FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Fugitive Facts Escape from APA Headquarters

“Breaking News”

According to unconfirmed reports, the American Psychological Association is frantically searching for facts that have escaped from the Association’s headquarters in Washington, DC. All of the fugitive facts apparently share one characteristic in common: they support claims that the APA colluded with the CIA and the White House in the Bush Administration’s abusive detention and interrogation operations.

A distraught APA spokesperson advised that such facts are extremely dangerous on the loose. She warned that no one should approach them until they have been captured, tranquilized, and defanged by the APA’s public affairs office. “We need to turn them into mere allegations as quickly as possible,” she was overheard telling an unidentified colleague. “Obviously, we can’t refute facts!”

Despite repeated requests, members of the APA leadership have thus far declined to comment further. The total number of escaped facts is not yet known, but it appears that dozens of them had been tunneling their way out of APA headquarters for over a decade. Others reportedly still remain securely confined in APA and government custody.

Although preliminary reports have now identified many of the fugitive facts, the APA continues to warn that extreme caution should be exercised until the Association has provided specific safety guidelines. Without adequate precautions, close contact has been linked to a variety of psychological symptoms, including denial, defensiveness, and despair.

***

The “breaking news” report above is, of course, satirical. But the facts presented below are quite real. And despite the dismissive attitude that has characterized the APA’s actual public relations campaign, none of the facts that follow has been refuted (which shouldn’t really be surprising – after all, they’re facts).

Meanwhile, APA leaders now insist that they will have no further comment about collusion in the Bush Administration’s “enhanced interrogation program” until they have received and reviewed the report from attorney David Hoffman’s ongoing investigation. Then, at some still unspecified time, both that report and the APA Board’s response will be made public simultaneously.

But the APA’s silence-is-golden-we’re waiting-for-the-facts rationale is misguided and self-serving. In particular, it disguises a simple truth: while Mr. Hoffman’s report may well provide valuable new information, many critically important facts have already been established. Pretending otherwise is a disservice to APA members, to the profession as a whole, and to the public at large. Here are some of the facts we already know:

Fugitive Facts

* Office of Legal Counsel and related government memos from the Bush Administration required the presence of psychologists in order for various “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, to be used. Nevertheless, APA Ethics Office Director Stephen Behnke publicly insisted that psychologists played a valuable role in keeping interrogations “safe, legal, ethical, and effective.” He also asserted that media reports of psychologist involvement in abuse were “long on hearsay and innuendo, short on facts,” and, according to a New York Times reporter, that psychologists “knew not to participate in activities that harmed detainees.”

* James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the recognized architects of the CIA torture program, were invited participants at a 2003 APA-sponsored (and CIA-funded) invitation-only workshop on the “science of deception.” The workshop agenda included discussion of interrogation strategies, including the use of “pharmacological agents” and “sensory overloads.” When senior APA Science Directorate staff member Geoff Mumford sought feedback from participants after the workshop had concluded, the CIA’s Kirk Hubbard told him that Mitchell and Jessen were unavailable because they were “doing special things to special people in special places.”

* James Mitchell was an APA member during the period in which he designed the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation program” and participated directly in the torture of detainees at CIA black sites. Mitchell was also still an APA member when the first public report suggesting his possible involvement in detainee abuse appeared in the press. The APA Ethics Committee has the authority to investigate possible ethical violations on its own initiative at any time. In its immediate response last October to the publication of James Risen’s book Pay Any Price, the APA public affairs office, directed by Rhea Farberman, falsely claimed that Mitchell was never an APA member.

* APA Ethics Office Director Stephen Behnke hosted a 2004 private meeting at APA headquarters for top-level APA staff, including Deputy CEO Michael Honaker, and senior representatives of the intelligence community, including the CIA’s Kirk Hubbard (who later went to work for Mitchell and Jessen). In his invitation to the meeting, which focused on ethics in national security settings, Behnke assured the participants that their names would never be made public and that “in the meeting we will neither assess nor investigate the behavior of any specific individual or group.” This meeting led to the creation of the APA’s 2005 Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS).

* A clear majority of the nine voting members of the APA’s 2005 PENS Task Force were on the payroll of the Department of Defense or intelligence community at the time of their participation. Several of them served in chains of command where detainee abuses allegedly took place. After a single weekend meeting, the Task Force asserted that it was ethical for psychologists to participate in national security detention and interrogation operations – a stance consistent with pre-existing Bush Administration policy. At the time of the PENS meeting, there were already news reports of psychologists’ involvement in abusive interrogations at Guantanamo Bay.

* After the PENS Report had been issued, APA’s Geoff Mumford thanked Kirk Hubbard for his role “in getting this effort off the ground.” He also assured Hubbard that his views “were well represented by very carefully selected Task Force members.” Hubbard was employed by the CIA at the time that the PENS members were selected. And when he extended his thanks to Hubbard, Mumford knew that Hubbard was employed by the firm of CIA contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

* Current APA president Barry Anton, an APA Board member in 2005, was the individual who recommended that the APA Practice Directorate’s top official, Russ Newman, participate in the PENS meeting. Even though Newman’s wife – Debra Dunivin – was a BSCT psychologist stationed at Guantanamo, where abuses had allegedly taken place, he nevertheless assumed a key role in directing the meeting. Standard 3.06 (Conflict of Interest) of the APA Ethics Code states: “Psychologists refrain from taking on a professional role when personal, scientific, professional, legal, financial, or other interests or relationships could reasonably be expected to…impair their objectivity, competence, or effectiveness in performing their functions as psychologists.”

* According to the Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter, the Chair of the PENS Task Force, current APA president Barry Anton and past president Gerry Koocher specifically approved Susan Brandon as an undisclosed PENS observer, even though just a few weeks earlier she was a senior official in the Bush Administration. According to APA’s Geoff Mumford, Brandon also participated in the actual drafting of the PENS Report, in particular the section on research. That section included recommendations that psychologists should engage in interrogation research (e.g., “research on cultural differences in the psychological impact of particular information-gathering methods and what constitutes cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment”).

* The APA Board approved the PENS Report, authorizing psychologists’ involvement in national security detention and interrogation operations, in an “emergency” session, without first bringing the matter to the Council of Representatives – APA’s governing body – for discussion and a vote. The names of the Task Force members were never included in the Report itself. These members were also required to keep the meeting discussions confidential and not to discuss the Report publicly.

* In 2013, after almost seven years, the APA Ethics Office closed an ethics complaint filed against Guantanamo psychologist and APA member John Leso, asserting that there was “no cause for action.” Ethics Office Director Stephen Behnke never referred the case to the full ten-person Ethics Committee for review and resolution. The evidence that Dr. Leso played a role in the abuse and torture of detainees had been well established in authoritative reports, and the operative threshold for referral to the full Ethics Committee required merely a preponderance of the evidence. In closing the complaint, the APA did not refute any of the evidence of Dr. Leso’s role in the interrogations.

Roy Eidelson is a clinical psychologist and the president of Eidelson Consulting, where he studies, writes about, and consults on the role of psychological issues in political, organizational, and group conflict settings. He is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, associate director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at Bryn Mawr College, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology.  Email: reidelson@eidelsonconsulting.com

More articles by:

Roy Eidelson, PhD, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, and the author of POLITICAL MIND GAMES: How the 1% Manipulate Our Understanding of What’s Happening, What’s Right, and What’s Possible. Roy’s website is www.royeidelson.com and he is on Twitter at @royeidelson.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
December 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
The  FBI: Another Worry in the National Security State
Rob Urie
Establishment Politics are for the Rich
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: That’s Neoliberalism for You
Paul Street
Midnight Ramble: A Fascist Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Joan Roelofs
The Science of Lethality
Joyce Nelson
Buttigieg and McKinsey
Joseph Natoli
Equally Determined: To Impeach/To Support
Charles Pierson
The National Defense Authorization Act Perpetuates the Destruction of Yemen
REZA FIYOUZAT
An Outrageous Proposal: Peace Boats to Iran
Andrew Levine
A Plague on Both Their Houses, Plus a Dozen Poxes on Trump’s
David Rosen
Mortality Rising: Trump and the Death of the “American Dream”
Lee Hall
Donald Trump Jr., Mongolian Sheep Killer
Dave Lindorff
The Perils of Embedded Journalism: ‘Afghan Papers’ Wouldn’t Be Needed If We Had a Real Independent News Media
Brian Cloughley
Human Rights and Humbug in Washington
Stephen Leas
Hungry for a Livable Planet: Why I Occupied Pelosi’s Office for 13 Days
Saad Hafiz
Pakistan Must Face Its Past
Lawrence Davidson
Deteriorating Climates: Home and Abroad
Cal Winslow
The End of the Era: Nineteen Nineteen
Louis Proyect
If Time Magazine Celebrates Greta Thunberg, Why Should We?
Thomas Drake
Kafka Down Under: the Threat to Whistleblowers and Press Freedom in Australia
Thomas Knapp
JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon Versus the Pentagon and Trump
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s War on the Poor
Michael Welton
Seeing the World Without Shadows: the Enlightenment Dream
Ron Jacobs
The Wind That Shook the Barley: the Politics of the IRA
Rivera Sun
Beyond Changing Light Bulbs: 21 Ways You Can Stop the Climate Crisis
Binoy Kampmark
The Bloomberg Factor: Authoritarianism, Money and US Presidential Politics
Nick Pemberton
Ideology Shall Have No Resurrection
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
What Trump and the GOP Learned From Obama
Ramzy Baroud
‘Elected by Donors’: the University of Cape Town Fails Palestine, Embraces Israel
Cesar Chelala
Unsuccessful U.S. Policy on Cuba Should End
Harry Blain
The Conservatism of Impeachment
Jill Richardson
Standardized Tests are Biased and Unhelpful
Norman Solomon
Will the Democratic Presidential Nomination Be Bought?
Howard Lisnoff
The One Thing That US Leaders Seem to Do Well is Lie
Jeff Cohen
Warren vs. Buttigieg Clash Offers Contrast with Sanders’ Consistency
Mel Gurtov
The Afghanistan Pentagon Papers
Gaither Stewart
Landslide … to Totalitarianism
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How Blaming Nader in 2000 Paved the Way for Today’s Neo-Fascism
Steve Early
In Re-Run Election: LA Times Journalist Wins Presidency of NewsGuild 
David Swanson
If You’re Not Busy Plotting Nonviolent Revolution for Peace and Climate, You’re Busy Dying
Nicky Reid
Sorry Lefties, Your Impeachment is Bullshit
John Kendall Hawkins
The Terror Report You Weren’t Meant to See
Susan Block
Krampus Trumpus Rumpus
Martin Billheimer
Knight Crawlers
Elliot Sperber
Dollar Store 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail