The Relationship Between the American Psychological Association and the CIA’s Torture Policy

This document – All The President’s Psychologists – posits that the APA was complicit in supporting the legal/moral justifications issued by the CIA in its “enhanced interrogation” program. The report states that “The APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House, and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations that comported with then classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program.”(10) 638 emails generated among various parties were reviewed with 16 being selected for extensive analysis. According to this report both the  American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association did not condone the interrogation techniques utilized by the CIA, but the APA chose a different path: “In contrast to the position of the physician groups, the PENS [Psychological Ethics and National Security] Task Force presumed without deliberation that psychologists’ participation in US government national security interrogations was ethical. Furthermore, the report closely followed the reasoning of the torture memos, which had been codified into a series of classified memos and instructions for psychologists on Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs).” (57) Reportage at: The New York Times, The Guardian, and Science. The APA responded to the original claims in October 2024 and has since commissioned an outside independent review due this June.

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