“Interrogation Inc”

NYT has a short piece on a couple of severely-underqualified war profiteers motivated entrepreneurs who played a role in developing our torture enhanced interrogation program. With guys like this on board it’s no wonder the thing blew up in our faces and made us a worldwide pariah while providing fuck-all for useful intelligence had such an integral part in our safety.

WASHINGTON — 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.

Col. Steven M. Kleinman, an Air Force interrogator and intelligence officer who knows Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen, said he thought loyalty to their country in the panicky wake of the Sept. 11 attacks prompted their excursion into interrogation. He said the result was a tragedy for the country, and for them.

“I feel their primary motivation was they thought they had skills and insights that would make the nation safer,” Colonel Kleinman said. “But good persons in extreme circumstances can do horrific things.”

Fun torture-related trivia: I’ve met Steve Kleinman. He went to school with my stepdad. That is the sum total of my recollection of the event, but it’s still funny when I see him pop up to give quotes here and there. Decent guy from what I know – which is very very little and probably a convenient misconception given his line of work.

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