A red tractor idles in the courtyard of Dr. Bruce Jessen’s massive $1.2 million home south of Spokane. Pillars and stone arches line the entryways. Red ceramic tiles cover the roof of the estate. When the former Fairchild Air Force Base psychologist and now-infamous architect of the CIA’s brutal interrogation program steps out, he freezes for a moment before realizing I am just a reporter. He’s a little on edge.
“There’s a lot going on,” he tells me last week. “It’s a difficult position to be in.”
Jessen explains nondisclosure agreements prohibit him from discussing the newly released CIA torture report, despite what he called “distortions” reported in the press. Polite, but clearly upset, Jessen notes he has a “No Trespassing” sign near the end of his driveway. As he heads toward the tractor, he adds an ominous observation.
“You know, they didn’t prosecute Zimmerman,” he says.
In hindsight, this seems a clear reference to the legality of deadly force in so called “stand your ground” situations. So that’s where his mind went. At the time, I thought he was alluding to something in the new CIA report that I was not familiar with. His comment confused me, but did not scare me.
For the record: Reporters hate cold-knocking on someone’s door. But Jessen had rejected calls from all across the country, so it was a last resort. When I happen to catch him taking out the trash, he acknowledges he would like to “set the record straight,” but can’t. While his colleague Dr. James Mitchell has contradicted aspects of the report, Jessen says Mitchell is a smarter, better public speaker. The pair's company reportedly received more than $80 million for its work at the CIA. Jessen still declines to comment further.
“There’s nothing more I can say,” he says.
Jessen then shakes my hand to end the conversation. I wish him a merry Christmas, but ask once more if there was anything he would like to add. He suggests I leave while we are still on “amiable terms.” Then he closes the door of the tractor cab and puts the machine in gear.
OUTLANDER serves as a weekly round up of Inland Northwest outdoor recreation and natural resources news. This feature will highlight a wide variety of issues and events, ranging from camping tips to national environmental disputes. We’ll also try to include some scenic photos. Feel free to pass along suggestions or curiosities celebrating the Great Outdoors.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee outlined an ambitious plan for cutting greenhouse gases this week, proposing a Carbon Pollution Accountability Act — a billion-dollar cap-and-trade program tied to transportation. (Grist/Seattle Times)
University of Washington tool lets you calculate your potential carbon tax charges. (UW)
Wildlife officials confirm wolves have killed at least one sheep belonging to a Whitman County commissioner. (NW Sportsman)
Meanwhile, Washington range rider program finishes another season with no livestock lost to depredation. (Conservation Northwest)
Palouse Falls, other Northwest waterfalls featured in travel guide. (Conde Nast)
GAO report says Hanford Nuclear Reservation tanks continue to deteriorate. (AP)
But those other facilities involved in the Manhattan Project may be made into national parks. (CNN)
Speaking of, enjoy the largest expansion of national parks and wilderness areas in 40 years passes as part of defense bill. (CNN)
Conservation group calls for reintroduction of grizzly bears to Selway-Bitterroot mountains. (AP)
Fish poaching in Grant County results in minimal consequences. (S-R)
Hiking the new Dishman Hills trail to “the Cliffs.” (OutThere)
Rare footage of Selkirk caribou from Northeastern Washington. (City Light)
Tribal fisheries recognize outgoing WDFW director. (NWIFC)
Portland’s pot-eating deer named Sugar Bob. (WW)
And some munchies for deer in wildfire damaged regions of Central Washington. (NWSportsman)
Seattle group wants to compost dead people. (Yahoo)
What will they think of next? New phone app predicts Yellowstone geyser eruptions. (NPS)
Some amazing photos of national parks covered in snow and ice. (Daily Mail)
A few of Stephen Colbert’s top ecology segments. Last show tonight. (EcoWatch)
First Nations offended by proposed British Columbia dam. (Globe and Mail)
This dog will go skiing in Patagonia with you. (Adventure Journal)
ONE WEEK TO CHRISTMAS: Here are a few outdoorsy gift guides for the Wild-inspired thru-hiker or lumbersexual on your list — Snowlander - Outside Magazine - Backpacker - and an insider wishlist from Gear Institute.
And what are the historic chances of getting a white Christmas? (NOAA)
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