CIA Told Psychologists They'd Be to Blame for Terrorist Nuke
It was part of pressure on them to continue harsh interrogation techniques
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2017 9:50 AM CDT
In this 2006 photo, an Iraqi army soldier closes the door of a cell, in Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

(Newser) – The two psychologists who were handsomely paid by the CIA to devise harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding say they had reservations about using them but were pressured by US security officials to keep going. "They kept telling me every day a nuclear bomb was going to be exploded in the United States and that because I had told them to stop, I had lost my nerve and it was going to be my fault if I didn’t continue," John Bruce Jessen said in a deposition given in connection with a civil suit brought by former detainees against him and colleague James Mitchell. The New York Times obtained the men's video depositions—the case is scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 5—and has a lengthy account. Some samples:

  • "Jim and I didn't want to continue doing what we were doing," said Jessen. "We tried to get out several times and they needed us, and we—we kept going."
  • "I think the word that was actually used is that you guys are pussies," said Mitchell, recounting CIA pressure. "There was going to be another attack in America and the blood of dead civilians are going to be on your hands.”
  • "I think any normal, conscionable man would have to consider carefully doing something like this," said Jessen. "I deliberated with great, soulful torment about this, and obviously I concluded that it could be done safely or I wouldn’t have done it."
  • "It sucks, you know," Mitchell said of waterboarding. "I don’t know that it’s painful. I’m using the word 'distressing.'”
  • "There is a tether anchored to the ceiling in the center of the detention cell," said Mitchell in describing their sleep-deprivation method. "The detainee has handcuffs and they’re attached to the tether in a way that they can’t lie down or rest against a wall. They’re monitored to make sure they don’t get edema if they hang on the cuffs too much."

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