ACLU sues psychologists over CIA torture program

ACLU sues psychologists over CIA torture program

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Tuesday against two psychologists who devised the torture techniques used on three former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prisoners. The CIA contracted psychologists James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, who allegedly designed and persuaded the CIA to adopt their torture techniques as official practice of the CIA. According to the lawsuit, they personally took part in many of the torture sessions and oversaw the entire program’s implementation. The two surviving plaintiffs are Suleiman Abdullah Salim, a fisherman from Tanzania, and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, a refugee at his time of capture. The third plaintiff, Gul Rahman died, allegedly as a result of the torture. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington under the Alien Tort Statute [text].

The majority of the ACLU’s complaint is based on the so-called “Senate Torture Report” [text, PDF] released in December, which found the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed during the Bush administration were ineffective [JURIST report]. In June a Guantanamo [JURIST backgrounder] detainee alleged that the CIA’s torture techniques [JURIST report] went beyond those described in the Senate Intelligence Committee report. In December the UN Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights [official website] called for the prosecution [JURIST report] of CIA and other government officials for the interrogation and torture of detainees. Last September it was claimed [JURIST report] that the CIA used torture methods beyond waterboarding on suspected terrorists, according to a report published by the Telegraph. In late August of last year 10 victims of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program [JURIST news archive] signed an open letter [JURIST report] to US President Barack Obama urging him to declassify the then-upcoming Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the program.