In newly released video, two military psychologists who helped devise the Bush administration’s interrogation program defend their roles in helping the CIA torture detainees in U.S. custody. On Wednesday, The New York Times published video depositions of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who were questioned over torture as part of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of several former prisoners. This is James Mitchell being asked about his support for the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding.
Attorney: “I mean, you thought waterboarding was a bad thing—was a painful thing, right?”
James Mitchell: “No, I thought it—I thought it could be done safely. I thought he would be uncomfortable. It sucks, you know. It’s—I don’t know that it’s painful.”
Attorney: “Well, I saw an interview”—
James Mitchell: “But it’s distressing.”
Attorney: “I saw an interview with you where you said if it was between somebody breaking their leg and somebody being waterboarded, most people would choose to have their leg broken. Do you remember saying that in an interview?”
James Mitchell: “No.”