Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Human Rights: CIA investigation plan may not help intelligence community

The former Army senior psychologist who was deployed to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay to improve the operations involving interrogation of detainees said the newest decision by the Obama administration to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA techniques may not be helpful to the intelligence community.

"To reopen cases that were adjudicated as legal may be harmful to the mission and morale of the intelligence community," said Col. (Ret.) Larry James, now the Dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University. "That said, I agree with President Obama's statement several months ago to 'turn the page' and move on with regard to the interrogation of detainees of the Global War on Terrorism."

He said the outcome of appointing the special prosecutor could have negative repercussions on the intelligence-gathering function.

"Being an interrogator is a stressful, challenging and dangerous job," he said. "If there is new evidence that suggests crimes have been committed, then it would make sense to move forward with an investigation. However, since at the time of the interrogations they were deemed legal and acceptable by that sitting administration, I do not believe the investigation is warranted or necessary. I advise the president to be supportive of our current mission and be very careful as he moves forward in this sensitive area."

While at Walter Reed, Colonel James was tapped to serve two tours at Guantanamo Bay where he was asked to teach young interrogators how to interview detainees without abuse, and, later, was brought into Abu Ghraib to fix the debacle exposed by the notorious photos. He later wrote the book Fixing Hell, in which he chronicled his journey into the darkness of the infamous prison.

Timing being everything, he is hosting a two-day workshop in October at Wright State's Institute of Defense Studies and Education (IDSE) . That workshop, aptly titled The Psychology of Terrorism, digs deeply into the minds of terrorists and what makes them become the people they are. His experiences at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are the foundation for his workshop. He will be joined by other nationally recognized terrorism experts.

Source: Institute of Defense Studies and Education at Wright State University

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