Update: After this story was posted, James Mitchell confirmed he is, in fact, one of the two psychologists credited in the Senate Intelligence Committee report with designing the CIA’s interrogation program.
A man thought to be an architect of the CIA’s harsh interrogation program suggested the Senate Intelligence Committee report critical of the program misses the point. Intelligence would not necessarily come from an enhanced interrogation.
“They got a bad cop and a good cop. The point of the bad cop is to get the bad guy to talk to the good cop,” James Mitchell told CNN.
“So it’s not surprising to me that there is a food fight now because what’s happened is the Democrats and that committee has gone back and said ‘Look, it doesn’t look like a lot of stuff was gotten by the bad cop.’ And the other people are saying, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no, we think the bad cop was necessary to get him to talk to the good cop.’ That’s the explanation as clear as I can - as I understand it as a US citizen,” he said.
His emphasis on speaking as a U.S. citizen is important because – despite several publications and a 2008 Senate report tying Mitchell to the interrogation program – he says he can’t talk about it.
Mitchell is thought to be one of the founders of a company the CIA paid $81 million to run its enhanced interrogation program, which critics call torture. The Senate report argues that program did not lead to any intelligence that foiled terror attacks.
“I can’t even confirm or deny that I had a role,” he said. “I have a non-disclosure agreement with the federal government.”
But that hasn’t stopped him from expressing his opinion about the Senate report.
“I think it’s a partisan pile of crap, he said. “It’s an attempt to smear the men and women of the CIA as the Democrats leave their position of authority.”
The report describes two psychologists who developed the interrogation program, and were paid $81 million to run it. Despite the fact that neither man had “specialized knowledge of al-Qa’ida, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise,” according to the report.
The CIA disputed that characterization saying, “we believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out.”
Mitchell said he’s been misrepresented in the press, arguing that “people are routinely distorting my credentials and qualifications.”
If the federal government will lift his non-disclosure agreement, Mitchell said, he’d be happy to talk.
“I’m perfectly willing to be responsible for everything that I’ve done. I don’t want to be responsible for anything I haven’t done,” he said. “And the way the information has been presented so far, rightly or wrongly, - it’s just the press that has identified me as this person - I’m getting all the blame and all the credit regardless of whether I did it or not. My preference would be to talk about what actually happened.”