From: Military Psychology
Date: August 25, 2015
Subject: [DIV19] Society for Military Psychology - Announcements
Division 19 Members, I wanted to provide you a brief update on actions we've been taking. Our DIV19 EXCOM approved allocating funding to stand up a Division 19 Task Force (TF) to address the issues raised in the Hoffman Report. We have assembled a distinguished team of DIV19 members who are objectively assessing the Hoffman report in accordance with the Terms of Reference (TOR) we provided to help guide their actions. Those TOR specifically address issues raised by APA and will provide an objective evaluation of the information presented within the report. They are making great progress and the DIV19 TF report is due at the end of September 2015.
During the APA Convention we were fortunate to meet with the APA Independent Review Committee Chairs during our EXCOM. Our DIV19 shared with those leaders our concerns regarding the, at that time proposed APA policy. These concerns included:
1. The inaccuracies and misrepresentations contained in the Hoffman Independent Review.
2. Proposed changes to the APA Ethics Code that appear more based on location/setting vice actual activities by a psychologist. This is particularly concerning given the fact that military psychologists have not, and do not engage in, support, condone, or in any way allow torture (nor do they allow others to engage in torture). In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it is unprecedented to propose an APA Ethics Code change on the basis of a politically-charged setting. Every psychologist should take pause at wondering what politically motivated change to the Ethics Code may follow...
3. Whether APA, as a NGO, was attempting to usurp Commander-in-Chief authorities and national security decision-making by dictating deployment settings for military psychologists and then linking actions by psychologists to international law and treaties (thereby placing at risk and attempting to nullify U.S. Constitutional protections afforded every psychologist, not just military psychologists or those providing services in support of national security).
4. Whether civilian psychologists are also caught up in this effort to limit free enterprise, which then raises the possibility for a cause for action to determine if APA's policy results in and activates provisions of anti-trust in violation of the Sherman Act.
5. What can APA do to assist members who have been harmed by the leaked, early release of Hoffman report?
We are positioning appropriate documents on our DIV19 webpage related to DIV19 policies that detail our opposition to torture as well as other documents to help our members navigate through and better understand the Hoffman Report. We encourage everyone to help identify discrepancies, errors, and unfounded assertions leave a message on our DIV19 Listserv for our TF to connect with you. We have other actions underway and/or for consideration that I will address in a different forum.
I will close by sharing my experience with the APA Convention Town Hall meeting that focused on the Hoffman Report. I will confess that I found many of the events during this Town Hall meeting unsettling and disappointing. I did not see much evidence for the "better angels of our nature" in the expressed motivations and demands by the self-proclaimed "dissidents" whose notoriety seemed to fuel outlandish assertions that too often sounded more like veiled threats than reflect the aspirational goals of APA. I did have the good fortune to ask the very last question which I paraphrase below:
“A profession in crisis will often find it helpful to look closely at its past for the foundation of what it has become. It you look at APA a little more than 100 years ago, it was in crisis at that time as well. Psychology was not recognized as a science and then APA President Robert Yerkes recognized one way to obtain that recognition was to link psychology to the support to national security that the other sciences were providing. Yerkes set out to develop 12 Committees to do so and just about every area psychologist in this room owes their livelihood to that initial linkage of psychology to supporting our national security. Given the APA policy voted on yesterday, what can you say to the American public to reassure them that the APA and psychology has not turned their back on our national security at a time when our nation is once again in peril?”
The APA leadership response (paraphrased): "We have long recognized that we needed to reach out to the Muslim American community and military psychologists..."
We need to keep moving forward with our efforts to champion and accurately represent what DIV19 stands for, what our members do each and every day, and how supporting the national security of our great Nation is honorable and worthy of our efforts (and of APA’s).
Tom Williams, President
Division 19, Society for Military Psychology