As the United States struggles with the fallout of the recently disclosed CIA torture report, a new analysis reveals that human experimentation was a “core feature” of the spy agency’s torture program.
Based on the Senate report, the CIA employed brutal techniques like waterboarding, physical abuse, sleep deprivation, mock executions, and threats of sexual abuse to interrogate the so-called terror suspects imprisoned after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The CIA demanded that the controversial summary be redacted to obfuscate the locations of the laboratories where cruel human experimentation took place as well as the identities of those who conducted them.
The CIA hired two psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, to lead the project, according to the report.
The duo designed interrogation and detention protocols that they applied to people held in the CIA’s secret “black sites.”
The CIA defended the decision to hire the 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 spy agency told the Senate that their findings had resulted in intelligence that helped keep Americans safe.
Mitchell and Jessen had previously studied the effects of torture on American prisoners of war and were curious to know whether theories of “learned helplessness” derived from experiments on dogs might actually work on humans.
To implement those theories, the psychologists oversaw or personally engaged in techniques intended to produce “debility, disorientation and dread” in inmates.