Complaint Against Terror War Psychologist Proceeding

The Texas State Board of Psychologists will hold a hearing on Feb. 8 in the complaint against James Mitchell, the Texas-licensed architect of CIA "enhanced interrogation techniques."

The first step in the disciplinary process against Mitchell, the hearing means that the board has not elected to dismiss it outright as legally insufficient. That means, according to Dicky Grigg, the Austin lawyer who worked with Northwestern University law professor Joseph Margulies and Texas psychologist Jim Cox to bring the complaint, that it has cleared two initial hurdles: The board has determined there was probable cause behind it and that it has not been brought against an exempt agency — significant if Mitchell were to claim governmental immunity.

After the hearing, the board can then decide to dismiss the complaint or recommend discplinary action: either a reprimand, probation, supsension, or revocation of his license. If Mitchell contests that decision, the complaint then progresses to a full blown administrative hearing. The Tribune has placed a call to Mitchell's lawyer for comment.

Brought in June, the complaint alleges that Mitchell, who parlayed his experience training American soldiers to survive as prisoners of war into a lucrative consulting business with the CIA during the Bush Administration, violated the profession’s rules of practice in helping the agency develop “enhanced interrogation techniques” for use in its so-called black prison sites during the war on terror. Along with Bruce Jessen, a fellow military psychologist, Mitchell was a primary developer of post-Sept. 11 CIA interrogation methods that are currently under a criminal torture investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the complaint, Mitchell directed and participated in the harsh interrogation of terror suspects using sexual humiliation and the drowning technique called waterboarding. The complaint also charges that the doctor misrepresented his qualifications to the CIA, placing “his own career and financial aspirations above the safety of others” while designing a “torture regime” with a “complete lack of scientific basis.”

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