Revisiting the Ethics Case of Dr. John Leso

My new commentary in the peer-reviewed, open-access Journal of Social and Political Psychology offers a thorough examination of the seemingly inexplicable decision by the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Office not to pursue action against psychologist John Leso – despite his documented role in the abusive treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Commitments the APA Should Make Today

It is reasonable to expect that the soon-to-be-released Hoffman Report will provide further evidence of grave collusion between the American Psychological Association and government agencies involved in the torture and abuse of war-on-terror detainees. This is an opportune time for the APA’s leadership to commit to specific actions if this indeed proves to be the case.

Where Have All the Members Gone?

Milton Strauss was a member of the American Psychological Association for almost fifty years. His recent resignation is further evidence that the APA’s leadership has failed its members and the profession.

Fugitive Facts Escape from APA Headquarters

As they wait for an investigator’s report, APA leaders claim that they’ve already refuted allegations of collusion in the Bush Administration’s abusive “enhanced interrogation program.” Such pretense is a disservice to APA members, to the profession as a whole, and to the public at large.

The APA's Disappearing History

Amid mounting evidence that the American Psychological Association colluded with the CIA in protecting the Bush Administration’s abusive “enhanced interrogation program,” it appears that someone has been steadily removing valuable, relevant content from the APA website. Perhaps it’s true after all: idle hands are indeed the devil’s workshop.

The APA Relied on the CIA for Ethical Guidance

Last week’s release of previously undisclosed emails provides further evidence of the American Psychological Association’s extensive and secret involvement with the CIA and White House in crafting ethics policies that permitted psychologists to participate in abusive “war on terror” detention and interrogation operations.

The APA and Guantanamo: Actions, Not Words

APA leaders have an abysmal track record when it comes to meaningful action that runs counter to the Pentagon’s own policies on detention and interrogation operations. Time and again in these situations, the APA has trumpeted its commitment to psychology’s do-no-harm ethics but then retreated into the shadows when those principled words required principled actions.

Collusion? Where the APA Investigator Should Look

There have been many allegations that the American Psychological Association colluded with the Bush Administration to support the use of psychologists in abusive detention and interrogation operations. APA’s standard response has followed the CIA’s unofficial motto: “Admit nothing. Deny everything. Make counter-accusations.” But now an investigation is finally underway.

Rejecting "Torture Tolerance-Lite"

In their joint discounting of government-sponsored brutality, Cheney’s torture tolerance and Obama’s torture tolerance-lite represent a formidable front against calls for criminal prosecutions and justice.

Cast Into the Depths: Perilous Waters for the APA

The APA’s salvation begins with letting go of its stubborn denials of any connection to the Bush Administration's program of torture and abuse, its self-righteous assertions that it has always prohibited psychologists from participating in torture, and its false assurances that it will take assertive action against any members implicated in detainee mistreatment.

Dear Dr. Kaslow: I Too Am "Outraged, Saddened and Pained"

The president of the American Psychological Association has responded to the Senate report on CIA torture with a letter in the New York Times. Dr. Kaslow wrote that she was “outraged, saddened and pained that two psychologists allegedly devised and engaged in brutal interrogation methods.” I certainly share those feelings, but Dr. Kaslow should also widen her gaze.

The Complicity of Psychologists in CIA Torture

This week’s long-awaited Senate report provides gruesome details of the torture and abuse that took place at black site prisons as part of the CIA’s brutal post-9/11 detention and interrogation program. The key involvement of two psychologists in designing and implementing the program raises broad issues and unanswered questions for the profession of psychology.

Building a Racially Just Society: Psychological Insights

Michael Brown’s tragic death, the anguish of his family, and the turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri, are all salient reminders that the longstanding and seemingly intractable realities of unequal treatment, circumstance, and opportunity for African Americans – and for other communities of color – pose a difficult yet increasingly urgent challenge.

James Risen vs. the American Psychological Association

Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter James Risen has a new bestseller, "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War." With access to previously undisclosed emails, he provides a disturbing account of collusion between the American Psychological Association and the CIA. The APA's response to the book fails to rebut Risen's key claims and evidence.

New Evidence Links CIA to APA's "War on Terror" Ethics

In responding to critics' concerns, the American Psychological Association's leadership has repeatedly denied any collaboration with the military or intelligence agencies that engaged in detainee torture and abuse. But where the truth actually lies just became much clearer with the publication of James Risen’s new book, "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War."

Predators, Reapers, and Psychology’s Do-No-Harm Ethics

Because drone warfare has profound psychological effects on many different levels, it raises critical questions for members of our profession, including questions about the do-no-harm ethics of psychologists' participation in drone-related operations and research.

Complicity: Psychology and War on Terror Abuses

While all Americans should be disturbed by findings leaked from the Senate report on the CIA’s brutal post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, our nation’s psychologists should be especially troubled by this one: “Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and were central figures in the program’s operation.”

Misplaced Priorities at the APA: Expediency Over Ethics

The American Psychological Association recently decided to forgo disciplinary action against Guantanamo psychologist John Leso. This case illuminates in full measure the APA’s disturbing post-9/11 decision to embrace the burgeoning U.S. “war on terror” national security agenda at the expense of our profession’s do-no-harm ethical principles.

Cartoon: APA Weighs the Evidence

The Ethics Office of the American Psychological Association recently closed a longstanding ethics complaint against Dr. John Leso without taking any disciplinary action — despite extensive documentation of his involvement in cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment at Guantanamo. I offer my perspective in the form of a cartoon.

APA Fails to Sanction Psychologist in GTMO Torture Case

Because Dr. Leso’s documented actions so clearly violated psychological ethics and because this abuse of psychological expertise was undertaken at the behest of governmental authorities, this case represents a landmark test of the independence of psychological ethics and professional standards from governmental and institutional pressures.

Psychologist Group Raises Concerns about APA Ethics Decision

A letter from Psychologists for Social Responsibility raises key questions about the American Psychological Association's disturbing decision to close an ethics complaint against Guantanamo military psychologist John Leso without formal charges, despite his documented involvement in brutal detention and interrogation operations.

Psychology's Newest Joke: Not Very Funny

Yet again, on matters of torture, ethics, and accountability the world's largest psychological association has taken a step in the wrong direction.

A Psychologist’s Deceptions about Prison Abuse in California

The head of California’s prison system, where a hunger strike is now entering its ninth week, is a psychologist with over thirty years of training and experience. But despite belonging to a profession that prioritizes the promotion of human welfare, Dr. Jeffrey Beard has chosen to repeatedly misrepresent the seriousness and legitimacy of the striking prisoners’ concerns.

Hawaiian Mind Games: APA Fiddles While Psychology Burns

Psychologists designed, implemented, supervised, and provided ethical cover for CIA and U.S. military “war on terror” abuses. As a result, the APA has faced repeated calls to take action to prevent future abuses by members of the profession. But APA leaders have responded with empty talk and feeble resolutions. Last week’s vacuous exercise was the latest example.

A Psychologist's Guantanamo Nightmare

This glimpse into an imagined dark future reflects the failure of psychology’s leaders to adequately defend the profession’s ethical commitment to doing no harm. What has already happened cannot be changed, but there are alternative paths forward. The most promising one for my profession requires dedicated and unflinching efforts directed toward accountability and reform.

Psychologists and Torture: Accountability Still Awaits

The Constitution Project's Task Force Report on Detainee Treatment documents that psychologists were involved in the design and implementation of interrogation techniques that constituted torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. A serious and thorough accounting is long overdue and indispensable in order to restore the ethical foundations of the profession.

Guantánamo and the APA: Where Accountability Goes to Die

Dozens of prisoners at Guantánamo – the vast majority innocent of any terrorist involvement – are now starving themselves to death. Many have suffered not only from indefinite detention, they have also been the victims of horrific physical and psychological abuse often rising to the level of torture – at the hands of individuals who have never been held accountable.

PsySR Open Letter on Guantanamo Hunger Strike

Psychologists for Social Responsibility has released an Open Letter sent to Secretary of Defense Hagel expressing deep concern about the ongoing hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay. With no end in sight, the letter calls for immediate action to address this increasingly desperate situation in a manner that respects the concerns and autonomy of the detainees.

Neuroscience, Special Forces, and Ethics at Yale

Controversy recently erupted over a proposed DoD-funded center for operational neuroscience that would have brought U.S. Special Forces to Yale for interview training. Many questions remain unanswered, and the episode brings much needed attention to the morally fraught and murky terrain where partnerships between university researchers and national security agencies lie.

Psychological Ethics & National Security: Letter to the APA

Yesterday the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology sent a letter to the American Psychological Association’s governing body. Given psychologists’ involvement in abusive and torturous interrogations at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, the letter offers a set of recommendations for establishing a firm ethical foundation for psychologists working in national security settings.

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