Torture report profile: Bruce Jessen

Bruce Jessen

Bruce Jessen

Role: Interrogator of CIA detainees
Years: 2002 to 2009

Jessen, identified in the Senate report by the pseudonym, Hammond Dunbar, is a former Air Force psychologist who partnered with James Mitchell in setting up the CIA detainee system and conducting key interrogations. But he had no similar prior experience, and wrote in internal reports that waterboarding, slapping, walling, and sleep deprivation had succeeded because they elicited no useful information — easing worries that the detainees were hiding important secrets. At one point, he waited until detainee Khalid Sheikh Muhammad started talking before “pouring water over his mouth,” the Senate report says. A CIA psychologist at one point accused Jessen and Mitchell of “arrogance and narcissism” in insisting that “their way is the only way.”

Jessen could not be reached for comment. After the release of the report, Jessen told Reuters he was prevented from talking by a non-disclosure agreement. “It’s a difficult position to be in,” he said. “You want to set the record straight.”