I am a psychologist in Toledo, Ohio, and one of the people who was involved in 2009-2010 regarding filing an ethics complaint against Dr. Larry James, Dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University. The complaint was based on information regarding Dr. James’s role as Chief Psychologist at Guantanamo in early 2003, when some of the worst abuses were occurring.

The Ohio Board of Psychology rejected our 50-page complaint with one sentence: “It has been determined that we are unable to proceed to formal action in this matter.” We then filed suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on April 13, 2011, in an attempt to force the Board to investigate. The judge has yet to rule on any motions in the case.

I’m taking this opportunity to bring you up to date as I am again asking for your help. A group of psychologists from around the country, the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, are continuing to attempt to hold the American Psychological Association (APA) responsible for the official document that APA produced which condoned the role of psychologists in national security interrogations.

The APA’s 2005 Report of the Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS Report) is the defining document endorsing psychologists’ engagement in detainee interrogations. Despite evidence that psychologists – including APA members – were involved in abusive interrogations, the PENS Task Force concluded that psychologists have a critical role to play in keeping interrogations “safe, legal, ethical and effective.” With this stance the APA, the largest association of psychologists worldwide, became the sole major professional healthcare organization supporting member involvement in the interrogation of detainees held under conditions that violate international law.

The APA PENS Report continues to be cited as a resource for ethical decision-making, as in current policy memos supporting psychologists’ involvement in the assessment and exploitation of individual detainee “vulnerabilities” for intelligence purposes. The DoD continues to disseminate the PENS Report in its instructions to psychologists involved in intelligence operations.

In addition, six of the nine voting members of the PENS Task Force were on the payroll of the U.S. military and/or intelligence agencies at the time of the Task Force, and five of these six had served in chains of command that had been accused of the kinds of abuses that had led to the Task Force’s creation (including Larry James). As a result, their positions on three crucial issues were inappropriately influenced by their employment status: (1) their support for the participation of military psychologists in national security interrogations, (2) their accommodation of the Bush Administration’s new, permissive, legal definition of torture, in contrast to the stricter definition of torture in international human rights law, and (3) their support for confidentiality of Task Force process and participation.

The Report is a deeply flawed, misleading, and “made-to-order” document, just like the torture memos. It has caused grievous harm to the reputation of psychology in the United States as an ethical profession and has compromised the integrity of the relationship between professional psychology and the security sector. Ethical practice as described in the PENS Report conflicts with the international human rights standards that ought to be the benchmark against which professional codes of ethics are judged. This is especially true for organizations such as the APA, which is an accredited NGO to the United Nations.

As health professionals, social scientists, social justice and human rights scholars and activists, and concerned military and intelligence professionals, we therefore declare that the PENS report is illegitimate. We call upon the American Psychological Association to take immediate steps to annul the Report.

To date, over 34 organizations have signed the petition for annulment, as well as over 2,000 individuals. I am asking for your support in this action by signing on to this petition calling for an annulment of the PENS Report at (the names of the organizational and individual signers are available at I would also ask that you share this email with any of your colleagues who would be concerned about the role of psychologists in abuse and torture.