Report: Anti-terror leaders had little experience


What the two men did have was an understanding of the brutal methods used by governments such as North Korea and Vietnam to help train U.S. soldiers and airmen to resist torture.

The spy agency ended up outsourcing much of its interrogation program to the pair, who formed a company that ultimately was paid $81 million, the Senate report says. It adds new details to what has long been known about the integral role the two psychologists played in some of the harshest treatment of CIA detainees.

The report refers to the men using pseudonyms, Grayson Swigart and Hammond Dunbar. But current and former U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity about information that is not public, have identified them as James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

The CIA told Congress in 1989 that “inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers,” the report notes. But Mitchell and Jessen convinced top officials at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, then run by Cofer Black and Jose Rodriguez, that breaking people was the key to unraveling terror plots.

They reverse-engineered the military training techniques, which had never been studied as a form of interrogation. Among their recommendations was humiliation, painful stress positions, confinement, sleep deprivation – and waterboarding.

“On the CIA’s behalf, the contract psychologists developed theories of interrogation based on `learned helplessness,’ and developed the list of enhanced interrogation techniques that was approved for use against Abu Zubaydah and subsequent CIA detainees,” the Senate report said, referring to the first significant al-Qaida figure captured, taken to a secret prison and subjected to a battery of techniques.

The psychologists personally conducted interrogations of Zubaydah and other significant detainees using these techniques. They also evaluated whether detainees’ psychological state allowed for the continued use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.”