Psychologists Move against One of Their Own Who Helped Torture

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Dr. James Mitchell (photo: ABC News)

For the first time, the American Psychological Association (APA) has publicly questioned the ethics of a military psychologist who oversaw the CIA’s torture of a detainee during the Bush administration.

The APA wrote a letter to the Texas licensing board expressing concerns about allegations brought against Dr. James Mitchell, a retired Air Force psychologist who participated in Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation, which included the use of waterboarding and other harsh techniques.
According to the complaint, "Regardless of what legal categories these techniques fall within, one conclusion is clear: a psychologist who helps inflict such cruel and shocking abuse on a defenseless human being would appear to have violated basic standards of conduct of the profession,"
The APA said if a member of its organization was found guilty of helping torture individuals, he or she would be expelled. Mitchell, though, is not a member of the APA.
“The allegations put forward in the complaint and those that are on the public record about Dr. Mitchell are simply so serious, and if true, such a gross violation of his professional ethics, that we felt it necessary to act,” APA spokesperson Rhea Farberman told the Associated Press.
Similar complaints have been filed against Dr. John Leso, who led a behavioral science consulting team at Guantánamo in 2002 and 2003, and Larry James, the dean of professional psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, who oversaw abuse at Guantánamo in 2003, 2007 and 2008.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Psych Group Backs CIA Detainee Abuse Claim (by Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Associated Press)


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