Monday, May 4, 2009

Report: Two Psychologists Responsible for Devising CIA Torture Methods

Report: Two Psychologists Responsible for Devising CIA Interrogation Methods

ABC News reports that former military officers Bruce Jessen and Jim Mitchell were paid by the CIA to oversee the waterboarding techniques used against high-profile detainees to extract information in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

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Two psychologists are responsible for designing the CIA's program of waterboarding suspected terrorists and for assuring the government the program was safe, according to an ABC News report.

Former military officers Bruce Jessen and Jim Mitchell had an "important role in developing what became the CIA's torture program," Jameel Jaffer, an attorney with the ACLU, told ABC News.

Jessen and Mitchell were previously involved in the U.S. military program to train pilots how to resist brutal tactics if captured -- but Col. Steven Kleinman, an Air Force interrogator, told ABC News that the two never had experience conducting actual interrogations before the CIA hired them.

"They went to two individuals who had no interrogation experience," Col. Kleinman told ABC News.

Associates say Jessen and Mitchell were paid up to $1,000 a day by the CIA to oversee the techniques used against high-profile detainees to extract information in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

The revelation comes as Congressional Democrats turn up the pressure on the Obama administration to appoint a special counsel to start a criminal investigation into harsh interrogations of terror suspects and who authorized them. The debate was sparked by the Obama administration this month releasing four Bush-era memos outlining legal guidelines for the CIA's interrogation methods.

Obama has said it would be up to Attorney General Eric Holder to determine whether "those who formulated those legal decisions" should be prosecuted. The methods, described in the Bush-era memos, included slamming detainees against walls and subjecting them to simulated drowning, known as waterboarding.

The president said he would not seek to punish CIA officers and others who carried out interrogations

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