The American Psychological Association has refused to even issue a rebuke of a psychologist who participated in the torture of at least one detainee at Guantanamo Bay, much less remove his license or take any serious action. The Guardian has the details:
America’s professional association of psychologists has quietly declined to rebuke one of its members, a retired US army reserve officer, for his role in one of the most brutal interrogations known to have to taken place at Guantánamo Bay, the Guardian has learned.
The decision not to pursue any disciplinary measure against John Leso, a former army reserve major, is the latest case in which someone involved in the post-9/11 torture of detainees has faced no legal or even professional consequences.
In a 31 December letter obtained by the Guardian, the American Psychological Association said it had “determined that we cannot proceed with formal charges in this matter. Consequently the complaint against Dr Leso has been closed.”
But the APA did not deny Leso took part in the brutal interrogation of the suspected 20th 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed al-Qahtani, whose treatment the Pentagon official overseeing his military commission ultimately called “torture”…During an interrogation on 27 November 2002, the log records a direct intervention by Leso: “Control puts detainee in swivel chair at MAJ L’s suggestion to keep him awake and stop him from fixing his eyes on one spot in booth.”
The APA’s move concludes a years-long effort within the organization to get the association to condemn members who took part in torture. Those who argued for censuring Leso said that the organization has opened the door to future wartime violations of its central do-no-harm ethos.
“With Leso, the evidence of his participation is so explicit and so incontrovertible, the APA had to go to great lengths to dismiss it,” said Steven Reisner, a New York clinical psychologist who unsuccessfully ran for the APA presidency last year. “The precedent is that APA is not going to hold any psychologist accountable in any circumstance.”
Not a single person at any level has been disciplined for engaging in torture at Gitmo and elsewhere even though it’s been documented thoroughly and even admitted to by the Pentagon, the CIA and former White House officials, including the president and vice-president. All in flagrant violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, a law that we urged the world to pass in the name of human rights, which requires us to prosecute anyone involved in torture. This man should not only be rebuked, he should be forbidden to practice psychology ever again.