Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bruce Jessen: The Torturer in the Pulpit



Pious torturers at work: Bruce Jessen's medieval antecedents waterboard a religious "extremist."

 As a newly appointed ecclesiastical leader in Spokane, Washington, Bruce Jessen would have the opportunity to baptize new converts. He would also be expected to interview them regularly to evaluate their understanding of the church’s teachings and their fidelity to its precepts. Given Jessen’s background, the possibility exists that he might use the baptismal font as a theater for “enhanced interrogation” of those who give him unsatisfactory answers. 


Beginning in 2002, Jessen – working with a fellow military psychologist named James Mitchell – trained interrogators in the use of those techniques. Jessen also supervised, and performed, the torture ritual called “waterboarding,” a form of controlled suffocation through simulated drowning that was treated as a capital war crime when used by Japanese interrogators against U.S. and allied POWs during World War II

The approach devised and taught by Jessen was “based on coercive methods used by the Chinese Communist dictatorship to elicit false confessions from U.S. POWs during the Korean War,” explains a 2009 report by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The objective was not to obtain sound intelligence, but rather to destroy the detainee’s will. 

This is very useful to interrogators ordered to provide “intelligence” that will ratify the desires of the ruling elite. One splendid example of this was the torture-wrought “confession” offered by Ib al-Shaykh al-Libi, who claimed to have information linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda. Al-Libi (who later died of “suicide” in a Libyan jail during that brief period when Khadafy was an “ally”) actually knew nothing of the sort, but was understandably eager to give his interrogators what they sought in exchange for an end to the torture.

Ethiopian-born British citizen Binyam Mohamed, who was abducted by U.S. officials and imprisoned at a CIA “black site” in Morocco, was also ministered to by interrogators instructed in Jessen’s doctrine, led by a sadist called “Marwan.” 

After being freed following several years in the bowels of the American-run torture archipelago, Mohamed described how Jessen’s disciples broke him:

“`Strip him,’ shouted Marwan. They cut off my clothes with some kind of doctor’s scalpel. I was naked. I tried to put on a brave face. But maybe I was going to be raped. Maybe they’d electrocute me, maybe castrate me. They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut, maybe an inch. At first I just screamed…. I was just shocked…. Then they cut my left chest. This time I didn’t want to scream because I knew it was coming.”

Marwan, angered by the resolution displayed by the captive, ordered the fiend with the scalpel to “go ahead with the plan.”

“One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts,” Mohamed recounts. “He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony, crying, trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming.”

This procedure was carried out dozens of times. One of Mohamed’s captors taunted him, suggesting that he should be emasculated since “I would only breed terrorists.”

The “scalpel treatment” was inflicted on Mohamed on a monthly basis, reports Stephen Grey in his book Ghost Plane. “It was carefully controlled, so the wounds would not be too deep and would not leave permanent marks. In the end, [Mohamed] told his guards: `I will sign anything, confess to anything.’”

To use Jessen’s terminology, Binyam Mohamed had been successfully “exploited.” For months his interrogators had demanded information about an American citizen named Jose Padilla, someone whom Mohamed had never met and whose name he had never heard. After months of being hung by his wrists, beaten with a leather strap, and having his skin flayed by experts, Mohamed finally provided the CIA’s surrogates with the “evidence” the Bush administration demanded. 

Padilla, a former gang-banger with no operational connections to al-Qaeda, was labeled an “unlawful enemy combatant” – the first U.S. citizen thus designated – and confined to a military brig without legal recourse for roughly four years. During that time, Padilla received the full Jessen Treatment -- sensory deprivation, sleep disruption, stress positions, death threats, prolonged isolation in a medieval-quality cell.  

As noted in a lawsuit filed on Padilla’s behalf, the purpose of this regimen was “to destroy Mr. Padilla's ordinary emotional and cognitive functioning in order to extract from him potentially self-incriminating information.”

Despite the Bush administration’s insistence – buttressed by the “testimony” extorted from Mohamed – that Padilla was involved in a “dirty bomb” plot, he was never charged with that offense. In a Soviet-grade federal trial, Padilla was eventually convicted of conspiring to “support” terrorism abroad. The key evidence in that trial consisted of transcripts of innocuous conversations in which government “experts” claimed to find “coded language” regarding terrorist activities. 

After Mohamed had signed a document implicating Padilla, he was sent to Guantanamo. During his flight on a CIA-chartered rendition plane, he was attended by an operative he described as “a white female with glasses.” When she removed Mohamed’s shirt, the CIA officer was horrified to see that most of his upper body was covered with scars carved out by the agency’s scalpel-wielding subcontractors.

“When she saw the injuries I had, she gasped,” Mohamed later recalled. “She said, my God, look at that. Then all her mates looked at what she was pointing at, and I could see the shock and horror on their faces.”

The chief opposition to the torture program devised by Jessen and Mitchell came from their former colleagues in the military – including some who had been involved with them in teaching SERE courses in the 1980s. They were understandably concerned that the practice of torture would inspire retaliation against captured U.S. servicemen and incite future acts of terrorism against the U.S. With institutional support for their program collapsing, and public revulsion on the rise, Jessen and Mitchell requested from the CIA – and received – an “indemnity promise” guaranteeing them at least $5 million to pay any legal fees arising from criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit.

 They needn’t have worried. None of the U.S. officials responsible for institutionalizing torture has ever been prosecuted or punished in any way. That treatment is reserved for critics of the torture program. This includes former CIA counter-terrorism operative John Kiriakou, who recently entered a guilty plea on a single charge of revealing the identity of an intelligence operative. His supposed offense – for which he was originally charged under the 1917 Espionage Act, which provides for the death penalty – was to speak critically of the torture program and identify one of the officials involved in it.

Kiriakou, who is one of six officials being prosecuted by the Obama administration for “leaking” information about the government’s crimes, accepted a plea bargain because he has five children. That fact, to use Jessen’s terminology, made him “exploitable.” Accordingly, while the architect of the torture program was given the opportunity to hold forth from a pulpit, a whistleblower will spend at least two and a half years in prison. 

(Note: This essay has been edited to reflect the news that Jessen may have resigned as Bishop.) 







Dum spiro, pugno!

28 comments:

SapiensLibertas said...

I feel physically ill, as though I were just punched in the gut.

I've been educating myself on the enemy we face for the last ten years, and just when I think I've encompassed the full scope of their evil I read something like this article.

These people are monsters, and they have penetrated from the highest echelons right down to the local constabulary.

We are overrun with evil. If we don't ALL speak out now, the horrors we face will make Padilla's treatment seem mild.

All it takes is telling the truth, fearlessly, again and again, like Mr. Grigg. Take this knowledge and spread it!

History is full of examples like this. Read Solzhenitsyn; the treatments in the KGB's dungeons, Abu Graib, Pol Pot's dungeons, Mao's torture chambers--when the psychopaths take over, Hell overruns Earth.

And Hell is what Jessen, "Marwan*", Mitchell, and their ilk deserve...and will receive.


* "Marwan" is a character name from the execrable DOJ agit-prop television show "24". Coincidence?

KPRyan said...

Feel physically ill?

So do I, reading this story. Truly the 'leaders' and those below them who do the bidding (like this Mormon bishop) and 'Marwan' are either knowingly or unknowingly tuned into Satan and spread his hate and pain worldwide.

Perhaps the Soviet Union fell. Perhaps it did not. Whatever the case, it is CLEAR the old Stalinist/Beria show trials and false confessions and tortured innocents disappeared to Siberia is an evil that Governments still use to con their people. Now it's ol 'Uncle Sam'.

What's remarkable is most Americans knew the Soviet confessions were patently false. Now the same game is being played here and the average American says: "Them Muslim's all terrorists so who cares what happens to 'em!" When the true terrorists aren't Muslims or Baptists or Catholics or Buddhists but zionist satanists who orchestrate this elaborate play of evil.

Kent McManigal said...

Just wait- the same inexcusably ignorant and evil verim who keep showing up to vomit their words of support for that mass-murderer Chris Kyle will come to defend this parasite, too.

Bob said...

Another excellent post, Will.

MoT said...

And this is the sort of sick freak show that so many Americans cheer about?

willb said...

Say "farewell" to the Christian ethic and culture that
was once America, and with that demise you can bid adieu
to the shield that protected her as well.

2 Samuel 22:3
The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield,
and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge,
my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

In God we trust? Not.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for having the courage to write about this--

willb said...

The Inquisition is back, with a vengeance.
They'll have us all wearing U.S. flag
lapel pins before you know it.

And keep in mind that this "interrogation" occurs
before any trial has determined guilt or innocence.

Fred said...

I hope that God has a special place reserved in hell for all of these evil people.

Anonymous said...

After the united states fought against the empire of spain, a new empire was born. After the united states fought the fascist powers in europe, the preeminent fascist power in the world took on its role of dominance. After the berlin wall fell, the american gulag was added to the "tool kit." This country as been mutilated by war, with the cognitive dissonance of "christians" being only one of its manifestations. They are all calvinist justified sinners. May they burn in hell.

jcdenton said...

Will, perhaps you can expand on this at a time of your choosing:

Golden Lily Treasure

Note that Lansdale oversaw the interrogation/torture of Yamashita's driver via Romana. It goes back then ('45). And probably before that.

The larger present problem is not just the CIA et al. As Chuck Baldwin expands, it is the American Evangelical Christian. You may have heard of the term Military Industrial Christian. Quite fitting, isn't it?

liberranter said...

Military Industrial Christian

Now that's a keeper!

Workingstiff said...

I am alarmed by the continued criticism of Latter-Day Saints and their faith because of the crimes and sins of men like Jessen and Lee.

I find it unfair that you insinuate the LDS Church or its members condones or even supports such conduct by these men. Stereotyping should be is beneath a man of your intelligence and experience.

Mr. Griggs, for the sake of journalistic objectivity and fairness, why don't you equally name and castigate every single church or faith that fails to respond to Law enforcement officers who belong to their faith, that abuse their authority--of whom you so accurately and lucidly report frequently in your column? Can we expect in future LE expose’s a complete background check and equal castigation of their faiths for being responsible or appearing to condone the moral failures of these individuals? What's good for the goose should be good for the gander, right?

Kent McManigal said...

Workingstiff- I'm waiting for Mr. Grigg to enlighten you, but I'm busy being amused right now.

William N. Grigg said...

Workingstiff, Mr. Jessen was a key architect of the torture state. If and when a war criminal of similar stature is appointed to a church position comparable to that of a Bishop in the LDS Church, I will duly note and condemn that development.

The subject of torture is one about which I have written a great deal -- and on several occasions I have expressed dismay and disgust over the fact that professed Evangelical Christians have supported and promoted the practice (beginning in the Philippines a century ago, in fact). I have also described the origins of waterboarding in the Catholic Inquisition. See this essay for one example --

http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2009/05/water-cure-for-mancow-disease.html

-- or this one --

http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2009/04/triumph-of-torture-state.html

Jessen's denominational affiliation is incidental to the story I shared above. If I had intended to focus attention on the "Mormon connection," I might usefully have pointed out that Jay Bybee, the functionary who signed the "Yoo Memorandum" that supposedly justified torture, is LDS.

In fact, five years ago I wrote an essay lamenting the fact that three key Bush advisers involved in codifying torture, military commissions, and the "unitary executive" doctrine, are members of the LDS Church; I contrasted their actions with those of two of my heroes, Helmuth Heubner, and Alexander Doniphan (the latter being the man who heroically disobeyed an order from his superior to murder Joseph Smith) --

http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2007/03/confronting-latter-day-reich-when.html

One of the first essays I published in this space included a tribute -- both angry and sorrowful -- to the late Army Spec. Alyssa Peterson, who died of apparent suicide in Iraq after seeing detainees being broken by interrogators following Robert Jessen's formula. Miss Peterson, who loudly and passionately objected to those tactics, might well have been murdered. The records of the interrogations she witnessed, and those dealing with her death, have been destroyed or sealed away. Miss Peterson was a Mormon, a returned missionary from Flagstaff --

http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2006/11/what-regime-does-to-great-americans.html

In a September 2006 essay that probably cost me my job with The New American magazine, I condemned Mitt Romney's enthusiasm for the torture apparatus, and predicted that his embrace of that practice would help him win over bellicose Evangelical Christians; that prediction, I believe, has been vindicated --

http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2006/09/grand-old-torture-party.html

I can understand your anger and frustration, Workingstiff, but I cannot honestly be accused of either writing on insinuating that the LDS Church is exceptionally blameworthy regarding the institutionalization of torture. It must be acknowledged that Mr. Jessen's calling as Bishop was approved by the highest councils in Salt Lake City, and unanimously ratified by a sustaining vote by his ward in Spokane, after his role in those crimes became known. The church leaders involved in that calling insist that it originated with God. I would consider that to be a slander against the Creator.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Will ~

Had you heard that Mr. Jessen resigned from his calling as Bishop of the Spokane 6th Ward?

Someone posted this update on another forum:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/joannabrooks/6539/does_romney%E2%80%99s_religion_condone_torture/

"Washington newspapers are reporting that Bruce Jessen was called and “sustained” (or approved) to serve as bishop by his Spokane-area congregation in mid-October. [UPDATE: Sources have confirmed that Jessen stepped down from the position last Sunday.]"

William N. Grigg said...

Thanks for making note of this, Anon. I had mentioned that apparent development in my update (see the second paragraph). I'm still trying to track down the details.

willb said...

@Workingstiff

Grigg calls 'em like he sees 'em, and he's no rookie.
If you feel ashamed of the Church of LDS, good.
There's hope for you yet.

Power abhors a vacuum. As millions of true Christians
flee state subsidized Church's in the U.S., they are
being replaced with those who deny the power of the Gospel
and as such are intent on taking the Kingdom by force.

Our politicians in the U.S. are now sporting flag lapel pins.
Next, it will be medals.

KP Ryan said...

Jessen's 'resignation' in no way removes the stain on the Mormon heirarchy caused by their original elevation of the sicko to his position of influence and power. A Godly religious body would have excommunicated the evil man from their midst.

Workingstiff said...

Before you make pass judgement against the LDS Church, let me ask you this: WHAT did the Church leaders know, and WHEN did they know it?

I consider myself pretty informed, and Mr. Grigg's article is the first time I heard of Mr. Jensson. Was he publicly indicted? Summoned to Federal court? Was his role promoting these awful interrogation methods published in major media, instead of just smaller outlets that one would have to dig for?

Can it be proven the church knew the background of Mr. Jesson evil career before they sanctioned his bishops calling? You can criticize the Church's claim to receive revelation, but you must prove it knowingly ignored facts public made of his role when it made its decision.

In the Bible it says the even the very elect may be deceived--and that goes for all of us as fallible human beings.

William N. Grigg said...

Before you make pass judgement against the LDS Church, let me ask you this: WHAT did the Church leaders know, and WHEN did they know it?

Jessen was the focus of large, well-publicized (at least in the local press) protests in Spokane for many years. ABC and CBS did significant profiles on him, as did the New York Times, several years ago.

His occupation and professional activities were known to church authorities, as was the fact that he had been investigated by the Senate Armed Services Committee. I'm familiar with the vetting of LDS Bishops, and it is impossible to believe that even a cursory background check would have failed to turn up the details of Jessen's career as a torturer.

The first article to which I link makes it clear that the Stake President who called Jessen as Bishop was aware of Jessen's role as an architect of the torture program:

"Bruce Jessen was proposed by Spokane Stake President James Lee, or `called' in the terminology of the Mormon faith, to be the bishop of Spokane’s 6th Ward, approved by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hierarchy in Salt Lake City and presented to the congregation on Sunday. He was unanimously accepted by some 200 in attendance, Lee said.

As a bishop – an unpaid, part-time position that usually lasts several years – Jessen will take confessions and help people with their personal problems, Lee said. `They just try to help people with their lives, marriages or finances,' he said.

The appointment surprised some groups who have denounced Jessen and his then-partner James Mitchell for techniques they helped develop for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Among those techniques were sleep deprivation and waterboarding, according to a 2009 U.S. Senate committee report.[...]

Lee ... said he interviewed Jessen about the controversy during the several-month period the psychologist was being considered for the bishop’s post, and Jessen shared some information that Lee couldn’t reveal. He believes Jessen, who has been a member of that congregation for years, is an honorable, trustworthy and humble man who will be able to help other members and keep their confidences. He is, however, `tight-lipped' about his work with the government, the stake president added.

`He’ll take a beating in the press before he sets the record straight,' Lee said. `The whole story has not been told.'"

I agree that the whole story hasn't been told -- in large part because Jessen refuses to answer questions about it and people like President Lee are content to cover for him, rather than demanding that he confess, repent, and make restitution.

It is remarkable to me that Lee appears to be more concerned about the figurative "beating" Jessen has experienced in the media (which has actually ignored this story, for the most part) than the literal beatings -- as well as abuse, mutilation, and psychological strip-mining -- that was inflicted on Jessen's victims, including perfectly innocent people like Binyam Mohamed.

willb said...

"I consider myself pretty informed, and Mr. Grigg's article
is the first time I heard of Mr. Jensson" -Workingstiff

"Welcome to the desert... of the real." -Morpheus

MoT said...

@workingstiff... Could you possibly be so ignorant as to not know what has been going on this past decade?

Anonymous said...

Donna, from North Dakota ~

I'm still flummoxed over the forced retirement of Dr. Steven Jones, Physicist, from BYU shortly after his research revealed evidence of 'unreacted thermitic material' in dust retrieved from the WTC crime scene.

The following April of 2007, Dick Cheney was honored with a decorative ribbon and several standing ovations at the BYU Graduation ceremony.

Dr. Jones is still struggling over that bit of reality.

Some of us 'Mormons' have been awakened to our 'awful situation' for a number of years; some are just starting to awaken; some evidently, sleep on.

Ignorance of evil should never be mistaken for virtue.

(I don't know how to be anything but "anonymous". Those various options below require too much 'system' commitment. Sorry!)

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Lofty talk of government officials, as if appointed by God, is the usual. Let those wanting democracy be left in the hands of elites.

liberranter said...

I would be curious to know why Jessen decided to step down from his position as Bishop.

willb said...

@Anonymous

Dr. Jones was the first to publish a theory on the possible use of
thermite at the WTC. I read the report when it first came out and
thought very well of him and BYU for having made it public.

But alas, as you have said, Dr. Jones was summarily dismissed from
BYU for having opened his mouth about the subject. It was this
event that called my attention to Mormon politics.

I was very disappointed, to say the least, to discover that BYU is
but just one more brick in the wall. Their treatment of Dr. Jones
was shameful.

This article written by Grigg and the fact the we now may have the
first Mormon president makes me wonder if all of the events aren't
somehow related; of course they are, but "in what way?" is the question
that intrigues me.

Anonymous said...

Will, I come from a Mormon upbringing myself. When I told my mom about this, her defense was that I don't know the man. He could've since repented and become a different person.

So I guess my question now is, is there any evidence that he has expressed remose for this in recent years? The most I've heard from him is a quote online concerning the torture report, calling it a bunch of "hooey."

I'd also be curious as to any expressed opinions by that particular congregation on the matter of Jessen.