The Senate Committee’s Report on the C.I.A.’s Use of Torture concludes that torture programs were “overwhelmingly outsourced operations.” Here’s the section on these Psycho-Contractors, as summarized by the Washington Post:
The CIA contracted with two psychologists to develop, operate, and assess its interrogation operations. The psychologists’ prior experience was at the U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school. Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al-Qa’ida, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.
On the CIA’s behalf, the contract psychologists developed theories of interrogation based on “learned helplessness,” and developed the list of enhanced interrogation techniques that was approved for use against Abu Zubaydah and subsequent CIA detainees. The psychologists personally conducted interrogations of some of the CIA’s most significant detainees using these techniques. They also evaluated whether detainees’ psychological state allowed for the continued use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, including some detainees whom they were themselves interrogating or had interrogated. The psychologists carried out inherently governmental functions, such as acting as liaison between the CIA and foreign intelligence services, assessing the effectiveness of the interrogation program, and participating in the interrogation of detainees in held in foreign government custody.
In 2005, the psychologists formed a company specifically for the purpose of conducting their work with the CIA. Shortly thereafter, the CIA outsourced virtually all aspects of the program.
In 2006, the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million; the contractors received $81 million prior to the contract’s termination in 2009. In 2007, the CIA provided a multi-year indemnification agreement to protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the program. The CIA has since paid out more than $1 million pursuant to the agreement.
In 2008, the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Group, the lead unit for detention and interrogation operations at the CIA, had a total of- positions, which were filled with CIA staff officers and contractors, meaning that contractors made up 85% of the workforce for detention and interrogation operations.
Only in America!
<Link to this section of the Senate torture report.>