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Major psychological association bans cooperation with CIA following torture scandal

The American Psychological Association made a nearly unanimous decision today to bar psychologists from participating in national security interrogations, The New York Times reports. The decision was a response to an independent report that came out last month, detailing how top APA officials and psychiatrists participated in the CIA's torture program during the Bush administration.

The APA's council of representatives voted on the measure at the organization's convention in Toronto. The one dissenting vote came from Col. Larry James, who used to be the top Army intelligence psychologist at Guantánamo Bay, according to Democracy Now. The convention was the APA's first since the release of the "Hoffman Report," an independent review conducted by Chicago lawyer David Hoffman looking at the organization's role in the US enhanced interrogation program. The report showed how the APA secretly worked with the Department of Defense, the CIA, and the White House to come up with ethical guidelines that would allow the torture program to continue without legal fallout.

Top APA officials and psychiatrists participated in the CIA's torture program

The APA commissioned the report late last year after the US Senate Intelligence Committee found that doctors, nurses, and psychologists had participated in torture for the government. These acts included waterboarding, repeated beatings, and forcing terrorist suspects to stay awake for days at a time. The APA made repeated claims that none of its members were involved in these interrogations — assertions that were refuted by the Hoffman Report.

The findings were in direct violation of the APA's own ethics policies, which state that "psychologists shall not knowingly engage in, assist, tolerate, direct, support, advise, facilitate, plan, design, or offer training in torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment under any and all conditions." As a result of the independent review, four top APA officials — including CEO Dr. Norman Anderson — resigned from their positions.