CIA gave waterboarders $5 mn legal shield: Officials

The CIA agreed to cover at least $5 mn in legal fees for two contractors.

Last Updated: Dec 17, 2010, 16:00 PM IST

Washington: The CIA agreed to cover at least USD 5 million in legal fees for two contractors who were the architects of the agency`s interrogation program and personally conducted dozens of waterboarding sessions on terror detainees, former US officials said.

The secret agreement means taxpayers are paying to defend the men in a federal investigation over an interrogation tactic the United States now says is torture.

The deal is even more generous than the protections the agency typically provides its own officers, giving the two men access to more money to finance their defences.

It has long been known that psychologists Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen created the CIA`s interrogation program. But former US intelligence officials said Mitchell and Jessen also repeatedly subjected terror suspects inside CIA-run secret prisons to waterboarding, a simulated drowning tactic.
The revelation of the contractors` involvement is the first known confirmation of any individuals who conducted waterboarding at the so-called black sites, underscoring just how much the agency relied on outside help in its most sensitive interrogations.

PTI