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Interrogation and TortureIntegrating Efficacy with Law and Morality$
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Steven J. Barela, Mark Fallon, Gloria Gaggioli, and Jens David Ohlin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190097523

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190097523.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 26 January 2022

Professional Standards in the Aftermath of Torture

Professional Standards in the Aftermath of Torture

The Struggles of the American Psychological Association

(p.225) 8 Professional Standards in the Aftermath of Torture
Interrogation and Torture

Stephen Soldz

Steven Reisner

Oxford University Press

In addition to direct effects on detainees, interrogators, intelligence agencies, and law, the U.S. torture program had additional corrupting influences on other aspects of society. This chapter explores the effects that the torture program had on civil society by exploring its effects on the profession of psychology and on the largest U.S. psychological professional organization, the American Psychological Association (APA). We briefly summarize public knowledge regarding the involvement of psychologists in the CIA and DoD "enhanced interrogation" torture programs. We then describe the public response of the APA as news of this knowledge emerged. However, the public response did not match the APA’s behind-the-scenes actions, as was revealed by a 2015 Independent Review of APA leaders' potential complicity with the torture program conducted by Chicago attorney David Hoffman. The resultant Hoffman Report found a pattern of backchannel collaboration ("collusion") to ensure that APA ethics guidelines on psychologists' interrogation support did not constrain psychologists beyond permissive DoD rules. We then put psychology's interrogation controversy in the context of broader issues regarding the ethics of “operational psychology,” that is, the use of psychological knowledge and expertise by psychologists to further military and intelligence operations. We argue that certain operational psychology applications conflict with the ethics of the profession, and question whether practitioners of such applications properly belong to the profession of psychology. We conclude with a call for a Truth Commission to document the involvement of psychologists in post-9/11 detention and interrogation processes, and to focus on lessons learned regarding professional relations with the security sector, so that future generations of psychologists are less likely to repeat post-9/11 mistakes.

Keywords:   torture, American Psychological Association, ethics, interrogation, psychology, operational psychology

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