James Mitchell: "I'm just a guy who got asked to torture people for the Fatherland" http://t.co/m82RoCLCvn
— billmon (@billmon1) April 18, 2014
Just in time for the Christian observance of Good Friday, because Pontius Pilate was another government contractor who caught undeserved flack for dutifully handling terrorist suspects according to procedure. From the Guardian article:
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.
“The narrative that’s out there is, I walked up to the gate of the CIA, knocked on the door and said: ‘Let me in, I want to torture people, and I can show you how to do it.’ Or someone put out an ad on Craigslist that said, ‘Wanted: psychologist who is willing to design torture program.’ It’s a lot more complicated than that,” Mitchell told the Guardian in his first public comments since he was linked to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program seven years ago.
“I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of government, and I did the best that I could.”
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.
But Mitchell said the program’s successes had been deliberately ignored…
Long before the Senate intelligence committee began its review, Mitchell was identified in a 2004 CIA inspector general’s report that examined the efficacy of the agency’s torture program. A heavily redacted copy of the IG report was released five years ago. It said Mitchell and Jessen had “probably misrepresented” their “expertise” as experienced interrogators when pitching coercive techniques to the CIA as a way to obtain actionable intelligence from prisoners…
Mitchell said his credentials are impeccable. He has spent his career studying the terrorist mindset first as a bomb disposal specialist, then as a hostage negotiator, a clinical psychologist and an instructor at the Air Force’s elite survival school…
Mitchell also noted that he’s a big supporter of Amnesty International and wanted to help the human rights organization raise money for child abuse by volunteering to sit in a dunk tank…
Read the whole thing; there’s a whole novel’s worth of human futility, self-aggrandization, finger-pointing and excuse-making packed into one short interview.