August 11th, 2011
For years we activist psychologists have been trying to get the APA and state licensing boards to act against psychologists allegedly involved in detainee abuse. So far, every venue has refused to act. Lawsuits in several states have tried to compel the state boards to investigate the allegations. With one exception, all boards have failed to conduct any sort of investigation. Today word comes that a New York juge has decided in favor of the board’s right to do do nothing in the case of psychologist John Leso, implicated in the torture of Mohamed al-Qhatani at Guantanamo:
A New York judge has declined to force an investigation into whether an Army psychologist developed abusive interrogation techniques for Guantanamo Bay detainees and should be stripped of his license.
The ruling was made public Thursday. It says another psychologist who brought the case cannot force a state agency to investigate complaints of professional misconduct.
The case sought to compel a state licensing office to look into psychologist John Leso. The agency says his Army work fell outside its scope.
The board’s reasoning is that psychology involves helping people. If skills are used intentionally to harm, then that does not involve the practice of psychology and is immune to board action, despite the fact that Army regulations require that their “Behavioral Science Consultants” have state licenses and uses the existence of these licenses as the basis for not investigating the professional ethics of these psychologists. Thus, torture and abuse by licensed psychologists is nobody’s business, constructing a perfect web of protection for torturers.
BTW, the American Psychological Association (APA) has had multiple complaints against Leso since August 2006 and has so far done nothing in the five years since the first complaint was filed. Their last excuse was that they were waiting to see what New York state would do. Now that New York has decided they don’t have jurisdiction, what new excuse will the APA come up with?