Statement on the Hoffman Report to the Div. 44 Membership
We, the Div. 44 Executive Committee, are dismayed by the findings of the recently released Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture (i.e., the Hoffman Report). We are disappointed and distressed by the breach of trust and lack of institutional oversight that the report exposes. Furthermore, we recognize that many Div. 44 members have had and continue to experience their own strong emotions and reactions to the report. For those who have not already done so, we encourage a careful reading of the full report, as well as other documents and commentaries that have been made available; we believe that this is the best way to become informed about the report and its contents.
At the recent APA convention, the Div. 44 Executive Board, composed of elected officers, appointees, and committee chairs, met to conduct regular business but also to consider implications of the Hoffman Report for Div. 44, APA, and psychology at large. There was a range of reactions and preferred responses. Nonetheless, there was consensus on the need to immediately and strongly reassert the Div. 44’s commitment to human rights, including that torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of any human being is always and absolutely reprehensible. Members of the Div. 44 Executive Board further sought to acknowledge APA’s history of support and assistance in advancing the rights of LGBT people and in informing the public about LGBT issues. Finally, it pledged to work toward reestablishing trust in and a strong ethical foundation for the field. Div. 44 was pleased, therefore, when the APA Council of Representatives later voted to take important first steps to address issues from the Hoffman Report. Specifically, it adopted a new policy limiting psychologist involvement in national security detention facilities and interrogations and it also voted to establish a panel that will carefully review APA ethics policies and procedures and make recommendations to improve them.
The Div. 44 Executive Committee wants to assure Div. 44 members that it intends to be actively involved in helping to develop and implement additional responses to the report. This work will occur primarily through our representatives on the APA council as well as in collaboration with the Divisions for Social Justice (DSJ), a coalition of APA divisions that are committed to social justice and of which Div. 44 is a founding member. The Div. 44 Executive Committee believes that actions must be undertaken to increase transparency and member participation, and that safeguards and an effective system of checks and balances must be established so that events similar to those outlined in the Hoffman Report cannot occur again. Reforms also are in order to ensure that Div. 44 and the APA can continue their separate and shared roles as leaders and effective advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues, as well as for the rights and dignity of all marginalized people and communities.
As always, the Div. 44 Executive Committee welcomes the input of Div. 44 members, and especially in learning how Div. 44 can better meet your needs. We also are interested in your comments and suggestions for how the Division and its members can be involved in developing effective responses to this report. In either case, please feel free to contact Div. 44 President Allen Omoto and let him know your needs and thoughts. You can also provide comments directly to APA about the Hoffman Report and suggested actions by sending a message to IRfeedback@apa.org. Going forward, you can expect to receive updates from the Div. 44 Executive Committee and from the division’s representatives to APA council and DSJ. As we have already seen since the Hoffman Report was released, this is an evolving situation that will continue to unfold and for which a number of decisions and actions will be required. Thank you for your continuing support of Div. 44.