The American Psychological Association (APA) has faced a lot of criticism regarding its involvement in interrogation tactics in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Then, last year, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report detailing the “enhanced interrogation” techniques committed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — techniques designed and administered by two psychologists who weren’t members of the APA. But a seven-month investigation commissioned by the APA’s board and conducted by the law firm Sidley Austin shows how the APA facilitated these techniques, and may be its most damning piece of evidence yet.

The report essentially confirms a separate one from April, which purported that the APA collaborated with the George W. Bush administration to keep psychologists involved with the interrogation program after the 2004 Abu Ghraib photo scandal — which showed abuse toward prisoners. Its well-known that doctors and psychologists oversaw the interrogators to ensure they didn’t break the law by torturing or abusing detainees. But according to the April report and this new one, senior officials at the APA shaped the association’s ethics policies to align with the needs of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) interrogation policies.

For the APA officials who played the lead role in these actions, their intention was “to curry favor with Pentagon officials by seeking to keep the associations ethics policies in line with the interrogation policies of the Defense Department, while several prominent outside psychologists took actions that aided the CIA’s interrogation and helped protect it from growing dissent inside the agency,” said the report, written by David H. Hoffman and other lawyers, according to USA Today. This collusion was further enabled through personal relationships between APA and DoD officials, including a marriage between an APA executive and “one of the military’s lead psychologists who supported interrogations at Guantánamo Bay.”

One of those APA officials was ethics chief Stephen Behnke, who was no longer with the APA as of July 8. Besides molding the APA’s code of ethics to fit in with the DoD’s, the report also said Behnke was responsible for ghostwriting statements that opposed APA members’ concerns over torture, voter irregularity in passing motions, and intercepting various complaints over ethics, among other topics, The Guardian reported. What’s more, some of these statements were said to move forward only after approval from the Pentagon. And then, without the board’s knowledge, he even went so far as to train interrogators, according to The New York Times.

While Behnke wasn’t the only top official involved in the APA’s collusion with the Pentagon, his involvement is highlighted the most throughout the report — and for good reason. “The most disturbing aspect of this whole episode is that it was run out of the APA’s ethics office,” Steven Reisner, a psychologist and psychoanalyst who has long opposed the association’s involvement in interrogations, told Newsweek. “It’s not just that they sold out APA’s ethics standards to collude with the needs of the government… What’s unconscionable was the fact that this was done in support of torture and abuse.” Among the many techniques considered torture: waterboarding, cramped confinement, dietary manipulation, and sleep deprivation.  

With the report’s release on Friday, the APA’s board quickly moved to correct these issues, and released a series of recommendations that it hopes will be implemented later this year. Among them: a policy prohibiting psychologists from being involved in prisoner interrogations held by military or intelligence officials, regardless of location, as well as changes to the ethics code and complaint-review policies.

“Our internal checks and balances failed to detect the collusion, or properly acknowledge a significant conflict of interest, nor did they provide meaningful field guidance for psychologists,” said Nadine Kaslow, former president of the APA, in a statement. “The actions, policies, and lack of independence from government influence described in the Hoffman report represented a failure to live up to our core values. We profoundly regret, and apologize for, the behavior and the consequences that ensued. Our members, our profession, and our organization expected and deserved better.”

Kaslow told The Guardian that the organization would begin embracing those who expressed concern over the legality of the torture techniques. Speaking about Jean Maria Arrigo, who had been particularly outspoken about misconduct and repeatedly quieted, she said, “I’m going to personally thank her when I see her. I’m going to personally apologize to her for the fact that other people mistreated her.”