Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Torture Building

Monday, I had to run an errand in Spokane at 108 North Washington. (or North 108 Washington, as Spokane lists addresses.)

As soon as I saw the address, I knew. I was going to the Torture Building.

As discussed in the news lately, and in my blog here and here, two Spokane psychologists - Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell - were instrumental in the turn this country took in the summer of 2002 in choosing to use interrogation techniques such as waterboarding prisoners and slamming them into walls. As also described previously, neither psychologist had ever conducted an interrogation before, and they stepped in with these techniques - as CIA contractors making a reported $1,000 a day (CORRECTION, 2014: Received $81 million of a $180 million contract, over 4 years) - in spite of the fact that the FBI was succeeding with more traditional, bonding-type interrogation techniques. (The Mitchell-and-Jessen-generated CIA techniques themselves originated with countries who sought confessions to be used for propaganda, not reliable intelligence.)

So here I've been, obsessed for a week on this topic, when - voila! - I have to be in the very building where these two psychologists have offices.

And then here is the other weird thing. As I drove to the Torture Building, I realized that the Obama election office last February, during the primaries, was two blocks south of it. Same street - same side of the street, even. Just a couple blocks south. (Oh, and point of clarification - I don't think the tortures took place there. But that is where the head offices were in Spokane.)

I got to the building and had to take a photo of it. Then I got to the office where I was going and said, "Hey. You're in the Torture Building!" To which my source (let's call him "Dave") agreed. Why yes, he said - yes I am.

So then, get this. They moved. Last week. Jessen and Mitchell moved, just vacated offices in the middle of the night. (Well, actually it was the middle of the day, as "Dave" saw the moving trucks and all.) (Apparently they had nice furniture.) (Well, and of course, given that we were paying them very well through their CIA contract.)

Apparently Mitchell and Jessen had been on the sixth and seventh floors, and needed a special code to get there. Not just any schmuck was allowed that high up in the building. Though they reportedly did have an office in Suite 205 of the same building that was more accessible to the public. (I took a photo of that too - office is dark and empty.)

So there you have it. The news from Spokane, hot off the presses, is that Mitchell and Jessen have left the building. Have they left Spokane? I hope we rode them out on the rails. It is the Wild West, after all.


green libertarian said...

Did you get a feeling of horror and dread, like I did the first time I saw the Hanford Reservation?

Beth Bollinger said...

I think what struck me the most was how close I had been to the building when volunteering for Obama in February 2008 - just two blocks away... Though walking into the building and knowing its secrets - knowing what the walls must have heard, as the planning for torture took place... I can't put it into one word. Maybe "what have we done?" is the best way to describe my emotion.