The CIA Contractors Who Tortured Terrorists Made A LOT Of Money, Tax-Free

by 3 years ago  •  3 Comments
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Senate Intelligence Committee Report


Today in news that doesn’t include Mckayla Maroney’s 19th birthday or The Rock being The Rock: The Senate Intelligence Committee released its 600-page executive summary on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture tactics during the Bush years. It’s not exactly leisure reading, documenting some of the gruesome techniques used by the United States clandestine services in the War on Terror, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most notably: Waterboarding, putting Abu Zubaydah in a coffin-sized box for 11 days, and one called “rectal feeding and hydration.” The New York Times has a good summary + context of the report, including some of the ramifications from the international community at large.

Breaking down the report isn’t really the point of this post. Other outlets can do a much, much better job going through its many nuances than we can.

Rather, we thought this little tidbit — picked out in the report from The Daily Dot — was interesting. The C.I.A.’s interrogators/contractors were paid $1,800 per day tax-free to waterboard and conduct torture on prisoners. That’s four times what other interrogators who could not use torture techniques were paid:

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Senate Intelligence Committee Report


For a little more context, here is NBC’s report:

In late July 2002 the CIA turned to the psychologists, according to both former intelligence officials and congressional investigators. Jessen was then a senior psychologist at the Defense Department agency that taught special operations forces how to resist and endure torture via so called “SERE” training, or Survival, Evasion, Resistance Escape training, at a special “SERE” school. Jessen was sent to the CIA “for several days” to discuss the techniques, according to congressional investigators. Jessen immediately resigned from the Air Force and, along with Mitchell, another recently retired colleague, founded Mitchell, Jessen & Associates.

The business — co-owned by seven individuals, six of whom worked in the SERE program as either employees or contractors — quickly signed a contract with the CIA. In 2006, according to the report, “the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million.” The deal initially provided the two principals with $1,000-a-day tax-free retainers.

The business — co-owned by seven individuals, six of whom worked in the SERE program as either employees or contractors — quickly signed a contract with the CIA. In 2006, according to the report, “the value of the CIA’s base contract with the company formed by the psychologists with all options exercised was in excess of $180 million.” The deal initially provided the two principals with $1,000-a-day tax-free retainers.

As the Daily Dot notes, the CIA’s contract torturers received more than $80 million between 2001 – 2009. The Daily Dot says this means that the people contracted to torturing terrorists were making an estimated $500,000 – $700,000 a year, which was designated tax-free according to the report.

It’s a fascinating detail. Discuss in the comments.


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