Officials: CIA gave waterboarders $5M legal shield

December 17, 2010 09:17

WASHINGTON — The CIA agreed to cover at least $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 defenses.

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.

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