War on Terror

CIA Psychologist Defends Use of Torture, Rewrites History

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James Mitchell, a CIA psychologist who is often referred to as the architect of the CIA's “enhanced interrogation” program, recently defended the use torture by the CIA on terrorist suspects.

A soon-to-be-released Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture says the CIA's interrogation methods weren’t approved by the U.S. Justice Department or CIA headquarters, and that members of the CIA knowingly impeded the Bush White House and Congressional oversight, as well as oversight by the CIA’s Inspector General’s Office, notes McClatchy DC.

The report also says that the CIA's use of waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, confinement of suspects in a box and slamming suspects into wall did not yield any useful information.

However, Mitchell told The Guardian in a recent interview, "The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time. You can't ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says the Senate report “exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation" and "chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”

In response, Mitchell told The Guardian: “I’m skeptical about the Senate report, because I do not believe that every analyst whose jobs and promotions depended upon it, who were professional intelligence experts, all them lied to protect a program? All of them were wrong? All of these [CIA] directors were wrong? All of the people who were using the intel to go get people were wrong? And 10 years later a Senate staffer was able to put it together and finally there’s clarity? I am just highly skeptical that that’s the truth.”

However, the Senate report doesn't say that "every" CIA analyst lied "to protect a program" as Mitchell claims.

Mitchell still insists that the torture techniques he created did produce results, even though he couldn't present any actual proof.

Mitchell even went as far as to claim that the torture techniques used by the CIA were "not illegal based on the law at the time."

However, the torture techniques were never legal under U.S. law, but were deemed legal by a Bush administration memo in August 2002, months after Mitchell and fellow psychologist Bruce Jessen had already started creating torture techniques in December 2001 and training the CIA in torture in March 2002, noted Salon.com.

Even the FBI objected to the CIA’s interrogation of terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in March 2002, calling it “borderline torture.”

Amazingly, Mitchell claims to be a supporter of Amnesty International, which has condemned the CIA and the U.S. for years for the very torture Mitchell created, trained others to do and implemented.

Mitchell denied any involvement in the torture in 2009 after a Senate Armed Services Committee report named him and Jessen.

“We didn't have a damn thing to do with that,” said Mitchell. Instead, he blamed Pentagon contractors and civilians “who wanted to help out and made some dumb mistakes."

Steven Kleinman, an Air Force Colonel who stopped abusive interrogations in Iraq, slammed Mitchell's logic.

Kleinman told The Guardian, “Why would anybody think that a model that would produce those outcomes would also be effective in producing the opposite?"

Sources: McClatchy DC, The Guardian, Salon.com

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