March 31, 2011

Oral Arguments in GITMO Psychologist Case Take Place in NY Next Week

Posted by Cara Solomon

Here’s an important advisory from  the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU).  For more on professional misconduct complaints, see our page on the topic here.

UPDATE:  Courthouse News Service ran an article about the hearing under the headline “Court Shrinks from Probe of Gitmo Psychologist.”  Also, in advance of the hearing, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now wrote a column about it, and interviewed the complainant in the case, Dr. Steven Reisner.

MEDIA ADVISORY

ORAL ARGUMENTS IN GITMO PSYCHOLOGIST CASE TAKE PLACE IN NEW YORK NEXT WEEK

In the First Court Hearing in the U.S. on Whether a Psychologist’s Participation in Abusive Interrogations Violates Professional Ethical Standards, CJA and the NYCLU Seek Court Order Mandating an Investigation of Dr. John Francis Leso for Conduct at Guantánamo

WHO: Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)

WHAT: CJA and NYCLU have asked a New York State Court to order the New York Department of Education’s Office of Professional Discipline (OPD) to investigate a professional misconduct complaint alleging that Dr. John Francis Leso, a New York-licensed psychologist, violated New York’s professional ethics standards when he designed and participated in the abusive interrogation program at Guantánamo.  The OPD is responsible for regulating the conduct of all New York licensed psychologists and hears all manner of complaints against New York psychologists.

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March 30, 2011

Today, March 31: A Talk on Professional Ethics and Human Rights

Event Notice

“Toward a Unified Theory of Professional Ethics and Human Rights”

 March 31, 2011
12:00 pm- 1:00 pm
Lewis 202

Please join us tomorrow for a talk by Jonathan Marks, human rights lawyer and fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Marks, Associate Professor of Bioethics, Humanities and Law at Penn State University, has worked for years on the issue of complicity of professionals (in particular, doctors, psychologists and lawyers) in torture and detainee abuse in the war on terror.  In this talk, he will discuss his paper on the topic, the first to advance a general unified theory of professional ethics and human rights.

Continue Reading…

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March 30, 2011

New Courses!

Posted by Cara Solomon

We’re offering three new courses this fall semester.  Check them out in brief below (click on links for full descriptions).  Clinical registration begins April 4.

Human Rights Advocacy and the United States (Jim Cavallaro and Deborah Popowski):

This seminar will examine how advocates have used human rights discourse and legal framework to address U.S. government action, focusing in significant measure on the domestic response to post-9/11 counterterrorism policies as a primary case study.

The Promises and Challenges of Disarmament (Bonnie Docherty):

Over the past 150 years, certain weapons have caused so much human suffering that the international community has taken steps to regulate or ban them.  The most important method of disarmament has been treaty law, although judicial opinions and national measures have played a role as well.  This seminar will introduce students to different approaches to disarmament and various means to achieve them.

Advanced Skills Training for Human Rights Advocacy (Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein):

This course is designed for continuing students of the Clinic who plan to pursue careers in human rights or in the public interest and NGO sector more broadly.  Students will develop advanced leadership skills, including supervision of others; organization and project management; documentation and fact-finding; advocacy, media, and legislative work; and ethical and professional responsibilities.

Tyler and Susan will host an informational session about their seminar on Friday from 11:30-12:30 p.m. in the HRP Lounge, outside Pound 404A.

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March 29, 2011

Video: Daniel Ellsberg Talks WikiLeaks, The Pentagon Papers, and the Public’s Right to Know

Posted by Cara Solomon

We were proud to host the legendary Daniel Ellsberg for a talk last Thursday entitled, “Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers:  Government Secrets and the Public’s Right to Know.”  The hall was packed.  And no wonder: the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers remains a major force in the fight for transparency and openness in government. He came to campus fresh from protests in Washington, D.C., where he was arrested.

At Harvard Law School, he was hard-hitting, incisive, self-deprecating, and well, very concerned about the state of the nation.  Lawyer and journalist Scott Horton interviewed him before a crowd of more than 150 people, on topics ranging from the imprisonment of Army Private Bradley Manning to what Ellsberg described as a trend toward criminalizing the actions of whistle-blowers.

Watch the video here.  And read coverage of the event here and here.

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March 25, 2011

Former GITMO Psychologist Claims to be Named to White House Task Force on “Enhancing the Psychological Well-Being of The Military Family”

Posted by Cara Solomon

UPDATED POST: See comment below.

Larry James, former Guantanamo psychologist and subject of a professional misconduct complaint filed by the International Human Rights Clinic, has claimed he was appointed to a White House Task Force on “Enhancing Psychological Well-Being of The Military Family.”

“That’s just a scary thought,” said Michael Reese, a former U.S. Army private, a member of Disabled American Veterans, and one of the Ohio residents who filed the complaint.  “I just don’t trust him.”

In an e-mail to colleagues and students of Wright State University, where Dr. James serves as Dean of the School of Professional Psychology, he announced “with great pride and pleasure” that he had been “appointed by the First Lady,” and that he would be attending the Task Force’s first meeting at the White House, to be hosted next Tuesday by Mrs. Obama and her staff.

In a Salon post today, Glenn Greenwald asks:

“Of all the psychologists to choose from, why would they possibly choose to honor and elevate the former chief psychologist of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib at the height of the Bush abuses?  More disturbing still, among those most damaged by detainee abuse are the service members forced to participate in it; why would the White House possibly want to put on a task force about the health of military families someone, such as Dr. James, who at the very least is directly associated with policies that so profoundly harmed numerous members of the military and their families?”

UPDATE (3/26/2011)

Today, Greenwald received an interesting response from the White House in which it disputes some—but not all—of Dr. James’s statements.  As a result of this response, we changed the language in the headline from “Named to White House Task Force” to “Claims to Be Named to White House Task Force,” and, in the text, changed the wording of the first paragraph from “reportedly appointed” to “claims he was appointed.”  We also included additional quotes from the e-mail circulated by Dr. James to the Wright State University School of Professional Psychology community.

In an update this afternoon, Greenwald wrote:

“In an email to me from the First Lady’s Communications Director, the White House claims:

Several members of the White House staff are convening a meeting with multiple mental health professionals on Tuesday to discuss issues pertaining to the wellness of military families.  SAMHSA and the American Psychological Association have both been asked to attend.  We understand that Dr. James is involved with these groups and may have been indirectly invited to attend this meeting.

She claims, however, that he now will not be at that meeting, and further states that ‘Dr. James has not been appointed to serve in any capacity with the White House.'”

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March 17, 2011

A Conversation with Daniel Ellsberg: “WikiLeaks and the Pentagon Papers: Government Secrets and the Public’s Right to Know”

Posted by Cara Solomon

We’re very excited about this one.  Forty years after leaking the Pentagon Papers to the press, Daniel Ellsberg will discuss with lawyer-journalist Scott Horton the WikiLeaks disclosures and the U.S. government’s attempts to prosecute Army Private Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Please join us for the conversation March 24, beginning at 5 pm in Austin Hall West.  All are welcome, and food will be served.  Following the conversation, we’ll show the Academy-Award nominated documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.

Update:  Video of the event!  And articles here and here.

Continue Reading…

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March 8, 2011

What it Takes to Work in Human Rights: An Interview with Jim Cavallaro

Posted by Cara Solomon

Here’s our very own Jim Cavallaro talking to the Harvard International Law Journal about how he got started in the field of human rights, and what it takes to make an organization work on the ground.  He also offers some good advice for students, including this:

“I encourage students to go somewhere that they might want to work and to be prepared to spend time there learning the ropes. Not a few weeks or months, but years. That’s what it takes. To be successful, you have to be part of the local human rights community, you have to understand the local culture, language, norms, and so forth. They say that all politics is local.  Well, at some level, so is all human rights work.  Or at least all good human rights work.”

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March 7, 2011

Talk by Paul Hoffman Today: “The Future of Corporate Alien Tort Statute Litigation”

Posted by Susan Farbstein

Please join us today, March 8, for a talk with Paul Hoffman, Lead Counsel in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. and Sosa v.  Alvarez-Machain.

Paul is the leading Alien Tort Statute (ATS) litigator in the country, serving as counsel in numerous corporate cases including Unocal, Wiwa, Apartheid, Talisman, and Kiobel, and arguing Sosa before the Supreme Court.  Today, from 2:30-4:00 pm in Pound 335, he will speak with us about the future of corporate ATS litigation in the wake of Kiobel, the Second Circuit’s recent decision finding that corporations cannot be held liable under the statute.

After 15 years of ATS litigation against corporations complicit in human rights violations, resulting in several notable settlements, Kiobel represents a major departure in the jurisprudence.  At this particularly interesting moment, it really will be a privilege to hear Paul’s thoughts about where the courts are headed and what Kiobel means for future efforts to hold corporations accountable when they aid and abet violations of fundamental human rights.

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March 4, 2011

Coming on Wednesday: The “Machiavelli of Nonviolence”

Posted by James Tager, JD '13

UPDATE Click here for an article about this event.

Gene Sharp, dubbed the “Machiavelli of nonviolence,” is coming to campus to speak next Wednesday.  Dr. Sharp was recently profiled by The New York Times for his influence on the strategy of the demonstrators in the recent Egyptian protestors.  But he has been considered a leading proselytizer of non-violent tactics for years, and his ideas have been used by dissidents around the world.

Dr. Sharp will be speaking in Pound 107 at noon, this Wednesday, March 9th.  Lunch will be served.

Dr. Sharp has also agreed to lead a workshop later that afternoon, in Pound 418 at approximately 1:30 pm.  Sign-ups for this session are limited to 15, and on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Participants must agree to do some reading on Mr. Sharp’s tactics before the meeting (probably around 30 pages).  This will be an opportunity to discuss non-violence and democracy activism with the man universally acknowledged as a leading scholar in the field.

If you wish to join this workshop, please email James Tager at jtager@jd13.law.harvard.edu.

James Tager, JD ’13, is a member of HLS Advocates for Human Rights.

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March 3, 2011

Pushing Australia for Stronger Weapons Ban

Posted by Cara Solomon

This morning, at 2 am, while most of us were sleeping, Bonnie Docherty testified before an Australian Senate committee—from her living room in Cambridge.  Via telephone, she told the committee that Australia’s proposed legislation on implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions falls far short of the Convention’s goal and the standards set by other countries.

The Convention absolutely bans cluster munitions and requires countries to provide assistance for victims of past use. More than 100 countries—including Australia—have signed on; 52 have ratified.  Before Australia can ratify, it must pass legislation detailing how it will implement the Convention.

Mona Williams (left) and Maria van Wagenberg, both J.D. ’11, pictured here at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Laos in November 2010.

In January, Bonnie and two of her students (Maria van Wagenberg, JD ’11, and Mona Williams, JD ’11) wrote a critique of the government’s proposed legislation, which allows for broad exceptions to the Convention’s ban in the event of joint military operations with countries not party to the Convention, such as the United States.  The paper was jointly submitted to the committee by the Clinic and Human Rights Watch.

And that’s why Bonnie was called to testify.  Here’s what she had to say about the Senate hearing:

“The senators asked good questions and seemed receptive.  I’m glad we—meaning civil society—were able to present a united front on all the issues we wanted to raise, including on joint operations.  But I’m aware it will be a challenge to persuade the parliament to adopt the changes we want—in part because Australia feels great pressure from the U.S., which has not yet joined the Convention.”

For the Clinic’s submission to the Australian parliament, and for Bonnie’s testimony, look under “documents” on our cluster munitions page.

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