ABC outs psychologists who developed CIA waterboarding program; Update: Not outed?

This one’s a closer call than when the Times outed KSM’s chief interrogator against Michael Hayden’s wishes. That was really a story about America’s counterterror apparatus after 9/11; the interrogator was a minor character, which made the outing gratuitous. ABC’s piece is about how these two guys masterminded the CIA’s program — while allegedly not really knowing what they were doing. Can you break a story like that, affecting national policy on a subject of public interest, without saying specifically who you’re talking about?

Both Mitchell and Jessen were previously involved in the U.S. military program to train pilots how to survive behind enemy lines and resist brutal tactics if captured.

But it turns out neither Mitchell nor Jessen had any experience in conducting actual interrogations before the CIA hired them.

“They went to two individuals who had no interrogation experience,” said Col. Kleinman. “They are not interrogators.”

The new documents show the CIA later came to learn that the two psychologists’ waterboarding “expertise” was probably “misrepresented” and thus, there was no reason to believe it was “medically safe” or effective. The waterboarding used on al Qaeda detainees was far more intense than the brief sessions used on U.S. military personnel in the training classes.

“The use of these tactics tends to increase resistance on the part of the detainee to cooperating with us. So they have the exact opposite effect of what you want,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich).

The new memos also show waterboarding was used “with far greater frequency than initially indicated” to even those in the CIA.

Follow the link and you’ll find a whiff of a revenge motive here by ABC: They got burned two years ago when an agent wrongly told them Zubaydah had been waterboarded only once and now it smells like they’re trying to atone by throwing Mitchell and Jessen to the wolves. Exit question: Is it fair to torch their anonymity given the hint of malfeasance in their waterboarding expertise having been “misrepresented?”

Update: Goldfarb’s outraged:

In other words, Cole is a left-wing partisan with questionable reporting chops. This is obvious from the quality of the story tonight. Cole repeats the now throughly debunked claim that Zubaydah and KSM were waterboarded 83 and 183 times respectively. He posts video of the two refusing to answer questions in what is staged as a faux perp walk with no discernible news value other than to portray them as criminals. And, most amazingly, Cole indicts the two men for not having any experience prior to their work for the CIA — as though being “previously involved in the U.S. military program to train pilots how to survive behind enemy lines and resist brutal tactics” isn’t relevant.

His exit question: Who leaked their identities, and does The One care?

Update: Larry Johnson e-mails to say that Mitchell and Jessen were already named by Jane Mayer in her book The Dark Side. So much for ABC’s blockbuster.