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Letter to IPA Members Regarding the Hoffman Report

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 www.apa.org. 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: http://www.apa.org/independent-review/APA-FINAL-Report-7.2.15.pdf. 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: cliffsaper@gmail.com. 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 (http://www.apa.org/independent-review/index.aspx), 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:


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