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Columbia Missourian

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Licensing boards ignore alleged torture cases

By Benjamin G. Davis
January 9, 2013 | 5:11 p.m. CST

I write with respect to the article "Abu Ghraib figure Larry James is finalist at MU." While the Ohio State Licensing Bureau did not move forward with the complaint, James' actions remain very problematic for the reasons raised.

Unfortunately, the state licensing bureaus for both the lawyers and the psychologists who enabled the torture are unwilling to look at these matters. For example, in a case against a psychologist with the state licensing authority in New York, the argument was made that the psychologist's work on the Behavioral Science Consultation Team was not with a patient so as there was no detainee-psychologist relationship, there was no ethical violation in using psychologist expertise to assist the enhanced interrogation techniques. Same with regard to Texas and the gentleman psychologist there who actually was doing the waterboarding.

The cascade of unwillingness to hold high-level civilians accountable for torture starts with the leavening in successive iterations of inspector general reports in the Department of Justice, Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Defense, through the narrowing of the basis for prosecutorial evaluation in the DOJ, through the state licensing authorities who do not feel they have competence or resources to address these things.

Court civil cases that are tried (both by Americans like Jose Padilla and others foreigners) are dismissed on state secrets or qualified immunity grounds. This is the American game on accountability for torture and goes across the Bush and Obama administrations.

Benjamin G. Davis is an associate professor of law at University of Toledo College of Law.