03 Aug

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective



Hundreds of businesses including eBay and Nestle back federal rules to cut emissions and encourage a switch away from coal to renewable energy

US President Barack Obama at a solar power kiosk at the Power Africa Innovation Fair in Nairobi, Kenya, during his visit last week.

US President Barack Obama at a solar power kiosk at the Power Africa Innovation Fair in Nairobi, Kenya, during his visit last week. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of businesses including eBay, Nestle and General Mills have issued their support for Barack Obama’s clean power plan, billed as the strongest action ever on climate change by a US president.

The rules, announced on Monday, are designed to cut emissions from power plants and have been strengthened in terms of the long-term ambition as originally proposed by the president last year, but slightly weakened in the short-term in a concession to states reliant on highly-polluting coal.

White House adviser Brian Deese said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules represented the “biggest step that any single president has made to curb the carbon pollution that is fuelling climate change”. The US is the world’s second biggest carbon emitter after China.

The rules are expected to trigger a “tsunami” of legal opposition from states and utilities who oppose the plans, which will significantly boost wind and solar power generation and force a switch away from coal power. Republican presidential hopefuls moved quickly to voice their opposition, saying they would be economically damaging.

But 365 businesses and investors wrote to 29 state governors to strongly support the rules, which they said would benefit the economy and create jobs………………….

Barack Obama announces his US clean power plan


Republican presidential candidate said the debate was a device used by liberals to appease ‘environmentalist billionaires and their campaign donations’

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz compared global warming believers to ‘flat-Earthers’. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has stated that he doesn’t believe in the science behind global warming. In a forum hosted by Freedom Partners on Sunday evening, a key cog in the political network of the Koch Brothers, the Texas senator stated that “the data and facts don’t support” that global warming is occurring.

The moderator of the forum described Cruz’s stance as “full out denial”. The Texas senator did not disagree with that characterisation. Cruz has previously compared those who believe in global warming to “flat-Earthers.”

Cruz also criticised the new regulations, set to be unveiled by the Obama administration on Monday, to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. To the Republican presidential candidate, these new rules were a sign that the Democratic party had abandoned union members for “California environmentalist billionaires and their campaign donations”, in a clear reference to hedge fund mogul and environmentalist Tom Steyer…………………


Airwars project details ‘credible reports’ of at least 459 non-combatant deaths, including 100 children, in 52 air strikes

A US-led air strike in October in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State. Chris Woods, of Airwars, said: ‘You can’t have an air war of this intensity without civilians getting killed or injured.’

A US-led air strike in October in Kobani, Syria, during fighting between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State. Chris Woods, of Airwars, said: ‘You can’t have an air war of this intensity without civilians getting killed or injured.’ Photograph: Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images

The air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has killed more than 450 civilians, according to a new report, even though the US-led coalition has so far acknowledged just two non-combatant deaths.

More than 5,700 air strikes have been launched in the campaign, which nears its first anniversary this Saturday, with its impact on civilians largely unknown.

Now Airwars, a project by a team of independent journalists, is publishing details of 52 strikes with what it believes are credible reports of at least 459 non-combatant deaths, including those of more than 100 children.

It says there is a “worrying gulf between public and coalition positions” on the campaign’s toll on civilians…………………. However, over six months, Airwars examined 118 air strikes and identified 52 that Woods said “warrant urgent investigation”. Airwars believes there are strong indications of civilian deaths, according to multiple, reliable sources, from these attacks.

Airwars used international and local news reports in Arabic and English, social media postings including photos and videos, and the findings of monitoring groups on the ground. They cross-referenced these with coalition military reports………………….


Wilson tells the New Yorker magazine he has been deemed ‘unemployable’ but does not discuss Michael Brown shooting directly in wide-ranging interview

Darren Wilson
Darren Wilson told the New Yorker he had not read the government’s report on Ferguson: ‘I’m not going to keep living in the past … It’s out of my control.’ Photograph: AP

Darren Wilson has attempted to return to work as a police officer since leaving his job in Ferguson, Missouri, amid the furore over his fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old, it emerged on Monday.

Wilson said he applied for several police positions elsewhere but was turned down due to concerns that he was a liability. “It’s too hot an issue, so it makes me unemployable,” he told the New Yorker, during interviews for a profile published as the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death approaches.

The 29-year-old said he had resigned from the Ferguson police department days after a grand jury in St Louis declined to prosecute him for killing Brown, in a sharply contested incident that led to months of unrest in the city and protests around the US………………….



Away from the xenophobic hysteria aimed at desperate immigrants are people taking steps to help newcomers and promote the good things they bring

Migrants at the port of Piraeus near Athens disembark from a ferry from the Greek island of Lesbos.

Migrants at the port of Piraeus near Athens disembark from a ferry from the Greek island of Lesbos. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

Judging from the headlines, it sometimes seems no one in Europe wants to help refugees. Record numbers are arriving in Italy and Greece this year, and yet other European governments have agreed to share less than a fifth of them. Hungary is building a wall to keep them out. For the same reason, France has sealed its border with Italy. In Greece, for much of this year there were doubts over the legality of giving a refugee a lift.

But on a local level, there are thousands of people across the continent who are braving the vitriol of their peers, and filling the void left by the politicians. Many Europeans back their governments’ stance but their xenophobia masks another phenomenon – that of a huge drive by ordinary citizens to welcome refugees, rather than reject them. From the Hungarian volunteers providing round-the-clock support to Syrian and Afghani newcomers, to the Spanish priests assisting migrants with paperwork, here are seven movements from across Europe that are fighting for refugees’ rights……………………


As Japan prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear attack, survivors ponder how to continue warning of the horrors of nuclear war

Sunao Tsuboi on Miyuki Bridge, where he was photographed three hours after the bombing of Hiroshima.

Sunao Tsuboi on Miyuki Bridge, where he was photographed three hours after the bombing of Hiroshima. Photograph: Alamy

It is not as if Sunao Tsuboi needs another reminder of his violent encounter, as a 20-year-old university student, with a “living hell on earth”. The facial scars he has carried for seven decades are proof enough. But, as if to remind himself of the day he became a witness to the horrors of nuclear warfare, he removes a a black-and-white photograph and points to the shaved head of a young man looking away from the lens.

“That’s me,” he says. “We were hoping we would find some sort of medical help, but there was no treatment available, and no food or water. I thought I had reached the end.”

The location is Miyuki Bridge, Hiroshima, three hours after the Enola Gay, a US B-29 bomber, dropped a 15-kiloton nuclear bomb on the city on the morning of 6 August 1945. Between 60,000 and 80,000 people were killed instantly; in the months that followed the death toll rose to 140,000.

In the photo, one of only a handful of surviving images taken in Hiroshima that day, Tsuboi is sitting on the road with several other people, their gaze directed at the gutted buildings around them. To one side, police officers douse schoolchildren with cooking oil to help soothe the pain of their burns…………….


A humpback whale and her newborn calf scooped the first prize in National Geographic’s annual photography competition. More than 17,000 entries were submitted, whittled down to three winners and seven recognised on merit


Two boys trying to catch a duck at the stream of the waterfall in Nong Khai province, Thailand

Photograph: Sarah Wouters


Amid diminishing funds and massive displacement, and with little sign of the international community heeding calls from exiled Yazidis to make their homeland secure, is Iraq becoming a forgotten humanitarian crisis?

Khatwn Mirza, with her son and one of her daughters, in Sulaymaniyah. Her husband was killed when he went to find water after the family had fled to Mount Sinjar.

Khatwn Mirza, with her son and one of her daughters, in Sulaymaniyah. Her husband was killed when he went to find water after the family had fled to Mount Sinjar. Photograph: Rawsht Twana/Christian Aid

Khatwn Mirza was seven months pregnant when Islamic State militants stormed Sinjar.

In the early hours of 3 August 2014, facing little resistance from the Kurdish forces, Isis began a killing spree that would last for days and result in the death of hundreds of people, and the abduction of scores more.

At 8am that day, Mirza and her husband, who are Yazidis, gathered together a few belongings from their home in the south of the ancient city and, with their two young daughters, fled.

The family walked for six days up Mount Sinjar, hoping to to find some protection from the carnage below.

“I was crying continuously and I was thinking that we won’t make it and all of us would die here,” Mirza, 30, says through a translator.

With temperatures almost topping 50C, no shade and very little food and water, Mirza’s daughters became dehydrated.

“My husband was very sad when he looked at the children with no food or water. So he decided to go to find some water,” says Mirza, cuddling the baby boy she gave birth to two months after the siege. But her husband did not come back. His body was later found in a valley. “We waited 15 days for him to come back but after seeing no sign from him we came down the mountain.”

Swfiyan Seido and his wife Nasrin stayed on the mountain with their three children for seven days.

“My family, sister and nephew, we all got in the car. We took with us some small things, blankets and stuff we could put in the car and we drove towards the mountain. It was really hot and there were thousands of families rushing towards the top of the mountain. There was no water or shade and very limited food,” says Seido, who was training to be a lawyer.


Other News & Analysis

Trial to start for white Charlotte officer who fatally shot unarmed black man

Two New Mexico churches rocked by small explosions just 20 minutes apart

‘I wonder if we are in a prison or a torture chamber’: summer is hell in Iran’s Evin jail



  • For a more just and equitable future all First Nation people must refuse modern treaties that affirm Canadian rights above our own

  • rally

    The treaty the government is pushing would relieve the federal government of its legal responsibility to people still suffering from generations of colonization, violence and poverty. Photograph: Mark Klotz/Flickr

  • Treaties often dictate relationships between indigenous peoples of North America and the governments that control their ancestral lands. In the US, Congress maintained an official policy of negotiating treaties with Indian nations until 1871, and kept up a not-so-official policy of breaking them long after. In Canada, treaty-making continued into the 20th century. In the province of British Columbia (BC), however, there are almost no treaties between First Nations and Canada, because the provincial government believed primitive natives could not have any claim to the land. Today, this means that First Nations hold unextinguished legal claims to a landmass larger than Texas.

    But the Canadian government wants that to change. There are 64 First Nations in the midst of a treaty process aimed at extinguishing all present and future Native claims to land. I’m a member of the Tsq’escenemc, or People of Broken Rock, one of 17 bands of the 10,000-strong Secwepemc Nation, and one of four Northern Secwepemc bands currently negotiating our own treaty with the federal government.

    The “deal” currently on the table for the Northern Secwepemc pays $37.5m (in US dollars) and returns roughly 174,000 acres of crown land in exchange for an end to all claims to almost 14m acres of traditional territories. To put this into perspective, the treaty returns just a hair over 1% of our land and pays $2.74 per acre for the rest. This is a deal sadly reminiscent of the 47 cents an acre offered to California Indians in 1963. According to a major realty company, price per acre ranges in British Columbia from $48,510 for farmland to about $777 for bare land in the North. There is no corner of British Columbia where land sells for $2.74 an acre.

    Needless to say, the four Secwepemc bands must cast their ballots against this treaty at the planned October vote so that they and their descendants will survive as sovereign and self-determining nations.

03 Aug

United States Wars, News and Casualties

.11142Afghan girl

War News

Iraq News

Federal Police kills 11 ISIS elements, dismantles 47 explosives east of Ramadi

( Anbar – Federal Police Captain Raed Shakir Jawdat announced on Monday the killing of 11 members of ISIS…

Tajik Prosecutor reveals the death of 100 Tajik fighters in the ranks of ISIS

( Baghdad – The Prosecutor in Tajikistan, Yusuf Ahmed Zouda, revealed on Saturday the killing of 100 Tajik fighters…

ISIS forces its elements to use drugs to control them, says Tigris Operations

( Diyala – The commander of the Tigris Operations Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir al-Zaidi confirmed on Monday, that ISIS forces…

2 snipers killed, 50 IEDs dismantled in security operation east of…

( – A source in the Federal Police announced on Sunday, that two ISIS snipers were killed, while emphasized…

08/02/15 NPR: 25 Years In Iraq, With No End In Sight

08/02/15 CSMonitor: PKK suicide attack kills two Turkish soldiers, wounds 31 others, officials say

08/02/15 iraqinews: No truth to US intentions to establish Sunni region, says US Ambassador

08/02/15 iraqinews: 5 ISIS elements killed west of Samarra

08/02/15 ibtimes: Turkish Airstrikes In Iraq Target Kurdish PKK Militants, Not Civilians, Military Says

Afghanistan News




Afghanistan Casualties, Exclusive of Civilians

Continue Reading »

02 Aug

American Psychological Association, Torture and its need to protect psychologists above all else

“The Hoffman Report documents a wide range of improper behaviors involving conflicts of interest, improper handling of ethics complaints to protect psychologists, issuing misleading statements that hid true motives, to name but a few, as well as activities related to torture and violations of human rights.”

For Background Read: The Complete Hoffman Report

Apology from Ronald F. Levant: Responsible for the establishment of the PENS report (APA whitewash)

Dear Colleagues:
In the wake of the Hoffman Report, we have been thrown into a deeply painful and anguishing crisis as an organization and as individuals. Such a crisis requires great efforts at soul searching. As I have absorbed the Report over the past few weeks and engaged in my own soul searching, my thinking about my role in APA’s interrogation scandal has evolved. It is clear to me now that serious mistakes were made, and I accept responsibility for those that I have made.
First I want to acknowledge that I was wrong about many things regarding PENS. Chief among them I did not take the warnings from the Coalition for Ethical Psychology seriously during 2005-06. I also regret the documented efforts to oppose the Coalition in myriad ways and to prevent them from having a place at the table over the next 9 years, although I was not a part of that effort, having left APA governance in 2006. In retrospect, it is clear that they were right, and I apologize to them for not taking their concerns more seriously.
My greatest personal regret is placing too much trust in several APA staff members and assuming that they were sharing complete information with the Board. I truly believed that APA had not colluded with the DOD to enable torture. That belief was shattered by emails that I saw for the first time in the Hoffman materials revealing that some APA staff made deliberate decisions to not share significant information on their government contacts with the Board. I was shocked and felt truly betrayed to learn this, as I had not been aware of the coordination between APA and DOD. It is clear in retrospect that I should have been much more skeptical of the staff. However, this is not a simple matter due to the nature of our roles in governance as volunteers who usually have full-time responsibilities elsewhere, either in jobs or practice, and most do not live in Washington, DC. APA is a complex company which combines a membership organization, a large scholarly publishing operation, and real estate holdings, and there is no way that volunteers could become as knowledgeable as staff about matters under their purview. Members of governance must place significant trust in and receive guidance from a knowledgeable staff. The central problem as I see it is to find mechanisms to provide ironclad assurance that governance members are provided with complete and accurate information.
The Hoffman report correctly stated that I was responsible for establishing the PENS Task Force and participated in selecting its members. At the time I was persuaded by the rationale that to develop guidance for military psychologists, it would be best to have an abundance of military psychologists on the Task Force because they knew what they were faced with. In retrospect it would have been much better to have greater diversity of backgrounds and perspectives on the PENS task force. I very much regret not having sought to include more members without government connections. I apologize for not having done so.
It was also a serious mistake for the Board to declare an emergency to adopt the PENS report. We should have resisted the pressure of APA staff, particularly the public affairs personnel, who wanted the report out quickly to address critical stories in the press Had we waited six weeks to have a full Council debate in August, 2005 the serious flaws in the PENS report might have become apparent. I apologize for this mistake.
Perhaps more importantly for the future, I also deeply regret not having questioned the culture, ideology, and practices at the time that allowed staff to manage and in some cases to manipulate elected officers of APA. It is clear now that the Board was caught up in Group Think, an extremely destructive organizational problem that has been shown to have played a key role in the Bay of Pigs and Challenger disasters. I include myself in this process every bit as much as I do others, maybe even more since I was APA President. I sincerely regret not having demanded more transparency and less of an internal-protective stance by the APA leadership in the staff and governance in order to protect APA. Mr. Hoffman’s report is accurate in that respect: APA staff, not the elected leadership, frequently controlled the data and the dialogue and, with regard to PENS, deliberately misled us. We need to deconstruct the ideology behind this culture and rebuild APA from the ground up.
Ronald F. Levant

Ronald F. Levant, Ed.D., A.B.P.P.
Professor, Collaborative Program in Counseling Psychology
Department of Psychology
The University of Akron

American Psychological Association (APA) Asinine  Response to the Hoffman Report
When the American Psychological Association (APA) announced that it had engaged a law firm
to conduct an independent review of the controversies surrounding psychologists’ involvement in
national security interrogations, we looked forward to a thorough and careful report that would lay out
the facts objectively, undistorted by the strong opinions of those involved in the controversies. Even
more than others, we were eager for the full truth to be uncovered, given our unstinting opposition to
torture, our efforts to eliminate abusive interrogation tactics and harsh detention conditions, and our
commitment over many years to uphold the highest standards of professional practice. We were
therefore shocked to read a report that, far from being objective, is written as a rhetoric-laden
prosecutorial brief. It repeatedly ignores or distorts key facts, draws inferences that are contradicted by
the evidence or based on guesswork about motives, fails to include contrary analyses and conclusions
reported by other sources, commingles several charges on the assumption that the combination will be
persuasive even when the evidence supports none of them, and imposes its own views and opinions
about policy issues.
The report’s prosecutorial bias and grandstanding rhetoric may not be surprising given the
background of its author, David Hoffman, as a prosecutor with a past interest in holding public office.
However, we were surprised and deeply disappointed by the APA’s rush to judgment when it received
the report. The report is dated July 2, 2015. According to Drs. Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner, two of
those who have been most vocal in attacking the APA’s work in supporting psychologists’ appropriate
practice in areas of national security, they were invited to meet with the APA Board on that day and
provided recommendations for the organization on how to proceed. However, at no time did the APA
Board or the Special Committee overseeing the investigation contact any of those attacked by the report
for their views. Nor could the Board or the Special Committee have meaningfully taken the time to
review the report’s 528 pages, plus thousands of pages of attached documents, to test its conclusions.
Most of us learned about the report only when, after having been leaked to the New York Times, it was
reported in its July 10th edition.
Given the report’s obvious biases, some of which are detailed below, and the APA’s failure to
test its conclusions carefully, we urge the APA Council at its meeting on August 5th to take an approach
more in keeping with due process and the standards of our profession. We ask it to allow time for those
of us who devoted many years to ensuring humane conditions of confinement and to restraining and
ending the use of abusive interrogation tactics, at a time when many at high levels of government
supported their use, to present our perspective and the facts that support it, and to demonstrate in
detail the mistakes of fact, inferences and conclusions in Mr. Hoffman’s report.

The report’s bias is obvious in the opening pages of the Executive Summary. In its first two
pages, the summary devotes substantial space to the attacks against the APA’s actions – but no space to
the views of those who contributed to APA’s efforts to counter abusive interrogation methods. Instead,
it reports only that we tried to rebut the critics by calling them bullies and the attacks baseless. That
rhetorical tactic may be acceptable in an intentionally one-sided brief; it borders on unethical in an
objective report. An investigator working as an objective judge rather than a prosecutor would have
given fair treatment to our view and the facts that support it.
Those of us in the Department of Defense worked diligently, energetically and effectively – at
times putting our careers at risk – to prevent abusive interrogation methods and ensure humane
conditions of confinement. As the April 2005 report of the Army Surgeon General concludes, there is no
evidence that military psychologists participated in abusive interrogations and clear evidence that they
took appropriate action when they observed abuse. (We can speak from our knowledge only about the
military, not the CIA.) We also strove to have appropriate prohibitions codified, and worked with the
APA so that we could point to its guidelines to support our efforts. Our goal was, in fact, the opposite of
the goal that Mr. Hoffman so cavalierly infers from the facts he chooses to present. His conclusion that
we were complicit in enabling abusive methods is deeply offensive and incomprehensible to anyone
who lived through these events on a daily basis. Similarly, those of us in the APA worked hard to ensure
that the report issued by APA’s Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (the PENS
report) would help military psychologists advocate for explicit military prohibitions against abusive
techniques and ensure humane conditions of confinement.
These efforts succeeded: the PENS report states unequivocally that “[p]sychologists do not
engage in, direct, support, facilitate, or offer training in torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading
treatment” and that “[p]sychologists are alert to acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading
treatment and have an ethical responsibility to report these acts to the appropriate authorities.” (We
note that Mr. Hoffman’s Executive Summary, instead of quoting the guidelines, simply characterizes
them as “loose,” a characterization that falls apart in the face of their actual language.) To conclude that
the APA staff and others “colluded” with Department of Defense psychologists to write guidelines that
purposely left wiggle room for abusive interrogations is, again, incomprehensible to those who lived
through these events.
We recognize that many of those involved were strongly committed to opposing views on some
key policy issues, in particular whether psychologists should have withdrawn entirely from any
involvement in the interrogation process and whether the guidelines should have specified acceptable
and unacceptable interrogation techniques. We believed strongly then, as we do now, that the
involvement of psychologists prevented the use of abusive techniques, helped ensure humane
conditions of confinement in many instances, and sped up the codification of prohibitions against
abusive techniques. We also believe strongly that the PENS guidelines were well-crafted: they clearly
prohibit water-boarding and other forms of physical and mental abuse, without infringing on the
professional judgment of individual psychologists about the appropriateness of non-abusive
interrogation techniques in a specific circumstance. This approach to ethical guidelines is identical to
the approach taken by other professions in their guidelines, such as the American Bar Association Model
Rules of Professional Conduct.
Psychologists on both sides of these issues were equally opposed to abusive interrogations; they
differed about strategies, not goals. Mr. Hoffman picks sides, and then concludes that those on the
other side must have been trying to enable abuse, not stop it. As a politician, he has the right to choose
sides; as an objective investigator, he does not.
Mr. Hoffman took seven months to complete his report; it will take us some months to review it.
Once that review is complete, we will issue a report that we expect to show not only that Mr. Hoffman
reached unsupportable conclusions, but also that he does so in ways that violated his duty to consider
the evidence in an even-handed and objective manner.
Even an initial review, however, reveals a host of factual errors, unsupported inferences, and
policy opinions masquerading as fact-based conclusions. These flaws are disconcerting one by one;
cumulatively, they are outrageous.
To list only a few:
x The report distorts the APA’s obligation to serve all of its members, including those in the
military, into an effort to “curry favor” with the military. That phrase, which the report uses
repeatedly, is drawn directly from the language of those attacking the APA’s actions. For an
independent investigator to use such loaded rhetoric is reprehensible. In fact, the APA was
attempting to give military psychologists support that would actually be effective, rather than
counter-productive, for their efforts to end abusive interrogations and ensure humane
conditions of confinement.
x The report repeatedly draws inferences about motives that are unsupported by concrete
evidence. For example, it claims that Colonel Banks asked that e-mails be kept private because
we were engaged in underhanded collusion; in fact, Colonel Banks wanted to avoid the risk that
others would think he was speaking for the military, which he was not authorized to do. More
generally, Mr. Hoffman’s claims about the APA’s motives for “currying favor” with the military
are entirely implausible to anyone involved in the 2005 events.
x The report states as fact judgments about the role of APA staff that fall apart if one looks at the
role of staff in drafting communications, guiding discussions and making recommendations to
governance groups in other situations. Little about their role in these events differed from their
roles in many other policy discussions, as Mr. Hoffman could easily have discovered.
x Although the report relies heavily on those whose attacks led to the Special Committee’s
creation, it slights a series of reports that reach conclusions opposed to many of Mr. Hoffman’s.
These reports include the April 2005 report of the Army Surgeon General (the “Martinez-Lopez
report”), the November 2008 report of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the 2009
Department of Defense report ordered by President Obama (the “Walsh report”).
For example, after reviewing the role of the Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs) in
the interrogation process, the Martinez-Lopez report found “no indication that BSCT personnel
participated in abusive interrogation practices” and found “clear evidence that BSCT personnel
took appropriate action and reported any questionable activities when observed.” Following
President Obama’s executive order in 2009 to ensure that detainees were being held in
“conformity with…Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions,” the Walsh report
demonstrates both the positive impact of the PENS Report and the effectiveness of the BSCTs.
The report states that BSCTs “are charged with reporting any observed or suspected abuse
during the interrogation,” and the “BSCT function in this operational environment is a vital
resource for commanders.” It concluded by strongly recommending that the Department of
Defense “sustain the B[ehavioral] S[cience] C[onsultant] resource to ensure continued mission
support….” The Senate report describes the initiative of a psychologist and a psychiatrist, at a
time in 2002 when harsh interrogation methods were sanctioned at high levels of government,
to insert language opposing the use of those methods in a memo listing some of them. (When
Colonel Banks reviewed that memo, he responded that “[m]y strong recommendation is that
you do not use physical pressures.”) Mr. Hoffman provides a host of reasons, none convincing,
to discount these reports or slight their findings.
We do not assert that, at a time of great stress and much dispute over how to handle detainees,
we managed our collaboration to prevent abusive interrogations as effectively and adroitly as, with the
benefit of hindsight, we might have. Nor do we assert that the APA’s internal processes were ideal. But
Mr. Hoffman’s attack upon our motives and goals is an egregious distortion in its conclusions and
irresponsible in its methods, and his recurring theme that we tried to enable rather than halt abuse
turns the truth on its head. We believe, as others have stated, that the report is a “gross
mischaracterization” of the “intentions, goals and actions” of those involved. We are carefully
evaluating all legal options.
L. Morgan Banks, Ph.D.
Debra Dunivin, Ph.D., ABPP
Larry C. James, Ph.D., ABPP
Russ Newman, Ph.D., JD


The Hoffman Report And the American Psychological Association:
Meeting the Challenge of Change
Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP
Excerpted from Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling: A Practical Guide, Fifth Edition by Kenneth S. Pope and Melba J.T. Vasquez. Forthcoming January 2016. Copyright © 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
I created this site to be fully accessible for people with disabilities; please follow this link to change text size, color, or contrast; please follow this link for other accessibility functions for those with visual, mobility, and other disabilities
If I value transparency, it is a good idea for me to practice it, so in the interest of transparency and self-disclosure of my perspective (or potential bias), it is important that readers know up front that I resigned from APA in 2008 over changes APA had been making in its approach to ethics. The Hoffman Report discusses these changes. I wrote that “I respectfully disagree with these changes; I am skeptical that they will work as intended; and I believe that they may lead to far-reaching unintended consequences.” Both my letter of resignation online at and my articles and chapters (Pope, 2011a, 2011b, 2014; Pope & Gutheil, 2009) present my beliefs along with the evidence and reasoning that in my opinion support them.
In 2014, the American Psychological Association (APA) made a monumental move toward more transparency. The organization took a courageous step unthinkable at any time in its 121 year history: It opened up to a former federal prosecutor, giving him access to all documents and personnel. APA hired David Hoffman and his colleagues at Sidley Austin LLP to conduct “thorough” and “definitive” investigation to document “what happened and why” (Hoffman et al., 2015, p. 1).
The Hoffman Report—online at—set off an ethical earthquake. The investigation uncovered emails and other documents containing linguistic tricks that mislead and manipulate, logical fallacies in ethical reasoning, biased ethical judgment, hypocrisy, and creative cheating that this book’s five chapters focusing on critical thinking in ethics prepare us to recognize and avoid. These uncovered documents confront us with the challenge of change. The challenge brings questions. What changes, if any, need to occur in ourselves as individuals, in APA as an organization, and in the larger professional community? What internal and external forces, if any, will block, weaken, delay, or divert needed change? How, if at all, can we respond effectively to forces that resist needed change? How do we assess whether apparent change is real and meaningful?
None of these questions comes with a simple answer we will all agree with. All come wrapped in complex puzzles of practicality, politics, and fundamental values. None of the questions allows us easy escape. How we answer them—or fail to answer them—will determine whether we bring about needed change. This article takes a look at the questions and challenges that the Hoffman Report has brought to our doorstep.
What Does the Hoffman Report Have To Do With Each of Us As An Individual APA Leader, Member, or Outsider?
What does the Report have to do with us? Our shared human tendency when scandal explodes is to blame bad apples: “It’s their fault! Maybe we made some well-intentioned mistakes, which we regret, but if you’re looking for the real cause of this mess, it’s them, not us.”). Bad apples come in three varieties: personnel, policies, and procedures. We toss the bad apples, find shiny new replacements, and think we’ve fixed the problem. Countless organizations make personnel moves (transfers, terminations, retirements that are forced or induced by hefty payments, and so on), vote to amend or replace policies, and create committees to cancel some procedures and issue new guidelines, finding only later that they’ve achieved little beyond good public relations and the illusion of needed change.
Or we can head into discrediting mode: “We chose the person we believed best suited to give us the definitive account of what happened, but he delivered a flawed report that is nowhere near definitive. He uncovered some damaging facts but we must bear in mind that he’s not a psychologist. He did the best he could without understanding our profession, our organization, our history, our culture, or the way we do things. He made questionable assumptions and got some key things wrong. After all, it’s just one outsider’s opinion.”
Answering the question “What does this have to do with us” requires us to move beyond our human tendency to deny, discredit, or dismiss what we do not want to know or be known. We may find that harder than usual in this case. The Hoffman Report documents years of improper behavior. But it also documents that for years APA as an organization and some APA defenders denied, discredited, or dismissed revelations of this improper behavior as they appeared in newspapers, professional journals, books, reports from human rights organizations, and other media. Changing habitual behavior that has settled into a familiar routine is rarely easy for any of us.
Moving beyond our shared tendency to shield ourselves from unwanted information and personal responsibility allows each of us to learn what the report has to do with us as an individual. If we can summon the courage and resolve to look without squinting or flinching away, the Hoffman Report can serve as an ethical mirror. When we take the time to read it in its entirety and deep detail, the report teaches us something about ourselves and helps us take a personal ethics inventory. When we take time to read the detailed report, we begin to see the complex relationship between what we did or failed to do and the events that the report documents. When we take time to read the report, it points the way to effective change, in ourselves and in our profession. If we set it aside unread or settle for second-hand summaries, we turn the ethics mirror to the wall and imagine a more personally flattering picture.
What Could Each of Us Have Done Differently?
Reading the Hoffman Report prepares us to struggle with one of its fundamental challenges: Answering the questions: What could I have done differently as an APA leader, member, or outsider? How does my answer to that question help me decide what to do from this point forward? No matter what our position or circumstance, each of us can think of things we might have done, or done better. Only the delusional can gaze into the Report’s mirror and see ethical perfection. Only those needing an ethics ophthalmologist will notice merely a handful of things they could and should have done or done differently over the days, weeks, months, and years covered in the Hoffman Report.
Struggling with this challenge is hard, often painful work. It takes time—not a sprint and perhaps not so much a marathon as a continuing daily run. And aren’t we all tempted to cheat, sleep in, or go easy on ourselves? We all know how to put denial, discrediting, and dismissing to work when searching for our own ethical disconnects, flaws, weaknesses, and violations. Politicians master this art of pseudo-self-examination.
We can use the Hoffman Report to hold ourselves personally accountable for all the things we might have done, or done differently. This puts us in a better position to join with others in our diverse communities from our small informal groups and networks to large national and international professional organizations to bring about needed meaningful change in our profession in all its diversity.
What Do We Want Our Ethics and Our Ethics Enforcement to Be?
The Hoffman Report challenges us to decide what kind of ethics each of us believes in and whether we are willing to be held accountable. A fundamental question is: Do we want professional ethics or guild ethics. Professional ethics protect the values that its members affirm as greater than self-interest and protect the public against misuse of professional power, expertise, and practice. Guild ethics place the interests of the guild and its members above the public interest, edge away from actual enforcement and accountability, and draw on skilled public relation to resemble professional ethics.
The Hoffman Report documents that for over 15 years, APA had turned its ethics policies and enforcement procedures toward protecting its members from public accountability. In the words of the report, APA “prioritized the protection of psychologists—even those who might have engaged in unethical behavior—above the protection of the public” (p. 63). The Association made this switch to “a highly permissive APA ethics policy based on strategy and PR, not ethics analysis” (p. 16) well before the detainee controversy, all the way back to the 1990s. The Report provides accounts of extraordinary interventions to undermine the process of adjudicating ethics complaints and protect high-profile or well-connected members dating back to the mid-1990s. Depriving people who file formal complaints of a fair hearing and a just resolution can serve guild interests but it can also encourage members and nonmembers alike to believe that voicing ethical questions or concerns that might reflect badly on individual members or damage the organization’s interests “will at best come to nothing” (Pope, 2015, p. 144).
The strategy of offering protection to psychologists, “even those who might have engaged in unethical behavior,” instead of professional ethics and accountability, was designed to keep members from leaving APA and to attract new members:
APA leaders had decided in the 1990s…that APA’s ethics policies and practices had been too aggressive against psychologists, and that a more protective and less antagonistic ethics program was appropriate. They wanted…much less emphasis on strict rules and robust enforcement of disciplinary complaints…. [A new ethics director] was hired specifically to pursue an ethics program that was more “educative,” and he fulfilled these goals. During his tenure [2000-2015], APA disciplinary adjudications plummeted, and the focus shifted to “supporting” psychologists, not getting them in trouble—a strategy consistent with the ultimate mission of growing psychology. (Hoffman et al., 2015, p. 307-308)
APA had turned away from its responsibility to protect the public. The Hoffman Report quotes the APA’s Ethics Director’s statement that the role of APA Ethics “is not protection of the public and that protection of the public is a function for state licensing boards” (p. 475). APA embraced this model of ethics and modeled it for students, trainees, its members, state psychological associations, and the national and international community for 15 years.
APA’s initial move away from protecting the public sparked great controversy with publication of the 1992 ethics code. As Carolyn Payton, who had served on both the APA Policy and Planning Board and the Public Policy Committee, wrote in 1994 in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice:
All previous codes seemed to have been formulated from a perspective of protecting consumers. The new code appears to be driven by a need to protect psychologists…. It reads as though the final draft was edited by lawyers in the employment of the APA. (p. 317)
She critiqued the “many instances of exceptions to the rule” that protect members against enforcement of the ethical standards:
The forcefulness of the proscriptions on harassment, e.g., is diminished in the Other Harassment standard, Standard 1.12, which brings up the qualifier “knowingly” (APA, 1992, p. 1601), as in psychologists do not knowingly engage in harassment. Try using the argument of ignorance with the Internal Revenue Service to explain your failure to withhold appropriate taxes for the housekeeper or baby-sitter. (p. 320)
She wrote that “removal of the many instances of exceptions to the rule would make the code more enforceable and more reflective of our discipline, which at one time was dedicated to the promotion of human welfare” (p. 320).
APA’s new ethics, based on “First, do no harm to psychologists,” created a public relations problem. How could the Association explain to the public that protecting the public from the harm that can result from unethical assessment, therapy, counseling, forensic practice, research, publication, teaching, and so on, was not its concern, that the function of APA ethics “is not protection of the public and that protection of the public is a function for state licensing boards”? The answer had the simplicity of Orwell’s double-speak: war is peace, ignorance is strength, freedom is slavery–“To advance its PR strategy, APA issued numerous misleading statements that hid its true motives, in an attempt to explain and justify its ethics policy” (Hoffman et al., 2015, p. 15).
But what are our true motives—yours and mine? What do each of us see when we look in the mirror? What are our own personal ethics? To what extent are they public relations, more appearance than practice? How much time do we spend searching for ways to strengthen them and eliminate gaps, flaws, and contradictions? How rigorous are we in holding ourselves accountable to these ethics? What would we do if we knew we could get away with it and no one would find out?
When we struggle with these highly personal questions, we put ourselves in a better position to join with others to think through how to use the Hoffman Report to strengthen the ethical culture and practices of psychologists and our diverse groups, networks, and organizations.
What Do We Do To Discover or Screen Out What Happens?
Reading the Hoffman report provides each of us with an opportunity to take look at how we personally respond to critical information and criticism. The Report documents the ways that “based on strategic goals, APA intentionally decided not to make inquires….thus effectively hiding its head in the sand” and “remained deliberately ignorant” (p. 11). This very human process of protecting ourselves from what we don’t want to see or hear rings a familiar bell throughout history. When scandals or atrocities, especially those involving human rights, rattle a business, organization, or country, shocked looks of innocence spring to face after face, accompanied by the refrain: “I saw nothing! I knew nothing! We never suspected!”
But what about both the documented information and criticism published year after year in newspapers, professional journals, books, reports published by human rights organizations, and other sources? Critical information that ran contrary to APA’s strategic goals met with vigorous denial, discounting, and discrediting. The Hoffman report describes how those who defended the PENS ethics policy and APA’s actions dismissed the criticism as “baseless” and the critics’ statements “as false and defamatory.” They made claims about the critics’ “political and financial motivation” (p. 2).
The Hoffman Report challenges each of us to consider our personal strategies to avoid finding out what we don’t want to know. How do we screen out or distract ourselves from troubling information? How do we snuggle into the warm, protective blanket of denial? How do we discount, discredit, and dismiss the bearers of bad news? The hard work of looking deep into the mirror to answer these questions prepares us to communicate more clearly, openly, and honestly within our own groups, networks, and organizations, especially with those who express different views. It readies us to work with a wider array to create real and lasting change.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The Hoffman Report challenges us do some critical thinking about:
• What each of us might have done or what might we have done better
• What our own ethics are and whether we are willing to hold ourselves accountable through a realistic method of enforcement
• What we do to deny, discredit, or dismiss what we don’t want to see or believe
When complicity with torture, violations of human rights, misleading the public, and other vital matters are at stake, organizations must address not only personnel, policies, and procedures but also the powerful incentives from inside and outside the organization, sources of institutional resistance to change, conflicting ethical and political values within the organization, and issues of institutional character and culture that allowed the problems to flourish for years, protected by APA’s denials.
Organizations facing ethical scandals often publicly commit to admirable values such as accountability, transparency, openness to criticism, strict enforcement of ethical standards, and so on. These institutional commitments so often meet the same fate as our own individual promises to a program of personal change. We make a firm New Year’s resolution to lead a healthier life. We pour time, energy, and sometimes money into making sure the change happens. We buy jogging shoes and a cookbook of healthy meals. We take out a gym membership. We discuss endlessly what approaches yield the best results. We commit to eating only healthy foods and to getting up five days a week at 5 a.m. for an hour of stretching, aerobics, and resistance exercises. But one, two, and three months later, the commitment to change that had taken such fierce hold of us and promised such wanted, needed, and carefully planned improvement has loosened or lost its grip.
Decades of research and case studies in organizational and individual psychology show that major change is hard to achieve and maintain over the long haul. Distractions grab attention and drain our will. Old habits return. Temptations hit at unguarded moments. Memories of the need for change fade. Imaginary change starts to look like the real thing. We find that the more things change, the more they remain the same.
How can we hope to tell if what we are doing is creating meaningful change? Pseudo-change often appears only in public statements, pledges of improvement, personnel turnover, the formation of committees, new organizational charts, and discussions. Meaningful change is often reflected in measurable progress. We can look to see if all our discussions, statements, and activities are creating meaningful, measurable progress.
For example, the Hoffman Report documents a wide range of improper behaviors involving conflicts of interest, improper handling of ethics complaints to protect psychologists, issuing misleading statements that hid true motives, to name but a few, as well as activities related to torture and violations of human rights. Now that the Hoffman Report has awakened our profession, if none of the diverse improper behaviors violates any ethical standard in the APA Ethics Code, that may tell us something. If any of the diverse improper behaviors violates any standard in APA’s code, and neither the APA Ethics Committee, nor any state psychological association or state psychology licensing board that has adopted APA’s ethics code as enforceable, takes action sua sponte (on its own initiative) or in response to a formal complaint, that may tell us something. These and other measurable signs of meaningful change (e.g., whether APA and its elected officers representing the membership publish formal corrections or retractions of factually incorrect statements appearing in journals or press releases that denied, discounted, or dismissed reports of improper behavior, just as researchers fulfill their ethical responsibility to correct the formal record) can hold a mirror up to both our own individual and our psychological community’s ability and willingness to meet the challenge of change.
Hoffman, D. H., Carter, D. J., Lopez, C. R.V., Benzmiller, H.L., Guo, A. X., Latifi, S. Y., & Craig, D. C. (2015). Report to the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association: Independent Review Relating to APA Ethics Guidelines, National Security Interrogations, and Torture. Chicago: Sidley Austin LLP. Accessed on July 21, 2015, from &

Pope, K. S. (2011a). Are the American Psychological Association’s detainee interrogation policies ethical and effective? Key claims, documents, and results. Zeitschrift für Psychologie/Journal of Psychology, 219(3), 150-158. Retrieved July 26, 2015, from

Pope, K. S. (2011b). Psychologists and detainee interrogations: Key decisions, opportunities lost, and lessons learned. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 7, 459-481. Retrieved July 26, 2015, from

Pope, K. S. (2014). Ethics in clinical psychology. In D. H. Barlow (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Clinical Psychology: Updated Edition (pp. 185-210). New York: Oxford University Press.

Pope, K. S. (2015). Steps to strengthen ethics in organizations: Research findings, ethics placebos, and what works. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 16(2), 139-152. Retrieved July 26, 2015, from

Pope, K. S., & Gutheil, T. G. (2009). Contrasting ethical policies of physicians and psychologists concerning interrogation of detainees. British Medical Journal, 338. 1178-1186.

02 Aug

Netanyahu – You aren’t “shocked” Jewish settlers burned a Palestinian baby alive


You aren’t “shocked” Jewish settlers burned a Palestinian baby alive, Netanyahu. You’re complicit.

by David Harris Gershon

The O’Leary: Of course, Natanyahu is complicit in this barbaric action, he himself has been the creator of many barbaric actions against Palestinian children. He has taught his settlers well.

Early Friday morning, two masked settlers crouched before a home in the West Bank village of Duma, touched their fingers to its cold walls and nodded. Then they spray painted the words “vengeance” and “long live the Messiah” before breaking windows, throwing firebombs inside and fleeing as a family of four burned in their beds.Three of those family members–a mother, father and their four-year-old son–are fighting for their lives. The fourth, a baby named Ali Saad Dawabsha, burned to death in the home’s attic.

Images of Ali Saad Dawabsha, the baby burned alive by Jewish terrorists, scattered about his family’s scorched house.

The crime, committed by terrorists seeking revenge for Israel’s removal of an unapproved settlement outpost, has shaken the nation in ways other crimes have not. This became immediately evident as prominent conservative politicians began releasing pointed and unusually emotional condemnations.

Gilad Erdan, a member of Netanyahu’s cabinet, said this in the crime’s wake:

“A nation whose children were burned in the Holocaust needs to do a lot of soul searching if it bred people who burn other human beings.”

Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, compared Jewish terrorists to ISIS and called them a traitorous fifth column:

In the other room my son is putting on his uniform. He came home last night and has just now received a phone call. “Emergency call up,” he says, his face stern. He’s been called back in because the enemy acted last night in Duma. Terrorists entered at night and set fire to a baby. As always, the IDF is going to war against the enemy. Only this time the enemy is from here, from inside, from within us. They are a fifth column. They are the natural partners of Hamas, of Hezbollah, of ISIS. They look like us but they aren’t like us. They are traitors to all that is sacred to us, traitors to the very idea on which the State of Israel was founded, traitors to Judaism.And they’re trying, like the enemy always tries. to destroy the State of Israel.

Netanyahu, reading the mood and desperate to mute the horrible images emanating from the Occupied Territories, expressed his shock in the face of such an atrocity:


But Netanyahu’s not shocked. He’s complicit.

Indeed, Netanyahu appointed as Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who actively called for the genocide of Palestinians and championed calling their children “little snakes.”

He has repeatedly incited racism and hatred against Palestinians, once famously warning Jewish voters on election day that “Arabs are heading to the polls in droves.”

Netanyahu has stated that he wants an occupation which subjugates Palestinians to last forever and fully supports those extremists behind the settlement enterprise, with expansions having surged on his watch.

Netanyahu’s government has refused to crack down on settler terrorism and violence. Indeed, 120 incidents of terrorism or violence targeting Palestinians have occurred just this year alone, and approximately 11,000 incidents have occurred over the past 10 years, the vast majority of which aren’t even recorded by the State, much less prosecuted.

And of course, Israel killed over 2,200 Palestinians in Gaza last summer during its 51-day assault, a bombing campaign which was preceded by Netanyahu calling for “vengeance.” The same word scrawled by terrorists on baby Ali’s home before being burned alive.

Now, Netanyahu is of course not the only one complicit. So too are those very politicians, Lapid and Erdan included, who made emotional statements when news of Ali’s death reached their ears. It’s no surprise that in all of their statements, two words never appeared: “occupation” and “settlements.” Yet it is the occupation which lies at the center of settler violence and the devaluing of Palestinian lives. It is a center threatening to tear Israel apart as settlers and soldiers tear Palestinian families apart.

Nearly every member of Israel’s government has either actively worked to maintain the occupation or passively enabled its continued brutality by refusing to confront the damage it’s doing to both Israel and those Palestinians subjugated daily. And it’s not just Israel’s leaders who are complicit. American Jewish and ‘pro-Israel’ organizations are responsible as well, for the vast majority continue to ignore the occupation as though it doesn’t even exist.

To emphasize this, nearly every major American Jewish and pro-Israel organization–including AIPAC, ADL, AJC, and Jewish Federations–condemned the terrorism which took baby Ali’s life. Not a single statement mentioned the words “occupation” or “settlements.”

Unless Israeli and Jewish-Zionist leaders in the diaspora are willing to confront and end the occupation, the racism and violence against Palestinians will not just remain, but grow. Unless Jewish leaders stop vilifying Palestinians while allowing them to be oppressed, the racism and violence will not just remain, but grow. Of course, this isn’t a surprise to anyone. It’s known. It’s been known for longer than most leaders would bear to admit.

So spare me the “I’m shocked” routine and do something.


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