The Slatest

Guardian Interviews Eccentric Co-Architect of CIA’s Harsh Interrogation Program

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

James Elmer Mitchell, one of the co-creators of the CIA’s post-9/11 “harsh interrogation” program,  spoke at length to the Guardian from his home in Land O’ Lakes, Fla. in what is described as the longest interview he’s ever done. This is Mitchell:



He co-designed the United States’ massively controversial “harsh interrogation” program for al-Qaida despite having no experience interrogating criminal suspects or working in intelligence, after which an internal CIA report concluded that he “probably misrepresented” his credentials in order to get the job. Mitchell’s interview with the Guardian is something of an attempt to clear his name from “fat guys in the basement” (bloggers) and other critics. He says he never advocated violations of the Geneva Conventions and is a supporter of Amnesty International. He also points out that he definitively did spend time working at the Air Force’s survival school helping teach techniques for withstanding interrogation, which is at least a somewhat plausible qualification for doing the job he did for the CIA.

However, Mitchell also:

—tells the paper that global warming is a myth

—says that working as a bomb defusal technician was good training for his CIA work because bomb technicians learn about the motivations of people who plant bombs in bomb defusal school

—uses the phrase “threat matrix” twice

—calls Obamacare a “shit sandwich”

Whether you believe him or not, Mitchell is certainly an appropriately surreal character to have been involved in the strange and chaotic world of the United States military-industrial complex post-9/11.