siesta, the business of torture

Siesta 1894 by Paul Gauguin Oil on canvas

There is a comic book quality about hiring someone with a masters in psychology teamed up with another caped crusader, also with a masters in psychology in addition to a PhD earned by studying the role of diet and exercise in controlling hypertension, to be the go to guys on when, who and how to torture. Only this would be the traditional comic turned upside down, trusting The Comedian and Rorschach to render carefully weighed opinions on the best way to perform open heart surgery with a hacksaw and some pliers. 2 U.S. Architects of Harsh Tactics in 9/11’s Wake

Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were military retirees and psychologists, on the lookout for business opportunities. They found an excellent customer in the Central Intelligence Agency, where in 2002 they became the architects of the most important interrogation program in the history of American counterterrorism.

They had never carried out a real interrogation, only mock sessions in the military training they had overseen. They had no relevant scholarship; their Ph.D. dissertations were on high blood pressure and family therapy. They had no language skills and no expertise on Al Qaeda.

[   ]…The psychologists’ subsequent fall from official grace has been as swift as their rise in 2002. Today the offices of Mitchell Jessen and Associates, the lucrative business they operated from a handsome century-old building in downtown Spokane, Wash., sit empty, its C.I.A. contracts abruptly terminated last spring.

Not only is the free market a harsh master when it comes to the auto industry, health-care and fizzy beverages that tickle your nose, its a little fickle about profiting from torture and violating the the Convention Against Torture and the War Crimes Act. Even though Mitchel was told that carrying out torture until it produced “learned helplessness” would result in a prisoner saying whatever it takes to get the harsh treatment to stop.

What’s a president to do when the military’s lawyers are giving you answers you do not want to hear. Shop around for a family counseling specialist that will,

The brutal treatment stopped only after Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen themselves decided that Mr. Zubaydah had no more information to give up. Higher-ups from headquarters arrived and watched one more waterboarding before agreeing that the treatment could stop, according to a Justice Department legal opinion.

Lucrative Work

The Zubaydah case gave reason to question the Mitchell-Jessen plan: the prisoner had given up his most valuable information without coercion.

But top C.I.A. officials made no changes, and the methods would be used on at least 27 more prisoners, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times.

The business plans of Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Jessen, meanwhile, were working out beautifully. They were paid $1,000 to $2,000 a day apiece, one official said. They had permanent desks in the Counterterrorist Center, and could now claim genuine experience in interrogating high-level Qaeda operatives.

Dr. Mitchell could keep working outside the C.I.A. as well. At the Ritz-Carlton in Maui in October 2003, he was featured at a high-priced seminar for corporations on how to behave if kidnapped. He created new companies, called Wizard Shop, later renamed Mind Science, and What If. His first company, Knowledge Works, was certified by the American Psychological Association in 2004 as a sponsor of continuing professional education. (A.P.A. dropped the certification last year.)