Links Concerning APA, Psychology, and Torture

Bob —  December 30, 2007 — 1 Comment

The list below is an extensive (but not exhaustive) list of links to websites and pages concerned with coercive interrogation and torture, and the involvement of Psychologists and the American Psychological Association in such procedures.

The first set of links is to the APA website where you can read the official APA positions on interrogations and torture, the text of the PENS report, the list of mini-convention sessions on interrogations and torture in San Francisco as well as bio’s of the presenters. The link to the American Psychiatric Association’s position on interrogations and torture is provided so you can compare the Psychological Association and the Psychiatric Association’s positions.

Democracy Now! has been providing the most extensive coverage over time about coercive interrogations, torture, and the roles of Psychologists and the APA. You can listen to, or read transcripts of their coverage of a number of their programs. They were present at the APA convention in San Francisco for several days in August 2007, and there are several links to selected APA sessions and interviews with important people in the struggle within APA. I highly recommend listening to Jean Marie Arrigo’s presentation about the PENS Task Force (titled: APA Interrogation Task Force Member Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo Exposes Group’s Ties to Military). The link to the program titled “Psychological Warfare? A Debate on the Role of Mental Health Professionals in Military Interrogations at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Beyond” near the bottom of the Democracy Now! category is an excellent discussion on medical ethics by Robert Jay Lifton of Harvard, Michael Wilks of the British Medical Association, and Stephen Behnke of the APA. Robert Lifton and Michael Wilks eloquently discuss why health care providers should not be involved in interrogation procedures.

Groundbreaking investigative journalism on the Bush administration’s policies and practices of enhanced interrogations (torture) has been published in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and These articles expose psychologists’ roles in the training and promoting of torture of detainees in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and CIA “black sites”. You can read the original articles in the links provided under the Democracy Now! category.

On December 30, 2007 The New York Times published a front page article titled “Tapes by C.I.A. Lived and Died to Save Image.”
This article is the latest in a Times series investigating the destruction of interrogation-torture videotapes by the CIA. A.B. Krongard, the #3 CIA official at the time the interrogations-torture procedures were taped (waterboarding was employed on Abu Zubaydah) stated among other reasons — “you want psychologists… and interrogators in training to watch the tapes”. Other media reports listed below in this posting document that some “interrogators” have been trained in waterboarding and other reverse-SERE techniques by psychologists who are now under congressional investigation. Later in this Times article there is a reference to “doctors or doctor’s assistants who monitored the prisoner’s medical state” present during interrogations. Just who these “doctors” and “doctor’s assistants” are remain undisclosed.

Additional links to a reportage, commentary and opinion follow Democracy Now and the Investigative Journalism categories, including a link to the Pentagon Inspector General’s report on detainee abuse and commentary based on the report.

There are links to several video sites near the end of this post. Two links direct you to videos demonstrating “enhanced interrogation” or torture techniques. One is produced by Channel 4 in the UK, and the other is distributed by Amnesty International.

Finally, links are provided to several sites representing organizations and individuals actively involved in the conflict over APA’s position on coercive interrogations and torture.


Reaffirmation of the American Psychological Association Position Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Its Application to Individuals Defined in the United States Code as “Enemy Combatants”.

(***Take special note of the clause “isolation and/or sleep deprivation used in a manner that represents significant pain or suffering or in a manner that a reasonable person would judge to cause lasting harm”. It is curious that the APA, whose fundamental identity and ethics is based in scientific methods and principles, whose genesis and history is replete with the striving towards precise measurement of human traits and behavior would use such an unscientifically vague and politically charged concept in its official position. Perhaps the APA should set forth immediately to commission studies to scientifically determine the characteristics and behaviors of what constitutes a reasonable person” who is capable of judging lasting harm to those involuntarily detained without charge and without benefit of legal representation, and who are subject to “extraordinary rendition” at secret locations around the world.)

American Psychological Association calls on U.S. government to prohibit the use of unethical interrogation techniques

Ethics and interrogations: Comparing and contrasting the American Psychological, American Medical and American Psychiatric Association positions. By Dr. Stephen Behnke

APA FAQ on Interrogations

Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security”

(Six of the 10 task force members have been reported to have ties to the military and/or CIA. The names of task force members were not disclosed by the APA until their names were revealed by investigative journalist Mark Benjamin for His article “Psychological warfare” is listed under below. PENS Task Force member Jean Marie Arrigo exposed the PENS Task Force at the APA Convention in August 2007. A video and transcript of her presentation can be accessed via the link under Democracy Now! titled “APA Interrogation Task Force Member Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo Exposes Group’s Ties to Military” )

The 4-day APA mini-convention on “Ethics and Interrogations: Confronting the Challenge” in San Francisco (August 2007) was very informative and very passionate. Below are links to the plenary sessions and biographies of the presenters:

Plenary sessions:

Participant biographies:

American Psychiatric Association
American Psychiatric Association Position Statement- Psychiatric Participation in Interrogation* of Detainees:

Democracy Now!

Democracy Now! Has provided the most extensive and consistent coverage of the APA and psychologists involvement with interrogation procedures and torture, including coverage of the APA convention in San Francisco in August 2007.

The Destroyed CIA Torture Tapes & Psychologists

Leaked Guantanamo Military Operating Manual Reveals Isolation, Sensory Deprivation Was Official Army Policy to Break Prisoners

Renowned Psychologist, Author Returns APA Award over Interrogation Policy (part 1)

Psychologist, Author Mary Pipher Returns APA Award Over Interrogation Policy (part 2)

More Health Care Professionals Involved In Design, Structuring of
Torture Than in Providing Care for Survivors

APA Members Hold Fiery Town Hall Meeting on Interrogation, Torture

(Feelings ran high, and were magnified by a threat to have Democracy Now! physically removed from the room because of very restrictive APA media policies. Click on images below for full frame views of the censorship crisis)

APA Interrogation Task Force Member Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo Exposes
Group’s Ties to Military

American Psychological Association Rejects Blanket Ban on
Participation in Interrogation of U.S. Detainees

The Black Sites: A Rare Look Inside the C.I.A.’s Secret Interrogation

Rorschach and Awe: As Opposition Grows Over the APA’s Policy Allowing
Psychologists to Take Part in Military Interrogations, Vanity Fair
Exposes How Two Psychologists Shaped the CIA’s Torture Methods

The CIA’s Torture Teachers: Psychologists Helped the CIA Exploit a Secret Military Program to Develop Brutal Interrogation Tactics

“The Task Force Report Should Be Annulled”–Member of 2005 APA Task Force on Psychologist Participation in Military Interrogations Speaks Out

Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror Runs Abu Ghraib Torture Photos Leaked from Internal Army Source

Psychological Warfare? A Debate on the Role of Mental Health Professionals in Military Interrogations at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Beyond

(This segment involves a debate with Robert Jay Lifton, visiting professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; Michael Wilks, chair of the Medical Ethics Committee at the British Medical Association; and Stephen Behnke, Director of the APA Ethics Office)

The Gitmo Experiment: How Methods Developed by the U.S. Military For Withstanding Torture are Being Used Against Detainees at Guantanamo Bay

Senate Hearing on Interrogations

On September 25, the Senate Intelligence Committee held closed hearings on interrogations. Alan Keller MD (Director of Bellvue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture) and others plead for unequivocal action to stop abuses and to remove health professionals from the interrogation process. The APA emphasized its belief that psychologists play an important role in helping to elicit information from detainees, and emphasized that more money be spent on research for “educing information under the Director of National Intelligence” .

Investigative Journalism in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair,, NY Times

“Tapes by C.I.A. Lived and Died to Save Image.”
The Experiment

The Black Sites A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation

The War on Terror: Rorschach and Awe

For the CIA’s eyes only

Will psychologists still abet torture?

Psychologists to CIA: We condemn torture

Torture teachers

Psychological warfare

(This piece names the formerly anonymous members of APA’s PENS Task Force publicly for the first time)

Salon exclusive: The Abu Ghraib files

The Abu Ghraib files

Additional Articles and Commentary

“Psychology and Coercive Interrogations in Historical Perspective Aid and Comfort for Torturers”

(A historical summary)

The Psychologists and Gitmo

Psychologists and the Torture Question

Psychologists oppose torture yet vote to attend terror interrogations

A hypocritical oath: psychologists and torture

Stance against torture reaffirmed – Role of psychologists at detention centers approved

US psychologists limit roles in torture of military prisoners

US psychologists vote to limit role in coercive interrogations

Counseling torture: Psychologists’ association rejects ban on participating in coercive interrogation — but voices concern over cruel tactics

Psychologists Scrap Interrogation Ban

In Protest of APA Torture Stance, Author Returns Award

Psychologists in Gitmo & Iraq Interrogation Abuse

Psychologists, Guantanamo and Torture
Senate probe focuses on Spokane men

(Two psychologists based in Spokane Washington are under investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee for their roles in “harsh interrogation” techniques.)

Expert has stake in cryptic local firm

(One of the board members of the company under investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee is former APA President)

Group protests firm’s CIA ties

Letter of resignation from APA by noted Psychologist Beth Shinn

(Beth Shinn is a former President of two APA divisions. She resigned in protest of APA’s position on interrogations and of “actions by APA’s leadership to discourage dissent from its policies in this matter.”)

Anthropologists and the Military

“the Human Terrain Team, an experimental Pentagon program that assigns anthropologists and other social scientists to American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

DoD Inspector General’s Report on Detainee Abuse

Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense: Review of DoD-Directed Investigations of Detainee Abuse

The Pentagon’s IG Report Contradicts What the APA Has Said About the Involvement of Psychologists in Abusive Interrogations

Shrinks and the SERE Technique at Guantanamo


Torture -The Guantanamo Guidebook

(“Channel 4’s programme examines torture in the war on terror by exposing seven volunteers to methods reported to have been used by American interrogators on alleged terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay camp. The Guantanamo Guidebook reconstructs the regime at the US’s Cuban base. For 48 hours, seven volunteers are subjected to interrogation techniques known to be used in the camp, ranging from harassment and abuse to sensory deprivation – with shocking results.”)

Waiting for the Guards

(an Amnesty International Film)

(excerpted from the Amnesty website)

Waiting For The Guards is the first of 3 films commissioned by Amnesty to highlight the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA in the “War on Terror”.
The Directors approached the making of the film in a way that has never been done before, choosing to show the reality of Stress Positions in as authentic a way as possible. They filmed a person being put into Stress Positions over a 6 hour period. There is no acting on the part of the “prisoner” – his pain and anguish is for real. This powerful film shows without doubt that what the US administrations say is interrogation is in reality, torture and must be stopped. We’ve released the film on the Internet before going to theatrical release in independent cinemas in early 2008. We believe this film is a great introduction to what the unsubscribe movement is all about, so we ask you to get the movie out there, in any way you can.

Dr. Philip Zimbardo compares the Stanford Prison Experiment and Abu Ghraib on the Daily Show with John Stewart

Websites to Organizations


Psyche, Science, and Society

Physicians for Human Rights


WITHHOLDAPADUES provides information for psychologists who have withheld their 2007 and/or 2008 dues or who intend to withhold 2009 dues from the American Psychological Association in protest over the APA’s current ethics. It also provides a link to the withholdapadues listserv where you can join ongoing discussions about organizing protests and maximizing the impact of the decision to withhold dues.

American Psychological Association

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One response to Links Concerning APA, Psychology, and Torture

  1. this is horrifying. as i am about to take my licence exam i am learning more and more about this very strange feild. thanks for opening my eyes.

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