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If Not Now, When?

by Dr. TRUDY BOND

 

Dr. Stephen Behnke
Director of Ethics
American Psychological Association

Dear Dr. Behnke:

In your letter as Ethics Director for the American Psychological Association dated May 15, 2008 to the ACLU, you wrote: “APA will adjudicate any allegation that an APA member has engaged in unethical conduct. If you have information that a psychologist has engaged in torture, I ask that you immediately bring this information to my attention.”

Please excuse me if I sound a little impatient. Our profession has been hearing much the same theme from APA presidents for the past three years.

Gerald Koocher, APA President 2006: “I should also note that A.P.A. has taken a very strong stance against the use of torture, inhumane, and degrading treatment, and if anyone is able to identify A.P.A. members who have been involved in such activities, we will take disciplinary action.”

Sharon Brehm, APA President 2007: “Any allegations that a member has violated APA’s strict prohibition against engaging in torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment will be investigated and, if the evidence warrants, adjudicated.”

Alan E. Kazdin, APA President 2008: “Any APA member found to have violated this prohibition would be subject to sanction under our Code of Ethics.” (personal letter)

The APA leadership was long ago given hard evidence of misconduct by an APA member. A complaint was first filed by another source with your office against APA member Dr. John Leso in August of 2006. Dr. Leso’s violation of APA ethics is widely known by those who are distressed about the torture that the United States has committed against detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Dr. Leso was indisputably present as being present in the interrogation and severe torture of Mohammad al-Qahtani, held at Guantanmo since 2002. The extent of al-Qahtani’s torture was documented by Dr. Steven Miles from a log of al-Qahtani’s interrogations. Mohammad al-Qahtani was one of the six detainees at Guantanamo for whom charges were finally brought in February of this year, and was set to stand trial. However, the Pentagon recently dropped charges against al-Qahtani, with much speculation that this decision was based on the knowledge of the torture he has endured — torture which Dr. Leso enable as a psychologist and member of APA.

Dr. Leso maintains a valid license in the State of New York until 2009, and has been a member in good standing of the American Psychological Association since 1996.

I realize that “justice walks with leaden feet,” (though few realize this statement belongs to Harry Weinberger, attorney for Emma Goldman), but my experience with the APA Office of Ethics in fulfilling the above promises feels more than leaden.

What follows is a synopsis of my attempts to achieve the VERY response YOU PLEDGED in your letter to the ACLU.

April 11, 2007 by Facsimile
To: Stephen Behnke, APA Director of Ethics
Dr. Behnke:
I am filing an ethics complaint against Dr. John F. Leso, a member of APA since 1996. The behavior at issue is participation in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment as documented in the INTERROGATION LOG of DETAINNEE 063 at Guantanamo.
Sincerely,
Dr. TRUDY BOND

April 11, 2007
From: APA Office of Ethics
Dear Dr. Bond:
This is to acknowledge your inquiry received April 11, 2007 indicating your intent to file a complaint against Dr. John F. Leso . . . Once your completed complaint form is received, we will determine whether it is within the time limits for filing . . . We await your response.

April 15, 2007
To: APA Office of Ethics
Fr: Dr. TRUDY BOND
Member Against Whom You Are Complaining: Dr. John Franklin Leso. Major John Franklin Leso was licensed by a psychologist by the state of New York and retains license number 013492 until July, 2009. He is currently an active APA member and has been since 1996.

September 4, 2007
To: Stephen Behnke, APA Director of Ethics
Fr: Dr. TRUDY BOND
Attached is a copy of the form I submitted to the APA Ethics Committee on April 15, 2007 regarding APA member John Leso. I have received no acknowledgment of or response to said complaint, and therefore am resubmitting this complaint.

December 24, 2007
To: Stephen Behnke, APA Director of Ethics, by email
Fr: Dr. TRUDY BOND
I filed a second formal complaint against John Leso on September 4, 2007 after i had received no contact form APA regarding the first complaint filed in April of this year. The APA Office of Ethics has not even acknowledged receipt of the complaints I filed.

December 24, 2007
Fr: Stephen Behnke, APA Director of Ethics
Dear Dr. Bond,
The Ethics Office does not respond in email to questions regarding specific ethics matters . . please write or fax the Ethics Office and I will ensure that you receive an expeditious response.

January 3, 2008
To: Stephen Behnke, APA Director of Ethics
Fr: Dr. TRUDY BOND
As per your request of 12/24/07, I am resending my letter of that date to you by U.S. Postal Mail asking that you inform me of the status of my ethical complaints against Dr. John Leso.

January 23, 2008
Fr: Stephen Behnke, APA Director of Ethics
Dear Dr. Bond,
Thank you for your letter of January 3 . . . I am out of the country and will respond to your question as soon as I return.

February 6, 2008
Fr: Stephen Behnke, APA Director of Ethics
Dear Dr. Bond,
Our records indicate that on April 11, 2007 you contacted the Ethics Office and indicated a wish to file a complaint against Dr. John Leso . . . Our records indicate that as of October, 2007, the Office had received neither the complaint form nor any additional information from you. As a result, on October 11, the inquiry was closed. . . It appears that you took the complainant packet sent in April . . . and used it to file a complaint against (redacted) . . . the complaint form you submitted in the (redacted) matter has Dr. Leso’s name covered by “white out” . . .To date, we have not received any complaint from you against Dr. Leso.

February 12, 2008
To: Stephen Behnke, APA Director of Ethics
Fr: Dr. TRUDY BOND
The complaint against Dr. Leso dated 4/15/07 was never acknowledged by APA. On 9/4/07, I resubmitted the same APA form that I had sent to your office on April 15, 2007. This complaint also was never acknowledged.

February 27, 2008
Fr: Office of Ethics
Dear Dr. Bond:
This is to acknowledge receipt of the completed Ethics Complaint Form and materials for the complaint filed against James F. Leso, PhD.

May 2, 2008
To: Stephen Behnke, APA Director of Ethics
Fr: Dr. TRUDY BOND
Re: Dr. John F. Leso
. . . I have received no information regarding this complaint.

As you well know, Dr. Behnke, Dr. Leso is not the only psychologist who has had complaints filed against him for involvement in torture, complaints that have not been “adjudicated” by your office. America’s role as a torture nation is part of our national emergency. It’s past time for APA to match words with deeds.

If not now, when?

Sincerely,
Dr. TRUDY BOND

Dr. TRUDY BOND is a licensed psychologist and can be reached at ar_mordilo@yahoo.com.

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