Thursday, July 8, 2010

Call for Investigation for Abusive Interrogation Tactics

Today, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) filed its first case against a U.S. official: a complaint with the New York State Office of Professions, calling for an investigation of Dr. John Francis Leso for his role in developing and implementing psychologically and physically abusive interrogation tactics at the U.S. detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and for revocation of his psychologist's license on that basis. CJA filed this case on behalf of Dr. Steven Reisner, a New York psychologist, teacher, and trauma expert and recent recipient of the Beacon Award by the New York State Psychological Association for his work against torture.

Dr. Leso, a Major in the U.S. Army, led the first team of mental health professionals tasked with supporting interrogation operations at Guantánamo. As the ranking psychologist, Dr. Leso recommended a series of escalating physically and psychologically abusive interrogation tactics to be used on detainees, personally supervised interrogations where his tactics were used, and actually participated in the application of these tactics. Not only has Dr. Leso not faced a criminal or civil trial, but he continues to practice psychology under his New York State license.

The complaint alleges that Dr. Leso violated New York professional standards, including his duty to do no harm, when he used his specialized knowledge perversely to harm the people in his care. The specific misconduct alleged includes gross incompetence and negligence, unprofessional conduct, conduct exhibiting moral unfitness to practice the profession, unauthorized treatment, neglect of a patient in need of immediate care, and willful abuse and harassment.

Along with human rights groups around the world, CJA has called on Congress and the Obama administration to investigate and prosecute U.S. officials responsible for cruelty and torture. Investigating torture is not only our moral duty: it is our legal obligation. When the U.S. Senate ratified the Convention Against Torture in 1994, we committed ourselves as a nation not only to refrain from torture but to prosecute perpetrators when there is evidence of a crime.

To date, neither Dr. Leso nor any other U.S. official involved has ever been held accountable for the torture and cruel treatment of detainees at Guantánamo.

For more information on this case, please visit our website:

As always, we thank you.

Pamela Merchant
Executive Director


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