April 15, 2016

APA Seeks Clarification of Relevance of Specific Defense Department Policies to Independent Review

Re-engages attorney to consider limited set of questions

WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association has re-engaged attorney David Hoffman and the law firm Sidley Austin on a limited basis to review and respond to questions regarding specific Department of Defense (DoD) policies that may be relevant to the findings of the Independent Review the association released last year. APA originally engaged Hoffman in November 2014 to examine APA’s actions with respect to enhanced interrogation techniques employed by the U.S. government following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The existence of these DoD policies and their potential relevance to the findings and conclusions of the Independent Review were raised in two reports submitted to APA by members of the association’s Div. 19 (Society for Military Psychology) and several individual psychologists who were mentioned in Hoffman’s original review. 

“The intent of this supplemental review is to consider factual information that has recently come to light and which, in our view, requires further examination in the context of the Independent Review,” APA President Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, said in a letter to the association’s governing Council of Representatives. “The Board’s decision to re-engage Mr. Hoffman was driven by our fiduciary responsibility to the association.”

APA’s Board of Directors has asked Hoffman to examine the extent to which the DoD policies that have been identified are relevant to the issues, findings and/or conclusions in the Independent Review report. The Board has also requested that Hoffman and Sidley indicate in the supplemental report whether they believe that any modifications or clarifications to the Independent Review report are appropriate in relation to these policies.

The supplemental review is expected to be completed by June 8.

APA has taken many steps since last year to address the findings and conclusions of the Independent Review, including adopting a resolution that prohibits psychologists from participating in national security interrogations. On a related front, the Ethics Committee has solicited public comments on two proposed changes to the APA Code of Ethics to address psychologists’ involvement in national security interrogations. In addition, a special commission has been appointed, composed of 17 distinguished psychologists and other ethics experts from various disciplines, to review the association’s ethics processes and procedures.

APA has also issued a call for nominations for an Advisory Committee on Human Rights to advise the association “on strategic directions in its engagement in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes more than 117,500 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.