Tags: CIA Torture Report | James Mitchell | interrogation methods

Ex-CIA Interrogator: Senate Democrats 'Issued a Fatwa on Me'

By    |   Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 12:06 PM

A psychologist who was contracted by the CIA to devise enhanced interrogation techniques says Senate Democrats took the program out of context and have placed his life — and the lives of other agents — in danger.

"[Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] have a foregone conclusion about this. They put my life in danger, they put the lives of other CIA personnel and our families in danger for some sort of moral high ground," James Mitchell said on Fox News' "The Kelly File" on Monday.

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"I don’t want to die because the Democrats in the Senate don’t have the courtesy to ask the CIA to explain," he added, confirming that he has received death threats since the report's release.

"How many times in your life have you had a law enforcement official call you up in the middle of the day and say 'leave your house immediately.' That happened to me a couple of days ago," he told host Megyn Kelly.

Mitchell and his former colleague, retired Air Force psychologist Dr. Bruce Jessen, were identified by pseudonyms in the Senate report released last week.

Initially, Mitchell said he was contracted shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to review the Manchester Manual, which al-Qaida used to instruct terrorists in "resistance" techniques.

The manual was found during a search of an al-Qaida member’s home in Manchester, England, in 2000 and was an "operations primer that is similar in function to an Army field manual used to instruct soldiers during combat," according to The Joint Task Force At Guantanamo Bay.

The CIA later requested Mitchell, now 63, return to help devise a program by which physical coercion could be used to extract information out of detainees who were refusing to talk.

But Mitchell contends the Senate Democrats’ report failed to put the program and the techniques used in proper context.

Mitchell has only spoken out recently because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the federal government, he told CNN in an interview.

However, that gag order was loosened over the weekend and he has confirmed he waterboarded several al-Qaida detainees, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, otherwise known as KSM.

"Yes, I waterboarded KSM. I was part of a larger team that waterboarded a small number of detainees," Mitchell confirmed, according to an interview posted on Monday on the website of the global television news outlet VICE News.

Mitchell told VICE News one of the reasons he is speaking out is because he has been demonized, despite the fact that he was one of the interrogators who contacted the CIA's inspector general about alleged abuses of the program.

"From my perspective, the Senate Democrats held a star chamber, decided I was guilty of something… went into the CIA's 6 million pages of records, produced enough evidence to support their conclusion, and essentially issued a fatwa on me and Bruce. They did this without having the courtesy to talk to me. Even if they found my behavior despicable, I should have had the chance to defend myself," he said.

"Go ahead and smear me if you want," Mitchell told the Los Angeles Times in a telephone interview. "A lot of what's written in the Senate … report is just flat-out wrong. It's taken out of context."

One of the areas Mitchell said the committee misrepresented the facts was in its description of how waterboarding was carried out.

The Senate Democrats' report described waterboarding as a technique that "was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting" and noted that the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was characterized as evolving into a "series of near drownings."

During his Fox News interview, Mitchell said the characterization was inaccurate and that he and other interrogators actually chose a less extreme option of waterboarding. Rather than pouring water over the heads of detainees for an extended period of time, they reduced the length of time to approximately 10-20 seconds, which resulted in an increase in the number of actual "pours."

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A psychologist who was contracted by the CIA to devise enhanced interrogation techniques says Senate Democrats took the program out of context and have placed his life — and the lives of other agents — in danger.
James Mitchell, interrogation methods
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2014-06-16
Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 12:06 PM
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