Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Responses to new charges of Hoffman conflict of interest

I am presenting for readers the full text of responses by Chicago attorney David Hoffman, and by the authors of a report accusing the American Psychological Association of collaboration with intelligence agencies in the implementation of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" torture program. The requests for comment were made in the process of writing a new article documenting links of Hoffman and the law firm for which he works to the former chairman of the RAND Corporation, noteworthy because the role of RAND is highlighted in the matters under "independent reivew" by Hoffman.

Thanks for your email. As you may know, Newt Minow was FCC Chairman under JFK and gave the famous “TV as a vast wasteland” speech in 1961. At 89 years old, he remains a prominent civic and community figure in Chicago. I had heard of Newt Minow but had not met him before I joined Sidley in 2011. I speak with him from time to time, but not frequently, and do not socialize with him. Regarding, the amicus brief you note, I was one of five Sidley attorneys who worked on the matter. Mr. Minow did not work on the matter but rather was one of the former governments officials and public interest groups who were the listed amici in the matter. Mr. Minow is not working on the APA matter, and I have never worked on a matter with him. Shortly after the public announcement by APA in November 2014 that I had been engaged to conduct an independent investigation in this matter, I saw Mr. Minow and told him about this new engagement. At the time, I did not know that he had been affiliated with the Rand Corp. I have not had any contact with Mr. Minow about the matter since then. In response to your inquiry, I looked up when Mr. Minow was chairman of Rand, and I see that it was 44 years ago (1970-71). I do not believe that Mr. Minow’s past affiliation with Rand creates a conflict of interest for us in this matter. I know Anne Rea, as she is a partner in Sidley’s Chicago office. We have never worked on a matter together; we have not spoken about the APA matter; and I did not know about any work she has done for the Rand Corp. I have never met or spoken with Donald Rumsfeld.

Best regards,
David [Hoffman]

Hi Jeff,

Here is a comment from the three lead authors of All the President’s Psychologists, as you requested:

We and others have pressed for "internal review,"an independent investigation of APA since our Open Letter in Response to the American Psychological Association Board in 2009 signed by 13 organizations. Our call was always for the investigatory organization to be selected by independent human rights organizations precisely to avoid the types of potential conflicts of interest you raise. Thus, we were initially concerned when the APA Board itself selected Mr. Hoffman to investigate potential complicity by key staff and elected officials including possible complicity by past and current Board members.

The APA Board, through this process themselves raised questions about whether they intended Mr. Hoffman to conduct a truly independent investigation. These questions have only escalated as the Board has revealed their plan to delay the report’s public release for months of alleged “internal review,” violating the clear precedent that investigations of unethical or criminal behavior by organizations are immediately made public. Nonetheless, once Mr. Hoffman was selected, we chose to work with his team and have shared whatever information, documents, and opinions they requested.

We intend to assess the true independence of the Hoffman team’s work through observing how he accounts for the evidence already in the public domain, including the data we released in our April 30, 2015 report. The smoking gun is already in the public domain: high officials at the APA worked conjointly with high officials at the CIA and the White House to comport APA’s ethics policy with what the Bush administration needed to continue the torture program. The question for us is how much will the Hoffman investigation add to what has already been revealed about the APA?

Our experience with Mr. Hoffman and his team has given us every reason to believe that they are pursuing leads without limitation or constraint. Ultimately, we all are waiting to see what they come up with. The proof of their independence will be in the honesty and comprehensiveness of their report.

Steven Reisner
Stephen Soldz
Nathaniel Raymond

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