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Report: American Psychological Association Secretly Worked With Bush Administration On Torture Program

new report from progressive psychologists cites the American Psychological Association (APA) as secretly helping the George W. Bush Administration to continue its torture program often referred to officially by the government as its program for “enhanced interrogation.” Officials at the APA reportedly even worked with the CIA directly and were kept in the loop on work CIA contractors were doing regarding the torture program.

Members of the APA met with Bush Administration officials in the summer of 2004 after which the APA continue to hold that it was acceptable for its members to be involved in the torture program. The APA is the largest professional organization for psychologists in the United States, if the APA had ruled it was unacceptable for its members to participate in the torture program the Bush Administration would have had a difficult time finding psychologists to help interrogators torture prisoners.

The willingness of the APA to collaborate may be the reason psychologists were often given contract work to monitor interrogations over psychiatrists or other health workers.

To emphasize their argument that the association grew too close to the interrogation program, the critics’ new report cites a 2003 email from a senior psychologist at the C.I.A. to a senior official at the psychological association. In the email, the C.I.A. psychologist appears to be confiding in the association official about the work of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the private contractors who developed and helped run the enhanced interrogation program at the C.I.A.’s secret prisons around the world. 

In the email, written years before the involvement of the two contractors in the interrogation program was made public, the C.I.A. psychologist explains to the association official that the contractors “are doing special things to special people in special places.”

But progressive psychologists are not the only ones looking into the behavior of the APA’s involvement with the torture program. Last fall the APA’s own board ordered a review of the association’s collaboration with the program which is currently ongoing.

Regardless of what the APA review finds it appears unlikely that anyone will be sanctioned for their conduct. The only good that could come out of the review is to implement more specific and binding guidelines for future involvement in torture. Then again, the cognitive dissonance already displayed by the APA might make any rules moot.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.