Almost immediately after transferring the first important prisoner they had captured since the 9/11 attacks to a secret prison in Thailand, officials of the Central Intelligence Agency met at the agency’s headquarters to debate two questions they had been discussing for months. Who would interrogate Abu Zubaydah, and how?Snicker. And check his picture on the right. This is the game guy who said the CIA agents were running a "sissy program" and needed to "nut it up." He's quite the manly man, isn't he? LOL.
A C.I.A. lawyer at the April 1, 2002, meeting suggested the name of a psychologist, James Mitchell, who had been on contract for several months, analyzing Al Qaeda for the agency’s Office of Technical Service, the arm of the C.I.A. that creates disguises and builds James Bond-like spy gadgets.
In the months that followed, Mr. Mitchell, a former Air Force explosives expert and trainer, and later his partner, Bruce Jessen, another psychologist and former Air Force officer, designed, led and directed the interrogations and became the prime advocates for what is now widely considered to have been torture. In the process, they made tens of millions of dollars under contracts that their critics within the C.I.A. warned at the time gave them financial incentives to repeatedly use the most brutal techniques.These clowns, in the face of overwhelming expert opinion showing these techniques could not and would not ever produce actionable intelligence, nonetheless were the architects of some of the most brutal actions ever taken by U.S. personnel against foreign enemies.
Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen had worked as trainers at the Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program, which subjected American airmen to the kind of interrogation they might face if captured so they could learn to resist it. Building on that experience, Mr. Mitchell proposed to the C.I.A. a list of so-called enhanced interrogation tactics, including locking people in cramped boxes, shackling them in painful positions, keeping them awake for a week at a time, covering them with insects, and waterboarding, which simulates drowning and which the United States had considered torture.
There was broad consensus among behavioral scientists, however, that torture did not work — subjects became so eager to stop the pain that they did not provide accurate information. And Mr. Mitchell was proposing to take techniques employed in simulations and use them for actual interrogations.The Senate report indicates that at least some information suggesting that SERE methods were ineffective as interrogation tactics was never shared with the Justice Department. Nevertheless, the department authorized the techniques, and the C.I.A. asked Mr. Mitchell to use them.“After a lot of soul searching, I agreed to do it,” Mr. Mitchell said. “But I knew that at that moment, my life as I knew it was over. I went through my ethical obligations, and decided for me, the least worst choice was to help save American lives. It felt like something was going to happen at any minute. I felt like you had to do something.”In a lengthy interview last week after the C.I.A. released him from an order forbidding his talking about his role in its program, Mr. Mitchell said the speed of his hiring was a surprise even to him. “I never knew how that happened,” he said. “I just got a phone call.”But, he said, it was not something he sought. “I didn’t knock on the gate and say, ‘Let me torture people,’ ” he said.
Both men are now retired — Mr. Mitchell to Florida and Mr. Jessen to Spokane, Wash. But both have faced continuing problems from their role in the torture program, and the C.I.A. is obligated to keep paying the legal expenses of Mitchell and Jessen Associates through 2021.Mr. Mitchell said he disagreed with the Senate committee’s conclusions, although he said he was “fascinated” by the report because it has revealed things to him that he did not know. “I was just a cog in the machine, ” he said.Above all, he disputes that he was in control of the interrogation program. “The idea that I was managing things and running things is not true,” he said.But, he added, “it would be a lie to say I didn’t have influence.”
Postscript: The former VP Dick Cheney says we didn't prosecute and execute Japanese soldiers for waterboarding, but "other atrocities." Actually he's wrong, as the record reflects, but it seems a concerted effort at political misdirection more than factual dismissal.
In other news, anyone wanna bet Cheney takes the pardon Obama gives him on Christmas Eve 2016?