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Interrogation Inc.

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Posted on Aug 12, 2009
Mitchell and Jessen
ABC News

Bruce Jessen, left, and Jim Mitchell were given million-dollar contracts by the CIA to develop interrogation programs for detainees.

For two psychologists with no hands-on experience in interrogation and no expertise on al-Qaida, it seems far-fetched that the U.S. government would entrust the capacity to develop the country’s most important interrogation program in history to these novice businessmen. But that is exactly what happened.

The New York Times:

Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were military retirees and psychologists, on the lookout for business opportunities. They found an excellent customer in the Central Intelligence Agency, where in 2002 they became the architects of the most important interrogation program in the history of American counterterrorism.

They had never carried out a real interrogation, only mock sessions in the military training they had overseen. They had no relevant scholarship; their Ph.D. dissertations were on high blood pressure and family therapy. They had no language skills and no expertise on Al Qaeda.

But they had psychology credentials and an intimate knowledge of a brutal treatment regimen used decades ago by Chinese Communists. For an administration eager to get tough on those who had killed 3,000 Americans, that was enough.

So “Doc Mitchell” and “Doc Jessen,” as they had been known in the Air Force, helped lead the United States into a wrenching conflict over torture, terror and values that seven years later has not run its course.

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By JBowens, September 25, 2009 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The waterboarding is not as serious as they make it seem! Yes, you actually can believe you are going to drown, But I went through this many years ago in US Army training and was waterboarded by the instructor/ guards! I focused on the fact that I would get through it and that others had been treated so before me! As I remember, I was waterboarded about 15 minutes, but it seemed a lot longer! The only reason I was waterboarded so long was that I was young, dumb, and kept shooting my mouth off! Other thngs done to us over the three day period were being isolated, witholding of food and water, an execution of another prisoner (simulated, but we did not know it until later), and a lot of yelling and screaming! I did well with the waterboarding, and do not hold it against them (I volunteered), but over the years I sometimes find myself awakening at night after a dream that I was drowning! I do believe the collection of data to save soldiers and others lives is of the utmost priority, torture short of physical injury, achieves this, and most of the enemies the US has had did not hesitate to use it!

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By Folktruther, August 13, 2009 at 4:56 am Link to this comment

Jean Girars is quite right. Agrarian and fedual polities throughout history were legitimated by religous-philosophical ideologies whose underlying presuppostions inculcated a respect for Divine and earthly power.  In Western capitalist societies the underlying presuppositions of social science legitimate the power ssystem.  Scientific Law and Order legitimate the law and order of liberal capitalism.

Indeed, pschologists, with the approval of their professional organization, the American Psychological Association, assist the US power system in torturing prisoners, just as religous specialists did during the four centuries of the Holy Inquisition. As the French say (in French) the more things change, the more they are the same.

reasonable people don’t believe in the Absolute God that legitimated the Asolutisim of slave and feudal states.  I don’t believe in the Newtonian God that reigns and not rules, who make the Laws underlying matter and energy.  Indeed, I don’t believe in the Scientific Laws themselves, a figment of Western imagination.

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By jean gerard, August 12, 2009 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

These guys follow in the footsteps of Pavlov who “experimented” with dogs and found that if you “stimulated” them, they would “respond.”  People who don’t want to be bothered with the complexities of the human spirit go for this “Behaviorism” as a quick fix for “extinguishing deviant behavior”—that is, any behavior considered to be outside of social conventions.  Behaviorists are big for “behavior modificationo” and collect money from rattled parents who can’t manage unruly kids, agencies who “take care of” addicts and head injured people, and prisons where guards fear prisoner “outbreaks.”  The usual techniques involve deprivation and punishment, which are called “negative reinforcement.”  Such agencies should be carefully supervised.  They are not.

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