May 2, 2016

The psychologist claiming in court that he didn’t create the CIA torture program has written a book claiming he created the CIA torture program

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James Mitchell is claiming in court that he was not a key architect of the CIA's torture program. His author bio tells a different story.

James Mitchell is claiming in court that he was not a key architect of the CIA’s torture program. His author bio tells a different story.

James Mitchell‘s lawyers will attempt to beat a lawsuit filed by two former CIA black-site detainees and the family of a third prisoner who died while in CIA custody by claiming that Mitchell was not one of the key architects of the CIA torture program. But, as Jessica Schulberg at the Huffington Post points out, Mitchell’s own book is telling a different story, and one that could complicate things for him in court.

James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, two psychologists whose firm made at least $81 million designing torture techniques for the CIA, “did not create or establish the CIA enhanced interrogation program,” their lawyers have argued. It’s a strange claim — especially now that promotional material for Mitchell’s forthcoming book calls him the “creator of the CIA’s controversial Enhanced Interrogation Program” and brags that the book offers “a dramatic firsthand account of the design, implementation, flaws and aftermath of the program.”

Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America could complicate Mitchell and Jessen’s efforts to block a civil lawsuit brought against them by two former CIA black-site detainees and the family of a third prisoner who died in CIA custody. Arguing that Mitchell and Jessen were not key architects of the interrogation program will be “a major focus” of their defense, the psychologists’ lawyers wrote in an April court filing.

The book is featured on the homepage of its publisher, Crown Forum, though the link to read more leads to a dead page. But on its retail pages, the book description seems pretty unequivocal in its claims.

The creator of the CIA’s controversial Enhanced Interrogation Program provides a dramatic firsthand account of the design, implementation, flaws and aftermath of the program, including personally interrogating 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and learning from America’s enemies what we need to know to win the continuing struggle against global jihad.

Schulberg also quotes the book’s promotional materials, which states that Mitchell had “a leading role in the development of the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Program” and dubs him as “one of the primary terrorist interrogators.”

We’ve written about Mitchell before, along with his business partner and co-defendant, Bruce Jessen. And Mitchell was, of course, featured in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture; under the code name Grayson Swigert, he was cited close to 100 times in the report summary.

Enhanced Interrogation is set to be published on May 10th, as listed on some retail sites, but there seems to be some confusion. Schulberg checked with four Washington booksellers who confirmed the publication date, but there’s no date listed on the Crown site.

Bill Harlow, a former CIA spokesman who co-wrote the book with Mitchell, said they have not yet set a publication date. He dismissed suggestions that the book’s release had been delayed, describing the May 10 publication date as “speculation.” Harlow previously co-authored books with Tenet, who headed the CIA in the inaugural days of the torture program, and Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the agency’s clandestine service who ordered the destruction of at least two videotapes that documented interrogations.

Publisher Crown Forum did not respond to a question about the timing of the book’s release.

Schulberg goes on to note that “Edelweiss, a website that tracks upcoming books, states that Enhanced Interrogation has been “’postponed indefinitely.’” The lawsuit, however, moves forward.

 

Julia Fleischaker is the director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.

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