At Least Some Mormons Understand The Awful Nature of The Use of TortureApril 30, 2009 at 8:43 am | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment
Two devout Mormons also engineered the more grisly wet work. Because the CIA lacked personnel in 2001 with interrogation expertise, the agency turned to two psychologists, James E. Mitchell and John B. Jessen, who had worked with the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape programs. Neither had an intelligence or interrogation background or had experience with Muslim terrorists, but, according to the FBI, they had experience in designing, testing, implementing and monitoring torture techniques that were illegal in the United States and elsewhere in the civilized world.
These two were responsible for “reverse-engineering” the SERE program — which was intended to toughen American pilots against torture (and the false confessions it had produced in the Korean War) — and they built the CIA’s surreal secret interrogation program around the same brutal coercion that had successfully forced American POWs to lie to their North Korean and Chinese captors. In other words, they assumed that the very brutality which had forced American soldiers to lie would magically force a Muslim terrorist to tell the truth, even if he had to be waterboarded 183 times.
Mitchell advised that suspects must be treated like dogs in a cage. “It’s like an experiment, when you apply electric shocks to a caged dog, after a while, he’s so diminished, he can’t resist.” The Mitchell/Jessen methodology became the basis for prisoner treatment at Guantanamo, Bagram, CIA secret prisons and Abu Ghraib. It involved isolation, sensory deprivation, disorientation, nudity, sexual humiliation, waterboarding, painful stress positions, withholding food and medical treatment, extended sleep deprivation and subjection to temperature extremes. These were used singly and, more commonly, in combination with one another.
Retired Air Force Col. Steve Kleinman, a former SERE instructor and interrogator, says of Mitchell and Jessen: “I think they have caused more harm to American national security than they’ll ever understand.”