Additional commentary on the Hoffman Report (HR) and Independent Review process (IR) may be found at: http://www.hoffmanreportapa.com/ and http://psychcoalition.org/.
1. The APA Board commissioned the independent review (IR) in November 2014, to review allegations in James Risen’s book, Pay Any Price. Mr. Risen later conceded he had not given APA staff an opportunity to respond to his allegations before publishing Pay Any Price, stating it was not necessary for him to do so.
2. The Board established a “special committee,” co-chaired by Susan McDaniels and Nadine Kaslow, to handle the IR. Drs. Norman Anderson and Bonnie Markham were also appointed to the special committee. Each was later recused. (Dr. Anderson was recused immediately after the IR began and Bonnie Markham was recused at the very end of the IR.) APA continues to attempt to clarify its conflict of interest policies.
3. The IR was scheduled to be completed at the end of March, 2015 and estimated to cost between $400,000 and $800,000. The result of the IR, the Hoffman Report (HR), was submitted to the Board on June 27, 2015 at a cost of over $4 million. Associated costs (outside attorneys and public relations firm) brought the total to nearly $5 million, approximately 8% of APA’s financial reserves. IR costs will continue to increase.
4. The HR found:
- No evidence that APA had colluded with the CIA, as James Risen claimed in Pay Any Price. (At the August 2015 Council meeting, Mr. Hoffman acknowledged he had not found evidence of collusion to commit torture.)
- No evidence that APA amended its Ethics Code to enable torture, as James Risen also claimed in Pay Any Price. The timeline of the 2002 Ethics Code revision process and revision drafts, available to David Hoffman (and to James Risen, had he inquired), clearly and definitively disproved this allegation. The relevant amendments to the Ethics Code had been drafted prior to 9/11. Nonetheless, Mr. Hoffman spent considerable APA money and staff time, likely reaching well into the six figures, to reach this forgone and indisputable conclusion.
- No evidence that the DoD offered contracts, jobs, or any specific financial benefits in exchange for APA adopting a policy position related to interrogations. Rather, the HR found that APA wished to “curry favor” with the DoD, without giving any specific or additional content to this general term. The HR (and James Risen) acknowledged that there was no evidence that any specific favor was either sought by APA or granted by DoD. Neither the HR nor James Risen produced evidence that anyone personally profited from APA’s interrogation position.
5. The Board made the HR available to two vocal critics of APA’s position on interrogations, Dr. Steven Reisner and Dr. Stephen Soldz, prior to the HR being given to Council. The Board asked Drs. Reisner and Soldz to keep this arrangement secret, in contrast to the Board’s repeated calls for transparency. The Board invited Drs. Reisner and Soldz to attend a July 2 Board meeting to discuss the HR, again in secret.
6. Drs. Reisner and Soldz made recommendations at the Board’s July 2 meeting, calling for staff firings and a permanent ban on certain individuals serving in APA governance, even while acknowledging they had not had time to read and digest the entire 542-page HR. Dr. Soldz had previously displayed racially-based animus toward an individual in APA governance who he and Dr. Reisner named in their July 2 recommendations to the Board.
7. The HR was leaked to James Risen of the NY Times. On July 10 the NY Times published a story about the HR. Several weeks earlier, James Risen had published a front page, above-the-fold NY Times story about a document Drs. Reisner and Soldz had written, “All the President’s Psychologists” in which Drs. Reisner and Soldz made many of the same incorrect claims as James Risen had in Pay Any Price. The special committee was well aware of James Risen’s NY Times story on “All the President’s Psychologists,” yet nonetheless gave Drs. Reisner and Soldz privileged access to the HR. The Board has never indicated what, if any, efforts it made to discover who leaked the HR to the NY Times, even as much as asking individuals whether they have information about the leak.
8. The HR concluded that APA staff and certain military psychologists had colluded to keep ethics guidelines “loose,” i.e., no stricter than existing DoD guidelines governing interrogation, which according to the HR, allowed sleep deprivation and stress positions. The HR failed to state:
- DoD policies at the time of the PENS report prohibited the very techniques Mr. Hoffman claims DoD policy then allowed. The HR has no section describing June 2005 DoD interrogation policies, despite the fact that Mr. Hoffman based his central conclusion on his characterization of these policies.
- Mr. Hoffman never discussed the state of DoD interrogation policies in June 2005 with witnesses whom his team interviewed and who were able and willing to provide this information had Mr. Hoffman or his colleagues expressed an interest. One witness actually offered to provide Mr. Hoffman relevant documentation and Mr. Hoffman declined the offer.
- Psychologists whom Mr. Hoffman accused of collusion had actually assisted in drafting restrictive interrogation policies. At least one of these policies was found in the HR reference materials, although Mr. Hoffman did not address or even acknowledge the obvious relevance of this critical piece of evidence.
- Mr. Hoffman and APA have refused to respond to inquiries regarding a-c.
- Despite reviewing tens of thousands of email messages, as well as a voluminous number of documents, the HR does not contain a single piece of evidence that shows collaboration between APA staff and military psychologists for the purpose of allowing abusive interrogations. To reach his conclusion, Mr. Hoffman worked entirely from inference, interpreting emails in the context of incorrect facts and without acknowledging other explanations that would be consistent with existing APA staff-governance practices.
9. The HR stated that military psychologists involved with the PENS process sought to reject international human rights documents in APA policy. To the contrary, the PENS report specifically includes DoD regulations requiring adherence to the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture. Prior to the PENS Task Force meeting in June 2005, these military psychologists were drafting policy that required familiarity with and adherence to the Geneva Conventions.
10. Immediately after the HR was made public, a number of witnesses stated that the HR mischaracterized or stated incorrectly what they had said in their interviews. An attorney for one witness contacted Mr. Hoffman’s law firm, Sidley Austin, to demand that incorrect material be removed from the HR. The material was removed. Neither APA nor Mr. Hoffman offered to reimburse this witness for attorney fees.
11. Despite numerous witness protests that their statements to the IR interviewers were mischaracterized or incorrect in the HR, APA and Mr. Hoffman have refused to release source materials. In response to a request for interview notes, APA initially did not claim privilege, but then in a message to Council (but not to the parties who requested the notes) the Board did claim the notes were privileged. The Board’s reason was that (despite the IR cost of over $4 million), source materials other than what Mr. Hoffman turned over to APA belong to Sidley Austin. This position, at odds with transparency and with Mr. Hoffman’s claim of “independence” from APA, makes it impossible for individuals named in the HR to obtain the truth about the HR’s data and conclusions. The 2015 Board claimed that releasing the material would expose APA to “a small but real legal risk,” so APA has refused to waive its privilege and disclose HR source materials.
12. Mr. Hoffman issued a revised report on September 4, 2015. A number of witnesses who informed APA that the initial HR had significant inaccuracies and stated that they were preparing a document identifying inaccuracies were never told that Mr. Hoffman was revising the June 27 report which had been labelled “final.” APA has inaccurately stated that witnesses had been informed they could contact Mr. Hoffman for the purpose of a revision. In fact, despite not being informed regarding a revision, certain witnesses did contact Mr. Hoffman prior to the September 4 revision and Mr. Hoffman did not respond. (It appears that APA may have selectively informed witnesses regarding the revision process and provided relevant deadlines for the submission process to some witnesses.)
13. The HR stated that the ethics matters related to national security interrogations were handled “improperly” yet conceded that the ethics complaint against Dr. Larry James was handled consistently with the Ethics program’s Rules and Procedures. The HR failed to state that complaints against Dr. James had been heard on no fewer than seven occasions and that no board or court had found against Dr. James. The APA Board’s decision to disclose information related to the ethics complaint against Dr. James in the HR appears to have violated the Ethics Committee’s Rules and Procedures regarding confidentiality.
14. The HR alleges an undisclosed conflict of interest between a former APA staff member who was an observer on the PENS Task Force and a military psychologist who was serving as a behavioral science consultant at Guantanamo Bay. The HR focused on the fact that these two psychologists are married. The HR fails to address important facts:
- The marriage had been fully disclosed—including a story in the APA Monitor on Psychology, which is sent to every APA member;
- The APA Office of General Counsel had obtained an opinion from PriceWaterHouseCoopers which stated that a marriage, in and of itself, did not constitute a conflict of interest for members of APA governance, but rather should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The APA General Counsel was aware of the staff member’s role as a PENS observer.
- Three sets of contemporaneous notes, including the notes of a self-proclaimed “dissident” and longtime critic of APA, indicated that the relevant staff member’s role at the PENS meeting was not nearly as influential as described in the HR. The staff member was a non-voting observer, and did not participate either in the Task Force’s listserv discussions or in the drafting of the report/recommendations.
15. In its Task Force Report, Division 19, the Society for Military Psychology, provided examples of a deep anti-military bias in the HR, including a lack of familiarity with basic aspects of DoD culture and practices. The HR argued that the military psychologist in the alleged conflict of interest situation (point 14) would have suffered severe professional consequences had the PENS report stated the role of behavioral science consultant was not appropriate. In fact, a military psychologist in this situation would be reassigned to another duty without penalty. The HR’s assertion is thus demonstrably incorrect.
16. In January 2016, the Department of Defense sent a letter to APA regarding the 2015 Council resolution. This letter pointed out that:
- The 2015 Resolution’s prohibition on providing healthcare services to detainees at certain settings is inconsistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. (Thus, a resolution designed for psychologists to promote human rights appears instead to risk violating human rights.)
- The blanket prohibition against psychologist involvement in interrogations is reactive and harms our national interest given the variety of threats our nation faces in the contemporary world.
17. At its August 2015 meeting, Council never discussed the fact that the 2015 resolution would prevent psychologists from providing healthcare services to detainees in contravention to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
18. The 2015 APA resolution states that psychologists may consult on humane methods of interrogation, but that psychologists may not consult on humane interrogations. Council did not identify what—if any—ethical distinction permits one and yet prohibits the other.
19. APA and Mr. Hoffman stated that there was a strong preference for the HR to be presented and discussed at Council’s August 2015 meeting in Toronto. The 2015 Board has not explained whose “strong preference” this was, nor why it was more important for the HR to go forward in August than it was to ensure that colleagues were not harmed—in certain cases severely and irreparably harmed—by disseminating false and/or highly misleading information. These colleagues did not have an opportunity to respond (or in certain cases, even to see the HR) prior to the HR’s public release. The 2015 Board’s decision to move forward hastily—to address events that had occurred a decade or more in the past—was especially questionable given:
- The length of the HR—540+ pages with thousands of pages of reference material—made it highly unlikely Council would have an opportunity to read the report with the appropriate and necessary care and diligence prior to its meeting;
- The HR itself contains many indications that it was not complete and required further attention and ultimately a revision. (Although the revision was woefully inadequate.) The HR itself acknowledged it was not finished.
20. There is now overwhelming evidence that the IR process and the HR were severely flawed, as only partially described here. APA’s response to this evidence is, as yet, not consistent with a commitment to transparency, truth, or fairness. Colleagues who devoted years of service to APA have suffered and continue to suffer egregious harm because of the IR process and the HR, and the 2015 Board’s handling of them.