In This Issue

The Hoffman Report: Statement from Div. 1

Div. 1 Executive Committee’s statement regarding the Hoffman Report.

The executive committee of Div. 1 is disappointed and dismayed by the revelations about APA in the Hoffman Report. We realize that there may be multiple opinions among the division’s membership about how to move forward. However, we wish to go on record with our views.  

We are deeply distressed by the evidence that the PENS Taskforce was manipulated from the beginning to endorse the goals of the psychologists representing the Department of Defense (DoD) rather than to explore ethical issues regarding psychologists’ participation in interrogations and other national security activities. We are appalled that during the following 10 years, public relations and the concerns of the DoD appear to have taken precedence over ethics and the will of the membership. We were outraged to learn that the evidence indicates a conspiracy by some staff leaders and some elected officials to hide the truth from the membership and their elected Council of Representatives; these leaders claimed that the PENS Report clearly prohibited psychologists from participating in torture (as defined by the Geneva Conventions and other recognized international standards), but actually used general and abstract language that provided neither limits on the activities of DoD psychologists nor any guidance to them. The duplicity in statements to the membership on the part of a combination of elected leaders and paid staff is completely unacceptable. We are ashamed that the result of APA’s failure of leadership may have contributed to the torture of those held in detention by the U.S. government.

If the trust of the membership and the public is to be regained, we believe that it is essential to hold those responsible accountable. This includes both staff and elected leaders. We believe that this accountability must occur in the context of appropriate due process, but calls for “due process” should not be allowed to obfuscate accountability or unreasonably delay action. We call upon those mentioned in the report as having significantly contributed to this untenable situation to step down from any leadership positions they currently occupy.

The structural and philosophical issues that led to this situation must be addressed. In particular, we urge APA to consider these fundamental questions: 

  1. How does a membership organization with volunteer elected leaders operate in a way that ensures that the paid staff on which the volunteer leaders rely do not usurp the control of the organization — whether for good or bad?
  2. How does a profession dedicated to the good of all humanity develop and maintain its ethics and ethical standards independent of the press of guild or self-interest motives?  
In this process and all activities going forward, real transparency will be critical.

We urge the council to demand that the organization hold those involved accountable and address the issues we have raised. The legitimacy and future of the American Psychological Association (and its divisions) is at stake.