And Did James Mitchell Also Write the Psychological Profile of Abu Zubaydah Bybee Used?

I think Spencer and I are just going to keep tag-teaming the torture memos.

He writes about something I’ve been thinking: to what degree was James Mitchell, almost certainly the contractor involved in making the case that they needed to use torture to get information out of Abu Zubaydah, making that case so he could win a hefty contract?

But is it too cynical to suggest that Mitchell also had an interest in saying that Soufan and the FBI’s (and apparently, in part, CIA’s) non-brutal techniques failed? From page 24 of the Senate Armed Services Committee report:

Subsequent from his retirement from DoD [the Department of Defense], Dr. Jessen joined Dr. Mitchell and other former JPRA [Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, which oversees SERE] officials to form a company called Mitchell Jessen & Associates. Mitchell Jessen & Associates is co-owned by seven individuals, six of whom either worked for JPRA or one of the service SERE schools as employees and/or contractors. As of July 2007, the company had between 55 and 60 employees, several of whom were former JPRA employees.

Science may be science, but money is money.

But Mitchell may have done more than certify that the only way to get Abu Zubaydah to speak was to waterboard him. He may have been the guy who did the psychological profile that found him fit to be waterboarded.

The May 30, 2005 memo attributes an incredibly chilling comment, acknowledging that waterboarding exceeded the guidelines laid out in the 2002 OLC memo, to a "psychologist/interrogator."

The IG Report noted that in some cases the waterboard was used with far greater frequency than initially indicated, see IG Report at 5, 44, 46, 103-04, and also that it was used in a different manner. See id. at 37 ("[T]he waterboard technique  … was different from the technique described in the DoJ opinion and used in the SERE training. The difference was the manner in which the detainee’s breathing was obstructed. At the SERE school and in the DoJ opinion, the subject’s airflow is disrupted by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contrast, the Agency Interrogator …  applied large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee’s mouth and nose. One of the psychologists/interrogators acknowledged that the Agency’s use of the technique is different from that used in SERE training because it is "for real–and is more poignant and convincing.") [my emphasis]

Is this "psychologist/interrogator" the person who supplied the dubious profile (the one disputed by FBI people) that Bybee used to determine that Abu Zubaydah was fit to be waterboarded?

According to your reports, Zubaydah does not have any pre-existing mental conditions or problems that would make him likely to suffer prolonged mental harm from your proposed interrogation methods. Through reading his diaries and interviewing him, you have found no history of "mood disturbance or other psychiatric pathology[,]" "thought disorder[,] … enduring mood or mental health problems." He is in fact "remarkably resilient and confident that he can overcome adversity." When he encounters stress or low mood, this appears to last only for a short time. He deals with stress by assessing its source, evaluating the coping resources available to him, and then taking action. Your assessment notes that he is "generally self-sufficient and relies on his understanding and application of religious and psychological principles, intelligence and discipline to avoid and overcome problems." Moreover, you have found that he has a "reliable and durable support system" in his faith, "the blessings of religious leaders, and camaraderie of like-minded mujahedin brothers." During detention, Zubaydah has managed his mood, remaining at most points "circumspect, calm, controlled., and deliberate." He has maintained this demeanor during aggressive interrogations and reductions in sleep. You describe that in an initial confrontational incident, Zubaydah showed signs of sympathetic nervous system arousal, which you think was possibly fear. Although this incident led him to disclose intelligence information, he was able to quickly regain his composure, his air of confidence, and his "strong resolve" not to reveal any information.

We know, after all, one of the changes CIA made after its IG Report declared the program to be cruel and inhumane was to bring in independent medical personnel from their OMS to conduct evaluations. 

We note that this involvement [in 2005] of medical personnel in designing safeguards for, and in monitoring implementation of, the procedures is a significant difference from earlier uses of the techniques catalogued in the Inspector General’s Report. See IG Report at 21 n26 ("OMS was neither consulted nor involved in the analysis of the risk and benefits of [enhanced interrogation techniques], nor provided with the OTS report cited in the OLC opinion [the Interrogation Memorandum]."). Since that time, based on comments from OMS, additional constraints have been imposed on the use of the techniques.

And after the IG Report, the CIA imposed a specific new requirement that an OMS physician be present to observe the torture.

As noted, OMS input has resulted in a number of changes in the application of the waterboard, including limits on frequency and cumulative use of the technique. Moreover, OMS personnel are carefully instructed in monitoring this technique and are personally present whenever it is used. See OMS Guidelines at 17-20. Indeed, although physician assistants can be present when other enhanced techniques are applied, "use of the waterboard requires the presence of the physician." Id. at 9n2.

And this passage discussing the involvement of OMS after the IG Report makes it clear that, prior to that report, these "psychologist/interrogators" were the ones making the decisions on waterboarding.

"OMS contends that the expertise of the SERE waterboard experience is so different from the subsequent Agency usage as to make it almost irrelevant. Consequently, according to OMS, there was no a priori reason to believe that applying the waterboard with the frequency and intensity with which it was used by the psychologist/interrogators was either efficacious or medically safe."

So it seems that in the early days of the torture program, the "psychologist/interrogators" were the ones making these medical and psychological judgments. Precisely the kind of people contracted to the CIA from Mitchell’s consulting firm. 

Now, it would seem to be a conflict in any case if a "psychologist/interrogator" were the only one to conduct such a profile before you up and waterboarded them 83 times in a month. But at the time the Bybee Memo was written, the CIA was still purportedly in the planning stages of the program–and we know Mitchell was personally involved in that planning stage.

There were a number of assurances CIA had to make to Bybee before he’d call this torture legal. One was that torture was the only way to get the information. Another was that Abu Zubaydah was psychologically strong enough to withstand it. Did the same person certify both to be true? And was that person James Mitchell?

Is it possible that, in addition to (possibly) judging Abu Zubaydah wasn’t going to cooperate, someone standing to make a fat government contract if torture was used is also the person who assured Jay Bybee that Abu Zubaydah was fit to be tortured?

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52 replies
    • skdadl says:

      Well, no kidding — both of you, and many of the people who comment here as well.

      I’ve just caught up with EW’s incredible production of the last couple of days (me interrupted by plumbing emergencies; it’s so nice to have dry feet for a change), and I honestly feel that my overstressed brain has been calmed and groomed simply by reading through EW’s persistence in making sense of several narratives of banal evildoing rampant. I think I follow, at least.

      This is what Soufan meant by reading between the lines, yes? So in answer to your question: yes.

  1. klynn says:

    Valtin wrote this back in September which gives some “overlap” information to your post. It’s worth reading.

    I wonder what the common thread is between BSCT (Mitchell’s firm) and CACI (Jack London’s firm)?

    • skdadl says:

      Click back there to the McClatchy report, which is so quotable.

      LONDON — The chief justice of the British High Court on Wednesday gave the British government one week to obtain the U.S. release of classified information about the alleged torture of a British resident who’d been detained at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba .

      The court indicated that it would issue its own order if the government doesn’t respond or justify why continued secrecy is warranted.

      Noting that President Barack Obama had released highly sensitive documents tracing the decisions on torture during the Bush administration’s war on terror, the high court judges voiced exasperation that the British government hasn’t acted in what they said was the British public interest in being similarly open.

      Now, I call that discipline. Those two High Court judges remind me of my mother — you’ve got a week, or we act on what we already know (and they know quite a lot, including, we think, what American agents have admitted about this case). They appear determined to break Binyam Mohamed’s case open whether Obama and Clinton (and Miliband) are ready for that or not.

      I so wish that some of our cases had got to judges who would say the same. Every principled stand helps, though.

      • fatster says:

        Thnx! Having a bad day with my browser (phosphorus was meant for plunger), plus tinyurl wasn’t working, and blah blah blah. Appreciate your help!

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mitchell would be following the business model used by successful DoD contractors. (And the one used by Cheney to become Veep.)

    Finagle yourself into being appointed to write the specs; write the specs so that only your business model fits them; ask for bidders on the contract; declare yourself the winner (after a thorough review of competing bids). Most importantly, structure the “services” so that they can’t be taken in-house and performed without your constant supervision. Apart from the revenue, that allows you to skew all the data, so that whatever doesn’t fit your business model gets tossed or discredited.

    • Peterr says:

      You left out one other important aspect of the contracting arrangements:

      All of this must be done out of sight of any oversight bodies. If anyone objects to the secrecy, tell them it’s done this way for “reasons of national security.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Plus the contract has to be “no bid”, “cost plus”, with no inquiry into what constitutes “cost”. What a tangled, expensive web has been Mr. Cheney’s programmatic outsourcing. Why have the government do something for ten dollars when you can outsource it to private enterprise, who will do it for a hundred (Spreadsheets and color charts included)? Makes sense to me. Not.

    • Valtin says:

      It was most likely Mitchell, but we can’t rule out it was another psychologist.

      7 — you are right about Mitchell’s contractor M.O., but there appears to be more to him than meets the eye. He left SERE in 2001 (I don’t know an actual date.) Per SASC, he was contacted by someone — redacted! — to review Al Qaeda resistance training docs. Mitchell called his SERE psych buddy Jessen to help him.

      First question, and I’ll have a lot others: who contacted Mitchell in Dec. 2001 or Jan. 2002 and brought him into this whole affair to begin with? IF that person or agency had to be redacted, we can assume it was either intelligence or DoD at higher levels itself.

      Why did Mitchell even resign from the military? Did he need to be on the outside for some reason? Thus far, Mitchell has refused reporters’ requests for interview.

      To know more, one would also have to look at the key agency undiscussed in all this: JPRA.

      • Peterr says:

        Why did Mitchell even resign from the military? Did he need to be on the outside for some reason?

        A couple of possibilities suggest themselves.

        (1) He jumped for the money. Seeing that Bush was elected, he might have thought “now’s the time to set myself up outside the DOD, to be able to cash in as a contractor/consultant” — and not just for the DOD, but for various security contractor companies as well.

        (2) He was pushed. Given what we’re seeing here, I can easily envision him pulling some stunt that so appalled a superior officer that he was given a choice: a quick and quiet retirement from the military or a public court martial.

        If I had to bet, I’d say (2) — but (1) would make it easier for him to accept the decision. And if I’m right about (2), getting the invitation to come back as a secret contractor would be greeted as a tasty revenge on that superior officer who forced him out.

        • bmaz says:

          Peter, if it is indeed number 2, then that goes right to the criminal intent argument I was harping on all day yesterday. If he was pushed out for even remotely demonstrable cause related to his interrogation methodology, bringing him back in from the private sector to give us this is yet additional evidence or willful and wanton intent.

      • emptywheel says:

        You know, Peterr may have the answer for why he left (aside from pecking order considerations and the Generals’ unwillingness to buy off on this kind of torture for fear of retribution).

        Contracting. Less oversight. Perhaps even less oversight from the Intell Committees.

        • Valtin says:

          Re Peterr and your surmise about Mitchell leaving so less oversight from the Intel committees. I’m thinking this isn’t so much about an individual’s pursuit of greed, but to set up a proprietary company for the Company. That has been done before, and would explain a lot here. I believe that JPRA has been a resting place for a lot of CIA types, and was a natural because of the recovery function, which I suspect they do for clandestine paramilitary operations, as well as standard military ones.

          If you look at other military psychologists, like Morgan Banks, who was on the APA’s PENS task force, some of them are with Special Forces, a group that is also not discussed in the SASC report. Consider this from an article by Stephen Soldz last June:

          According to accounts by individuals like former Iraq Army interrogator Tony Lagouranis, these SERE techniques were regularly used by Special Forces in Iraq. Other interrogators learned of them, directly or indirectly, from Special Forces and attempted to imitate the techniques used by these revered units. Abuses by the Navy SEALS, a Special Forces unit, were reported by Lagouranis:

          “They would actually have the detainee stripped nude, laying on the floor, pouring ice water over his body. They were taking his temperature with a rectal thermometer. We had one guy who had been burned by the navy SEALs. He looked like he had a lighter held up to his legs. One guy’s feet were like huge and black and blue, his toes were obviously all broken, he couldn’t walk.

          Contained in the newly released sections of the Church Report is an official acknowledgement that psychologists in so-called Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs) functioned in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But what had not been clear before is that these BSCTs are “mostly within Special Operations, where they provide direct support to military operations.” That is, the BSCT psychologists were, as described above, within the units especially known for using brutal means for dealing with detainees (Arrigo & Bennett, 2007).

          Consider also this, from an interview with Mark Benjamin at Democracy Now!

          Morgan Banks is a guy who’s affiliated with the Special Operations Command’s Psychological Directorate, so these are the top psychologists associated with the Special Operations units in the military. What we learned last month, the Department of Defense Inspector General declassified a report that showed that that department, the Special Operations Command’s Psychological Applications Directorate, early in the war came up with a plan specifically to do this. In other words, when I say “this,” I mean take these training tactics, these brutal mock interrogations, and flip them around into real interrogation techniques. Because this guy, Morgan Banks, was in charge of that portion of Special Operations, it certainly seems to strongly suggest—it doesn’t say Morgan Banks by name, but it says his organization did this. So if you’ve got a guy who is involved and who is part of the original planning to turn these techniques into real interrogation tactics and then he’s sitting on a task force at the American Psychological Association drawing up ethics guidelines that say that can be done, I think that’s raising some real alarm bells among psychologists.

          Then, consider the issue also of CIA psychologists, like Scott Schumate, also on the APA PENS panel (who determined in 2005 that APA should keep supporting psychologists in military interrogation settings, which we now know was crucial; this panel was packed with military psychologists):

          MARK BENJAMIN: That’s a guy whose last name is Shumate. He’s a psychologist for the Counter Terrorism Center at the CIA. This is the center that reported—at the time of 9/11 was a guy named Cofer Black was in charge of that unit. You may recall Cofer Black is very well known for going up to Congress early in the war on terror and saying, you know, “There’s a before-after-9/11 and there’s an after-9/11; after 9/11 the gloves come off.”

          What the psychologists are concerned about is that their fellow psychologists who are associated with that center, the Counter Terrorism Center, seem to be also, you know, crucial in reverse-engineering these tactics, these training tactics in the brutal interrogation techniques, or at least that’s the concern among these psychologists. And what they’re doing is alerting their organization that there could be a real problem here.

          AMY GOODMAN: Of course, Cofer Black now involved with Blackwater, the private security company based in North Carolina, and an offshoot of that around intelligence.

          Blackwater= private security
          Mitchell-Jessen= private security/psychological services

          These proprietaries, like the private airlines most of us are familiar that the CIA set up, and many other proprietaries, may be used to make money, but their primary purpose is covert ops, used also by Special Forces, the interpenetration of the two being a prime organizational dilemma for the government for some time now. The secrecy is not about, or not primarily about money, except insofar as its about financing covert ops (the greed harvest is a bonus for these folks)

          What happened in this instance of the torture is that the world of private ops leaked into regular military. JPRA was the transmission belt, and the psychologists were key players. The executive branch has drank too long from the cup of covert ops and use of special forces, and this is the blowback.

          That’s my theory of what went down. Remember, the huge drawback of the SASC report was the refusal of the CIA to cooperate with the investigation.

          If you go down the greed path as an analysis of this situation, you will get lost. The same thing with making the torture scandal all about some bad lawyers. The real scandal lies with covert ops and intel.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I agree that privatizing intel was a big part of this, especially when matched with privatized ops like Blackwater, and de facto semi-private ops like the special military force Cheney secretly put at his beck and call.

            Those are key to Cheney’s equation for enjoying extra-legal executive branch authority without congressional or judicial oversight. He’s been working on that since he and Addington completed the outrageous Republican minority report for the Iran-Contra hearings. His concoction is the reverse of a Six Sigma process, in that from the people’s perspective, it maximizes the potential for error in effectively overseeing executive action.

            Inherent in that formula, however, is making it sufficiently lucrative to the private sector to engage in governmental functions. That has two elements. One is lots of money, pallet-loads. The other is immunizing contractors from liability through legislation, executive rule-making or enforcement, and (from the people’s perspective) really bad contracts. Here again, Cheney has crafted another perfect storm.

          • rkilowatt says:

            “…covert ops and use of special forces, and this is the blowback.”

            “I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. … Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the all-highest”. [George White of CIA who worked on MK-ULTRA program]. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?pageId=3427

      • klynn says:

        Wonder if the contact who brought Mitchell is the same who brought in CACI and L-3?

        CACI’s contract was with the Army through the Department of the Interior.

        The CACI contract with the Army is administered by the Interior Department, under an outsourcing agreement with the Army, which has made it even harder to track.

        Why did this happen? The only problem going on with the Dept. of Interior at the time was Abramoff…And then some missing funds, if I recall (/s) from the Indian Trust Fund…billions missing. And then the USAG scandal got tied into the BIA issue too.

        My tin foil is a bit tight right now…But this is cowinkidinky odd. If the BSCT contract is found to have gone to the Army via Interior…ummm…

    • emptywheel says:

      Why not kill two birds with one stone: following the contractor model that Cheney used when he craeted the need for outsourcing logistics, then filled it, after entering the private sector, by getting the contract for KBR.

  3. stagemom says:

    who’s gonna play you in the movie, miss m.?
    maybe that adorable english actress playing “little dorrit” on pbs
    this month…?

  4. SparklestheIguana says:

    Wow. So not only is this about sadism and a rationale for invading Iraq, it’s about greed too?? I have to paraphrase Condi….”Who could have possibly predicted.”

  5. Sara says:

    Shorrock Data on Contracting Interrogators.

    The key company in the “Intelligence-Industrial Complex” was, as of 2006, was Antenon. It had contracts with the US Army Intelligence Center, and furnished interrogators to all the services plus the CIA. In 2006 it was purchased by General Dynamics for 2.1 Billion. It not only furnished interrogators, but had the sole source contract for furnishing training personnel to Fort Huachuca, Arizona — also known as “Schoolhouse” by people who have written about interrogation. At the time it was acquired by General Dynamics, Antenon Board of Directors included William Perry, former Secretary of Defense, and Retired General Hugh Shelton, Former Special Forces Commander, and former Chair of the Joint Chiefs. Had over 5000 employees, 85% of whom held high level security clearances.

  6. freepatriot says:

    jebus, woman, do you ever sleep ???

    do you read by osmosis or something ???

    if we ever have issues, call, we can work it out

    please don’t ever start investigating me

    (wink)

  7. wmd1961 says:

    The picture that comes to mind on reading this is Mitchel is Mengele. Years of applying low scale torture to US forces and observing desensitized him. The opportunity to do less constrained experiments on AZ and KSM may have been motivated as depraved scientific inquiry.

    • Sara says:

      “depraved scientific inquiry.”

      No — I think you have to factor in the Profit Motive. If you bought Antenon stock (and yes, it was publicly traded) just before 9/11, and sold out when the General Dynamics take over occurred, you would have quadrupled your stake.

      The Commodification of Interrogation — that’s what it is all about.

      • ralphbon says:

        The Commodification of Interrogation — that’s what it is all about.

        Swell. Next stop: Torture Futures at the Chicago Board of Trade.

        • MarkH says:

          Too bad we couldn’t have bought a naked CDS on Zubaydah’s ‘failure’? Just think of it, combining the absolute worst of all our crises. What more could one hope to achieve? Because obviously getting important useful information wasn’t in the cards.

          The stench of the Bush era does indeed linger.

  8. TheraP says:

    EW, this is so important. It follows up on exactly what was already concerning me last Friday. The idea that there was this circularity evident in the process that seemed to have occurred in assessing AZ in terms of his personality, his “fitness” for duty er “fitness” for torture, and the “necessity” for torture – as opposed to continuing the interviewing type interrogation. So I see 3 roles here. And right there, if the same psychologist does all 3, you have a conflict of interest. And you’re getting at a 4th potential role – the need to prove that “torture works” better than the alternative.

    It is crucial to get not only the assessment reports for all 3 roles here, but the raw data. So as I see it, 3 assessment questions had to be answered:

    1. A personality assessment, based on whatever raw data (interview, testing, video/personal observation, and apparently a diary, etc.)

    2. An assessment of whether or not torture is likely to harm this particular individual in the long term.

    3. Assessment for why the regular interviewing techniques of normal interrogation “were not working”.

    [4] On top of that we have the hypothesized potential role – maybe played by the same psychologist.

    For the first 3, I’d like to see 3 different assessments, each done to answer the very specific question.

    [5] I would now like to add another hypothesis (and a 5th potential role) to the bunch. That is based on the WaPo article from last Saturday, which suggests that the psychologist participated in generating for DoJ legal reasons to support engaging in torture. (According to the article this is contained in the 2002 DoJ memo.)

    Quoting from that article in the Post:

    When the CIA began what it called an “increased pressure phase” with captured terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida in the summer of 2002, its first step was to limit the detainee’s human contact to just two people. One was the CIA interrogator, the other a psychologist.

    During the extraordinary weeks that followed, it was the psychologist who apparently played the more critical role. According to newly released Justice Department documents, the psychologist provided ideas, practical advice and even legal justification for interrogation methods that would break Abu Zubaida, physically and mentally. Extreme sleep deprivation, waterboarding, the use of insects to provoke fear — all were deemed acceptable, in part because the psychologist said so.

    This fifth hypothesis, as I see it, would be the linchpin for you case, EW. For if the person was trying to buttress legal reasons, they were potentially attempting to (a) self-protect from legal responsibility and (b) further the aim of gaining consultancy work.

    All of this adds up to very unethical behavior. A circular process whereby one is effectively prosecutor, judge, jury, and someone who stands to profit from the “work” done.

    Was it piecework? By the day? By the technique? Or what?

    And look how the process was limited to only 2 people during the torture phase. Nobody else to second-guess the “authority” of the psychologist. (Think Milgram’s Obedience to Authority.).

    In case it helps, I’m also giving a link for my post on that last Saturday, which deals with the psychological issues as I saw them at that point.

    Where would I go from here? Get the supporting documents – as many as possible! Especially any that relate to the psychologist(s)’s behavior.

    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks TheraP. I was hoping you and the other qualified people on this topic would weigh in. I know, instinctively this is a conflict. But I’m not sure how to describe that in terms of the profession. Your help is very much appreciated.

      • TheraP says:

        Conflicts:

        We need to look into whether any laws prevent someone from “referring” work to themselves. Especially I’d look into how that would play in the medical community. (I’d turf that to the lawyers here – but it may not work if you’re out of the country – however if it’s transmitted to the US – that might be a different ballgame)

        We also need to know the licensing laws for the psychologists in question – depending on where they are licensed. (and how behavior outside that state would play into the mix)

        Also, if they were making determinations which should have been made by MDs, can we nail them on “practicing medicine without a license”?

        A psychologist is not supposed to engage in any roles which place them in an ethical bind. I see so many here, if this is the same person doing all of this, that I don’t know where to start!

        But before finding out exactly what the role conflicts might be, we need the documents. Assessments and raw data. Then we can begin to see how many ethical conflicts we’re looking at. This is important also, because many state licensing boards have ethical violations written into the law in terms of what the psychologist’s behavior is measured against – when deciding to yank a license.

        I also have another thought. Which is that potentially some of the people who relied on the OLC judgments may try to hang the whole case on the judgments of psychologists. And while I think we are looking at egregious behavior by psychologists, including giving lawyers “legal advice” about how to make torture legal, there is no way the OLC folks can really pass the buck – even if they did – and assume they were “pressured” or “forced” by non-lawyers into writing the memos they did. That’s their job and their doorstep – and they clearly missed the boat!

        I’m sure the lawyers here can address that part. But we need to tease out, if possible, how many different ethical lapses and legal lapses there were in addition to outright violations.

        And I’m thrilled to help! To the degree I can.

        Kudos on your untiring and devoted efforts to this cause!!!

  9. Hmmm says:

    At a very high level, when you have stodgy institutions that start getting led by ethically challenged individuals, it’s boringly common for the really dirty work to go to opportunistic and amoral 3rd parties, since the institution itself will lack either the technical competence, the vigor, and/or the moral blindness that execution of the bad idea requires. Also if it goes badly, the contractor can be blamed and jettisoned while the institution itself sails on. The text of the contractor’s proposal often winds up pasted into the presentations and documents used in the institution’s internal policy approval process.

    Another example of this pattern would be the record industry’s reliance on external DRM technologists who in their hearts know what they’re selling can never actually work; all they care about is getting the chance to sell their ultimately worthless products and services on a great big fat contract. The record company’s board decides they have to try it or else face shareholder lawsuits, even though it probably won’t work; the record company justifies the project internally, get approvals, and hires the DRM company; the technology eventually fails as it inevitably must; and the DRM company is cast away amid many recriminations and possibly lawsuits.

    All that said, if the dirtiest work was done by contractors who weren’t CIA agents, then why has all the CIA outcry about not prosecuting been -solely- over agents, and not over contractors? Are the contractors the CIA’s designated fall guys?

    (Also it may be worth mentioning that there is a faint echo here of the lobbyist-drafted bill scenario. In both cases a major end beneficiary of the USG document being drafted is the same entity that produces its actual text.)

  10. bgrothus says:

    While greed could lead us down another path, perhaps this guy could simply engage in some “double dipping.” That is, he retires from his job and collects his government retirement while also becoming an independent contractor. And just to make the deal all tidy, he also writes the contract under which he will be hired to work, even more conveniently, knowing all the corners he needs to tie down, per TheraP.

    Because we know (as has also been pointed out above) that outsourcing, privatizing, etc. was all the rage and provided the siphon for bankrupting our government, another side benefit of BushCo intent.

  11. klynn says:

    So, Blackwater’s contract was through the State Department and CACI was through the Interior Department. It will be interesting to find out where Mitchell & Assoc.’s contract went through.

    • Sara says:

      “CACI was through the Interior Department.”

      According to Shorrock, CACI shot to the top during the Rumsfeld Regime, and most of its contracts were with DOD. After Rumsfeld was fired, the CACI stock dropped by about a third — down from 60 per share to 42 in 2007. CACI was subsequently punished by Wall Street as it did not meet it’s projected profits, and this forced the firing of its CFO, and its stock rating was lowered.

      But it was not so badly punished by the market — somehow it found the resources to purchase MZM (later called Athena), after Cunningham’s scandal broke, and Michael Wade went to jail. What was of value to CACI was not the contracts Athena had — very few apparently after the Wade matter, but Athena had under contract 600 personnel with High Level Security Clearances, and in the Intelligence/Security Industrial Complex Business, the key asset is precisely that — staff with pre-existing Security Clearances. CACI’s stock price gradually improved after the acquisition.

      I keep pushing in these little details from Shorrock’s work primarily because in figuring out what was going on, you must keep your eye on the fact that so much of the Intelligence Ops is privatized, outsourced — and thus is essentially a for profit business, and not a government function run by good grey civil service types. These businesses are not small boutique efforts — they are publicly owned, their stock is traded, and as with any other business, they have to meet the quarterly profit expectations of the financial whiz kids on Wall Street. Something like Mitchell, I would expect would either be part of a larger Intelligence conglomerate, or a specialized sub-contractor represented by a larger entitity. It is also important to understand (which Shorrock develops in great detail) that because these companies are publicly owned, many of them are not even “American” anymore. Shorrock tracks Gulf Arab, Saudi, EU and Israeli ownership or participation in many of these firms.

      What one advocates and does in the face of what we are just now beginning to understand happened in Bush/Cheney’s Torture Dens has to be comprehended as the product of the business of a big Industry. We have to figure out the strategy for bringing Intelligence (and much else) back in house as a professional function of Government.

      • klynn says:

        Read my link at 19. Their DODD contracts were actually through Dept. of Interior. Thus, it has been quite difficult to track their gov contracts for DOD work. Thus, difficult to track “the books” on the contracts…which makes all the money issues at Interior more interesting.

        The government contract that led interrogators working for CACI International Inc. into Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was awarded in 1998, with the stated purpose of providing inventory control and other routine services to the U.S. Army.

        This kind of “blanket-purchase agreement” is becoming increasingly popular with federal agencies because it is supposed to increase efficiency. Large, vaguely worded contracts are designed so the agencies can make quick requests and get fast results, without requiring separate bids and evaluations for each service. Critics say these open-ended contracts allow agencies to skirt public oversight and give big companies an unfair advantage in winning government business.

        The CACI contract with the Army is administered by the Interior Department, under an outsourcing agreement with the Army, which has made it even harder to track.

        (my emphasis)

        and then this from another article irt Cheney:

        Hoffman, now in another job at the Interior Department, said Cheney never told him what to do on either issue — he didn’t have to.

        His genius,” Hoffman said, is that “he builds networks and puts the right people in the right places, and then trusts them to make well-informed decisions that comport with his overall vision.

        (my emphasis)

        I take this information together. I do not see the blanket-purchase-agreement as a flaw to privatization, I see it as the design to hide black-ops off the books. And if you follow the Cheney placed people in combo with the “blanket-purchases”, it reads like a design, not happenstance.

        That’s the point I’m making. These are breadcrumbs which lead somewhere and not by chance or accident.

        To know his daughter was at the State Department and Blackwater’s contract came through the state department, fits into the pattern I am pointing to.

    • MarkH says:

      And how much of it gets fed back into the political system as campaign contributions? It’s subversive.

  12. areg says:

    Good work Spencer, this torture stuff is ridiculous – we went to Iraq to liberate them and help make average Iraqis more “free” supposedly, yet we’re doing the same things to them that Saddam did to his own people. America needs a clear and consistent policy on where they stand on torture, and they need to stick to it.

  13. montanamaven says:

    This reminds me of that eveeel psychitrist in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, Ewan Cameron? The CIA took his theory (which didn’t work) and used it to interrogate. The CIA at the time was a bunch of Ivy League James Bond wannabees with sadist tendencies. Has anything changed from the 1950’s? Read Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes” about the CIA. Sad. Just a bunch of drunken bunglers. Kind of like the Buchanans in “The Great Gatsby”.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Heh. I’ve cited Legacy of Ashes in just about every thread on U.S. torture. It’s as American as apple pie & motherhood. If you want a pre-CIA example, read about the U.S. counterinsurgency in Philippines in Overthrow. Soldiers forced bamboo down prisoners throats, poured water down until their stomachs swelled, and then jumped on their stomachs.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Good PR from Glenn Greenwald today, as Bobschacht noted in another post (links in original):

    UPDATE: As the recent debate-changing discovery of Marcy Wheeler demonstrated, one extremely important way to improve media coverage of these issues is to have independent journalists able to work on them. Marcy has long been one of the hardest-working and most important writers on these matters, yet has been doing it all for free, as a side hobby before and after her full-time job. FireDogLake is now attempting to raise funds to hire Marcy to enable her to work on her investigative journalism full-time. For those able to do so, contributing to that fund is something I’d highly recommend. That can be done here.

    • MarkH says:

      Marcy has long been one of the hardest-working and most important writers on these matters, yet has been doing it all for free, as a side hobby before and after her full-time job.

      Oh my God. We are all humbled daily and then Greenwald reveals she’s just doing this in her part time. Where does she get the energy?

  15. burqa says:

    Subsequent from his retirement from DoD [the Department of Defense], Dr. Jessen joined Dr. Mitchell and other former JPRA [Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, which oversees SERE] officials to form a company called Mitchell Jessen & Associates. Mitchell Jessen & Associates is co-owned by seven individuals, six of whom either worked for JPRA or one of the service SERE schools as employees and/or contractors. As of July 2007, the company had between 55 and 60 employees, several of whom were former JPRA employees.

    They saw the ad in the classifieds.
    The comminist Chinese are hiring……………

  16. Dru says:

    A Vanity Fair article on these monsters from 2007:
    http://www.vanityfair.com/poli…..rentPage=1
    Has anyone run across state licensing information for either Jessen or Mitchell? I wonder if there credentials were “in order” and it is necessary to file a complaint with the correct board. Thanks.

  17. GregB says:

    Well, if Mitchell’s company decides to rebrand like Blackwater did by changing their name to Xe. I have a catchy new name for these cretins. I recommend Mengele, Inc.

    -G

  18. Slothrop says:

    Maybe Mitchell gets a big fat bonus check for certain kinds of information or certain amounts of information. Doesn’t matter if the information is true or useful.

    He’s incentivized to brutalize.

  19. dopeyo says:

    are we going to get to the bottom of this sh**pile in a few years, only to find out that Jessen and Mitchell saw an opportunity to score some easy money in the post-9/11 era? So they got themselves invited to a couple of interrogations, whipped up a theory, and went to talk to Cheney about their super-secret plan?.

    They appealed to Cheney’s penile fixation, and inked the contract. Cheney and Addington tightened the screws on the OLC when some officers voiced reservations. Damage controlled, sir!

    And in the end, America was disgraced before the world so a tired old bureaucrat could feel like Jimmy Cagney, and some half-wit psychologists could feather their nests.

    Mission Accomplished, sir!

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