Psychologists Made $80 Million on Torture

Psychologists Made $80 Million on Torture December 11, 2014

One of the things revealed by the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report that we didn’t know previously was that the two psychologists who developed the torture program for the CIA were apparently paid $80 million. Neither of them has lost their license because the American Psychological Association has no spine.

The two psychologists contracted by the CIA to design the enhanced interrogation techniques used against al Qaeda suspects were paid more than $80 million, even though they were never themselves interrogators, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “torture report,” released today — a report that one of the psychologists told ABC News was “bulls**t.”

“On the CIA’s behalf, the contract psychologists developed theories of interrogation based on ‘learned helplessness,’ and developed the list of enhanced interrogation techniques that was approved for use against [al Qaeda operative] Abu Zubaydah and subsequent CIA detainees,” the report says, referring to the list of techniques that included slapping captives and waterboarding, among others. “By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.”

In 2009, ABC News identified the psychologists as former military officers Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen…

Both Mitchell and Jessen declined to speak with ABC News for the 2009 report, but today Mitchell said that he believed the Senate report to be politically-motivated “bulls**t”.

“I think it’s despicable that they cherry-picked all of that stuff,” Mitchell told ABC News, while insisting that he could not confirm nor deny his involvement in the program due to a nondisclosure agreement. “There were a lot of men and women in the CIA who put their lives on the line, and some of them died after 9/11 protecting the United States. And to suggest that they lied to the President, that they lied to the Senate, that they falsified intel reports so they could make a program look better than it was, is despicable.”

“The men and women of the CIA put their lives on the line, put their personal lives on hold, and sacrificed for this country. And now at last, before they leave, dump this steaming load of crap out?” Mitchell said.

Nice attempt to deflect. We know for a fact that the CIA lied to Congress. They lied to Congress even after being caught lying to Congress and being caught spying on Senate staffers putting together the report. Seriously, how could any human being say with a straight face that they’re furious that someone would dare to accuse the CIA — the fucking CIA — of lying. Lying is what the CIA does, for crying out loud. And yeah, they “cherry-picked” just those few hundred thousand documents that were included in the investigation. Because it’s the the rotten few million apples that spoil the barrel for the few good ones.

Mitchell declined to comment on the reported $81 million, but further described his feelings about the report:

“It’s like somebody backed up to your driveway and dumped a steaming pile of horse crap,” he told ABC News.

How terrible for you. You must feel tortured over it.

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  • Mr Ed

    I believe the term is rationalization. Good people at the CIA and throughout our government rationalized doing something that is morally repugnant. This isn’t a grey area, we did something much worse than taking a life we evaluated human suffering to an art form. Psychologist with insight on the human psyche may have convinced themselves they were doing a greater good or the mean were justified but they used their knowledge to make better sadists.

    We can’t undo what we did but we can show our character, take responsibility and make amends where possible.

  • anubisprime

    They seem to be the same kind of practitioner’s that voluntarily attend state executions on the premise that if they did not then others would.

    If there were no medical personnel available then the death penalty itself would be in some dire trouble in a legal sense.

    This kind of mind set has precedents…Nuremberg revealed the “I was following orders” kind of defense, that precluded, apparently, any ethical or moral imperatives.

    And the world does not seem to have learnt any lessons what so ever.

    Torture is illegal…there are no grey areas, something these psycho peddlers must have known at the time, they have brought the whole science of Psychology into miserable disrepute.

    Struck off at the least…jailed at best.

    Neither will happen is my betting, because lessons are never learnt when it comes to being humane, ethical and morally superior to base instinct.

  • marcus

    Mr Ed @ 1 “We can’t undo what we did but we can show our character, take responsibility and make amends where possible.”

    I appreciate your optimism but if that were going to happen it would have already. They haven’t even pardoned the guy who outed this travesty.

    I’m afraid our national “character” is already on full display.

  • smrnda

    I love the intelligent, well-worded ‘defense’ by Mitchell which, apparently consists of feces terms and appeals to mindless patriotism. Just because *some* people have died for the country does not mean *some* people (perhaps even the same) were liars who engaged in torture.

  • Back in my day, the CIA would’ve already known how to torture. Thanks, Obama!

  • karmacat

    As a psychologist, he should know better than to throw out words like bullshit, load of crap, etc. And why the hell they paying these men so much money. Most sadists would work for much less money. But, seriously, nobody is that brilliant that they would deserve 80 million, especially if they haven’t done any research about different interrogation techniques and what works

  • eric

    Since we’ve all made many comments in this and other threads on the immorality and illegality of torture, I’ll use this comment just to focus on the corruption aspect instead. I’ve hired contractors from the goverment side. I’ve been a contractor hired by the goverment. $80 million to two people to develop an interrogation methodology is clear corruption and waste. Preventing decisions like this is one (but not the only or even most important) reason inpedendent government oversight of black programs is absolutely necessary.

    There were a lot of men and women in the CIA who put their lives on the line, and some of them died after 9/11 protecting the United States.

    That may be true, but using their deaths to justify torture demeans and degrades their sacrifice. Good people die in the service of bad or mistaken causes all the time. The fact that they were good people doesn’t make the cause any less bad or less mistaken.

  • JustaTech

    Eric @7: Technically the CIA didn’t pay just these two guys $80 million. The guys set up a company to contract with the CIA to provide “interrogators” for the sites, so the $80 million went to more than 2 people. Which doesn’t make it any less reprehensible, just marginally less like theft/waste.

  • anubisprime

    Say 40 mill each…for developing an advanced and deeply offensive torture regime not even envisaged in the most extreme BDSM porno…where the victims are more or less at least compliant and acquiescent to proceedings.

    How do these bozos sleep at night I wonder, and how in hell can they look in the mirror in the morning without throwing up?

    Fuck how can they call themselves human?… the morally bankrupt fuckwads at the Roman Catholic church tend to call atheists sub-human!

    I wonder if these paragons of patriotism worship a fiction or if they are also sub-human in RCC eyes?

    If it turns out to be the latter state of being methinks the atheist community can do a lot better!…fuck it would not be hard!

  • abusedbypenguins

    Upstanding, patriotic German citizens had no trouble at all sending their fellow humans, by the millions, to die in death camps. The only difference between the German military of ’33 to ’45and the US military now is no swastika arm bands. If he was still alive, hitler and cheney would be butt buddies.

  • thascius

    “Neither of them has lost their license because the American Psychological Association has no spine.”

    Er-no. The America Psychological Association is not a licensing body. The only action it could take against these individuals would be to kick them out of the organization (if they’re members in the first place). It would be up to the state licensing board in whichever state or states they’re licensed in to revoke their licenses.

  • anubisprime

    Well if the American Psychological Association pulled their Freudian thumb outta that dark and smelly place they seem to be keeping it…seems pretty sure that any licensing authority would have to consider the professional antipathy generated in the body psychology.

    If indeed any antipathy to sadistic mutha-fuckers were actually generated in the profession that is!

  • thascius

    @12-licensing bodies don’t necessarily consider the opinions of the professional authorities. On Orac’s blog he’s listed the saga of several physicians (the Geiers, Bursyznki) who’ve managed to keep their licenses despite rank quackery and frequent complaints to their respective licensing boards.

  • smrnda

    Again on licenses, those are for mental health professionals. You can have a degree in psychology, even a PhD, and not be licensed since you do not treat patients. People with degrees in psychology go to find out what advertisements are most effective and could be considered ‘psychologists’ in that sense.

    On sleeping at night, I doubt these people ever had much in the way of moral scruples to begin with.

  • Cuttlefish

    Fifteen comments in, and no one has yet noted #notallpsychologists ?