Is It Finally Time to Punish Pro-Torture Judge and Doctors?

Friday, April 22, 2011
Jay Bybee (photo: The Recorder,
Dr. Larry James, the former chief psychologist at Guantanamo, is facing potential investigation by the Ohio State Psychology Board for allegedly overseeing the torture of detainees.
Four Ohio residents have petitioned a local court to compel the board to investigate James’ work at Guantánamo, after the board ignored a previous complaint about his military service.
That complaint was accompanied by a thousand pages of documentation, including reports from the military, the Department of Justice, the CIA and statements from survivors and witnesses. But board officials failed to explain why they were unable to probe the allegations against James.
During his time at Guantánamo, “boys and men were systematically abused” and were subjected to “rape and death threats” and torture techniques such as “forced nudity; sleep deprivation; extreme isolation; short-shackling into stress positions; and physical assault,” according to the complaint.
Before retiring from the military in 2008, James led the Behavioral Science Consultation Team who assisted interrogators at the prison facility during the first half of 2003. From 2004 to 2006, he served as chief of psychology at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and in 2007 he returned to Guantánamo. In 2008, James published Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib, in which he says that no abuse of prisoners occurred while he was at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.
In addition to calls for James’ investigation, some critics of the Bush administration’s torture program have called for the prosecution of Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on suspected terrorists. Bybee, now a federal judge with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, has consistently defended the legal opinions his office issued to support the use of torture—and for that, he should be tried in criminal court for violating the U.S. anti-torture statute, argues Andy Worthington.
On August 1, 2002, Bybee signed an infamous 50-page memo that redefined an act of torture as one that caused suffering “equivalent to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” Even then it did not qualify as torture if the torturer was seeking information from the victim. An action only counted as torture if the torture was gratuitous. The memo also provided legal justification for a list of “enhanced interrogation techniques” to be used by the CIA.
Another of Bybee’s memos, this one from April 3, 2002, argued that state police officers have “inherent power” to incarcerate undocumented immigrants for violating federal law, and was used to legally justify the controversial anti-immigrant law that was passed in Arizona in April 2010.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


Cynthia 12 years ago
jay bybee is unfit to sit as a judge on the 9th circuit court of appeals and should be impeached immediately by the congress. his role in the torture of detainees in u.s. custody makes him a war criminal. more than 140,000 signatures asking for bybee's impeachment were submitted to congress. the ny times twice called for his impeachment. his presence on the 9th circuit taints that court and lowers the public's confidence in the judicial system.
BA 12 years ago
what on earth is a psychologist doing defending the abuse of detainees!? not only is that shameful, but it also ignores the impact that such practices have on the military personnel caught up in this policies. have we ever considered what happens to them? i suggest we consider that experience. i recently read about it in this article by veterans for common sense:

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