Thursday, August 6, 2009
Retired U.S. Army colonel and psychologist Dr. Larry C. James travelling to Canada in August 6 - 9, 2009.
Indications and documents why he should be investigated to determine
whether he was complicit in war crimes and/or torture.
(letter HERE - pdf file)
The Honourable Peter Van Loan
Department of Public Safety Canada
269 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0P8
August 5, 2009
By fax: (613) 992-8351
Dear Minister Van Loan,
The Canadian Centre for International Justice and the Center for Constitutional Rights call on
you to launch an investigation to determine whether visitors to Canada were complicit in war
crimes and/or torture. Retired U.S. Army colonel and psychologist Dr. Larry C. James and
others may be traveling to Canada this week to attend the American Psychological Association
(APA) Convention in Toronto from August 6 to 9. Publicly-available information, summarized
in the attached appendix, indicates that Dr. James, formerly a high-ranking advisor on
interrogations for the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay, should be investigated to determine
whether he was complicit in war crimes and/or torture. Faced with this information, the
Canadian government has the authority and duty to investigate whether Dr. James acted in
violation of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act and/or section 269.1 of the
We note that a Canadian national, Omar Khadr, was among those tortured in Guantanamo during
the time Dr. James was deployed as Chief Psychologist for the intelligence command at
Guantanamo. Khadr has alleged two specific incidents of abusive treatment during interrogation
in the spring of 2003, when Dr. James says he served at the detention facility.
The War Crimes Program, in which the Canadian government takes such rightful pride, is most
needed in situations like this one, in which there is “no reasonable prospect of fair and real
prosecution”1 in the country that would otherwise be most likely to assume jurisdiction. We
appeal to the Canadian government because the United States government, despite the change in
administration, has failed to take proper steps to investigate those in positions of military,
intelligence and political leadership who may have been involved in crimes in the so-called “War
1 Department of Justice, Canada, War Crimes Program website, http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/wc-cg/mwcppcgc.
html (last visited Aug. 5 2009).
Although the public has had difficulty gaining full access to all the relevant documentation,
Freedom of Information Act litigation and a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee inquiry into
the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody2 have yielded documents that shed light on the role of
military intelligence psychologists. Additionally, Dr. James published his own account of his
involvement in a 2008 book titled, Fixing Hell: An Army Psychologist Confronts Abu Ghraib,3
which covered his first deployment to Guantanamo in 2003 as well as his subsequent deployment
The publicly-available information from these documents shows that from January to May 2003,
Dr. James served as Chief Psychologist and a senior member of the Behavioral Science
Consultation Team (BSCT) of the Joint Intelligence Group at Guantanamo.4 According to Dr.
James’ own statements, outlined in the appendix, he played an influential role in interrogation
and detention policy, procedure and practices at Guantanamo during his deployment. In this
period, documents indicate that men and boys detained in Guantanamo were subjected to
interrogation tactics and conditions of detention that amounted to torture or other forms of cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment.
We believe Dr. James is likely to attend the conference because he has been elected president of
the APA’s Division 19 for Military Psychology.5 We also suspect that other APA members who
may have had a role in abusive interrogations in Guantanamo, Afghanistan or Iraq may travel to
The publicly-available documentation provides sufficient information to warrant further
investigation about Dr. James and others who might attend the APA convention in Toronto. We
call on you to launch such an investigation, through the War Crimes Program, to determine if
sufficient evidence exists for action to be taken against them.
William Quigley Jayne Stoyles
Legal Director Executive Director
Center for Constitutional Rights Canadian Centre for International Justice
Cc: William J.S. Elliott, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (by fax)
James Bray, President, American Psychological Association (by fax)