Psychologists Told CIA Waterboarding Was Safe

Kiriakou told ABC News, "When I spoke to ABC News in December 2007 I was aware of Abu Zubaydah being waterboarded on one occasion. It was after this one occasion that he revealed information related to a planned terrorist attack. As I said in the original interview, my information was second-hand. I never participated in the use of enhanced techniques on Abu Zubaydah or on any other prisoner, nor did I witness the use of such techniques."

As to the private contractors used by the CIA to create and oversee the 10-step brutal interrogation program, two former high-ranking CIA officials confirm to ABC News that Mitchell and Jessen were the architects of the CIA's interrogation program, and were hired as independent contractors to administer and direct the so-called "high value detainee" interrogation. Based on their suggestions and ideas, submitted by the CIA, the Justice Department approved a set of 10 techniques in August, 2002, that would be used on Abu Zubaydah and subsequent al Qaeda captures.

Both are said to have been present in multiple CIA secret prisons, sources tell ABC News, regulating everything from sleep deprivation and stress positions to forced nudity and placing insects in a "confinement box." Sources tell ABC News that the pair traveled the world for the CIA. For their services, they told friends that they were paid $1,000 per day overseas, tax-free, plus expenses.

Mitchell recently built a dream home in Florida, purchased a Lexus and BMW. And as early as 2002, Mitchell and Jessen opened a consulting business that employed as many as 60 people.

Neither would answer questions posed by ABC News, saying they were upholding confidentiality agreements with the U.S. government.

Click here to see Jessen refusing to talk to ABC News.

Click here to see Mitchell refusing to talk to ABC News.

Colleagues of Mitchell and Jessen Raised Red Flags

Although Mitchell and Jessen had been previously identified as being CIA contractors who influenced the CIA's controversial interrogation techniques, the recently released government documents reveal how deeply the pair were involved in developing an interrogation program based on their expertise as psychologists in classified military training regimen intended to help U.S. soldiers and pilots resist coercion and torture in the event of capture, called SERE.

The classified program, which stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, was a legacy of the Cold War, when U.S. soldiers captured by Communist regimes were brutalized and used as propaganda trophies.

SERE was also designed to cope with the tactics of countries and governments that did not abide by the Geneva Convention, which prohibits torture and governs the rules of war.

An obscure Department of Defense unit, called the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), for which Dr. Jessen served as a psychological expert and trainer, is assigned the task of overseeing all SERE training giving to the various special forces in the U.S. military. Dr. Mitchell, though assigned to the special operations unit of the Air Force, worked closely with Dr. Jessen for nearly two decades at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, WA.

The Senate Armed Services Committee recently released a study of interrogation policies in the military after 9/11. The report describes the influence Dr. Jessen had as chief psychologist of JPRA, and his colleague, Dr. Mitchell on the role of SERE tactics in shaping interrogation policy.

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