Torture report profile: James Elmer Mitchell

James Elmer Mitchell

James Elmer Mitchell

Role: Interrogator of CIA detainees
Years: 2002 to 2009

Mitchell, identified in the report under the pseudonym Grayson Swigert, is a former psychologist at the Air Force’s survival school who helped set up the secret prison system, conducted some of the key interrogations and formed a company that collected more than $80 million to run the program between 2005 and 2009. According to the Senate report, he had no experience as an interrogator, no specialized knowledge of al-Qaeda, and no “relevant regional, cultural, or linguistic expertise,” but pressed for the “most coercive” interrogation methods and judged their use a great success. Those who used these methods were paid $1,800 a day, four times more than other interrogators.

When reached by phone, Mitchell declined to comment. In an interview with The Guardian, he said, “I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of government, and I did the best that I could.”