Timeline of APA Policies & Actions Related to Detainee Welfare and Professional Ethics in the Context of Interrogation and National Security

The American Psychological Association's (APA) position on torture is clear and unequivocal: Any direct or indirect participation in any act of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by psychologists is strictly prohibited. There are no exceptions. Such acts as waterboarding, sexual humiliation, stress positions and exploitation of phobias are clear violations of APA's no torture/no abuse policy.

Oct. 22, 2017

APA CEO and Executive Vice President Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, sends a letter to the editor of The Washington Post in response to an opinion essay by Roy Eidelson, “Psychology is finally coming to grips with enabling torture.”

Aug. 23, 2017

APA President Antonio E. Puente, PhD, and CEO Arthur C. Evans, PhD, send letters to President Donald J. Trump and other key federal officials to inform them about our APA policies regarding psychologists’ roles in national security and interrogation processes. 

Feb. 13, 2017

APA President Antonio Puente, PhD, and Interim CEO Cynthia Belar, PhD, ABPP, send letters to President Donald J. Trump and other key federal officials to urge against use of torture or abusive treatment of detainees. Letters included a statement by the Society of Military Psychology (APA Div. 19 — PDF, 94KB) co-signed by 40 of APA’s 54 divisions.

Jan. 27, 2017

Nov. 22, 2016

APA President Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, ABPP, sends a letter to U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. (PDF, 51KB), expressing APA's strong support of his statement in which he pledged that the United States will not waterboard national security detainees and reiterated his opposition to torture.

Aug. 3, 2016

APA amends Standard 3.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (Ethics Code) to include a direct prohibition regarding participating in torture, defined as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person, or in any other cruel, inhuman, or degrading behavior that violates 3.04(a).” 

April 15, 2016

APA re-engages 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 in 2015. 

Feb. 26, 2016

APA names 17 psychologists and ethics experts to the Commission on Ethics Processes. They plan to review all of the association's ethics processes and procedures, present a progress report at the August 2016 Board and Council meetings, and present their final report at the February 2017 meetings of the APA Board of Directors, Council Leadership Team and Council of Representatives. 

Feb. 12, 2016

APA President Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, ABPP, and APA Interim Chief Executive Officer Cynthia D., Belar, PhD, ABPP, send a letter to President Barack Obama (PDF, 101 KB) calling for lifting U.S. restrictions to portions of the UN's Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Feb. 9, 2016 

APA issues a call for comments on proposed language to revise Standard 3.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (Ethics Code) regarding prohibitions surrounding psychologist participation in national security interrogations.

Jan. 8, 2016

The Department of Defense responds (PDF, 290KB) to the Oct. 28, 2015, letter (PDF, 32KB) from APA President Barry S. Anton, PhD, ABPP, and former APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, which detailed APA's new policy that includes a prohibition against the involvement of psychologists in national security interrogations.

November 2015

  • APA Ethics Committee updates 2009 Statement: No Defense to Torture Under the APA Ethics Code

Oct. 28, 2015

APA President Barry S. Anton, PhD, ABPP, and APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, send letters to President Barack Obama and other key federal officials to notify them of APA's new policy that includes a prohibition against psychologist participation in national security interrogations.

Oct. 16, 2015

  • Letter to Members of the American MENA Community (PDF, 214KB)
    APA President Barry S. Anton, PhD, ABPP, writes a letter in response to the Aug. 14, 2015, open letter to APA and the psychological community from the American Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) Psychological Network.

Sept. 25, 2015

Sept. 12, 2015

  • Follow Up Letter to the International Community 
    APA Past President Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, ABPP, and President-elect Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, ABPP, send an email message to the international psychological community on behalf of APA regarding APA actions in response to the findings of the Hoffman Report.

Sept. 4, 2015

Attorney David H. Hoffman delivers a revised version of the original July 2, 2015, Independent Review Report relating to APA ethics guidelines, national security interrogations and torture, with an errata sheet detailing revisions to the report.

Aug. 19, 2015

Aug. 14, 2015

  • Open Letter (PDF, 297KB)
    Members of the American Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) Psychological Network send an open letter to APA and the psychological community regarding "events spanning the past decade" that were documented in the Hoffman Report.

  • Member Letter
    APA President-elect Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, ABPP, and Past President Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, ABPP, send an email to all APA members announcing results of APA's Council of Representatives' deliberations at the APA 2015 Annual Convention in Toronto.

Aug. 7, 2015

APA Council of Representatives votes 157-1 to prohibit psychologists from participating in national security interrogations.

July 31, 2015

July 30, 2015 

APA informs leaders of key congressional committees about the findings of the Independent Review Report.

July 29, 2015

July 24, 2015

  • Letter to APA members (PDF, 89KB)
    APA President-elect Susan McDaniel, PhD, ABPP, and APA Past President Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, ABPP, send letter to APA members requesting recommendation for action.

July 21, 2015

July 11, 2015

July 10, 2015

July 2, 2015

Attorney David H. Hoffman delivers the Independent Review Report relating to APA ethics guidelines, national security interrogations and torture, pursuant to the Nov. 12, 2014, resolution of the APA Board of Directors.

June 10, 2015

May 2, 2015

Dec. 23, 2014

Dec. 18, 2014

Dec. 14, 2014

Dec. 10, 2014

Dec. 9, 2014

Nov. 12, 2014

Oct. 16, 2014

March 15, 2014

March 7, 2014

Feb. 27, 2014

APA informs key federal and congressional officials of updates regarding APA policy related to detainee welfare and the role of psychologists in national security settings.

Feb. 20, 2014

Jan. 23, 2014

Dec. 20, 2013

  • APA writes to inform President Barack Obama of new unified APA policy related to detainee welfare and the work of psychologists in national security settings.

July 31, 2013

Dec. 5, 2011

Dec. 1, 2011

July 25, 2011

  • Comments and Feedback Requested on the Responses of the APA Ethics Committee to Questions, Comments, and Vignettes Regarding APA Policy on the Role of Psychologists in National Security-Related Activities (PDF, 6.74MB)

June 30, 2010

June 21, 2010

June 1, 2010

Feb. 20, 2010

Dec. 14, 2009

Aug. 5, 2009

July 31, 2009

June 18, 2009

June 4, 2009

May 28, 2009

May 15, 2009

April 22, 2009

March 2009

  • APA Central Office, at the Direction of the Council of Representatives, Forwards the Report of the APA Presidential Advisory Group on the Implementation of the Petition Resolution to Relevant Boards and Committees for Their Review and Appropriate Action

Feb. 21, 2009

Feb. 20, 2009

Jan. 22, 2009

December 2008

Nov. 14-15, 2008

November 2008

Oct. 6, 2008

Oct. 2, 2008

October 2008

Sept. 17, 2008

Aug. 16, 2008

June 2008

April 2008

Feb. 15, 2008

Feb. 4, 2008

Nov. 6, 2007

Nov. 1, 2007

Sept. 21, 2007

Aug. 20, 2007

Aug. 17-20, 2007

Aug. 19, 2007

July 18, 2007

Jan. 9, 2007

Sept. 21, 2006 

September 2006

Aug. 10, 2006

Aug. 9, 2006

July 2006

April 2006

Oct. 28, 2005 

APA supports U.S. Sen. John McCain's amendment to the FY 2006 Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations bill calling for the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of U.S. detainees and for uniform standards for interrogation. 

Aug. 29, 2005

Aug. 4, 2005

July 5, 2005

July 2005

  • APA's Board of Directors Adopts the Task Force Report as APA Policy

June 24-26, 2005

  • PENS Task Force Meets
  • APA's Board of Directors Adopts the Task Force Report as APA Policy

February 2005

  • APA's Board of Directors Approves Funds for the Establishment the Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (the PENS Task Force)

2002

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