CIA Torture Architect James Mitchell said on Tuesday defended techniques like waterboarding and believes that America needs consider returning to coercive interrogation tactics. Mitchell made a rare public appearance at the American Enterprise Institute, and discussed several highly controversial topics.
“I’m not advocating that we torture people," Mitchell said. "I’m advocating that we have a civil debate."
During President Obama's administration, he was starkly against the practice of torture. Despite Obama's stances on the issues, many of President-elect Donald Trump's selected advisors have advocated for aggressive interrogation practices.
Mitchell's opinions seem to follow the same line of thinking as Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and Deputy NSA KT McFarland.
“Somewhere between waterboarding and worse, and what’s in the Army Field Manual, I think there needs to be some kind of legal coercion,” he said.
Mitchell's torture program employed the use of tactics such as "waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions, and rectal feeding on detained terror suspects in secret overseas prisons run by the CIA," according to BuzzFeed.
Despite a 2014 Senate investigation that concluded torture tactics were "ineffective at eliciting intelligence" and were inhumane; Mitchell believes that torture has gotten a bad rap in the public eye.
“The word ‘torture’ has become like the word ‘racist.’ It’s been used so many times it loses its meaning,” he said. “If this political correctness continues, we’re going to be standing on a moral high ground looking down into a smoking hole that used to be Los Angeles.”
“If [waterboarding] was torture, they wouldn’t have had to pass a law in 2015 outlawing it. Because torture’s already illegal,” he said. “It sucks, but if it’s done properly…I’m not advocating for waterboarding. I don’t want to be the poster boy for waterboarding. I didn’t like it.”
As you might imagine, Mitchell has been the focus of heavy public scrutiny. However, he is not fazed by the criticism.
"Those people are not part of my life," Mitchell said. "I don't care what they think. It has zero impact on my life and I don't care."
Mitchell maintains that coercive tactics are necessary to obtain the information that intelligence officials needs to protect the country.
“Would you give up information that would get Americans killed if you were captured by ISIS or al-Qaeda, for a Michelob and a pack of Winstons? I don’t think so. It’s a sad thing to suggest that the general would do that,” Mitchell said.
What are your thoughts on this CIA Torture Architect's comments?