After seven years of silence, the psychologist, who is considered the chief architect of the CIA’s torture program, has spoken out in defense of the program. The reason for his sudden appearance is the possibility of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture.
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.”
He was just following orders. Where have we heard that before?
James Mitchell: ‘I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country’
by Jason Leopold, The Guardian
Psychologist who designed CIA’s post-9/11 torture program insists he has nothing to apologise for – and attacks ‘people with a Jack Bauer mentality who don’t understand how intel works’
Dr James Elmer Mitchell has been called a war criminal and a torturer. He has been the subject of an ethics complaint, and his methods have been criticized in reports by two congressional committees and by the CIA’s internal watchdog.
But the retired air force psychologist insists he is not the monster many have portrayed him to be. [..]
Mitchell is featured prominently in a new report prepared by the Senate select committee on intelligence, which spent five years and more than $40m studying the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.
The findings, according to a summary leaked to McClatchy, are damning: that the agency misled the White House, Congress and the American people; that unauthorised interrogation methods were used; that the legal opinions stating the techniques did not break US torture laws were flawed; and perhaps most significant, that the torture yielded no useful intelligence.
This country executed people for torture and war crimes after World War 2. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.