Today, VICE released a short documentary made by correspondent Kaj Larsen about former Air Force psychologist James Elmer Mitchell, the man many consider to be “the architect” of the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture program.
Although Mitchell signed a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA prohibiting him from speaking about his role in the creation of the agency’s enhanced interrogation program — for which his firm was reportedly paid over $80 million — he did provide a series of defenses of it.
“To me, it seems completely insensible that slapping [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] is bad, but sending a Hellfire missile into a family’s picnic and killing and the children, you know, and killing granny” is acceptable. “You know, if you kill them, you can’t question them.”
Asked about what he thought the most effective interrogation technique was, Mitchell replied, “there will be some people who will withhold information, and some of those people will be responsive to coercion.”
“This suggestion that no coercion is ever used by our law enforcement and the FBI,” he added, “is just silly. So the first piece of the debate should be, ‘Why don’t we have an interrogation program at some level? Why are we treating it like a law enforcement matter?'”
Mitchell also said that the point of enhanced interrogation was not to yield actionable intelligence, but to convince detainees to cooperate with the “good cop” in the interrogation — by which he meant, the one not torturing the detainee.
The idea was to make “a ‘bad cop’ that was ‘bad’ enough that the person would engage with the ‘good cop.’ I’d be stunned,” he said, “if they found any evidence that [enhanced interrogation techniques] as they were being applied yielded actionable intelligence.”
When asked about whether he should be blamed for the excesses of the program as outlined in the Senate Intelligence Committee report, he replied, “I think I should be 100 percent responsible for everything I did, but I think I should be 0 percent responsible for things people dream up that I did.”
Watch the entire documentary via Vice News on YouTube below.