Anti-terror program leaders had little experience

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Anti-terror program leaders had little experience
This undated handout photo provided by GeoEye shows a satellite aerial view of The National Registry Office for Classified Information, also known as ORNISS, in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the center of Romania’s capital city of Bucharest. Between 2003 and 2006, the CIA operated a secret prison from the building's basement, bringing in high-value terror suspects for interrogation and detention. A joint AP-ARD Panorama investigation revealed the exact location of the prison. (AP Photo/GeoEye)
CHANGES name of country bordering Romania to Serbia; Graphic shows CIA prison location in Bucharest, Romania
** FILE ** Romanian military staff stands at the end of a corridor on the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, some 250 kilometers east of Bucharest, in this Nov. 9 2005 file photo. Establishing the exact nature of Romania's involvement in a suspected secret U.S. program is crucial to building the case that Washington sidestepped international human rights conventions by persuading allies to perform dirty work on terror suspects that would have otherwise been illegal in the United States. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file) ** zu unserem Korr **
The National Registry Office for Classified Information, also known as ORNISS, sits in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the center of Romania’s capital city of Bucharest in this recent photo. Between 2003 and 2006, the CIA operated a secret prison from the building's basement, bringing in high-value terror suspects for interrogation and detention. A joint AP-ARD Panorama investigation revealed the exact location of the prison. (AP Photo)
The National Registry Office for Classified Information, also known as ORNISS, sits in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the center of Romania’s capital city of Bucharest in this recent photo. Between 2003 and 2006, the CIA operated a secret prison from the building's basement, bringing in high-value terror suspects for interrogation and detention. A joint AP-ARD Panorama investigation revealed the exact location of the prison. (AP Photo)
This is a copy of the cover of the CIA torture report released by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein D-Calif., Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. U.S. Senate investigators delivered a damning indictment of CIA interrogations Tuesday, accusing the spy agency of inflicting suffering on prisoners beyond its legal limits and peddling unsubstantiated stories that the harsh questioning saved American lives. (AP Photo)
The National Registry Office for Classified Information, also known as ORNISS, sits in a busy residential neighborhood minutes from the center of Romania’s capital city of Bucharest in this recent photo. Between 2003 and 2006, the CIA operated a secret prison from the building's basement, bringing in high-value terror suspects for interrogation and detention. A joint AP-ARD Panorama investigation revealed the exact location of the prison. (AP Photo)
Ambassador James Woolsey, who was CIA Director from 1993 to 1995, insists the torture report should never have been released. (The National Academy of Sciences/Flickr)
FILE - This undated file photo shows al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. After U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin laden in Pakistan in May 2011, top CIA officials secretly told lawmakers that information gleaned from brutal interrogations played a key role in what was one of the spy agency’s greatest successes. CIA director Leon Panetta repeated that assertion in public, and it found its way into a critically acclaimed movie about the operation, Zero Dark Thirty, which depicts a detainee offering up the identity of bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmad al- Kuwaiti, after being tortured at a CIA “black site.” As it turned out, Bin Laden was living in al Kuwaiti’s walled family compound, so tracking the courier was the key to finding the al-Qaida leader. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - This undated file photo provided by U.S. Central Command, shows Abu Zubaydah, date and location unknown. A new document indicates the CIA first proposed to top Bush administration officials in mid-May 2002 that alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah be submitted to waterboarding. That was three months before the U.S. Justice Department approved the interrogation technique in a secret legal opinion. (AP Photo/U.S. Central Command, File)
Iyman Faris, 34, is shown in this photo made available by the U.S. Justice Department. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA program that included torturing al-Qaida detainees provides eight “primary” examples in which the CIA said it obtained good intelligence as a result of what it called “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the Senate panel’s conclusions that the information was available elsewhere and without resorting to brutal interrogations. The CIA said the brutal interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed identified an Ohio truck driver, Iyman Faris, who later pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. (AP Photo/Dept. of Justice)
FILE - An undated file photo provided by the U.S. District Attorney's office shows Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. The Guantanamo Bay detainee brought to the United States for trial on charges he helped the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa while he was an aide to Osama bin Laden cannot use allegations of torture by the CIA to dismiss the indictment, a judge said Monday May 10, 2010. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this March 3, 2005 file photo, a workman slides a dustmop over the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va. Senate investigators have delivered a damning indictment of CIA interrogation practices after the 9/11 attacks, accusing the agency of inflicting pain and suffering on prisoners with tactics that went well beyond legal limits. The torture report released Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee says the CIA deceived the nation with its insistence that the harsh interrogation tactics had saved lives. It says those claims are unsubstantiated by the CIA's own records. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 09: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, talks with reporters after sharing a report on the CIA and it's torture methods, December 9, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who's poised to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, after he joined Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. to endorse the release of a report on the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques at secret overseas facilities after the 9/11 terror attacks. Some Republican leaders objected to the report's release and challenged its contention that harsh tactics didn't work, but McCain, tortured in Vietnam as a prisoner of war, welcomed the report and endorsed its findings. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani, center, speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. Ghani said, "The Afghan government condemns in the strongest language the inhuman and unjustifiable practices detailed in the report." (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)
White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. Earnest answered questions about the Senate CIA torture report. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R), and Senate Minority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) (L), listen as the Senate Republican speak to members of the media after the Senate Republican Policy Luncheon at the Capitol December 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate Republican leadership responded to a report on CIA's use of torture conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee where were released today. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 9: Sen. Diane Feinstein(D-CA), makes her way through a crush of reporters toward the Senate floor to deliver her remarks on the CIA report on torture released this morning on December, 09, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks to members of the media after the Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the Capitol December 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Senator Reid responded to a report on CIA's use of torture conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee where were released today. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Pakistani private security guards stand on duty outside the US consulate in Lahore on December 9, 2014. The US Senate will release a long-delayed report into the CIA's brutal interrogation of Al-Qaeda suspects after the 2001 attacks, as American embassies went on heightened alert amid fears of a backlash. AFP PHOTO / Arif ALI (Photo credit should read Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)
A lighthouse and old migrants boats on the ground of the marine museum, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in this photo approved for release by the U.S. military. (Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
The original courtroom at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in this photo approved for release by the U.S. military. (Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
A display of the restraint chair that the Navy medics use to tube-feed hunger strikers on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in this photo approved for release by the U.S. military. (Walter Michot/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- When the CIA set out to design a program to elicit intelligence from captured terrorists, it turned to two former Air Force psychologists with no practical interrogation experience and no specialized knowledge of al-Qaida, according to a Senate investigation released this week.

What the two men did have was an understanding of the brutal methods used by governments such as North Korea and Vietnam to help train U.S. soldiers and airmen to resist torture.

The spy agency ended up outsourcing much of its interrogation program to the pair, who formed a company that ultimately was paid $81 million, the Senate report says. It adds new details to what has long been known about the integral role the two psychologists played in some of the harshest treatment of CIA detainees.

Locations of CIA 'Black Sites' for Terror Suspects Confirmed by Senate Report

The report refers to the men using pseudonyms, Grayson Swigart and Hammond Dunbar. But current and former U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity about information that is not public, have identified them as James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

The CIA told Congress in 1989 that "inhumane physical or psychological techniques are counterproductive because they do not produce intelligence and will probably result in false answers," the report notes. But Mitchell and Jessen convinced top officials at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, then run by Cofer Black and Jose Rodriguez, that breaking people was the key to unraveling terror plots.

They reverse-engineered the military training techniques, which had never been studied as a form of interrogation. Among their recommendations was humiliation, painful stress positions, confinement, sleep deprivation - and waterboarding.

"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 Abu Zubaydah and subsequent CIA detainees," the Senate report said, referring to the first significant al-Qaida figure captured, taken to a secret prison and subjected to a battery of techniques.

The psychologists personally conducted interrogations of Zubaydah and other significant detainees using these techniques. They also evaluated whether detainees' psychological state allowed for the continued use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques."

Some CIA officials were troubled by the conflict of interest, the report notes. One CIA officer emailed that the pair had a "vested interest" in waterboarding. Another accused them of "arrogance and narcissism."

The CIA, in its response to the Senate report, acknowledged that the conflict "raised concerns and prompted deliberation," leading to a new rule in early 2003 that no contractor could issue a definitive psychological assessment of a detainee.

But the agency defended hiring the two psychologists.

"We believe their expertise was so unique that we would have been derelict had we not sought them out when it became clear that CIA would be heading into the uncharted territory of the program," the agency said in its written response.

Jessen helped interrogate detainee Gul Rahman at a dungeon-like Afghanistan prison called the Salt Pit, the report says, a session that included "48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower and rough treatment." A few days later, after Jessen left, Rahman was found dead of hypothermia.

Both men helped waterboard 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and threatened his children, the report said.

Rodriguez, who has criticized the Senate report, said he had nothing to add beyond the account of his 2012 memoir, "Hard Measures," which says he asked the psychologists to help interrogate Zubaydah days after he was captured - before it was known whether he would cooperate. The Senate report says Zubaydah offered useful intelligence to FBI agents before he was tortured.

Black, in an email, said he never met Mitchell and Jessen, and declined further comment.

Reached at his home in Florida, James E. Mitchell said he could not confirm his involvement with the CIA, citing a secrecy agreement. But he challenged the Senate report as inaccurate in its assertion that the brutal tactics did not produce unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence.

"I completely understand why the human rights organizations in the United States are upset by the Senate report," he said. "I would be upset by it too, if it were true."

"What they are asking you to believe is that multiple directors of the CIA and analysts who made their living for years doing this lied to the federal government, or were too stupid to know that the intelligence they were getting wasn't useful."

The report said Mitchell "had reviewed research on `learned helplessness,' in which individuals might become passive and depressed in response to adverse or uncontrollable events. He theorized that inducing such a state could encourage a detainee to cooperate and provide information."

University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman, who has written on "learned helplessness," said in an email, "I am grieved and horrified that good science, which has helped so many people overcome depression, may have been used for such dubious purposes."

Joe Margulies, a Cornell University law professor who unsuccessfully sought to have Mitchell's Texas psychologist license revoked, said, "There's something particularly vile about misusing a skill that's meant to help people."

Mitchell asserted, as have former CIA officials who ran the interrogation program, that the current policy of using CIA drones to kill terrorists overseas with Hellfire missiles is more troubling than subjecting them to harsh interrogation measures.

"It's a lot more humane, even if you are going to subject them to harsh techniques, to question them while they are still alive, than it is to kill them and their children and their neighbors with a drone," he said.

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