Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Stuff: Torture was their business.
The NY Times has a disheartening profile on Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the contractors who created the C.I.A.'s guidelines for extreme interrogations. And what a well-qualified duo they were:
They had never carried out a real interrogation, only mock sessions in the military training they had overseen. They had no relevant scholarship; their Ph.D. dissertations were on high blood pressure and family therapy. They had no language skills and no expertise on Al Qaeda.
Former shrinks for the military's SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) program a the Air Force Survival School, these two gents parlayed their knowledge into a consulting business that reworked the torture techniques SERE training was supposed to help US troops resist into a suite of techniques C.I.A. operatives could use against suspected terrorists. From these to "experts," the C.I.A. received a bundle of techniques derived from Chinese tortures used on captured American and UN troops during the Korean War. These techniques included "slaps, stress positions, sleep deprivation, wall-slamming and waterboarding." The goal of these techniques, according to created "a comparable level of fear and brutality to flying planes into buildings."
When Abu Zubaydah was captured in March of 2002, Mitchell and Jessen were called in to consult with interrogators who had questions about the legality of the some of the techniques the consultants had endorsed. Mitchell and Jessen must have been very persuasive about the legality of their plans: Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in two weeks, an average of five times a day.
Torture pays the bills! Mitchell and Jessen made $1,000 to $2,000 a day. Just how much the C.I.A. paid them in total is classified, but the amount is estimated to have been in the millions.