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Panel reiterates arguments against MU’s potential hire of former Army psychologist

Kellie Kotraba/ColumbiaFAVS

Four panelists Wednesday morning reiterated arguments against MU's potential hire of former Army psychologist Larry James, who is being considered for a leadership position in the College of Education.

James is currently the dean of professional psychology at Wright State University in Ohio. But in the past, he was in a leadership position as an Army psychologist at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Since his role as an intelligence psychologist was during a time of intense abuse allegations, some people are concerned about his personal ethics.

"What I'm concerned about is the message that hiring such a person would send to the people involved in this community of scholars and students," said Michael Ugarte, who teaches in the romance languages department at MU. 

Other panelists were Faizan Syed from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Bradford Boyd-Kennedy from the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Aamer Trambu from the Muslim Student Organization.

James visited Columbia on Tuesday and responded to concerns about his role during a forum. 

"We may disagree with the previous administration - and I do - but all of these enhanced interrogation methods were approved," James said. He also said that he worked to guide people against using those techniques. 

The opposition movement is working to gather at least 1,000 signatures in an online petition to remove James from consideration for the job. As of Wednesday morning, they had about 300. 

This story was produced in partnership with Columbia Faith & Values.

Kellie Moore left KBIA in the spring of 2014.
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