WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One of the two psychologists who devised the CIA’s harsh Bush-era interrogation methods said on Wednesday that a scathing US Senate report on the torture of foreign terrorism suspects “took things out of context” and made false accusations.
“It’s a bunch of hooey,” James Mitchell told Reuters from his home in Florida when asked for his response to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings released on Tuesday. “Some of the things are just plain not true.”
A day after the Senate report was issued, the US Defense Department said it was shutting its detention facility at Bagram and no longer has custody of any prisoners in Afghanistan, closing another controversial chapter of Washington’s long fight against Islamic militancy.
The United States faces mounting criticism from the United Nations as well as foreign governments that Washington often reprimands for human rights violations.
The Senate report concluded CIA interrogation tactics were ineffective and often too brutal.
The CIA paid $80 million to a company run by the two former Air Force psychologists without experience in interrogation or counter-terrorism who recommended waterboarding, slaps to the face and mock burial for prisoners captured after the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to the Senate investigation.
Mitchell and his colleague, Bruce Jessen, are referred to in the report by pseudonyms but intelligence sources have identified them by name. Jessen could not be reached for comment. The report accused them of violating professional ethics as architects of a system that committee chair Dianne Feinstein said amounted to the torture of some CIA detainees.
In a brief telephone interview, Mitchell declined to specify what he considered wrong in the report, citing a non-disclosure agreement with the government.
But he suggested political bias was behind the report, which was put together by the committee’s Democratic majority and which he said sought to “smear” those involved in the programme.
The CIA outsourced more than 80 per cent of its interrogation programme to the company, Mitchell Jessen & Associates of Spokane, Washington, for its work from 2005 until the termination of the arrangement in 2009.