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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Psychologist Wants Army Doctor Investigated|for Abusive Interrogations at Guantanamo

MANHATTAN (CN) - A New York psychologist demands that the state investigate Dr. John Francis Leso, an Army psychologist, claiming that Leso violated professional standards when he helped design and participate in abusive interrogation of prisoners at Guantanamo.

In an Article 78 Petition in New York County Court, plaintiff Dr. Steven Reisner, also a psychologist, demands that the New York Office of Professional Discipline in the New York State Department of Education investigate Leso for professional misconduct.

Reisner, who has been recognized by the New York State Psychological Association for his work against torture, filed a professional misconduct complaint against Leso in July. The Office of Professional Discipline refused to investigate, saying it did not have jurisdiction.

In a new complaint, still on Reisner's behalf, the Center for Justice and Accountability and the New York Civil Liberties Union ask the state court to reject the OPD's denial of jurisdiction and direct it to investigate the complaints in the original petition.

The new complaint states: "In this Article 78 proceeding, Petitioner seeks an order to compel Respondents to open an investigation into the professional misconduct of Dr. John Francis Leso, a psychologist licensed by the State of New York.

"Respondents failed to investigate Dr. Leso's misconduct, despite being presented by the Petitioner with numerous documented allegations of Dr. Leso's violations of professional standards, which include:

a. designing, implementing, and participating in a system of abusive interrogations at the United States Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba;

b. recommending the use of psychological stressors such as sleep deprivation,

withholding food, isolation, and distortion of the perception of time;

c. recommending the use of psychological methods of abuse on detainees, including sleep deprivation 'non-injurious physical consequences,' removal of clothing, exposure to cold, threats, prolonged isolation, and sensory

deprivation; and

d. personally supervising the implementation of these and other psychological techniques and, on at least one occasion, directing their application to a detainee."

The two civil rights groups, counsel in the complaint said in a statement: "The complaint alleges that Dr. Leso violated professional standards for New York psychologists when he 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. Many of the techniques and conditions that Dr. Leso is accused of having helped put in place were applied to men and boys held at Guantánamo and eventually to detainees held in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither Dr. Leso nor any other U.S. official involved has ever been held accountable for the cruel treatment of detainees at Guantánamo."

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