Bruce Jessen

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SERE training camp at Fort Bragg. Captain Michael Kearns, Psychologist Bruce Jessen (right)

John Bruce Jessen (born July 28, 1949)[1] is a psychologist, Air Force retiree, and former Mormon bishop who, with James Elmer Mitchell, created a controversial interrogation program to be used on CIA detainees. The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence classified some techniques used in the program as torture, as reported in its report on CIA torture.[2] In that report, he was mentioned under the pseudonym "Hammond Dunbar". His company, Mitchell Jessen and Associates earned US$81 million for its work.[3]


He finished a PhD in Divinity from Utah State University. A United States Air Force retiree, Jessen and James Mitchell were hired in 2002 by the Central Intelligence Agency to design an enhanced interrogation techniques program.[4][5] The objectives of the program were not just to obtain intelligence, but to also break down detainees in order to get them to be compliant and submissive to authority.[6]

In 2005, Jessen and Mitchell formed a company called Mitchell Jessen and Associates, with offices in Spokane and Virginia.[7]

On October 15, 2012, Jessen was sustained as bishop of the Spokane 6th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[8] He resigned as bishop one week later.[9]

Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture[edit]

On December 9, 2014 the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report confirming the use of torture and SERE tactics in interrogations.[10] The contractors that developed the "enhanced interrogation techniques" received US$81 million for their services, out of an original contract worth more than US$180 million. NBC News identified the contractors, who were referred to in the report via pseudonyms, as Mitchell, Jessen & Associates from Spokane, Washington, which was run by two psychologists, John "Bruce" Jessen and James Mitchell. The report states that the contractor "developed the list of enhanced interrogation techniques and personally conducted interrogations of some of the CIA's most significant detainees using those techniques. The contractors also evaluated whether the detainees' psychological state allowed for continued use of the techniques, even for some detainees they themselves were interrogating or had interrogated." Mitchell, Jessen & Associates developed a "menu" of 20 enhanced techniques including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and stress positions. The CIA acting general counsel, described in his book Company Man, that the enhanced techniques were "sadistic and terrifying."[11]

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