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Report: American Psychological Association Helped Justify Bush-Era Torture

The most prominent association of psychologists in North America allegedly worked with former President George W. Bush's administration to justify torturing prisoners detained after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a report obtained by the New York Times.

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North America's leading association of psychologists allegedly helped former President George W. Bush's administration justify the legal and ethical guidelines for torturing prisoners who were detained after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a report obtained and published Thursday by the New York Times.

The American Psychological Association "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," concluded the report by several psychologists and human rights activists.

It also found that in the "600 emails noted" in the report, "there is no evidence that any APA official expressed concern over mounting reports of psychologist involvement in detainee abuse during four years of direct email communications with senior members of the U.S. intelligence community."

The 61-page report also found that a U.S. government scientist who served as Bush's behavioral science adviser "secretly drafted 'language related to research' inserted by APA officials into the 2005 APA ethics policy on interrogations." It's unclear what that language is, the authors wrote, but it "aligned that policy" with “torture memos” that "directed health professionals to research and assess the supposed safety, efficacy, and health impacts of the 'enhanced' interrogation techniques," according to the report.

The APA told BuzzFeed News it brought in an independent party, attorney David Hoffman, to review the accusations.

"APA’s focus and priority are ensuring the complete independence of Mr. Hoffman’s work. For that reason, we are not commenting on any allegations about APA support for the CIA torture program at this time," the APA said. "Mr. Hoffman has been asked to follow all leads and pursue all information he deems necessary to complete the review regardless of whether the information reflects positively or negatively on APA."

Read the full report here:


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Tom Namako is the deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tom Namako at tom.namako@buzzfeed.com.

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