“The largest association of psychologists in the United States is on the brink of a crisis,” writes Spencer Ackerman at the Guardian, “as an independent review prepares to reveal that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture.” The revelation follows years of denials, and opens up the possibility of leadership firings, loss of licenses and even prosecutions.
For more than a decade, the American Psychological Association (APA) has maintained that a strict code of ethics that prohibits its more than 130,000 members to aid in the torture of detainees while simultaneously permitting involvement in military and intelligence interrogations. The group has rejected media reporting on psychologists’ complicity in torture; suppressed internal dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of wrongdoing; and portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse.
Now, a voluminous independent review conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, is said to undermine the APA’s denials in full – and vindicate the dissenters.
Sources with knowledge of the report and its consequences, who requested anonymity to discuss the findings before public release, expected a wave of firings and resignations across the leadership of an organization that Hoffman finds used its extensive institutional links to the CIA and US military to facilitate abusive interrogations.
Several officials are likely to be sacked, including Stephen Behnke, the APA’s ethics chief and a leading figure in recasting its ethics guidelines in a manner conducive to interrogations that, from the start, relied heavily on psychologists to design and implement techniques like waterboarding.
But the reckoning with psychologists’ institutional complicity in torture may not stop there.