The CIA Psychologist Who Designed the Torture Program Claims It Was Not Torture


Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Weekend Contributor

We have seen and heard the claims from Donald Rumsfeld and others that the leaked Senate torture report is off base because the enhanced interrogation techniques were not only legal according to the Office of Legal Counsel, but they also produced results.  Putting aside the idea that just because an allegedly illegal act is claimed to have been successful in producing actionable intelligence, does not make it any more legal or illegal, is there a reason why we should listen to the participants who authorized the waterboarding and other torture procedures when they claim that all is well?

Now it seems that Donald Rumsfeld has company.  “In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, his first public remarks since he was linked to the program in 2007, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agency.

The committee’s report found that the interrogation techniques devised by Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, were far more brutal than disclosed at the time, and did not yield useful intelligence. These included waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation for days at a time, confinement in a box and being slammed into walls.

But Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. “The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time,” he said. “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.” ‘  Reader Supported News 

Mr. Mitchell makes some claims that confuse and disturb me.  He seems to link being a torturer to a field agent or a soldier or Marine who puts his/her life on the line.  While many CIA and other defense agency agents do indeed put themselves at risk, I fail to see how waterboarding someone in a secure prison or base is putting your life on the line.

Mr. Mitchell also claims that anyone or any governmental oversight agency that is reviewing the actions of these heroes of torture is merely using hindsight years after the events occurred in order to go after these agents credibility.  Of course, Mr. Mitchell chooses to ignore or has conveniently forgotten that he and his superiors kept these activities secret from Americans for years.  Can someone please remind Mitchell that waterboarding has been illegal in the United States for decades?

Has Mitchell decided to speak out because he is worried about possible legal ramifications of his allegedly heroic torture activities that may be more fully disclosed in the Senate Report if it is declassified?   If Mr. Mitchell personally waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, maybe he should be worried.  Does it surprise anyone that Rumsfeld, Mitchell and Jose Rodriguez are all going on the record in the last year or two in attempt to whitewash their involvement in allowing, authorizing and undertaking illegal torture procedures?

If you don’t remember who Jose Rodriguez is, he is the CIA supervisor who authorized the destruction of the video tapes of the torture techniques in use and could have proven who said what and what was actually done.  So why would Rodriguez destroy the video tapes if he did nothing wrong and his allegedly illegal efforts produced results?  I think Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Mitchell protest too much.

What do you think should be done with the Senate Report?  Should it be fully declassified?  If the report does prove that agents of the government, no matter how high up, were involved in illegal activities, should they be prosecuted if the law still allows it?  If the CIA and other defense intelligence agencies are allowed to torture an accused prisoner, is any dissenter safe?  What do you think?


67 thoughts on “The CIA Psychologist Who Designed the Torture Program Claims It Was Not Torture

  1. That’s why the real government has black ops and budgets, right? Because desperate times call for desperate measures no matter how, oh my, what’s the word, certainly not effeminate, maybe, polite the “elected officials” have become.

  2. I am a former Marine Corps interrogator and take pride in knowing and practicing that skill with honor and dignity and IAW with law … those who say what we have done is not torture, quite frankly do not know… they want their opinion and emotion to trump facts. My library on the whole issue is here and I invite you to check it out

    My motto is simple: “Those who can make us believe that torture is acceptable can make us believe any absurdity.”

    Danny M. Francis (1st Lt., USMC (Ret.) Watertown, NY

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