The psychologist who wrote the CIA's post-9/11 torture program wants to tell his story to the world, if only non-disclosure agreements with the U.S. government weren't holding him back.
James Mitchell, the retired Air Force general and psychologist who figures prominently in the Senate's report on the ineffectiveness of the post-9/11 torture program, gave his first extensive interview to the Guardian, in which he spoke broadly about "the program," and lamented about how he could not delve into the specifics. "I would be happy to tell my entire story," Mitchell told the Guardian's Jason Leopold. "But I have been told numerous times that if I violate the non-disclosure agreement there would be criminal and civil penalties." Those are very real consequences, so instead we're treated to Mitchell complaining about "fat guys in the basement" who have been ordered to slander him on behalf of the government. "People make up stuff about me," he says. "They say I'm a Mormon. I'm actually an atheist."
Mitchell welcomes the increased attention the government and public have given enhanced interrogation techniques, especially in the wake of Zero Dark Thirty's release, even if he can not participate in the discussion. "I am interested in having an active and honest debate, but only if the Justice Department and federal government release me from my agreement," he told the Guardian. Unsurprisingly, Mitchell is unapologetic about the possibly useless torture techniques he developed during his time with the CIA:
"The narrative that's out there is, I walked up to the gate of the CIA, knocked on the door and said: 'Let me in, I want to torture people, and I can show you how to do it.' Or someone put out an ad on Craigslist that said, 'Wanted: psychologist who is willing to design torture program.' It's a lot more complicated than that," Mitchell told the Guardian in his first public comments since he was linked to the CIA's enhanced interrogation program seven years ago.
"I'm just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of government, and I did the best that I could," Mitchell says now.
The entire interview is fascinating, compelling, and worth your time. Mitchell's credentials with the military prior to his torture program work are impressive. His political ideology is interesting, to say the least. "I'm not a Republican or a Mormon or a gun nut or power hungry," he says. Mitchell believes global warming is a myth and that Obama's health care program is a "shit sandwich." Read the interview over at the Guardian.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.