Psychologists Accused of Assisting in Torture

A group of 6 physicians, psychologists, and ethicists has released a report charging the American Psychological Association (APA) with secretly working with the US government to design the torture techniques used on prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A group of 6 physicians, psychologists, and ethicists have released a report charging the American Psychological Association (APA) with secretly working with the US government to design the torture techniques used on prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Their 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” was publicized today in an article in The New York Times by James Risen.

The report’s authors cite newly disclosed 2003 emails between Kirk Hubbard, a senior psychologist at the CIA and Geoffrey Mumford, then the director of science policy at the APA.

In one, the CIA psychologist explains to the APA official that CIA contractors “are doing special things to special people in special places.” The report’s comment is that Hubbard was explaining why two behavioral experts were not responding to questions about a conference in which the CIA, APA and the Rand Corporation were discussing interrogation techniques.

The relationship, if any, between the APA and those contractors is the subject of an ongoing review commissioned by the APA. Chicago lawyer David Hoffman is conducting that review.

An APA spokeswoman said she would not comment on the new allegations pending the completion of Hoffman’s analysis.

The report released today relies heavily on an earlier trove of emails between Scott Gerwehr, a researcher who had close ties to both the APA and national security agencies. He died in 2008.

The report’s authors have been frequent critics of the APA.

They are Stephen Soldz, PhD, a Boston-based clinical psychologist; Nathaniel Raymond, a Harvard-based investigator of human rights violations; Steven Reisner, PhD, a clinical psychologist and member of APA; Scott Allen, MD, a University of California professor of medicine; Isaac Baker, a Harvard-based warm crimes investigator and imagery analysis manager; and Allen Keller, MD, an associate professor of medicine and population health at NYU School of Medicine.

The charges of ethical breaches in the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib by health professionals first began appearing in 2004 and were the subject of a 2005 article in the New England Journal of Medicine. In that report “When Doctors Go to War” charged physicians in the US Army with violating the Geneva Conventions by collaborating in the torture of prisoners.