with respect to financial decisions, business processes and
standards, and other activities.
• The board will increase APA’s engagement around human
rights activities and its collaboration with other organizations
regarding these issues.
• The board will ask that an Office of Human Rights
be established with an advisory committee building upon
and expanding the current Work Group for Human Rights
of the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the
Public Interest. The office will develop online resources,
books, curricular materials, CE programming, and human
rights convention programming; educate the public about
psychology and human rights to increase the knowledge of
dangers and harm associated with the use of torture and
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and/or punishment;
and coordinate with outside human rights organizations to
organize a conference to address past human rights abuses
and publish proceedings to include a plan for prevention.
• The board will recommend that APA’s Education
Directorate promote a focus on human rights and ethics as a
core element of psychology education and training from high
school through continuing education offerings.
The board also voted to approve the following statement in
recognition of APA members who work in military settings:
The board acknowledges and appreciates the valuable and
ethical behavior of the members of the American Psychological
Association who work in military settings who make important
and honorable contributions to those they serve and to the
greater society. We commend the services they provide to military
members and veterans and their families, as well as to the
organizations in which they serve.
Members speaking out
The report validated the fears some members had expressed
about APA’s handling of the enhanced interrogation issue.
Among the critics were Jean Maria Arrigo, PhD, an independent
social psychologist and oral historian, who in 2005 served
on the PENS Task Force; Steven Reisner, PhD, a clinical
psychologist and psychoanalyst, who is a founding member
of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and an advisor on
psychology and ethics for Physicians for Human Rights; and
Stephen Soldz, PhD, who is the director of the Boston Graduate
School of Psychoanalysis.
Over the years, they had called on APA to issue a blanket
prohibition on psychologist participation in interrogations.
Arrigo was one of 10 members of the PENS Task Force.
From the outset, she voiced concerns about the group’s mission
and scope but found that her efforts to protect human rights in
the task force discussions were rebuffed.
She says that she suspected collusion in August 2006
after she learned that an APA staff member who had been
an observer at the task force meetings had close ties to a
psychologist involved in interrogation operations at the
Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
“I then shared the PENS listserv with human rights scholars
Steven Reisner and Nathaniel Raymond and notified the
task force that I had done so,” Arrigo says. Raymond is now
the director of the Signal Program on Human Security and
Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
Despite widely airing her concerns — including in her
presentation “A Counterintelligence Perspective on APA PENS
Task Force Process” at the APA 2007 Mini-Convention on Ethics
and Interrogations — association staff and leadership took no
action, she says.
Meanwhile, according to the Hoffman report, APA’s then-Ethics Director Stephen Behnke was working “behind the
scenes” with a few DOD psychologists. The report states that
Behnke, who drafted the PENS Task Force report, repeatedly
consulted on ethics language that would be acceptable to the
DOD — language that formed the basis of the PENS Task Force
recommendations, as well as other APA communications and
actions on the issue.
After APA’s Board of Directors received Hoffman’s report,
it invited Reisner and Soldz to discuss the report’s findings
before they were made public. (The report was scheduled to
be publicly released in mid-July after APA’s board and council
had time to review it; but it was leaked to The New York Times,
which published an article on July 10. APA then released the full
report ahead of schedule.)
In his comments to APA’s board, Soldz wrote that the
Hoffman report documented “a years-long conspiracy.”
In their original letter to the members, Kaslow and McDaniel
acknowledged that the findings in the report are deeply
disturbing. They invited members to share their ideas on how
APA should move forward, adding that feedback would be
tracked, cataloged and used to guide decisions over the coming
They also noted that the current board and council had
begun to make structural, process, policy and cultural changes
that will demonstrate APA’s commitment to ethics and human
rights and help ensure that APA emerges from this crisis as a
“We need the input and strategic thinking of all of our
members at this critical time, as we map the future of our
organization. We can and must do better. Our profession — and
all of those we serve — deserve nothing less,” McDaniel said. n
Board members and senior staff who had involvement with
any of the significant events investigated, regardless of any level
of culpability, were recused from deliberations and decisions
related to the Hoffman report. This was done to avoid any real or
perceived conflict of interest with regard to the board’s actions.