Jefferson Morley | January 29, 2020
Gitmo Testimony Sheds Light on $81 Million CIA Contract for Waterboarding Duo
The continuing testimony of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, architects of the CIA’s torture program, at a military tribunal in Guantanamo sheds new light on the business side of “enhanced interrogation.”
The duo make an appearance in their private jet in The Report, the movie sabout the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of the CIA torture program, starring Adam Driver and Annette Bening.
On the stand, Mitchell answered questions about how he and his partner got a no-bid contract for their work.
From the Washington Examiner reporter at the trial:
The duo formed a Spokane, Washington-based consulting firm, Mitchell, Jessen, and Associates, in 2005. Between then and 2009, their company received $81 million out of a possible $180 million contract as they assisted the CIA’s rendition and detention group. The agency also gave Mitchell and Jessen an indemnification agreement protecting them from legal liability. As of 2014, the government had paid out $1 million — with an additional, undisclosed settlement paid in 2017 to representatives for three former detainees through an ACLU lawsuit.
Mitchell claimed that the company “existed prior to them coming up with the contract.” He said that it was “originally formed because [he] wanted to continue to provide continued medical education for war fighters” and that it wasn’t created to conduct interrogations.
“I was told that it was an open bid contract and that our proposal would be considered with other proposals,” Mitchell testified about the payment. “Later, I was told it was a sole source contract.”
“It was revenue, not profit,” Mitchell said of the $81 million, claiming the vast majority of the funds went to pay for his more than 100 employees. All of his company’s interrogators were former CIA officers, he said. “The CIA would tell us what the qualifications had to be, and the qualifications were that you had to have worked the job before.”