Reported 'architect' of CIA interrogation techniques slams torture report
James Mitchell says CIA agents gave their lives for the American people
One of the reported architects of the interrogation program blasted in a scathing Senate Intelligence Committee report has tough words for the authors.
“It’s a partisan pile of bull—-,” James Mitchell told CNN in an interview.
Mitchell said he could not confirm or deny whether he was one of the key players referred to pseudonymously in the report – citing a non-disclosure agreement he signed with the federal government.
“If they were truly interested in getting the truth out, they would release me from it,” said Mitchell, adding that he would be happy to talk.
The report describes two psychologists who developed the interrogation program, and later had received $80 million from the government to run it despite the fact that neither had “specialized knowledge of al-Qa’ida, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.”
Related: Read the torture report
Senate report: CIA misled public, White House, Congress on torture
Several publications and a 2008 Senate report have connected Mitchell to the program, including a New York Times article Tuesday.
“The suggestion that the men and women of the CIA who put their lives on the line after 9/11 lied to the Senate, lied to the President and used bogus intelligence for some nefarious reason that’s unknown,” he said. “People gave their lives to protect the American people. And the last thing the Democrats want to do as they leave office is to smear their memory. It’s despicable.”
The comments reflect the political divide over combating terrorism that is resurfacing after the Senate’s report was released on Tuesday. The CIA – and many Republicans – are defending harsh interrogation tactics as vital to preventing terrorist attacks while most Democrats argue the programs violated American values.
Mitchell said the report has a “hindsight bias.”
At the time, CIA officials “were in a running gun battle with a group that they knew very little about and they did the best they could given the information that was available.”
He seemed to defend interrogation techniques such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation.
“Nothing was done to those detainees that aren’t done to our servicemen and women, and women, by our own training programs,” he said. “I think it’s a national discussion. The administration and the people of the United States really have to ask themselves if whether in a situation like immediately after 9/11 they think it’s a good idea to let them lawyer up.”