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Report: American Psychological Association helped Bush justify torture

By Andrew V. Pestano
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Maboud Ebrahimzadeh participates with other anti-torture activists in a waterboarding demonstration in front of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C., in 2007. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/941b350354c923b65bf67cbf66f86877/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Maboud Ebrahimzadeh participates with other anti-torture activists in a waterboarding demonstration in front of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C., in 2007. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- The American Psychological Association is accused of secretly collaborating with former President George W. Bush's administration to justify torture.

The All the President's Psychologists report, written by doctors, professors and human rights activists, accuses the APA of working to keep psychologists involved with interrogation programs after the public saw the graphic photos of prisoner abuse in the Abu Ghraib Iraqi prison by U.S. military personnel.

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The APA's actions coincided with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to keep the programs alive.

"The APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations, which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program," the report states.

The lead authors of the report are psychologist Dr. Stephen Soldz, an anti-torture adviser for the Physicians for Human Rights organization, Nathaniel Raymond, a director at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and Dr. Steven Reisner, a psychological ethics adviser for Physicians for Human Rights.

The involvement of health professionals in the "enhanced interrogation techniques" program, which some plainly declare as torture, allowed the Department of Justice to argue in secret opinions that the program was legal -- and did not constitute torture -- because interrogations were being overseen by health professionals to ensure safety, The New York Times reported.

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APA spokeswoman Rhea Farberman denied the organization's involvement.

There "has never been any coordination between APA and the Bush administration on how APA responded to the controversies about the role of psychologists in the interrogations program," Farberman told the Times.

The report also accuses a U.S. government research scientist who served as Bush's behavioral science adviser of secretly drafting "language related to research" inserted by APA officials into its 2005 ethics policy on interrogations.

"Despite substantial contact between the APA, the White House and CIA officials, including the over 600 emails noted in this report, there is no evidence that any APA official expressed concern over the mounting reports of psychologist involvement in detainee abuse during four years of direct email communications with senior members of the U.S. intelligence community," the report states.

The interrogation programs have since been shut down.

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