First came 183 waterboardings. Then, a threat: Another attack on US soil, and I'll kill your son. That's what CIA psychologist James Mitchell admitted Monday at a pretrial hearing in the case of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the LA Times reports. "If there was a catastrophic attack on the United States and I find out that you had information … and if another child dies, then I will cut your son's throat," Mitchell apparently warned him in March 2003 during interrogations at a CIA black site in Poland. Mohammed's sons Abed and Yusuf, then 7 and 9, had been seized in Pakistan the year before. Mitchell said his threat was likely a poor decision but told the military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay: "I wanted him to remember it."
He also attached conditions to the threat (like "if another child dies") in an attempt to avoid violating the United Nations' "Torture Convention," the New York Times reports. During the emotional testimony—in which Mitchell accused Mohammed of "smirking"—Mohammed's lawyer asked if Mitchell thought such a threat could instill fear. "Yes I do," said Mitchell. "That was the only time that I made that threat to him." But Mitchell, an architect of the CIA's torture program, said he later told Mohammed it would be "safer" for his family if he relinquished other information. An Amnesty International official says threatening a child violates the Torture Convention, but Mitchell defended his treatment of Mohammed during testimony last week. "If it were today, I would do it again," he said, per the LA Times. (Read more torture stories.)