t undo what they did, but it’s a step toward some kind of ethical advance. And for the United States to have engaged in torture on such a widespread dimension, to have legitimated it among professionals like psychologists, for psychologists and others to have created and participated in it, is something that we have to confront, as a nation, to move ahead in something like an ethical way.

AMY GOODMAN: And when you talk about confronting, what exactly do you mean? You’ve just given a psychological, sociological explanation, understanding. For example, James Mitchell, or Mitchell and Jessen, the company of two psychologists that Pentagon funneled money into, not to mention other psychologists who didn’t even work for them, working at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, but should they be brought up on charges?

ROBERT JAY LIFTON: Of course they should. There are many situations that I can probe psychologically, or psychohistorically, as we say, but have to be approached politically for some kind of resolution, and this is an example of that. A proper confrontation of what we did would mean a real investigation that didn’t stop as we got to the top. Yes, of course, the order for torture being acceptable and advised comes from above, comes from the highest sources in the administration. That has to be uncovered by an investigation, and there has to be a legal context. Whether or not everybody who participated in torture is in some way condemned and put to jail, I don’t know. But at minimum, there must be a confrontation and revelation of what was done, who did it, what the consequences were and how to prevent it in the future.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think of this comment by CIA psychologist—former CIA psychologist Kirk Hubbard, who served as the CIA’s chief of operations of the Operational Assessment Division before he joined Mitchell Jessen and Associates? In 2012, Hubbard told the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment, quote, “Detainees are not patients nor are they being ‘treated’ by the psychologists. Therefore the ethical guidelines for clinicians do not apply, in my opinion. Psychologists can play many different roles and should not be forced into a narrow doctor-patient role.” Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, your response?

ROBERT JAY LIFTON: What you’ve heard, what you just recited, is a rationalization for torture and for destructive behavior on the part of professionals. All professions require some sort of ethical code, as I said before, not just in everyday practice, but in what they do in society. And to weasel out of any such ethical requirement because one is dealing not with patients, but with prisoners—and, of course, that administration didn’t even give them prisoner rights, according to Geneva Conventions—to do that is simply a rationalization for destructive or even evil behavior.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a leading American psychiatrist, author of many books, including Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir. We’ll be back with him, talking about a number of issues, including another of his books, Who Owns Death?: Capital Punishment, the American Conscience, and the End of Executions—Prosecutors, Judges, Jurors, Wardens, and the American Public in Conflict. Stay with us.

THURSDAY, MAY 7, 2015

Find this story at 7 May 2015

Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Outside Psychologists Shielded U.S. Torture Program, Report Finds

WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency’s health professionals repeatedly criticized the agency’s post-Sept. 11 interrogation program, but their protests were rebuffed by prominent outside psychologists who lent credibility to the program, according to a new report.

The 542-page report, which examines the involvement of the nation’s psychologists and their largest professional organization, the American Psychological Association, with the harsh interrogation programs of the Bush era, raises repeated questions about the collaboration between psychologists and officials at both the C.I.A. and the Pentagon.

The report, completed this month, 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 Defense Department’s interrogation policies, 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.

Continue reading the main story
DOCUMENT
Psychologists and ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation
A 542-page report concludes that prominent psychologists worked closely with the C.I.A. to blunt dissent inside the agency over an interrogation program that is now known to have included torture. It also finds that officials at the American Psychological Association colluded with the Pentagon to make sure the association’s ethics policies did not hinder the ability of psychologists to be involved in the interrogation program.

OPEN DOCUMENT
The association’s ethics office “prioritized the protection of psychologists — even those who might have engaged in unethical behavior — above the protection of the public,” the report said.

Two former presidents of the psychological association were on a C.I.A. advisory committee, the report found. One of them gave the agency an opinion that sleep deprivation did not constitute torture, and later held a small ownership stake in a consulting company founded by two men who oversaw the agency’s interrogation program, it said.

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 working at the association, without the knowledge of the association’s board. Mr. Behnke did not respond to a request for comment.

The report, which was obtained by The New York Times and has not previously been made public, is the result of a seven-month investigation by a team led by David Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer with the firm Sidley Austin at the request of the psychology association’s board.

After the Hoffman report was made public on Friday, the American Psychological Association issued an apology.

“The actions, policies and lack of independence from government influence described in the Hoffman report represented a failure to live up to our core values,” Nadine Kaslow, a former president of the organization, said in a statement. “We profoundly regret and apologize for the behavior and the consequences that ensued.”

The association said it was considering proposals to prohibit psychologists from participating in interrogations and to modify its ethics policies, among other changes.

The involvement of psychologists in the interrogation programs has been a source of contention within the profession for years. Another report, issued in April by several critics of the association, came to similar conclusions. But Mr. Hoffman’s report is by far the most detailed look yet into the crucial roles played by behavioral scientists, especially top officials at the American Psychological Association and some of the most prominent figures in the profession, in the interrogation programs. It also shows that the collaboration was much more extensive than was previously known.

A report last December by the Senate Intelligence Committee detailed the brutality of some of the C.I.A.’s interrogation methods, but by focusing on the role of psychologists, Mr. Hoffman’s report provides new details, and can be seen as a companion to the Senate report.

The C.I.A. and the Pentagon both conducted harsh interrogations during the administration of President George W. Bush, although the C.I.A.’s program included more brutal tactics. Some of them, like the simulated drowning technique called waterboarding, are now widely regarded as torture. The agency’s interrogations were done at so-called black site prisons around the world where prisoners were held secretly for years.

The report found that while some prominent psychologists collaborated with C.I.A. officials in ways that aided the agency’s interrogation program, the American Psychological Association and its staff members focused more on working with the Pentagon, with which the association has long had strong ties.

Indeed, the report said that senior officials of the association had “colluded” with senior Defense Department officials to make certain that the association’s ethics rules did not hinder the ability of psychologists to remain involved with the interrogation program.

The report’s most immediate impact will be felt at the association, where it has been presented to the board and its members’ council. The board met last week to discuss the report and is expected to act on its findings soon. The association has since renounced 2005 ethics guidelines that allowed psychologists to stay involved in the harsh interrogations, but several staff members who were named in the report have remained at the organization.

A C.I.A. spokesman said that agency officials had not seen it and so could not comment.

Dissent began building within the C.I.A. against the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques not long after its interrogation program began.

In about late 2002, the head of the C.I.A.’s Office of Medical Services, Terrence DeMay, started to complain about the involvement in the program of James Mitchell, a psychologist and instructor at the Air Force’s SERE (survival, evasion, rescue and escape) program, in which United States military personnel are subjected to simulated torture to gird them for possible capture. Mr. Mitchell had also served as a consultant to the C.I.A. advisory committee that included two former presidents of the psychological association.

One unidentified witness was quoted in the Hoffman report as saying that doctors and psychologists in the C.I.A.’s Office of Medical Services “were not on board with what was going on regarding interrogations, and felt that they were being cut out of the discussion.” One leading C.I.A. psychologist told investigators that Mr. DeMay “was berating Jim Mitchell about being involved in the interrogation program,” and that Mr. DeMay’s objections “related to the involvement of psychologists as professionals adept at human behavior and manipulation.”

Mr. DeMay’s complaints “led to a substantial dispute within the C.I.A.,” according to the report, and prompted the head of the agency’s counterterrorism center to seek an opinion from a prominent outside psychologist on whether it was ethical for psychologists to continue to participate in the C.I.A.’s interrogations.

The C.I.A. chose Mel Gravitz, a prominent psychologist who was also a member of the agency’s advisory committee. In early 2003, Mr. Gravitz wrote an opinion that persuaded the chief of the agency’s counterterrorism center that Mr. Mitchell could continue to participate in and support interrogations, according to the Hoffman report.

Mr. Gravitz’s opinion, which the Hoffman report quotes, noted that “the psychologist has an obligation to (a) group of individuals, such as the nation,” and that the ethics code “must be flexible [sic] applied to the circumstances at hand.”

But ethical concerns persisted at the C.I.A. In March 2004, other agency insiders emailed the psychological association to say they were worried that psychologists were assisting with interrogations in ways that contradicted the association’s ethics code.

One of those who contacted the association was Charles Morgan, a C.I.A. contractor and psychiatrist who had studied military personnel who went through the SERE program’s simulated torture training, research that showed that the techniques used on them could not be used to collect accurate information.

Another, oddly, was Kirk Hubbard, a C.I.A. psychologist who was chairman of the agency advisory committee that included two former association presidents and on which Mr. Mitchell was a consultant. Mr. Hubbard told the Hoffman investigators that he did not have concerns about the participation of psychologists in the interrogation program, but emailed the association because he had been asked to pass on the concerns of other behavioral scientists inside the agency.

The ethical concerns raised by Mr. Morgan and others inside the C.I.A. led to a confidential meeting in July 2004 at the psychological association of about 15 behavioral scientists who worked for national security agencies. This was followed by the creation of an association task force to study the ethics of psychologists’ involvement in interrogations.

But association and government officials filled the task force with national security insiders, and it concluded in 2005 that it was fine for psychologists to remain involved, the report found.

The report provides new details about how Mr. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, another SERE trainer who would later go into business with Mr. Mitchell, gained entree to the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, which hired them to create and run the interrogation program. After Mr. Mitchell worked as a consultant to the C.I.A. advisory committee, Mr. Hubbard introduced Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen to Jim Cotsana, the chief of special missions in the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center.

Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen were later hired as contractors for the counterterrorism center, where they helped create the interrogation program by adapting the simulated torture techniques from the SERE program, using them against detainees.

Separately, Joseph Matarazzo, a former president of the psychological association who was a member of the C.I.A. advisory committee, was asked by Mr. Hubbard to provide an opinion about whether sleep deprivation constituted torture. Mr. Matarazzo concluded that it was not torture, according to the report.

Later, Mr. Matarazzo became a 1 percent owner of a unit of Mitchell Jessen and Associates, the contracting company Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen created to handle their work with the C.I.A.’s interrogation program. Mr. Matarazzo was also listed as a partner of the company in a 2008 annual report, according to the Hoffman report.

Mr. Matarazzo said he had not read the report and could not comment.

Mr. Hubbard, after he retired from the C.I.A., also did some work for Mitchell Jessen and Associates.

The report reaches unsparing conclusions about the close relationship between some association officials and officials at the Pentagon.

“The evidence supports the conclusion that A.P.A. officials colluded with D.O.D. officials to, at the least, adopt and maintain A.P.A. ethics policies that were not more restrictive than the guidelines that key D.O.D. officials wanted,” the report says, adding, “A.P.A. chose its ethics policy based on its goals of helping D.O.D., managing its P.R., and maximizing the growth of the profession.”

By JAMES RISENJULY 10, 2015

Find this story at 10 July 2015

© 2015 The New York Times Company

Emails Show American Psychological Association Secretly Worked with Bush Admin to Enable Torture

New details have emerged on how the American Psychological Association, the world’s largest group of psychologists, aided government-sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. A group of dissident psychologists have just published a 60-page report alleging the APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House and the Pentagon to change the APA ethics policy to align it with the operational needs of the CIA’s torture program. Much of the report, “All the President’s Psychologists: The American Psychological Association’s Secret Complicity with the White House and US Intelligence Community in Support of the CIA’s ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program,” is based on hundreds of newly released internal APA emails from 2003 to 2006 that show top officials were in direct communication with the CIA. The report also reveals Susan Brandon, a behavioral science researcher working for President Bush, secretly drafted language that the APA inserted into its ethics policy on interrogations. We are joined by two of the report’s co-authors: Dr. Steven Reisner, a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and member of the APA Council of Representatives, and Nathaniel Raymond, director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: New details have emerged on how the American Psychological Association, the world’s largest group of psychologists, aided government-sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. A group of dissident psychologists have just published a 60-page report alleging the APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House and the Pentagon to change the APA ethics policy to align it with the operational needs of the CIA’s torture program. The report also reveals a behavioral science researcher working for President Bush secretly drafted language that the APA inserted into its ethics policy on interrogations.

Much of the report is based on hundreds of newly released internal APA emails from 2003 to 2006 that show top officials were in direct communication with the CIA. In 2004, for example, the APA secretly took part in a meeting with officials from the CIA and other intelligence agencies to discuss ethics and national security. In one email, the APA stated that the aim of the meeting was, quote, “to take a forward looking, positive approach, in which we convey a sensitivity to and appreciation of the important work mental health professionals are doing in the national security arena, and in a supportive way offer our assistance in helping them navigate through thorny ethical dilemmas,” unquote.

One attendee was Kirk Hubbard, then the chief of operations for the CIA Operational Assessment Division. He would later leave the CIA to work for the private firm set up by James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the psychologists who were hired as private contractors to set up the CIA interrogation program including the waterboarding of prisoners. In one 2003 email, Hubbard wrote to a top APA official, quote, “You won’t get any feedback from [Dr. James] Mitchell or Jessen. They are doing special things to special people in special places, and generally are not available,” unquote. While the APA has attempted to distance itself from Mitchell and Jessen, the newly disclosed emails show the men attended a 2003 invite-only conference called “The Science of Deception,” sponsored by the APA, the CIA and RAND Corporation, to discuss so-called enhanced interrogations.

We’re joined now by two of the co-authors of the new report, “All the President’s Psychologists: The American Psychological Association’s Secret Complicity with the White House and US Intelligence Community in Support of the CIA’s ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Program.” Steven Reisner is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. He’s a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and adviser on psychology and ethics for Physicians for Human Rights. He’s currently a member of the APA Council of Representatives. Nathaniel Raymond is director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

We did invite a representative from the APA to join us, as well, but they declined. Last year, the APA commissioned an outside attorney named David Hoffman to conduct a third-party, independent review of the allegations about the APA and the Bush administration torture program. Rhea Farberman, the APA’s executive director for Public and Member Communications, told Democracy Now! the APA won’t respond to the allegations in the “All the President’s Psychologists” report until Hoffman’s review is completed.

Steven Reisner and Nathaniel Raymond, welcome back to Democracy Now! OK, Nathaniel Raymond, why don’t you lay out the core findings in your 60-page report?

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: There are four core findings. The first is that the American Psychological Association allowed, as you mentioned, Dr. Susan Brandon, it appears, who, three weeks before the APA engaged in its ethics process in 2005 on psychological ethics and national security, had been president Bush’s behavioral science adviser—she wrote what appears to be research language in the PENS report, the Psychological Ethics and National Security policy of the APA. That language, we now know because of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, directly aligns with the legal memos authorizing the enhanced interrogation program, and provided an ethical get-out-of-jail-free card that aligned with the then-classified legal get-of-jail-free card.

Secondly, we see clear deception by the APA, including some outright lies, including the assertion for many years that James Mitchell, the CIA torture psychologist you mentioned, had not been an APA member. We now know he was an APA member from 2001 to 2006. And the APA has also contended, according to Dr. Stephen Behnke, the ethics director, that they had had no contact on interrogations and interrogation techniques with Mitchell and Jessen. We now know that they discussed sensory overload and the use of psychopharmacological agents with Mitchell and Jessen in 2003.

The last two critical findings, Amy, are that the APA, as we see throughout the emails, expressed no concern about clear evidence of abuse that at that point, between 2004 in 2005, was public knowledge. And lastly, what we see in this report is a clear coordination that directly mirrors the timeline inside the Bush administration when Office of Medical Services personnel inside the CIA were raising concerns about human subjects research as part of the program. The APA, whether they knew it or not, allowed the administration to write a policy that basically helped put down that rebellion inside CIA.

AMY GOODMAN: How?

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: By allowing psychologists to play a critical monitoring and research role, that was at the heart of the newly—then newly authorized Bradbury Office of Legal Counsel memo. If psychologists couldn’t ethically play this role, if the APA had not engaged in this policy, it is highly likely that the interrogation program itself would have disintegrated.

AMY GOODMAN: You ran, Steven Reisner, for president of the American Psychological Association. Your main platform was speaking out against torture and APA’s involvement with the Bush administration. You didn’t win. Talk about what this means for the American Psychological Association.

STEVEN REISNER: Well, I think the issue is what this means for the entire profession of psychologists and the fact that we are represented by the American Psychological Association, because I think that what we’re finding is that psychologists are feeling betrayed by our association. What has happened is that the ethics code that we are all trained in, that we align ourselves with and that gives us our identity as health professionals dedicated to the public good, that ethics code and ethics policy was twisted to align—not only to align with what the government needed it to do, but in the service of torture. It is a betrayal of what I think we all are expecting from and try to identify with from our association. So, what has to happen right now is that we’ve got to—the membership, the council, any concerned American has to insist that we reclaim our association, put it back on an ethical track, and find a way to expose this, be accountable for it, be transparent about it and make significant change so that we can restore trust.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go into detail on what the APA knew and when they knew it with Dr. Steven Reisner and Nathaniel Raymond, co-authors of the new report, “All the President’s Psychologists,” in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about a new report that has just come out on the American Psychological Association’s involvement with the Bush administration’s so-called enhanced interrogation program. In 2005, Stephen Behnke, the director of ethics at the American Psychological Association, then and now, appeared on Democracy Now!

STEPHEN BEHNKE: I don’t have firsthand knowledge of what went on at Guantánamo. I know that the APA very much wants the facts, and that when APA has the facts, we will act on those facts.
AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Behnke appeared on the show in a debate with Michael Wilks, chair of the medical ethics committee at the British Medical Association. Dr. Behnke went on to defend the APA’s actions.

STEPHEN BEHNKE: In all fairness, the American Psychological Association is very clear that under no circumstances is it in any manner permissible for a psychologist to engage in, to support, to facilitate, to direct or to advise torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association issued a joint statement against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in 1985. In 1986, the American Psychological Association issued another resolution against torture. So, to even suggest that that would in any manner be permissible is completely out of bounds.
MICHAEL WILKS: Might I ask a direct question, because I’m really interested to know? Could I ask why the APA’s presidential report then specifically recommends that psychologists should be involved in research into interrogation techniques?
STEPHEN BEHNKE: Well, as I have—as I have said, psychologists have been working together with law enforcement for many years domestically in information gathering and interrogation processes. We believe that as experts in human behavior, psychologists have valuable contributions to make to those activities.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Dr. Stephen Behnke on Democracy Now! in 2005. Our guests now are Dr. Steven Reisner, a member of the American Psychological Association, and Nathaniel Raymond. They both co-authored the new report, “All the President’s Psychologists.” Nathaniel Raymond, can you respond to what Dr. Behnke said?

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Well, what we now know, by reading the American Psychological Association’s emails, is that Dr. Behnke’s assertion in 2005 of “bring us the facts, and we will respond” directly contradicts his own words to the Operational Assessment Division of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2004, where he basically says, “We are not going to investigate,” in the context of the secret meeting they had, almost to the—basically, to the day that the White House was reauthorizing the enhanced interrogation program—”We’re not going to investigate any claims of abuse or any charges made at that meeting.” That directly contradicts what he said on Democracy Now!

Second is his continued assertion that somehow the American Psychiatric Association, which endorsed in 2006 a clear ban on participation in all interrogations, direct participation by psychiatrists, is analogous to the APA position, is entirely specious. The fact of the matter is, is the American Psychological Association position in that PENS report, that we now know was the direct result of coordination with the intelligence community and, in some cases, elements of that community writing language in the report, critical research language, is—it is entirely different to look at the APA position and the American Psychological Association position for one reason. The American Psychological Association based its policy on U.S. definitions of torture at that time, which we now know from the declassified Office of Legal Counsel memos had an entirely different view of what constituted, quote, “torture” and what constituted cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. So, saying that those positions are the same is just not the facts.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what changed.

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: What changed is—there was two periods of change. The first is immediately after 9/11. We have evidence in the public record that the American Psychological Association changed a large portion of its ethics code related to research, and basically it wrote out international and domestic protections on consent for human subjects research. We know, by different names, some of those protections, such as the Nuremberg Code and the Common Rule. They allowed for the revocation of consent when consistent with a lawful order or regulation.

That then combined with the second set of changes, which is the 2005 PENS report. The Psychological Ethics and National Security Task Force report then not only allows, but exhorts psychologists to have a research role in not only interrogations, but—this is the key sentence, Amy—in determining what constitutes cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment. Now, last time I checked, psychologists were not lawyers. This is outside the professional competency of psychologists to make a legal determination based on research. The question is, why were they being asked to do that, in language that we now know from the emails appears to have been written by a White House—former White House official? The fact of the matter is, that’s exactly what the Bradbury memos, that were then protecting the Bush administration from potential torture charges, required. And that’s exactly the concern that was being raised by the Office of the Inspector General internally at CIA, we now know from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. So that one sentence about research into what constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment positioned psychologists to be the legal heat shield for the president of the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Reisner?

STEVEN REISNER: Well, we listened to Dr. Behnke say that the APA is opposed to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment at the very moment when they are writing into our ethics code a policy that permits psychologists’ very presence at those sites, researching, overseeing and monitoring, that the psychologists being there is what makes it fall outside the definition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment concocted by the Justice Department in order to legally allow the torture. So what we have is a working together between the psychologists, the American Psychological Association, the CIA and the White House to create a cover story that says that torture is not torture, that it’s not legally torture under these rules. And while Dr. Behnke is claiming that psychologists don’t torture, psychologists are in fact torturing, and the APA seems to know it, according to these emails and according to what was in the press. But so what he’s doing is he’s parsing the facts and funneling it through a bent and distorted APA ethics code that has been changed simply to allow that program to continue.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to read another one of the newly disclosed emails. This is from Dr. Geoff Mumford, director of science policy at the APA, to CIA psychologist Dr. Kirk Hubbard, who was then chief of operations for the CIA Operational Assessment Division. Dr. Mumford writes, quote, “I thought you and many of those copied here would be interested to know that APA grabbed the bull by the horns and released this [Psychological Ethics and National Security] Task Force Report today.” The PENS Task Force. “I also wanted to semi-publicly acknowledge your personal contribution … in getting this effort off the ground over a year ago. Your views were well represented by very carefully selected Task Force members,” unquote.

In another email from 2005, the APA’s Dr. Geoff Mumford admitted former White House adviser Susan Brandon, who was then at the National Institute of Mental Health, helped craft language for the PENS report. Mumford wrote, quote, “Susan serving as an Observer (note she has returned to NIMH, at least temporarily) helped craft some language related to research and I hope we can take advantage of the reorganization of the National Intelligence Program, with its new emphasis on human intelligence, to find a welcoming home for more psychological science.”

OK, Nathaniel Raymond, talk about who Mumford is. Talk about also the significance of the Susan they are referring to, Susan Brandon, and her position today.

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Well, Geoff Mumford, then and now, was executive director and is executive director of science policy at the American Psychological Association. And while he is one of the most prominent officials in these emails, I want to make clear he’s not the only one. We also see Rhea Farberman, the spokeswoman who denied any coordination between the APA and the Bush administration in James Risen’s New York Times story. We see Steve Behnke. And we also see—and this is new to our report—that the deputy CEO, Michael Honaker, deputy CEO of APA, was also CCed on one of the emails about the secret 2004 meeting.

Dr. Brandon, then, was, as you described, at NIMH. She served in a variety of roles.

AMY GOODMAN: National Institute of Mental Health.

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Yeah, National Institutes of Mental Health. And she served in a variety of roles in the Department of Defense and elsewhere. But she also had been, during the time of the planning of the 2003 conference that Mitchell and Jessen attended, an APA employee, previously. Now she is the chief scientist of the High-Value Interrogation Group of the FBI. And in that role, she is basically the senior interrogation research scientist in the U.S. government. And thus, the High-Value Interrogation Group, which advises the National Security Council at the White House, is the leading interrogation group in the intelligence community. What we’ve seen in the—

AMY GOODMAN: She’s head of it now. She’s heading it now.

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: She’s head of it right now. And I think that’s something that’s been missed in the coverage so far, is that this is not just about what happened five years ago. It is about a currently serving Obama administration official. And I want to say that Mark Fallon, the former assistant deputy director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, came out—

AMY GOODMAN: NCIS.

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: NCIS—came out a few days ago calling for an independent prosecutor in these matters, including the issues raised in our report. He is serving as chair of an advisory group to the High-Value Interrogation Group. So I want to make a point here that we have master interrogators, people who are affiliated with the current interrogation group, who are raising real concerns about the allegations in our report and are saying this isn’t old news. This has direct implications for accountability on these matters, involving, in this case, a current administration official.

AMY GOODMAN: In 2007, psychologist Jean Maria Arrigo stood on the dais before a standing-room-only crowd at the annual American Psychological Association meeting in California. This came two years after she participated in an APA panel known as the PENS Task Force, that we’ve referred to today, that concluded psychologists working in interrogations play a, quote, “valuable and ethical role.” Dr. Arrigo criticized the findings and makeup of the panel she was on.

JEAN MARIA ARRIGO: Six of the 10 members were highly placed in the Department of Defense, as contractors and military officers. For example, one was the commander of all military psychologists. Their positions on two key items of controversy in the PENS report were predetermined by their DOD employment, in spite of the apparent ambivalence of some. These key items were: (a) the permissive definition of torture in U.S. law versus the strict definition in international law, and, second, participation of military psychologists in interrogation settings versus nonparticipation. Those are the two principal issues. And because of their employment, they have to decide the way they do.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Dr. Jean Arrigo. Talk about the significance of what she was saying. Democracy Now! was there covering these meetings as the APA even tried to cut down public access to the public parts of the meeting. But, Dr. Steve Reisner, she served on the PENS committee.

STEVEN REISNER: That’s right. She served, believing that it was a committee that—of interested and knowledgeable psychologists to actually review ethics policy and national security. What she found was that the task force seemed to have a predetermined agenda, that the members of the task force were involved in the very commands that were implicated in the abuse, and that the majority of the conclusions seemed to have already been drawn before they began. It was a guided operation.

AMY GOODMAN: She attempted to take notes during the meeting, is that right?

STEVEN REISNER: That’s right, and she was asked not to, which is totally bizarre for a meeting that is trying to generate a new policy. She was taking notes. She was participating as if it was a regular meeting. It turned out that the meeting was a meeting of, as the emails reveal, carefully selected members. And that email was to Kirk Hubbard. The members were carefully selected in order, it seems, to guarantee what the CIA and the White House needed from that meeting. And that’s what Jean Maria realized and what she’s talking about in that—on that panel.

AMY GOODMAN: She talked about having a meeting for a few hours and then being handed the resolution of the committee—

STEVEN REISNER: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: —before she had even weighed in.

STEVEN REISNER: That’s right. The drafts came fast and furious. This meeting lasted two-and-a-half days. And then the very final draft, where they added the piece on research, that came between the end of the meeting and, I would—and just, you know, 12, 24 hours later. The final rewritten version was sent to the members for them to just give their OK. It was whirlwind. They were told that this had to go to the Pentagon, it had to go to the White House. It was hurried, and there was very little room for critique.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Nathaniel Raymond, who do we now know wrote these drafts?

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Well, we know from the PENS listserv and from Jean Maria Arrigo herself and others that Dr. Stephen Behnke was responsible for being the keeper of the draft and, during lunch breaks and in the evenings, wrote the language in the report.

But that’s not the whole story. From what we see in the emails, as you mentioned, Dr. Brandon’s avowed role by Dr. Mumford in the research piece raises the broader question of: Who were the observers in the room, and how did they get there? What we see from the PENS listserv, the listserv of this task force that Jean Maria Arrigo has helped the world to see, that listserv shows that Dr. Gerald Koocher and Dr. Barry Anton, who is the current president right now of the APA, was responsible for approving the observers in the room. We now know that one of those observers was a senior administration official who had never— and still now never—been publicly acknowledged by the APA as having been in the room. So it’s not just who was writing the report, who was Dr. Behnke; it was who put those other people secretly in the room. And we now know it was Drs. Anton and Koocher, according to the listserv.

AMY GOODMAN: Why were psychologists so important to this whole process? I mean, what was happening with the psychiatrists of the United States? What was happening with other physicians?

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: This is where it can get complicated sometimes, and I want to try to express this as clearly as possible. In the enhanced interrogation program, you had two roles for health professionals, and these roles were conjoined. Role one was actually designing and implementing the tactics. And that’s what James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen did. The second role is this monitoring and indemnification role, to say that we have not crossed this threshold of severe and long-lasting harm. Now, that role changes throughout the program. It begins with Yoo-Bybee making sure that a line hasn’t been crossed. But by the time we get to—

AMY GOODMAN: Bybee now being a federal judge. Explain his role.

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Yeah, he was assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel. And John Yoo worked for him in that office, and he was responsible for primarily crafting the first torture memo.

AMY GOODMAN: Now at the University of California, Berkeley, law school.

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Yes, at Boalt Hall. And now we move forward in time. And so, what we can see in these emails is that at the time the APA was really working hard—its engine was going overdrive on these issues between 2004 and 2005—in direct contact with the CIA, you have another process going on, which is the creation of that new legal authorization that we now know George Tenet asked for upon his resignation. And that’s what we call the Bradbury memo. In that memo, there is a significantly changed role for this second group of health professionals, putting Mitchell and Jessen aside: the monitors, the researchers. And it moves from them determining whether you crossed the line to determining the line. And to determine the line, that required research. And so, we see in the Bradbury memos very clearly, as we documented in the Physicians for Human Rights report, “Experiments in Torture,” in 2010, is that they were having to look at the effect of the tactics to the whole detainee population over years and determine what the line was, because there was no clinical literature on torture.

AMY GOODMAN: Last December, psychologist James Mitchell, who was contracted by the CIA to design its interrogation program, appeared on Fox News to talk about his role in the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah. He was interviewed by Megyn Kelly.

JAMES MITCHELL: Zubaydah shut down. And they asked me to come back to the campus. And it was clear to me, when I was at the campus listening to what people were saying, that there was so much pressure about trying to head off this second wave that was coming, that they were going to use some kind of physical coercion. And so, I have been—spent a lot of time in the Air Force SERE school, and I see what happens when people sort of make stuff up on the fly. And in the course of the conversations, I said, “If you’re going to use physical coercion—not that you should use physical coercion, but if you’re going to use physical coercion—then you should use physical coercion that has been demonstrated over 50 years not to produce the kinds of injuries we would like to avoid.
MEGYN KELLY: OK. So you—were you the one actually conducting the techniques on Abu Zubaydah, or were you in more of a sort of background role?
JAMES MITCHELL: It depends on when you’re talking about. Initially, I was in a background role. Then, after we shut down and the enhanced interrogations were approved, I was in an administration role.
MEGYN KELLY: OK, so did you personally waterboard him?
JAMES MITCHELL: Yes.
MEGYN KELLY: We’re going to get to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a minute, but sticking with Abu Zubaydah for now, were all of the methods that were cited in the Senate report employed, like nudity, standing sleep deprivation, the attention grab, the insult slap? Were those all used?
JAMES MITCHELL: The ones you mentioned were used.
MEGYN KELLY: The facial grab, the abdominal slap, the kneeling stress position, walling?
JAMES MITCHELL: Walling was used. The others—if they showed up on the list, they were used. We didn’t typically use a lot of those stress positions. We didn’t use any stress positions with Abu Zubaydah, because he had an injury.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s psychologist James Mitchell, who was in the APA from 2001 to 2006, admitting on Fox News that he waterboarded Abu Zubaydah, the prisoner. Dr. Steve Reisner, we are wrapping up right now. Your response to Mitchell?

STEVEN REISNER: Well, this was—this is chilling to listen to the description of a psychologist dedicated to the public good and individual well-being talking about destroying a prisoner’s mind and body. And it was chilling to the medical professionals in the CIA, who were pushing back. It was chilling to the inspector general, who was pushing back. The program was shut down. And just at that moment when the program was shut down, the Office of Legal Counsel, the White House, some members of the CIA and the American Psychological Association appear to have all worked together to revive that program and to find the rationale for psychologists to be able to help that program continue.

AMY GOODMAN: So what are you looking for now? What is the next step that’s taking place right now with the American Psychological Association, Nathaniel?

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Well, as we heard from Senator Feinstein when James Risen’s article came out last week, there’s clear congressional interest in what happens next. And she said in her statement that she is looking forward to the results of the Hoffman investigation, the independent review of alleged collusion between—

AMY GOODMAN: Now, is this independent? He has been hired by the American Psychological Association?

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Yes, it is called by the APA the independent review. Dr. Reisner and I and our co-authors have met extensively with David Hoffman, and obviously the proof will be in the pudding when the report is released. But right now, the next step—

AMY GOODMAN: Did the APA say they will release the report?

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: Well, this is a big issue, Amy, is the APA has said that the board will review it and, after it reviews it, will release it. And as we’ve been calling for, they need to release it to the public right now. When you have Senator Feinstein saying she wants to see this report, there cannot be a half-step before it goes to the public. The key issue now is to put pressure on the American Psychological Association to release the report to the public as soon as it is completed.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to what Kirk Hubbard said, the former CIA psychologist, who in a 2012 interview with the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment said that “Detainees are not patients, nor are they being ‘treated’ by the psychologists. Therefore the ethical guidelines for clinicians do not apply, in my opinion. Psychologists can play many different roles and should not be forced into a narrow doctor-patient role.”

NATHANIEL RAYMOND: The Declaration of Helsinki and the Declaration of Tokyo, the Nuremberg Code, U.S. law, the Geneva Conventions are not based on whether someone’s a patient. It’s based on whether someone’s a human being. And the fact of the matter is that those codes were mangled and, in some cases, written out of what the APA did. So the issue is not about doctor-patient relationship here. It is about war crimes and about crimes against humanity, which are not contingent on someone being your patient.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. Nathaniel Raymond and Dr. Steven Reisner are co-authors of the new report, “All the President’s Psychologists.” We will link to it at democracynow.org. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

TUESDAY, MAY 5, 2015

Find this story at 5 May 2015

Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Psychologists met in secret with Bush officials to help justify torture – report

Newly disclosed emails reveal American Psychological Association coordinated with officials in CIA and White House to help ethically justify detainee program

The leading American professional group for psychologists secretly worked with the Bush administration to help justify the post-9/11 US detainee torture program, according to a watchdog analysis released on Thursday.

The report, written by six leading health professionals and human rights activists, is the first to examine the alleged complicity of the American Psychological Association (APA) in the “enhanced interrogation” program.

Based on an analysis of more than 600 newly disclosed emails, the report found that the APA coordinated with Bush-era government officials – namely in the CIA, White House and Department of Defense – to help ethically justify the interrogation policy in 2004 and 2005, when the program came under increased scrutiny for prisoner abuse by US military personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

A series of clandestine meetings with US officials led to the creation of “an APA ethics policy in national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program,” the report’s authors found.

The APA is the largest organization representing psychologists in the US, with more than 122,500 members. That mental health professionals – let alone members of the APA itself – played any role in the justification or enhancement of the interrogation program undoubtedly lent the program an air of legitimacy, if even behind closed doors.

In secret opinions, the US Department of Justice argued that the torture program did not constitute torture and was therefore legal, since they were being monitored by medical professionals.

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

The US paid torture doctors millions. Why is it last in the world in punishing them?
Dr Steven Miles
Read more
However, the report details a meeting in July 2004 – as images from Abu Ghraib stirred international outrage – at which the APA invited psychologists “directly involved in the CIA’s ‘enhanced’ interrogation program” to meet with the APA’s ethics office regarding the organization’s ethics policies. The meeting came on the heels of a secret order – signed one month prior by then-CIA director George Tenet – suspending the agency’s use of torture techniques, which also requested a detailed policy review.

A second meeting took place in 2005, when the APA Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (Pens), according to the emails, ensured that the “legal safeguards built into the ‘torture memos’ issued by the DOJ’s office of legal counsel were codified in APA ethics policy”.

Following the Pens meeting, the report says the APA passed “extraordinary policy recommendations”, in which the association reaffirmed that its members could be involved in the interrogation program, without violating APA ethical codes.

Additionally, the APA permitted research on “individuals involved in interrogation processes” without their consent; according to the report’s authors, such a policy turned against decades of medical ethics prohibitions.

“The analysis presented in this report raises serious concerns about the APA Board’s knowledge of, involvement in and responsibility for allowing the US government to unduly influence and change APA policy on interrogations,” the report concludes. “The resulting policy facilitated the continuation of the Bush administration torture program.”

Although the Bush-era torture program has since been shuttered, a partially declassified report released by the Senate intelligence committee in December concluded that torture does not work. Detainees subjected to so-called enhanced techniques, it found, produced no intelligence or “fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence”.

Donna McKay, the executive director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), an organization with which all of the report’s authors have been affiliated at some point, said in a statement issued on Thursday: “This calculated undermining of professional ethics is unprecedented in the history of US medical practice and shows how the CIA torture program corrupted other institutions in our society.”

James Mitchell: ‘I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country’
Read more
PHR has previously called on the APA to clarify its ties to the CIA torture program and its architects, namely the two CIA contract psychologists Dr James Mitchell and Dr Bruce Jessen. “In the meantime,” the statement said, “there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing to warrant a Department of Justice investigation.”

In their own report, issued last December, PHR called for a federal commission to investigate the full extent of health professionals’ alleged participation in CIA torture, accusing them of “[betraying] the most fundamental duty of the healing professions” and suggesting that some psychologists may have committed war crimes.

The new report found that the APA concealed its numerous contacts with Mitchell and Jessen, and had failed to disclose Mitchell’s past APA membership when it released its 2007 statement in response to public revelation of Mitchell’s role in enhanced interrogations.

Perhaps most damning, the watchdogs reported that in examining the trove of 638 new emails, they found no evidence that any APA staff member “expressed concern over mounting reports of psychologist involvement in detainee abuse during four years of direct email communications with senior members of the US intelligence community.”

Last November, the APA announced an independent investigation into its alleged collusion with the CIA. The findings are expected this summer.

Raya Jalabi in New York
Thursday 30 April 2015 18.23 BST Last modified on Thursday 30 April 2015 18.38 BST

Find this story at 30 April 2015

Find the report

 

© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited