Hoffman Report

The Hoffman Report​

Per the APA, “The APA Board of Directors engaged attorney David Hoffman of the law firm Sidley Austin in November 2014 to conduct an independent review of whether there was any factual support for the assertion that APA engaged in activity that would constitute collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror.”

The subsequently released “Hoffman Report” was filled with disturbing claims, including that psychologists were involved in assisting interrogators in using torture to extract information from detainees. Information regarding this report and APA’s response to it can be found here.

On July 14, 2015, the Hoffman Report was leaked to the New York Times and thereby the public. Our Division leadership, and Past President Tom Williams issued the following responses and related actions:

Division 19 Responses and Relevant Actions​

Response to Hoffman Independent Review: Division 19 Presidential Task Force

The leadership of the Society for Military Psychology (Division 19 of the American Psychological Association) has forwarded a special Task Force report to the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association that calls into question the accuracy and completeness of an almost $5 million independent review (“Hoffman” report) that APA has been using to change its policies.

The Division 19 Task Force report calls into question the basis for what it considers reactive and aggressive policy changes the APA is now taking to deny any psychologists (to include U.S. military psychologists) from serving in the areas of national security (especially in interrogation support to stop or reduce the risk of threats against our homeland, military or our partners around the world).

A cover letter endorsed by the Division 19 leadership calls on APA for corrective action and provides recommendations to the APA leadership. Division 19 President, Dr. Tom Williams, in forwarding the report, stated the Task Force report offers “very compelling and well-documented evidence that is deserving of your careful attention and action,” and to ensure America’s largest professional organization of psychologists “secure(s) a future committed to an absolute foundation of truth and science we all deserve.”

On July 29, 2015, Past President Dr. Tom Williams sent this Presidential letter to APA Presidents

Division 19 Hoffman Report Town Hall for Students
On 19 November, 2015, Dr. Tom Williams hosted a Town Hall on the Hoffman Report, APA’s prohibition on psychologists’ participation in national security interrogations, and their implications with particular emphasis on how these events will affect students’ careers. The notes from that meeting can be found here.

Division 19 Presidential Update
On August 25, 2015, Division 19’s President Tom Williams issued this statement detailing Division 19’s planned actions, which included establishing a Division 19 Hoffman Task Force.

Other Responses to the Hoffman Report (2015)

A Response to the Hoffman Report from
L. Morgan Banks, Ph.D.
Debra Dunivin, Ph.D., ABPP
Larry C. James, Ph.D., ABPP
Russ Newman, Ph.D., JD

Division 19 Policy Statement (2015)
On August 3, 2015, Division 19 released the following Policy Statement re-affirming our long-standing support of the APA Ethics Code and prohibition on torture.

Division 19 Policy Statement (2014)

Prior to the Sidney law firm’s review and the release of the Hoffman Report, Division 19 released the following Position Statement, which can be found on pages 4-6 of our newsletter. This Position Statement makes clear that Division 19 has always expected all psychologists to adhere to the letter and spirit of the Ethics Code and all psychologists to report Ethics Code violations to the APA Ethics Committee.

Other Responses to the Hoffman Report​

Dr. Morgan Banks et al.’s Response to Hoffman:

“Hoffman’s Key Conclusion Demonstrably False: The Omission of Key Documents and Facts Distorts the Truth”
On October 26, 2015, four of the key individuals named in the Hoffman Report (Cols (Ret) Morgan Banks, Debra Dunivin, & Larry James & Dr. Russ Newman) released the following document. Banks et al described the Hoffman Report as “a rhetoric-laden prosecutorial brief that ignores key facts, makes inferences based on guesswork, and imposes its own views and opinions about policy issues…Most damningly, it omits the very restrictive Department of Defense guidelines that governed military interrogations in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantanamo at the time of the PENS report.” We encourage you to read
the attached in its entirety.

Response byLt Col David G. Bolgiano, USAF (Ret) & Lt Col John Taylor, USA (Ret)

Response to the Hoffman Report by two Advocate Generals can be found here.

Press Release issued by Dr. Banks, Dr. Dunivin, Dr. James, & Dr. Newman
A press release written by Morgan Banks, Deborah Dunivin, Larry James, and Russ Newman following APAs refusal to allow access to Mr. Hoffman’s interview notes used in the creation of the report published on August 26th, 2015, can be found here.

Initial Response to the Hoffman Report by Dr. Dunivan, Dr. Banks, Dr. James, & Dr. Newman
On August 1, 2015, Debra Dunivan, Morgan Banks, Larry James, and Russ Newman, who are all named in the Report, issued a response which can be found here.

APAGS Response APAGS Leadership’s statement about the Hoffman

Report, can be found here.
Dr. Richard R. Kilburg, Call for Scientific Validation

Review of the report’s need for scientific validation published on 27 August, 2015, can be found here.

Dr. Richard Kilburg – “On Hitting the Bulls-Eye While Missing the Point”
On August 2, 2015, Richard Kilburg posted an essay response to the Hoffman Project entitled “On Hitting the Bulls-Eye While Missing the Point”in which he argued that motivations were assigned to individuals named in the report by the Sidney Group, information from interviews was inaccurately represented, and the “curry favor” conclusion was off-base. The essay can be foundhere.

Official Department of Defense Response
On 8 January, 2016, the Department of Defense responded to the APA’s action prohibiting psychologists from participating in national security interrogations and from serving the detainees held in locations such as Guantanamo. The DoD has asked that APA respectfully consider several points, which are detailed in the official letter, which was from sent from Brad Carson, the Acting Principal Deputy of the Under Secretary of the DoD to Barry Anton, President, and Norman Anderson, CEO, of APA.

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Vice News – “Accused of Enabling Torture, a US Military Psychologist Says He Was Doing the Opposite” On 15, July 2015, Morgan Banks, one of the psychologists named within the Hoffman Report, issued the following response. He raised questions regarding whether the perspective of the Hoffman Report was too much a “prosecutor’s argument to the grand jury” and argued against the motivations attributed to parties in the Hoffman Report. The article can be found here.

Actions by the APA Board of Directors, Council of Representatives and Leadership

APA Council of Representatives Vote
On August 7, 2015, the APA Council of Representatives voted 157-1 to prohibit psychologists from “participating in national security interrogation.” Key provisions of the new APA policy can be found here.

A Timeline of related actions and policies including the suggested ethics code revisions (see below) can be found here.

Suggested Ethics Code Revisions
The APA has since called for comments on proposed language to revise Standard 3.04 of the Ethics Code to make the Council of Representatives vote enforceable. Division 19’s responses to this proposition are available below.

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APA’s Recent Actions as of April 2016
APA seeks clarification of the relevance of specific Department of Defense (DoD) policies related to Hoffman’s original review, and rehires David Hoffman to conduct a supplemental review, and consider questions raised by the Division 19 Presidential Task Force report, and individual psychologists named in Hoffman’s report. The official APA announcement can be found below.

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Former Chairs of the APA Ethics Committee wrote an open letter, dated 15 May 2016, to the APA Board of Directors concerning perceived, potential or actual conflicts of interest to re-engaging Mr. Hoffman to conduct a supplemental review. The Chairs’ response may be found below.


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An Open Letter to the APA Membership
February 24, 2018
From L. Morgan Banks, Ph.D., Stephen H. Behnke, Ph.D., JD, Debra Dunivin, Ph.D., ABPP, Larry C. James, Ph.D., ABPP, and Russ Newman, Ph.D., JD

DIV 19 Letter to the APA Board of Directors on 18 April 2019

Please see the attached letter sent to the APA Board of Directors on 18 Apr 2019 by the Presidential Trio. Therein, the Trio discusses the ongoing damage of the Hoffman Report and again calls upon APA’s Board to “Provide the Division leadership with substantive responses to the issues identified in the Division 19 TF Report, and collaborate with our leadership team in developing an action plan regarding the Division’s concerns and a reconciliation path forward.

Stephen Bowles, President, Society for Military Psychology
Eric Surface, President-Elect, Society for Military Psychology
Mark Staal, Past-President, Society for Military Psychology