Interrogation Report

Report From the Task Force Report on Psychologist's Role in Interrogation

Division 56 has been concerned about the question of psychologists’ role in interrogations since it was founded in 2006. The first division President, Judie Alpert, charged member, Nnamdi Pole to Chair a task force to “examine psychologist’s role in interrogation from the perspective of trauma” and report back to the Division Executive Committee.  Task Force members included Julian D. Ford, Sue Grand, Ibrahim Kira, Gil Reyes, Riccardo Rivas, and Morgan Sammons.

The task force was not empowered to conduct the kind of investigation described in the Hoffman Report.  For example, it did not have the power to obtain e-mail correspondence or to interview relevant officials. Instead, it was limited to media reports, a few documents disclosed by the federal government, and the scholarly literature. It is important to note that much of the task force’s work took place at a time when the federal government was denying or refusing to comment on much of what was being alleged about America’s involvement in harsh interrogations. Furthermore, the task force was careful to maintain a scope within its relevant expertise (i.e., trauma psychology) without wading deeply into the controversies that were engulfing the larger APA with respect to ethics and other matters. These matters were considered extremely important but unfortunately beyond the scope of a single APA division.

In December 2008, the task force completed its work and delivered its report. Its main conclusions were “that some of the interrogation procedures ascribed to the United States military and intelligence agencies including but not limited to waterboarding, humiliation, and painful stress positions have been empirically/credibly associated with traumatic stress both to the interrogated and the interrogator.” The full report also provides 10 recommendations based on the work of the task force.