December 10, 2014, Wall Street Journal, The Psychologists Behind the CIA's Harsh Interrogations,
Key to the Senate's report on the CIA's interrogation program are details about the men who devised the harsh tactics used – two psychologists with no experience as interrogators. Photo: Getty
Key details of the Senate report on the CIA's interrogation program for suspected terrorists, explained that many of the harsh techniques used were devised by two psychologists--independent contractors with no experience as interrogators, no specialized knowledge about al Qaeda, or quote, "any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise."
In the report the men are referred to by pseudonyms, Dr. Grayson Swigart and Dr. Hammond Dunbar. The expertise they did bring was from a U.S. military program called S.E.R.E. short for survival evasion resistance and escape.
S.E.R.E was designed after the Korean War to train American soldiers to withstand torture if captured by enemy forces, and its lessons informed the psychologists' development of enhanced interrogation techniques.
At the outset of the investigation into the program was started into 2009 and resulted in the Senate report, the men were identified in various media outlets as James Elmer Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen. According to the Senate report they collected over eighty million dollars from the CIA before the program was scrapped by the Obama administration.
The psychologists suggested a range of techniques including cramped confinement, face slapping, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding. The idea behind the interrogation techniques was to induce "learned helplessness," a state in which the detainees would become passive and depressed, which in theory would encourage the detainee to "cooperate and provide information."
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D) California: At no time did this CIA coercive interrogation techniques lead to the collection of intelligence on an imminent threat. The Center report states that the interrogation techniques weren't effective, a conclusion disputed by CIA director John Brennan.