Friday, December 19, 2014

Face to face with Spokane's CIA torture architect

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Arches and pillars line Bruce Jessen's home south of Spokane. The former Air Force psychologist helped design the CIA's controversial interrogation program. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Arches and pillars line Bruce Jessen's home south of Spokane. The former Air Force psychologist helped design the CIA's controversial interrogation program.

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.

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THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Bartlett Christmas, Broken Thumbs debut and Elton Jah’s final show

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 2:01 PM


There was a time on American TV when famous people (i.e., Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Julie Andrews and the Osmonds) made Christmas specials, and people couldn’t get enough of them. Times have changed, but the Bartlett continues that tradition, sans the TV aspect, by inviting many of their favorite local acts together for the first-ever Bartlett Christmas Special. Guests of honor include Water Monster, Marshall McLean, Mama Doll, the Holy Broke, Caroline Fowler, Scott Ryan and Windoe, along with emcee Derrick Oliver and poet Mark Anderson. Expect original Christmas songs tucked between holiday classics. And prepare yourself for a sing-along portion. The show is sold out starts at 8 pm, so start hoping for a Christmas miracle if you don't have a ticket. Take a listen to some of what will be played tonight here.

The Broken Thumbs, who have been together since June, are finally performing for the first time tonight. The lineup for the Big Dipper show also includes the Failsafe Project, Elephant Death Riot, Cameron Moore and DaethStar. Get there at 7:30 pm and bring $12 if you haven’t already bought tickets. Read our story on the band here.

Since 2011, Elton Jah and his band have played all of the classic Elton John hits, including Jah’s favorite, “Rocket Man,” with a reggae beat. Saturday night at nYne, that’s all coming to an end as the group plays its final show. The band plans to be reincarnated in the near future as a different type of classic act, so be on the lookout for that. In the meantime, take advantage of this last show and an ugly sweater Christmas contest, featuring $100 in prizes. As “Candle in the Wind” put it: Elton Jah, “Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did.” The show starts at 9 pm and is $10.

The Hop’s raucous Nightmare Before Christmas series sees its final show Saturday. This time, the huge number of local acts includes: the Ongoing Concept, Jedediah the Pilot, Extortionist, Age of Nefilim, Verbera, Cold Blooded, Projections, Resverie and Serpentspire.

Celebrate the shortest day of the year at the Big Dipper’s Winter Solstice Party. The lineup includes local rockers Phlegm Fatale, Mirror Mirror and Lost Masters. The show begins at 7:30 pm and is $3. Things are going to get loud! 

Bret Michaels, man. He’s still alive and performing at casinos all around the country. Check him out at Northern Quest Resort and Casino Sunday at 7:30 pm. Cost runs between $55 and $75.

The Colourflies released their new 23-track CD on Tuesday, but they’ll do it all again at Sunday’s Jingle Bell Rock and Metal Fest at the Knitting Factory. The Backups will also release their brand new EP that night. Other local acts on the monstrous lineup include: Scorch the Fallen, Heart Avail, Amnija, the Expo, Rylei Franks, Over Due and Burning Clean. The show begins at 6 pm and $10.
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Royal Tenenbaums or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure? Vote on it

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 1:03 PM


Because we believe in democracy and freedom and Santa Claus, among other things, here at the Inlander, we let our readers vote on the movie we'll be screening for the January 21 installment of our Suds and Cinema series.

Thanks to everyone for voting, BUT, we need a little more help because there was a virtual tie for first place. So, you have until noon on Monday to vote for the movie you'd like to drink beer to in a few weeks at the Bing Crosby Theater.

It's a showdown between the 1989 classic time-travel odyssey Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and The Royal Tenenbaums, the Wes Anderson-directed explosion of quirkiness that launched a few million kids into film school.

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Sci-fi laughs, classic films, and a little vino would be keen-o!

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 10:10 AM

We have a slew of event listings available for your perusal every day, and some carefully chosen Staff Picks as well. Don't have time? No problem. 

Here are some highlights for Friday, Dec. 19: 

WORDS | Sci-fi is a genre ripe for satire, and Ron Dakron is your man to provide it. He'll be talking about his latest novel, Hello Devilfish!, Friday night at Auntie's. 

FILM | If you're down on the Palouse Friday evening, you have the opportunity to see the Frank Capra holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life on the big screen of the Kenworthy. 

FOOD & WINE | The folks from Robert Ramsay Cellars are on hand for a wine-tasting at Vino! A Wine Shop. Over at Rocket Market, it's a Small Vineyards Wine Night

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MB: STA expansion plan, Seattle cops' body-cams, and Dr. Oz is full of ...

Posted By on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 8:03 AM


Another monster-length meeting in local government as the Spokane Transit Authority board spent four hours Thursday deciding to send a $300 million expansion plan involving a sales-tax increase to voters this spring. (S-R)

E-cigarette shops aren't too stoked on the governor's plan to impose a massive tax hike on vapor products. (KREM)

Former congressman and current Inlander columnist George Nethercutt is making the rounds voicing support of the president's plan to normalize relations with Cuba. (KXLY)


The Seattle Police Department is getting on board the body-cam train this weekend. (Seattle Times) Spokane has been there, done that. (Inlander)

Turns out Dr. Oz and other TV physicians are wrong in their medical advice about half the time. (Washington Post)

Soccer's governing body is going to release its report on corruption in the game and how World Cup venues are selected. (Al Jazeera America)

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Weekly report: Cutting WA carbon, national parks and top outdoor gift guides

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Palouse Falls, along with several other Northwest waterfalls, were featured in a national list. - JACOB JONES
  • Jacob Jones
  • Palouse Falls, along with several other Northwest waterfalls, were featured in a national list.

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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Detroit rock and soul, local silent cinema and Kenyan dance

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Rolling into the last pre-Christmas weekend, and we have some mighty fine events and Staff Picks to help break up your last-minute shopping excursions. 

Here are some highlights for Thursday, Dec. 18: 

LIVE BANDS | If you didn't read our interview with Jessica Hernandez in last week's issue, it's not too late to read up on the Detroit rock 'n' soul belter. Check it out, then consider making your way to The Bartlett tonight for Hernandez and her band The Deltas, along with Heavy Seventeen. Here's a little of what you'll hear: 

VISUAL ARTS | Local arts and technology pros worked with students on the MicroCinema Event, where they will debut some silent films made with original scores and soundtracks right here in Spokane. 

PERFORMANCE ARTS | Tonight at the Bing, it's a rare opportunity to witness some incredible visual arts and dance from the Masai people of Kenya, thanks to the efforts of Nicholas Sironka. It's an event called Friends of Sironka: A Christmas Special, and you should consider it a gift to yourself if you check it out. You might just see Inlander publisher Ted McGregor in the house; he wrote about the group in this week's Publisher's Note

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MB: Bird flu, Inslee's carbon-emissions plan and not seeing The Interview

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 8:36 AM


The Catholic diocese of Spokane got the okay to pursue its malpractice suit against the law firm that represented it during its 2007 bankruptcy case. (S-R)

The avian flu has made its way into some Washington bird populations. (KREM)

A Kennewick high school student was killed in an officer-involved shooting in Minnesota. (KHQ)


Gov. Inslee is proposing attacking the state's carbon emissions with an aggressive cap-and-trade plan. (Seattle Times)

A Missoula man was convicted of killing a German exchange student in his garage, a major test of the state's stand-your-ground laws. (Missoulian) 

The U.S. normalizing relations with Cuba leaves North Korea as the last Cold War outlier on America's "Cold War blacklist". (New York Times)

That's probably part of the reason none of us will be seeing The Interview in movie theaters. (CNN)

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WEED WEDNESDAY: Congress's contradictory approach to pot and the children

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 5:01 PM


Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

The biggest weed news this week was Congress essentially voting to stop sending the feds after medical marijuana users. States that have sanctioned the drug for medical purposes have found themselves in a precarious situation with the drug remaining illegal under federal law, which has been used to prosecute patients. In one of its last acts before going home for the holidays, Congress voted to end that legal ambiguity by passing a spending bill containing an amendment that cut of funding for federal law enforcement agencies to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

Drug policy reform advocates are applauding the move, but it’s not immediately clear how this will actually play out. Mother Jones has declared that the federal war on medical marijuana is now over. But Reason has a blog post suggesting that the language in the relevant budget amendment is sufficiently ambiguous to still allow federal prosecution of medical marijuana users.

The move by Congress could have important ramifications for medical marijuana users facing federal charges, such as the Kettle Falls Five.

Interestingly, the same funding bill meant to make the feds mellow on medical marijuana also contains a provision to prevent Washington D.C. (the laws of which are subject to approval from Congress) from enacting its voter-approved initiative legalizing pot. The Huffington Post reports that the language of the bill might contain a loophole to allow pot to become legal in the nation’s capital.

Locally, the Spokane County Commission voted to renew its laws that oversee the growing, processing and selling of marijuana in the county, reports The Spokesman-Review.


In San Francisco, a yoga studio will allow students to “elevate” their exercise by smoking pot first.

It’s a good idea to give your teacher a bite of your brownie. But it’s a bad idea if that brownie is laced with pot, a lesson a Maryland teen is learning.

Mayor Buzzkill of Seattle is cracking down on a service being called the “Uber for pot.”

Even though pot is more available than its ever been, you can quit worrying about the children. The 2014 Monitoring the Future study, a national survey of youth’s attitudes toward drugs and alcohol conducted annually by researchers at the University of Michigan, has concluded that teen use of marijuana and other substances is down, reports The Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

Speaking of kids using pot, The Denver Post has a long article about families moving to Colorado so their children can use a liquified form of marijuana - for medicinal reasons.
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Watch "Elf" tonight with us and be a good person

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 3:37 PM

How about some more uplifting movie news, rather than read more about this confounding display of cowardice

And that good news is that tonight we're hosting a screening of Elf, a movie starring Will Ferrell as a man-sized elf who says nothing inflammatory about any dictator, foreign or otherwise. It's a totally safe movie and good for the whole family!

The screening benefits Catholic Charities Spokane and also features raffle prizes, a photo booth and a special appearance by Buddy the Elf! The party film is tonight at the Bing Crosby Theater at 7 pm. Doors open at 5:30 pm.

For the $5 entry, you'll also be treated to scenes like this, when Buddy the Elf gets super pumped about meeting Santa:
Or when Buddy the Elf finds the world's best cup of coffee.Or when Buddy the Elf says "Son of a Nutcracker!"
Or when Buddy the Elf unleashes an earth-rattling burp.
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