Guantánamo Psychologists (U.S.)

In 2009, CCIJ and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) called on the Canadian government to investigate psychologists who may have been involved in abusive interrogations at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. Responding to reports that some Guantanamo psychologists would travel to Toronto for a convention of the American Psychological Association, we sent a joint letter to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety requesting an investigation into whether any APA members had a role in war crimes or torture.


CCIJ and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) pointed to significant public information concerning retired U.S. Army colonel and psychologist Dr. Larry C. James, who was a high-ranking advisor on interrogations at Guantanamo in the spring of 2003. Dr. James was serving as the President of the APA’s Division 19 for Military Psychology. From January to May 2003, Dr. James was Chief Psychologist of the Joint Intelligence Group and a senior member of the Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) in Guantanamo. Public documents and Dr. James’ own book indicate that he played an influential role in interrogation and detention policy and practices at Guantanamo during a time when detainees were subjected to tactics and conditions that amounted to torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Canadian citizen Omar Khadr is one of the prisoners who claimed he was treated brutally in the spring of 2003 when Dr. James was stationed at the facility.

CCIJ and CCR called on the Canadian government to to investigate whether action should be taken against Dr. James or others attending the APA conference who may have been involved in abusive interrogations.

Amnesty International-Canada also issued a letter supporting the CCIJ/CCR call for action.

The U.S.-based Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA), on behalf of New York psychologist and professor Dr. Steven Reisner, also filed a complaint with the New York State Office of Professional Development alleging that Dr. James’ predecessor at Guantanamo, Dr. John Francis Leso, violated professional standards of conduct at the prison. Leso led a team of mental health professionals that assisted in the interrogation of prisoners at the time Canadian detainee Omar Khadr was brought to Guantanamo. CJA and the New York Civil Liberties Association filed suit in New York state court against the Office of Professional Discipline for its failure to investigate the Leso complaint.

CCIJ/CCR letter to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety

Amnesty Intnernational-Canada letter supporting the CCIJ/CCR call for action

Access the public documents referenced in the CCIJ/CCR letter either through a list of individual documents or in a complete set available on CCR’s When Healers Harm website.

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