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Psychologists the Focus of US Congressional Inquiry Into Torture

Karen Dorn and Bill Morlin write in SpokesmanReview.com:

Two Spokane psychologists are the focus of a congressional inquiry into the use of harsh techniques to interrogate terrorist suspects in Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan and other secret military and CIA detention centers.

In an article published last week, the online magazine Salon.com identified psychologists James E. Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen as key developers of the interrogation program — which the magazine said was linked to the CIA and likely violated the Geneva Conventions against the torture and mistreatment of prisoners.

The interrogation methods, according to a recently declassified Pentagon report reviewed by The Spokesman-Review, are “reverse engineering” of techniques taught in the military’s SERE program, set up to train U.S. special forces and flight crews in the principles of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape.

The SERE program is used by the Army at Fort Bragg, where Green Berets train, and at the U.S. Air Force Survival School near Spokane, where thousands of other trainees are instructed annually.

The theory behind the Cold War-era program is to expose soldiers to extremely harsh treatment during training — including sleep deprivation, pain and “waterboarding,” or simulated drowning — so they’ll be better equipped to resist if captured by forces that don’t adhere to laws on the humane treatment of prisoners, according to the report by the Pentagon’s Inspector General.Mitchell and Jessen have worked as contractors for the CIA since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and previously worked for the military’s SERE program, Salon.com reported.

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