One of the men who shaped the CIA’s interrogation program for terrorist suspects broke his silence Monday.
Dr. James Mitchell sat down for an in-depth interview with Megyn Kelly on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” to discuss his interrogation techniques and the controversy surrounding the Senate Democrats’ report on them.
Speaking on the interrogation of Muhammed Hussein Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi with known ties to chief 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheik Muhammed, Mitchell told Kelly that he “initially was in a background role.” But after Zubaydah “shut down” he participated in water boarding him and said American officials had no choice but to resort to those measures.
“It was clear that there was a second wave [of attacks] coming,” Mitchell said. “There was all these fears about nuclear devices and anthrax and multiple people dying.”
Kelly grilled him on what techniques were used to break Zubaydah.
“Were all of the methods that were recited in the Senate report employed like nudity, standing sleep deprivation, the attention grab, the insult slap were those all used?” she asked. “The facial grab, the abdominal slap, the kneeling stress position, walling?”
“If they showed up on the list, they were used,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell also described the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his first impressions of the 9/11 mastermind.
“What I remember about those first interrogations was that he was arrogant. That he was immensely arrogant. That he was disdainful,” he said. “He had a propensity at that particular point to be confrontational without being physical.”
Mitchell said the harshness of the techniques were “emotionally distressing to the people who are administering them” but they were “doing it in order to save lives and the country.”
He added that he was inspired to action by the heroes of Flight 93.
“These ordinary people are willing to turn into warriors and give up their lives in order to save the Capitol building,” he said. “Then I should be able to give up my moral high ground to go save some additional American lives.”
He said Americans shouldn’t trust the Senate Democrats who went into the investigation “with an agenda, with something they decided they were going to find already,” but instead trust the reports written by members of the CIA that were not meant to be seen by the public but were released at the request of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Mitchell also told Kelly the he has been getting death threats and fears for his life.
“I do not mind giving my life for my country, but I do mind giving my life for a food fight for political reasons between two groups of people who should be able to work it out like adults,” he said.
He also warned that the interrogation report — released by Senate Democrats on the eve of their losing the Senate majority after the 2014 midterms — makes the country look weak and puts American lives in danger.
“It shows al Qaeda and the al Qaeda 2.0 folks, ISIL, that we’re divided and that we’re easy targets, that we don’t have the will to defeat them,” he said.
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