FOR AN ETHICAL APA
Science Journal Nature Publishes Irresponsible Editorial Entitled "Responsible Interrogation."
PEAPA Members Respond with Letter-Writing Campaign
The English journal of science, Nature, recently published an editorial entitled "Responsible Interrogation."
Among other things, the editorial sought to play down the significance of the extensive military and interrogation
involvements of the majority of PENS Task Force members, and it carefully omitted any mention of the
September, 2008 APA Referendum banning members' participation in chains of command in extralegal U.S.
prisons such as Guantanamo Bay. The net result was a profoundly misleading document that utterly
misrepresents current APA policy regarding its members' participation in such settings.
Kim Mills, the APA's Associate Executive Director for Public and Member Communications, noted that "APA
staff worked with one of the editors to provide detailed history and background, which led to what we think is a
fair and balanced piece." Indeed!
Members of Psychologists for an Ethical APA (PEAPA) promptly mobilized, writing nine letters to the editor of
Nature, which included, along with scathing criticism of the editorial itself and its misrepresentation of APA's
policy, demands for a retraction of the editorial and an accompanying clarification of APA's current policy which
bars its members from working within the military chain of command in such sites.
PEAPA encourages all interested persons, psychologists or not, to write their own letters to the editor of nature,
or to send an email voicing your displeasure over this deliberate misrepresentation of APA policy to Kim Mills.
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, Issues Call to the APA to Abide by its Own
Policies and Remove All Psychologists from Military Detention Centers that Operate "Outside
of or in Violation of International Law."
On August 7, as the American Psychological Association's annual convention was getting underway in Toronto,
the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, drafted a letter to APA President James Bray, calling
on Dr. Bray to abide by the Referendum and remove member psychologists from U.S. military detention facilities
that operate "outside of or in violation of international law." In his letter, Nowak refers to "the now public record
of psychologists' involvement in the design, supervision, implementation, and legitimization of a regime of
physical and psychological torture at US military and intelligence facilities," notes that these sites continue to
operate in violation of international law, and calls on the APA to invoke the Referendum, to ensure it is complied
with, and also to remove the "Nuremberg Defense" contained in the APA's Ethics Code Standard 1.02. He ends
his letter with this powerful admonition: "Every day that you delay invoking the referendum is another day where
psychologists are, by their presence and participation in these operations, acquiescing in human rights violations."
Although the APA did not publicly acknowledge the letter, others did. The Center for Constitutional Rights issued
a press release, along with a call for the Canadian government to open investigations into Dr. Larry James' ties to
torture during his tenure in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Also, activist psychologist and blogger Valtin discussed
Nowak's letter in the context of APA's continuing stonewalling on just the changes Nowak calls for: implementing
the Referendum and altering Standard 1.02.
A Formal Complaint was sent to President Bray yesterday by Frank Summers along with three other signers, Roy
Eidelson, Ryan Hunt, and Mary Pelton-Cooper. The Complaint was the result of work and research by the
Complaint Working Group, which studied the APA Bylaws and Rules and found a way to lodge a legal, official
complaint about the PENS policy and process that has teeth. Association Rule 90-1 require the APA President to
appoint a blue ribbon, three-psychologist Committee on Constitutional Issues (CCI) to adjudicate the Complaint
and make recommendations to the Council. The signers of the Complaint must approve all members that the
President appoints to the CCI. The Formal Complaint contains 20 specific allegations about how the Board,
Ethics Office/Committee, and APA officials violated APA rules for making a new policy, and fought efforts to
reverse it against overwhelming evidence that it was a disaster. Documentation with original sources is presented
to back the allegations and witnesses have offered to provide further information about irregularities in the PENS
process. For redress, the Complaint demands nullification of the PENS decision, full implementation of the
Referendum, and an investigation into the role of the Board, Ethics and Public Affairs Office, Practice and
Science Directorates, and Senior Staff of the APA in making and sustaining this reprehensible policy.
The signers are members of the APA who will remain members and follow through on the stages of the
Complaint process. Besides its signers, Frank, Mary, Ryan and Roy, the Complaint Working Group included Dan
Aalbers, Martha Davis, Sharon Gadberry, Brad Olson, Jay Pozner, Jack Stewart, and Bryant Welch. We thank
them all for their contributions and hard work.
Four APA Members Have Issued a Formal Complaint to APA President James Bray, Calling on
him to Appoint a Committee to Investigate Procedural Irregularities Surrounding the PENS
Policy, Ethics Code Statement 1.02, and APA Support for Interrogation Efforts Generally
Psychologists for an Ethical APA (PEAPA) Initiates Movement for Mass Resignation of APA
Members, Along With a Formal Petition Site to Collect Signatures of Those Resigning, For
Delivery to APA CEO Norman Anderson
On November 9, PEAPA members initiated a movement to coordinate a mass resignation from the American
Psychological Association (APA) on the part of APA members who are concerned about APA's actions and policies
regarding psychologists' participation in interrogations and detention in extra-legal War on Terror prisons, as well as
about APA's unresponsiveness to widespread member efforts to change these policies. PEAPA encourages
concerned members to read, sign, and circulate the petition, either by emailing it to friends and colleagues or by
circulating this pdf-format letter regarding the petition to help spread the word further, and we thank all who
participate for your efforts in this regard. In addition to signing the petition, we encourage concerned members to
write a letter to APA CEO Norman Anderson articulating their reasons for resigning, and thus formalizing their
"Doctors Without Morals:" In their Recent NYT Op-Ed, Leonard Rubenstein and Stephen
Xenakis Make the Case for Investigating Doctors and Psychologists Involved in Torture
In their Feb. 28 New York Times Op-Ed "Doctors Without Morals," Leonard Rubenstein and Stephen Xenakis
suggest that the release of the DOJ's long-awaited "OPR Report" offers a suitable occasion for launching
investigations of health professionals thought to be complicit in U.S. torture. After all, in contrast to the government
lawyers (whom many felt got off far too easy in the OPR Report), Rubenstein and Xenakis observe that
"government doctors and psychologists who participated in and authorized the torture of detainees have escaped
discipline, accountability or even internal investigation." However, they note, this need not remain the case: "It is not
too late to begin investigations. They should start now."
Rubenstein and Xenakis point to a significant and growing body of evidence to back up the need for such
investigations—they specifically mention the "torture memos," the al-Qahtani interrogation log, Guantanamo Bay's
Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedure documents, and the CIA Inspector General's Report. Sadly, despite the
ever-mounting evidence, as of February 2010, Rubenstein and Xenakis report that "no agency — not the Pentagon,
the C.I.A., state licensing boards or professional medical societies — has initiated any action to investigate, much
less discipline, these individuals." Let us hope the same cannot be said a year from now.
New Report from Physicians for Human Rights, "Experiments in Torture," Alleges Health
Professional Involvement in Human Experimentation as Part of CIA's Torture Program
While President Obama has asked Americans to "look forward, not backward," and the APA has been busy
scrubbing its website of evidence of its involvement with the CIA's torture workshops, the group Physicians for
Human Rights (PHR) has continued to advocate for investigations rather than obfuscation. To this end, PHR has
just released a new report entitled "Experiments in Torture: Evidence of Human Subject Research and
Experimentation in the 'Enhanced' Interrogation Program." The report analyzes evidence of human subjects
research conducted by health professionals at the behest of the CIA as part of their torture program. Based on this
evidence, PHR calls upon Pres. Obama to direct AG Holder to launch a criminal investigation of this alleged illegal
human experimentation, as well as upon Congress to convene a joint select committee to investigate the matter.
The PHR report has been covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Guardian UK, the Los
Angeles Times, truthout.org, Glenn Greenwald, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, AlterNet, counterpunch, Boing
Boing, firedoglake, and Salon.com, to give but a partial sampling of the coverage. Notably, the New York Times
issued an editorial on June 7, "Doctors Who Aid Torture," supporting PHR's call for investigations. Also,
psychologist Jeff Kaye reports that, as of June 9, the Senate Intelligence Committee is considering the PHR report as
part of its review of the CIA interrogation program. Additionally, psychologist Stephen Soldz, one of the co-authors
of the report, has recently written an analysis of the report, its allegations and demands, and how this matter relates
to the American Psychological Association.
If, after reading the above, you want to get active on this issue, you can sign a petition at the Bill of Rights Defense
Committee calling on AG Holder to launch a full investigation of health professional involvement in torture
experimentation. Additionally, if you are an APA member, you can consider withholding your dues or resigning
your membership, and sign our petition telling them why. You can also join our listserv and/or write a letter to APA
CEO Norman Anderson letting him know your feelings about psychologists doing human experimentation on
detainees for the CIA.
Will Gitmo Shrinks Lose Their Credentials?
This question, the title of an article in Mother Jones, arises in light of ethics complaints filed with state licensing
boards against several psychologists suspected of involvement in torture at the Guantanamo Bay prison. These
complaints are also covered in the National Law Journal and Democracy Now!, as well as by Scott Horton at
Harper's Magazine, Jeff Kaye in The Public Record, and Stephen Soldz in his blog Psyche, Science, and Society.
One complaint was filed by the Center for Justice and Accountability in New York state against Major John Leso.
(The text of the complaint is also available here in pdf.) Another was filed by the Harvard Law School's
International Human Rights Clinic against Col. Larry James in Ohio (text of complaint available here in pdf.)
In addition, several days after these complaints were made public, APA President Carol Goodheart herself
announced her support for the revocation of psychologist James Mitchell's license in the state of Texas for his
involvement in the development and implementation of the CIA's torture interrogation program. This statement by
the APA was also covered in the Washington Post and Huffington Post, the latter of which quotes APA
representative Rhea Farberman as stating that "the allegations put forward in the complaint and those that are on the
public record about Dr. Mitchell are simply so serious, and if true, such a gross violation of his professional ethics,
that we felt it necessary to act."
Most recently, the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology issued a letter to APA President Goodheart, along with an
accompanying press release. In their letter, they encourage Goodheart and the APA to back the investigations of
Leso and James, as well as Mitchell, and they also call for investigation of a fourth case of complicity in torture:
"That is the case of the American Psychological Association itself and its own complicity in supporting and
empowering Mitchell, James, Leso and other psychologists to develop, research, supervise and/or implement such
terrible methods with impunity." As the APA holds its annual convention in San Diego, it is time for its members to
support all four of these investigations!