All the President's Psychologists

Debra Sweet | May 9, 2015

“If professionals were watching, the government argued, the program must have been safe.”

Credit goes to dissident psychologists for staying on the case for more than 10 years against official professional involvement with the US torture program.

Stephen Soldz, Nathaniel Raymond and Steven Reisner released a report last week backing up their conclusions that:

The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program.

Newly released emails show how officials of the Bush regime and the APA collaborated on trying to protect “enhanced interrogation” by the CIA after grave abuses of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison were exposed by brave leakers.

“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” describes how the APA set up psychologists to provide cover for the torture program. If professionals were watching, the government argued, the program must have been safe.

The APA not only coordinated with the government, but took action to save the torture program in 2004, when a wave of world public opinion rejected what the US military and CIA had done in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.  So the lawyers — John Yoo, David Addington, Jay Bybee and more — and the psychologists teamed up to create legal and, allegedly, medical support for abusing prisoners.

Says Soldz, “In 2004 and 2005 the C.I.A. torture program was threatened from within and outside the Bush administration. Like clockwork, the A.P.A. directly addressed legal threats at every critical juncture facing the senior intelligence officials at the heart of the program. In some cases the A.P.A. even allowed these same Bush officials to actually help write the association’s policies.”

Watch an interview with some of the report's authors.

Debra Sweet is the Director of World Can't Wait. You can subscribe to her weekly email newsletter here.