CIA Promised to Cover $5M in Legal Fees for Waterboarders

Psychologists first known waterboarders in secret prisons
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 17, 2010 7:56 AM CST
CIA Promised to Cover $5M in Legal Fees for Waterboarders
Protesters to the war in Iraq perform a demonstration of waterboarding torture techniques in Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 19, 2008.   (AP Photo/Michael Graae)

The CIA secretly agreed to pay at least $5 million in legal fees for two contractors who designed interrogations and repeatedly waterboarded detainees, say former US officials. Whereas CIA agents generally receive agency-paid insurance for potential legal bills, psychologists Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the first individuals to have been confirmed as having carried out waterboarding sessions, wanted extra coverage as public citizens. So the CIA agreed to pay Mitchell and Jessen’s firm’s legal fees directly.

In effect, tax dollars are defending the men for using an interrogation technique that the US has deemed torture, the AP reports—and the CIA is offering these men more defense cash than it usually gives its own members. The pair waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times, according to previously released records and former intelligence officials. Mitchell and Jessen did the bulk of the work, claiming they were the only ones who knew how to apply the techniques properly, the former officials said. (More waterboarding stories.)

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