Louisiana Court Battle Over Guantanamo Psychologist Continues Today

For Immediate Release

Louisiana Court Battle Over Guantanamo Psychologist Continues Today

State Psychology Board Challenged over Refusal to Investigate Alleged Ethical Violations by Dr. Larry James

BATON ROUGE, La. and NEW YORK - Today, attorneys filed an appeal before the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, in the case Dr. Trudy Bond v. Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.
Toledo-based psychologist Dr. Trudy Bond is calling on the Louisiana
State Board of Examiners to investigate Louisiana psychologist and
retired U.S. Army colonel Dr. Larry C. James, a former high-ranking
advisor on interrogations for the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay and
Abu Ghraib.

According to his own statements, Dr. James played an influential role
in both the policy and day-to-day operations of interrogations and
detention at the prison camps.  Publicly-available information shows
that while Dr. James was at Guantanamo, abuse in interrogations was
widespread, and cruel and inhuman treatment was official policy.  

Allegations of abuse during Dr. James's January to May 2003 deployment
include beatings, religious and sexual humiliation, rape threats and
painful body positions. Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, who is still
imprisoned in Guantanamo, is one of the prisoners who has alleged
brutal treatment in the spring of 2003, when he was only 16 years old.
James was also stationed in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 and
returned to Guantanamo in 2007. In 2008, he was named Dean of the
School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in Dayton,
Ohio.

In compliance with her ethical obligation to report abuse by other
psychologists, in February 2008 Dr. Bond filed a complaint against Dr.
James before the Board, the agency that issued and now regulates his
psychology license. Dr. Bond alleged that Dr. James breached
professional ethics by violating psychologists' duties to do no harm,
to protect confidential information and to obtain informed consent, and
she called on the Board to investigate whether action should be taken
against Dr. James.  

As Chief Psychologist of the Joint Intelligence Group and a senior
member of the Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) at
Guantanamo, Dr. James had access to the confidential medical records of
people he was charged with exploiting for intelligence. According to
former Guantanamo interrogators, BSCTs used information from patients'
records to help interrogators increase the patients' psychological
duress, including by exploiting their fears. The very purpose of these
mental health professional teams, the interrogators said, was to help
"break" the prisoners. Dr. James denies that claim, but an extensive
government paper trail supports the interrogators' accounts.

The Board summarily refused to investigate Dr. Bond's complaint,
claiming that the statute of limitations had run, despite conclusive
information to the contrary. Dr. Bond then filed suit against the Board
in Louisiana's 19th Judicial District Court, which in July 2009
dismissed her case without looking at the merits. Today's brief before
the First Circuit Court in Baton Rouge argues that the District Court
should have reviewed the Board's clearly wrong legal decision.

Said Dr. Bond, "The five psychologists on the
Louisiana Board were given plenty of credible evidence, but they chose
not to investigate the head intelligence psychologist of prison camps
notorious for their use of psychological torture.  I don't think
Louisiana lawmakers intended to give five fellow professionals total,
unchecked power to make arbitrary decisions that deeply affect the
public welfare."

Said CCR Cooperating Attorney Deborah Popowski,
"The Louisiana Board is fighting awfully hard to turn a blind eye to
serious allegations of abuse.  We wish the Board would devote its
resources to investigating unethical conduct instead. Everyone,
including the people of Louisiana, would be better served."
 
For more information on the involvement of health professionals in
torture and abuse visit the Center for Constitutional Rights website http://whenhealersharm.org.  

CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last six years -
sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the
first attorney to meet with a former CIA "ghost detainee" there. CCR
has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro
bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at
Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal
representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the
approximately 60 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot
return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.

Attached Files

 

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The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

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