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article imageOp-Ed: Pyschologist contractors and CIA torture

By Ken Hanly     Dec 11, 2014 in Politics
Washington - Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell were pyschologists who were hired as private contractors by the CIA to plan and develop methods to get terror suspects to talk.
Among the techniques were interrogation tools such as waterboarding, slapping, and sleep deprivation. A CIA medical professional warned in an email back on June 16, 2003: “Although these guys believe that their way is the only way, there should be an effort to define roles and responsibilities before their arrogance and narcissism evolve into unproductive conflict in the field,” These two psychologists are among very few major participants in the torture program who are actually identified. There are many who are calling for legal prosecutions as a result of the report and the two psychologists could be among those against whom charges could be filed.
However, given the attitude of the Obama administration it is highly unlikely that any legal action will ever be taken against anyone in the US. The only person charged in the entire torture affair is CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou who is still in jail. Attorney General Eric Holder decided some time ago to cease all attempts to prosecute anyone at the end of August 2012: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that no one would be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal interrogations carried out by the C.I.A.
Obama's own famous announcement about looking forwards not backwards--except for whistleblowers, makes it clear there will be no prosecutions: Asked about investigating CIA torture in 2009, Obama replied that "it’s important to look forward and not backwards." Obama admitted that "we tortured some folks" earlier this year, but he didn't call for those responsible to be punished.
Obama appointed John Brennan head of the CIA in spite of the fact that he had to withdraw his name when Obama first tried to appoint him: In late 2008 Brennan was the reported choice for Director of the CIA in the incoming Obama administration. Brennan withdrew his name from consideration because of opposition to his CIA service under President George W. Bush and past public statements he had made in support of enhanced interrogation and the transfer of terrorism suspects to countries where they might be tortured (extraordinary rendition).[3][6][22] President Obama then appointed him to be his chief counterterrorism advisor, a position that did not require Senate confirmation.[3 In 2013 Obama tried again this time with success and Brennan became CIA chief on March 5. There were frantic attempts to delay release of the Senate summary report on torture but they failed. A statement by the White House press secretary makes it clear that he has confidence both in his CIA appointment Brennan and those who work for the CIA:"The president wakes up every morning pleased to know that John Brennan and the men and women of the CIA are hard at work using their skills and expertise to protect the American people," press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday, calling Brennan a "dedicated professional" and a "patriot." In other words although Obama disapproves of torture and the Bush CIA operations, he fully supports those that carried it out. It should not be surprising that one of the two psychologists who contracted with the CIA, James Mitchell, can say: "I always sleep soundly at night". He need not worry about charges being laid against him as he lives a retired life of leisure in Florida. There is an appended video interview with him.
Another reason why Mitchell can sleep well at night is that he is well off as a result of his work planning harsh interrogation methods for the CIA. The two psychologists' firm was paid a total of $81 million between 2005 and 2008 before the $181 million contract was terminated in 2009. Senator Dianne Feinstein who released the report said: “The CIA relied on these two contractors to evaluate the interrogation program they had devised and in which they had obvious financial interests.”
Mitchell said that he could not comment on whether he personally participated in water-boarding alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He said due to a nondislocure agreement he could not respond. He said of waterboarding: “I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, I don’t think it’s the wrong thing to do."
He did implicitly defend techniques such as slapping noting with some irony: “To me it seems completely insensible that slapping KSM is bad but sending a Hellfire missile in to a family picnic and killing all the children, killing Granny, is OK,” Of course, both could be bad. That someone should think one action cannot be bad because another is much worse shows rather weak powers of elementary reasoning.
Even the spokesperson for the American Psychological Association, Rhea Farberman, said in an interview: “If the allegations are true, their behavior was a clear violation of the profession’s ethical standards, clear violations of human rights, and probably violations of U.S. and international laws They should be held accountable.”
With the Obama administration clearly opposed to any prosecution any prosecutions must await the Republican take-over of both houses. They will order prosecutions just after they help Obama finally close Guantanamo.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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