‘Enhanced Interrogation’ Architect Dr. James Mitchell’s Testimony at Guantánamo Highlights His Role in U.S. Torture, Debasement of Psychological Ethics: PHR – Physicians for Human Rights

Psychologist Dr. James Mitchell – architect of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation”
program and a key figure in health professionals’ shameful record of participation
in torture – is
[1] for the first time before a U.S. military court at Guantánamo
Bay. His accounting of why and how the United States inflicted torture on
detainees offers a new window into the extreme abuses that occurred and the
perverse efforts to develop and justify these criminal techniques.

Showing little remorse, the discredited psychologist said he “would do
it again.”
[2] He also reportedly[3] testified
that the CIA took the program beyond where he was willing to take it.

As nearly two decades of Physicians
for Human Rights (PHR) research and advocacy have made clear, the post-September
11 U.S. torture program constituted a systematic, illegal, and unethical regime of human rights violations. The complicity
of health professionals like Dr. James Mitchell and his collaborator, Dr. Bruce
Jessen, represents one of the gravest breaches of
medical ethics in U.S. history.

PHR published a series[4] of groundbreaking reports and papers
analyzing the severe pain and suffering caused by the so-called enhanced
interrogation techniques, a euphemism for torture, and documenting the U.S.
government’s authorization and use of these criminal interrogation methods on
detainees. PHR has also exposed the unethical and illegal role of health
professionals in the development and implementation of these violations of
human rights:

  • PHR’s 2017 report[5]  “Nuremberg
    Betrayed” showed that CIA contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce
    Jessen created a research program in which health professionals designed and
    applied torture techniques and collected data on torture’s effects.
  • PHR’s 2015 briefing paper[6] “Truth Matters,” based on the Senate
    torture report, analyzed the operational goal of Mitchell and Jessen to destroy
    human beings using methods and practices long recognized as torture.
  • PHR’s 2014 report[7] “Doing Harm” analyzed evidence of medical complicity in
    torture and showed how health professionals who participated in the CIA torture
    program violated core ethical principles common to all healing professions.

A curated list of research relevant to Mitchell’s testimony
and health professionals’ complicity in torture is included at the bottom of
this release.

In response to Dr. Mitchell’s Guantánamo testimony, psychologist Dr. Stephen Soldz[8] – PHR anti-torture advisor and a leading expert on the roles of psychologists in U.S. detention abuses – provided the following statement. Dr. Soldz is available for interview; please contact media@phr.org[9] for more information.

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