• Press Release

Dispatch from Guantanamo: U.S. Must Open Criminal Investigation into Mitchell and Jessen, Two Torture Program Psychologists

Following testimony at Guantanamo over the past two weeks of James E. Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen–two contract psychologists who played leading roles in designing and implementing the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”–in which Mitchell described in detail their direct participation in torture, Amnesty International issued a call for a criminal investigation to be opened immediately.

Zeke Johnson, the senior director of programs at Amnesty International USA, said:

“No longer can those responsible for torture justify their brutality by claiming that they were told their actions were legal. These practices were illegal back then and they are illegal now. Not only that, their actions were cruel and dehumanizing by all possible standards. No magical thinking can make torture and torment justified. The administration said the ‘gloves were off’ and wanted to go beyond the law to abuse people in ways they knew were wrong and unlawful. Government lawyers’ claims that enhanced techniques were not torture are entirely self-serving.”

Amnesty International is calling for an effective criminal investigation of Mitchell and Jessen and any other contractors or government personnel who participated in, ordered, authorized, or enabled torture or other crimes under international law, whether as part of the CIA, Department of Defense, FBI or other United States government agency.

Amnesty International has long called for accountability for torture and other human rights violations committed by the U.S. government in the name of national security. Accountability requires a full investigation, including the complicity of other governments in secret detention, and criminal prosecutions where warranted, from those at the very top of the U.S. government who authorized or ordered such violations, to those who directly participated or encouraged them. This includes former President George W. Bush, given that he specifically admitted to authorizing the waterboarding of several individuals whose subjection to this torture technique has been confirmed. It is widely known that secret CIA sites operated in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania between 2002 and 2006. Any person responsible for facilitating the disappearance and torture of detainees in those sites should be investigated by the three respective EU members states and perpetrators must be brought to justice as well.

The organization also continues to call for the closure of the Guantanamo detention facilities. The human rights organization has spoken against the Guantanamo military commissions as being incapable of delivering justice for the 9/11 attacks or for those accused, and calls for an end to the commissions. Detainees who are to be prosecuted should be fairly tried in the U.S. federal court system without recourse to the death penalty. Amnesty International has called for the five detainees already cleared for transfer from Guantanamo to be immediately repatriated or transferred to a safe third country, and for the detainees held in indefinite detention to either be charged and fairly tried or released. Efforts to repatriate or resettle those men who will not be charged should be resumed and fully resourced by the U.S. government.

Media contact: Mariya Parodi, [email protected]