Okay, George Herbert was supposed to be my “Happy Easter” post, but on the observance of Jesus’s crucifixion, the Guardian brings us a rare interview with James Mitchell, the yahoo who reverse-engineered SERE into a torture program.
“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.”
Not quite how it got started, anyway, according to Jane Mayer:
a CIA officer who could not be identified, whom a colleague at the Agency described as “a nobody–a pocket-protector-wearing Joe Molecule” who was “in charge of the shrinks on the science side,” turned to the former SERE school psychologists. Having retired from the military and been sidelined from the war on terror, Mitchell and Jessen were eager to get involved. “Mike knew these guys,” the source working with the intelligence community recounted,” and when his colleagues were wimps, he said they would fit the bill.”
But given the puzzlement over how Mitchell could believe torture was an effective tool for uncovering evidence–
Steven Kleinman, an air force colonel who participated in interrogations in Iraq and who is credited with blowing the whistle on abuses taking place there, told the Guardian he did not understand how Mitchell could still believe torture methods that generated false confessions could also produce “reliable, accurate and timely intelligence”.
“Why would anybody think that a model that would produce those outcomes would also be effective in producing the opposite?” Kleinman said.
–this bit indicates something about Mitchell’s talent for evaluating evidence:
He also criticized Obama’s healthcare policy – a “shit sandwich” – and his administration’s approach to global warming. Mitchell believes it’s a myth.
Look, give Mitchell a couple of weeks with Michael Mann, and I’m sure the truth will come out.