COLUMBIA - The St. Louis chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is joining with civil rights and academic groups Wednesday to protest the possible MU hire of ex-Army Colonel Larry James.
The news conference aimed at explaining their opposing views is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in Room 2206A of MU's student center. The council is circling a petition to discourage MU officials from hiring James following his Tuesday interview.
James spent 16 months during two stints in Guantanamo Bay overseeing interrogations at the United States military detention center. He commanded the Behavioral Science Consultation Team that advises and partipates in interrogation. James spent 22 years in the military.
Those who oppose James accuse him of witnessing abusive behavior in Guantanamo Bay, but not stopping it. The dean of the College of Education says James did nothing wrong. James has not been found to have violated the law or any professional standards.
James told those at the public interview that he went to Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib detention center in Iraq to clean up "some diabolical things." He says this in his 2008 memoir "Fixing Hell," as well.
Opposers identify a specific instance in Guantanamo Bay where James allegedly witnessed sexual humiliation of a man who was made to wear women's underwear. James says he stopped the specific instance after a 5 minute coffee break.
The Associated Press reports James saying his mission was to teach men and women how to sit down and interview someone without any abusive behavior.
If hired, James will be the Division Director at the College of Education at MU. He will oversee 60 people in the position. James plans to recruit and support student veterans. He also plans to open an interdisciplinary research center focusing on gun violence in schools.
James has a doctorate from the University of Iowa in counseling psychology, is the dean of professional psychology at Wright State University in Ohio, and coordinated mental health resources at the Pentagon after the September 11 attacks.
The other candidate for the position is Matthew Burns. Burns is an educational psychology professor currently at the University of Minnesota.
The final decision on who will get the position is expected to be made in March.