Monday, August 14, 2017
Two psychologists who helped design the CIA’s post 9/11 torture program will face trial, U.S. District Court Judge Justin L. Quackenbush ruled on Monday, in Spokane, Washington. The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit, Salim v. Mitchell, against James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and the estate of Gul Rahman, who died while in custody. According to the ACLU, the man “were subjected to severe physical and psychological abuse including prolonged sleep deprivation and nudity, starvation, beating, water dousing, and extreme forms of sensory deprivation – methodically administered with the aim of psychologically breaking their will.” The CIA paid the two psychologists and their company $81 million. The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 5.
“This is a historic day for our clients and all who seek accountability for torture,” Dror Ladin of the ACLU, who filed the suit in October 2015 along with the Gibbons law firm, said in a statement. “The court’s ruling means that for the first time, individuals responsible for the brutal and unlawful CIA torture program will face meaningful legal accountability for what they did. Our clients have waited a long time for justice.”
No other lawsuit seeking accountability for the CIA torture program has reached the merits, since the government has successfully argued in previous cases that they could not proceed because of the state secrets privilege. The Justice Department declined to raise the issue to block this lawsuit, in part because the 2014 Senate intelligence committee report disclosed many of the programs details, including the names of the plaintiffs and the interrogation techniques they had been subjected to. The judge ruled that defendants had not established that the Senate report is untrustworthy.