Five million dollars for legal defense; what next, a medal for videotaped waterboarding? (graphic: Mike Licht, via Flickr)

Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo at Associated Press report this morning on the CIA’s largesse in helping fund the legal defense for their former SERE psychologists contractors-cum-torturers, Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but reading about it turns one’s stomach.

The secret agreement means taxpayers are paying to defend the men in a federal investigation over an interrogation tactic the U.S. now says is torture. The deal is even more generous than the protections the agency typically provides its own officers, giving the two men access to more money to finance their defense.

The two psychologists were the proprietors of Mitchell-Jessen and Associates, who sold their expertise in waterboarding and other psychological and physical forms of torture, formerly applied in teaching U.S. military personnel how to withstand torture, for the torture of Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abd al-Nashiri, and possibly others. The article describes how the contractors anxiously importuned their superiors to destroy the videotapes of their torture. After the CIA complied, and the Justice Department launched a criminal investigation with the accompanying scandal, the kabuki over the atrocities played out, paid for entirely from scarce taxpayer dollars, ending with a decision by feckless special prosecutor John Durham, not to prosecute anyone, whether for torture, destruction of evidence, obstruction of justice, or anything.  . . .

The U.S. has long passed the Rubicon now, wherein it has become an official torture state. Its official military manuals of interrogation prescribe isolation (of the type people are noticing is being inflicted on Bradley Manning), sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, use of drugs, and other kinds of torture. The current President and the past either endorse torture, or consciously advocate turning a blind eye to it. Meanwhile, America’s official torture center remains open for business, and Congress isn’t even interested in shutting it down, blocking funds for either that or any transfer of prisoners to the United States.

What are we going to do now? The power elite’s media machine drones on about espionage against journalists, and news providers, like Wikipedia’s Julian Assange, while politicians of all stripes snap to attention.

It’s time for something new in this stale, corrupt, monstrous political world we live in.

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Jeff Kaye

Jeff Kaye

Jeffrey Kaye is a retired psychologist who has worked professionally with torture victims and asylum applicants. Active in the anti-torture movement since 2006, he has his own blog, Invictus, previously wrote regularly for Firedoglake’s The Dissenter, as well as at The Guardian, Truthout, Alternet, and The Public Record. He is the author of Cover-Up at Guantanamo, a new book examining declassified files on treatment of prisoners at the Guantanamo detention camp.