Interrogation Inc.

The New York Times has a profile of the two psychologists who developed the US ‘war on terror’ interrogations that were widely condemned as torture.

The piece makes an interesting update to the 2007 Vanity Fair article that first fingered Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, and has compiled additional information about the pair from interviews with ex-colleagues.

For the C.I.A., as well as for the gray-goateed Dr. Mitchell, 58, and the trim, dark-haired Dr. Jessen, 60, the change in administrations has been neck-snapping. For years, President George W. Bush declared the interrogation program lawful and praised it for stopping attacks. Mr. Obama, by contrast, asserted that its brutality rallied recruits for Al Qaeda; called one of the methods, waterboarding, torture; and, in his first visit to the C.I.A., suggested that the interrogation program was among the agency’s “mistakes.”

The psychologists’ subsequent fall from official grace has been as swift as their rise in 2002. Today the offices of Mitchell Jessen and Associates, the lucrative business they operated from a handsome century-old building in downtown Spokane, Wash., sit empty, its C.I.A. contracts abruptly terminated last spring.

The piece notes that a decision in imminent on whether a criminal enquiry will be launched into the use of harsh interrogation techniques. If so, all psychologists involved in the programme, not just Jessen and Mitchell, are likely to be the focus of some uncomfortable scrutiny.

Given the somewhat odd behaviour and heal dragging by the American Psychological Association during the saga that eventually led them to an outright ban on participation, one wonders whether any high level contact between the US military and the APA will come to light.

Link to NYT piece ‘Interrogation Inc.’ (via BoingBoing).
Link to Vanity Fair piece on psychologists and interrogation.

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