Torture ‘architect’: waterboarding not right or wrong

James Mitchell, believed to have designed the CIA’s interrogation program, says he will talk if government lifts his non-disclosure agreement

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A man who is reported to be an architect of the CIA’s interrogation program after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has suggested that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report critical of the program is missing the point and described waterboarding as neither right nor wrong.

James Mitchell, who is now a retiree living in Florida, told Vice News in an interview aired Thursday that “I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, I don’t think it’s the wrong thing to do,” when asked about the technique of waterboarding.

Mitchell, who is reportedly one of two psychologists who oversaw the interrogation program, said if the federal government were to lift his non-disclosure agreement, he would be happy to talk.

“Until I am released from that I can’t answer those kinds of questions,” he said. “I’d like to clarify what people are saying because a lot of what people are saying is inaccurate.”

According to VICE News, Mitchell worked with the Air Force on its Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) program before the Sept. 11 attacks. SERE has been reported to have morphed into the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” which reportedly included sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

Mitchell seemed to defend some of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the interview.

“To me it seems completely insensible that slapping [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed thought to be principle architect of Sep. 11] KSM is bad but sending a Hellfire missile into a family picnic and killing all the children, killing Granny, is OK,” Mitchell said.

He added: “The whole point of the (SERE) program is so that the men and women who in high-risk of capture can serve with honor whether in captivity and then return with their honor intact. The training is really focused on helping them avoid providing actionable intelligence to the bad guys.”

Mitchell also spoke to CNN in an interview aired Thursday.

In the interview, he told CNN that “he’s been misrepresented in the press,” arguing that “people are routinely distorting my credentials and qualifications.”

“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.

He added: “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.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee report stated that the two psychologists who developed the interrogation program were paid $81 million to run it.

Mitchell described the report as “partisan” and a “pile of crap.”

“It’s an attempt to smear the men and women of the CIA as the Democrats leave their position of authority.”

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