Sunday, November 14, 2010

Texas State Board of Psychologists Consider Complaint Against Torture Psychologist James Mitchell

The New York Times has posted an article on the complaint lodged against James Mitchell with the Texas Board of Psychologists. A copy of the complaint itself is available online (PDF). I examined the role of the American Psychological Association in the Mitchell complaint in an article last August. A similar complaint against SERE psychologist and APA member Major John Leso, made by the Center for Justice and Accountability, was rejected by the New York Office of Professional Discipline last July. The APA has not taken any known actions on its own accord against Maj. Leso.

As the NYT article on Mitchell states:
Along with Dr. Bruce Jessen, a fellow military psychologist, Dr. Mitchell was a primary developer of post-Sept. 11 C.I.A. interrogation methods that are currently under a criminal torture investigation by the Department of Justice.

Dr. Mitchell, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article, parlayed his experience in training American soldiers to survive as prisoners of war into a lucrative consulting business with the C.I.A. He orchestrated — and, according to the complaint, participated in — the harsh interrogation of terror suspects using sexual humiliation and the drowning technique called waterboarding.

Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor, and Dicky Grigg, an Austin lawyer, worked with a Texas psychologist, Jim L. H. Cox, to bring the complaint, which documents in lurid detail Dr. Mitchell’s role in the questioning of prisoners.
The actions taken at a state level against psychologists or other medical providers involved in torture appear to be one of few legal avenues left for those who are pursuing accountability against the torturing U.S. government, by going after its ready servants. It remains to be seen if this is a fruitful approach, but it deserves both following and our support.

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