The Hoffman Report: The Investigation into the American Psychological Association (APA) | Psych Central Professional

The Hoffman Report: The Investigation into the American Psychological Association (APA) | Psych Central Professional

Psych Central Professional

The Hoffman Report: The Investigation into the American Psychological Association (APA)

hoffman-report-coverThe Hoffman Report is the informal name for the 2015 investigation into the American Psychological Association’s (APA) practices regarding its relaxing of ethical standards for psychologists involved in torture interrogations. The full name for the report is,Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture. It was authored by attorneys David Hoffman, Danielle Carter, Cara Viglucci Lopez, Heather Benzmiller, Ava Guo, Yasir Latifi and Daniel Craig of the law firm, Sidley Austin, LLP.

It was an extensive investigation spanning 6 months that reviewed over 50,000 documents and conducted over 200 interviews with 148 people. The report notes that, “Although most individuals were quite cooperative and willing to meet with us, that sentiment was not universal, and there were several individuals who declined to meet with us or did not respond to our requests.” Also, “This inquiry is made more difficult by the amount of time that has elapsed since the important events occurred. The key events relating to the APA task force report occurred 10 to 11 years ago, and the events relating to the ethics code revision occurred 13 to 19 years ago.” The independent investigation resulted in a 542-page final report.

We will continuously update this Special Report throughout the week as new analysis and reactions are published regarding the Hoffman Report.

Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture (PDF)

July 2, 2015

The Hoffman Report: Background & Introduction

July 2, 2015

Press Release and Recommended Actions: Independent Review Cites Collusion Among APA Individuals and Defense Department Officials in Policy on Interrogation Techniques

American Psychological Association

July 10, 2015

Outside Psychologists Shielded U.S. Torture Program, Report Finds

The New York Times

July 10, 2015

The Hoffman Report: After Years of Lies, Who Holds the APA Accountable?

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

July 11, 2015

US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 ‘collusion’

The Guardian

July 11, 2015

American Psychological Association’s Ethics Office Seems to be Toothless, Lazy

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

July 12, 2015

PsySR Responds to Hoffman Report about APA(PDF)

Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR)

July 13, 2015

Radical Reform Required at APA

Chris Ferguson, Ph.D.

July 13, 2015

Opening Comments to the American Psychological Association (APA) Board of Directors

Steven Reisner and Stephen Soldz

Coalition for an Ethical Psychology

Describes a meeting that took place on July 2, 2015 at the APA, where the two authors laid out guidelines and suggestions for how to portray the Hoffman Report and APA’s reaction after its release. Steven Reisner called for Norman Anderson, L. Michael Honaker, Nathalie Gilfoyle, Rhea Farberman, Ellen Garrison, Heather Kelly, Geoffrey Mumford, Stephen Behnke to be fired; only Behnke actually was.

July 13, 2015

Manipulation of the American Psychological Association’s Council of Representatives

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

July 13, 2015

‘A national hero’: psychologist who warned of torture collusion gets her due

The Guardian

July 13, 2015

Lessons must be learned after psychology torture inquiry

Nature editorial

July 14, 2015

APA Leadership Resignations: Anderson, Honaker & Farberman

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

July 14, 2015

3 Leave Jobs Over Psychologists’ Involvement in Terrorism Interrogations

The New York Times

July 14, 2015

Comments on the Hoffman Report (PDF)

Gerald P. Koocher and Ronald F. Levant

July 14, 2015

APA overhauling policies and leadership after torture report

Science Insider

July 14, 2015

Coalition Open Letter on APA Complicity in Torture Interrogations

Coalition for an Ethical Psychology

A historical reference clearly demonstrating that critics knew the findings of the Hoffman Report five years before it was ever conceived, but that the APA stonewalled, lied, and turned a blind eye to critics of its policies and behaviors. What did Carol Goodheart and APA officials ever do in reaction to this letter? Silence.

August 11, 2010

Did the American Psychological Association’s Board Violate DC Law?

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

July 16, 2015

Torture, impunity and the American Psychological Association

Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan, Democracy Now!

July 16, 2015

How the Largest Association of U.S. Psychologists Colluded in Torture


July 18, 2015

Sidley Partner Rattles Psychology Field with Torture Report

The American Lawyer

July 18, 2015

American Psychological Association’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

July 19, 2015

Report on interrogation tactics roils academics: Psychologists linked to Harvard defend work with Pentagon

The Boston Globe

July 20, 2015

APA’s Letter to its Council of Representatives

American Psychological Association

July 20, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

We, like you, are saddened and sickened by the findings of the Hoffman Report: an ongoing pattern of collusion between a select group of APA top leaders and the Department of Defense (please see more details below). The 500+ page report is extraordinarily detailed and thorough and is available in its entirety at Our initial response is based on this profoundly important report. Given the gravity of the findings, the density of the document, and the importance of being thorough, you may be receiving further communications from us as we continue to digest the material.

While the report does not conclude that APA or anyone within it promoted torture, it did find there was an effort to “curry favor” with the Department of Defense and that APA lent support to the Department’s interrogation program and thereby contributed to abuse by DoD and the CIA. We, the IPA leadership, do not approve of and cannot defend what this group of APA representatives did.

Bruce Bonecutter, our IPA representative to APA Council in 2006, should be commended for co-sponsoring a resolution to be inserted into the APA Ethics Code points 1.02 and 1.03: “Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights.” APA immediately published its intention to include this sentence in our Ethics Code and the 2010 APA Ethics Code does include this sentence in both of these sections.

Furthermore, we believe that, as psychologists, we have a primary commitment to always do what is in the best interest of our patients, first and foremost, our clients and to our colleagues. We recognize that the profession of Psychology is going through a very difficult time because of the actions of a select group of psychologists in leadership within the APA, but this crisis gives us all, and in particular the leadership at IPA, an opportunity to come together as a cohesive community to support each other, to support social justice initiatives, to demonstrate transparency, and to represent ourselves, in all of our outreach with our larger community as committed, compassionate professionals who seek to build alliances that will promote human understanding, and to reduce interpersonal violence in all sectors of our society.

As per Joe Scroppo Ph.D. JD wrote on D42 [with permission from the author]: “The lesson is to avoid repetitions of the fiasco…we must actively support legitimate dissent…by building into these systems a role for persons whose primary job is to challenge the consensus…painful though it is to have onlookers when difficult, complicated and morally fraught decisions have to be made, the exposure brings our moral conscience to the fore and helps us to resist our baser impulses.”

We welcome any and all initiatives for social justice and organizational ethics programming and their implementation for IPA. Please contact any one of us in IPA leadership (see our names below).

There are many media reports about the Hoffman Report. Please read the full document at your earliest convenience to understand the entire context. Here is the link: We very much appreciate the thoughtful approach that our IPA community is taking in beginning to process information that can be overwhelming. We appreciate you.

If you have specific thoughts or questions that you would like to have addressed at the APA Council meeting at the Toronto Convention, our IPA representative to APA Council, Cliff Saper, would very much like to hear them. He can be reached at: We are also planning to have a dinner at Convention on Saturday night, August 8th, at 7 p.m. at a venue to be determined. At that dinner, we will be discussing the APA plight. If you’d like to join us, please let Cliff know!

On the APA website related to the Report of the Independent Reviewer (, a public comment section has been added where anyone can add comments and those comments can be viewed by governance, members and the public.

Most sincerely,

Karla Steingraber, Psy.D., IPA President

Joe Troiani, Ph.D., IPA President-elect

Blaine Lesnik, Psy.D., IPA Immediate Past President

Laura Faynor-Ciha, Ph.D., IPA Secretary

Beth N. Rom-Rymer, Ph.D., IPA Treasurer

Cliff Saper, Ph.D., IPA representative to APA Council

Nancy Molitor, Ph.D., APA Public Education Campaign

Susan Zoline, Ph.D., Co-Chair, IPA Ethics Committee

Abigail B Sivan, Ph.D., Co-Chair, IPA Ethics Committee

Bruce Bonecutter, Ph.D., Past IPA President (1989-1990), IPA Fellow

Alexander J. Paret, Ph.D., Membership Chair

Gregory Sarlo, Ph.D., Past-President, Consortium Chair

Abby Damsky Brown, M.A., Parliamentarian

Amy L. Robinson, Psy.D., Metro-Area Representative

Daniel Brewer, Psy.D., SOGI Chair

Ellen M. Stone, Psy.D., Co-Chair of the Employee Assistance Program

Lisa Lombard, Ph.D., Clinical Issues Section Chair

Carsi Hughes, Ph.D., Placement Chair

Michele Womontree, Psy.D. South Central Region

Chris Bibby, Psy.D., Social Responsibility Chair

Patricia Pimental, Psy.D., Legislative Chair

Patricia Farrell, Ph.D. Past President, Healthcare Reimbursement Reform Sub-Committee Chair

Terri Schultz, Ph.D., Healthcare Reimbursement Reform Sub-Committee Chair

TMS Psychological Services, PC

Here is APA’s press release:

Here is the full report:

Click to access APA-FINAL-Report-7.2.15.pdf

Please see this letter, below, from APA Immediate Past President, Nadine Kaslow and APA President-elect, Susan McDaniel:

“Dear Members,

The APA Board of Directors commissioned Mr. David Hoffman of Sidley Austin to do a thorough and independent review related to allegations of a relationship the APA and Bush Administration related to the use of abusive interrogation techniques during the War on Terror. The report was recently received confidentially by Council who were in the process of providing recommendations to the Board when it was leaked to the New York Times. We had planned on a public release this coming week after Council’s input, but we have now posted the complete report on the APA website along with a press release that includes the Board’s initial recommendations. The supporting documents will be made available on our website this weekend.

The conclusions of the Independent Review report are deeply disturbing. Mr. Hoffman found evidence of an ongoing pattern of collusion between a small group of APA representatives and the Department of Defense. The Hoffman report states that the intent of the individuals who participated in the collusion was to “curry favor” with the Defense Department, and that may have enabled the government’s use of abusive interrogation techniques. As a result, the 2005 PENS report became a document based at least as much on the desires of the DoD as on the needs of the psychology profession and the APA’s commitment to human rights. Mr. Hoffman did not find evidence of collusion with the CIA or in the 2002 change to our Code of Ethics.

The Hoffman report clearly writes a difficult chapter in our organization’s history. We sincerely apologize for the actions, policies and lack of independence from governmental influence detailed in the report. Our members, our organization, our profession, and the public expected and deserved better. We have announced a series of corrective actions related to policies and procedures to strengthen our organization and demonstrate our commitment to ethics and human rights.

We realize it is a lengthy document, but encourage you to read the full report. Although the Executive Summary thoroughly overviews the findings, the specific details that provide the background (emails and interview data) are in the actual document. Reading the full document will help you to better understand how Mr. Hoffman came to his conclusions.

As troubling as the findings are, it is important that they have come to light so we can address them in a systematic and thoughtful way. As a result of the report, there will be significant changes in the organization, in terms of both policies and procedures. Dr. Stephen Behnke is no longer an employee of APA as a result of the findings in the Hoffman report, and other personnel actions are under consideration.

APA as an organization is a tremendous force for good in the world. Our members and our staff include so many talented, committed, and ethical psychologists. Our task now is to use what we have learned to ensure that something like this can never happen again, to return to a focus on our core values in everything we do, and to work to regain the trust of both our members and the public.

The months ahead will be very challenging for the association. We have much work ahead of us to address the findings of the report and to move toward healing. Nothing will ever undo what was done in the past, and we cannot deny that it is a stain on the honor of “Psychology,” but we must and we will return to our roots to rebuild a new organization of which all of us can be proud. With your patience, support and engagement, we truly believe that we can come through this painful time an even stronger organization.


Drs. Nadine Kaslow and Susan McDaniel

Ms. Adams

Members Only Archives – Illinois Psychological Association

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