New Mormon bishop in Spokane has controversial past
The psychologist who helped develop military-interrogation techniques that include sleep deprivation and waterboarding has been appointed to the church position.
A Spokane psychologist who helped develop controversial interrogation methods that some human-rights groups say amount to torture became the new spiritual leader of a Mormon congregation on the Spokane's South Hill this week.
Bruce Jessen was proposed by Spokane Stake President James Lee, or "called" in the terminology of the Mormon faith, to be the bishop of Spokane's 6th Ward. He was presented to the congregation on Sunday. He was unanimously accepted by some 200 in attendance, Lee said.
As a bishop — an unpaid, part-time position that usually lasts several years — Jessen will take confessions and help people with their personal problems, Lee said. "They just try to help people with their lives, marriages or finances," he said.
The appointment surprised some groups that have denounced Jessen and then-partner James Mitchell for techniques they helped develop for the Central Intelligence Agency to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Among those techniques were sleep deprivation and waterboarding, according to a 2009 U.S. Senate committee report.
Contacted by phone for a comment, Jessen said, "I don't have anything to say to you" and hung up.