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]