Ex-psychologist justifies CIA torture of 9/11 defendants

The trial of the five defendants is scheduled to begin in January 2021 in Guantanamo.
The trial of the five defendants is scheduled to begin in January 2021 in Guantanamo. Alex Brandon / AP

If it had to be done again, he would do it again. James E. Mitchell, one of the psychologists who helped design the "Advanced interrogation methods" of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after September 11, 2001, justified the use of torture this week before a military tribunal at the American base in Guantanamo, Cuba.

"I would do it again today", James E. Mitchell said on Tuesday during pre-trial hearings of five men accused of planning the September 11 attacks, according to a report published Wednesday by the New York Times. The former CIA subcontractor explained that after the bombings that left 2,976 dead he considered a "Moral duty" to prevent any new attack.

"Protecting the lives of Americans was more important than the discomfort of terrorists who had willingly taken up arms against us," added the psychologist, who admitted having participated in several drowning simulacra sessions himself (waterboarding).

Read also Two psychologists tried for CIA torture methods after September 11, 2001

The trial of the five men accused of planning the September 11 attacks, whose self-proclaimed mastermind of the Khaled Sheikh Mohammed attack, is due to open in January 2021 in Guantanamo.

Five defendants face death penalty

The five accused, detained for fifteen years at this military base located at the south-eastern tip of Cuba, were charged ten years ago, but the proceedings dragged on due to the extreme complexity of the case. .

One of the difficulties is that the prisoners have been subjected to these "Advanced interrogation procedures". This is particularly the case for Khaled Cheikh Mohammed (known as KSM, his initials in English), arrested in Pakistan in 2003, who was notably subjected to 183 sessions of waterboarding before being transferred to Guantanamo in 2006.

Read also CIA used "waterboarding" 266 times on two prisoners

James E. Mitchell is cited by lawyers for the five accused who seek to prevent the government from using their statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as evidence against them in a war crime trial. Indeed, American justice does not consider confessions obtained under torture as admissible evidence, said Amnesty International lawyer Julia Hall.

"Mitchell said he was testifying for victims and families"said Wednesday Mme Hall, who attends the trial at the Guantanamo military base. "Yet it is largely because of the torture techniques that he himself created and used on the detainees that there was postponement after postponement" in court proceedings. "Mitchell is one of the main reasons why the families of the victims have still not obtained justice", she concluded.

Other accused include Yemenis Ramzi Ben Al-Chaïba, who the prosecution claims should have participated in the operation but had not obtained his visa for the United States, and Walid Ben Attach, suspected of having carried out locations before the attacks.

The Saudi Moustapha Al-Houssaoui is accused of having financed the attacks, and the nephew of "KSM", Ammar Al-Baluchi, also called Ali Abdoul Aziz-Ali, of having participated in the logistics. They risk the death penalty.

Read also September 11 trial: accused complains of "psychological torture"


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here