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Former top CIA officials ordered to testify in torture program lawsuit
Former top CIA officials ordered to testify in torture program lawsuit

A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington ruled [order, PDF] Tuesday that four former high-ranking Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] officials must testify in depositions in a lawsuit against two psychologists who designed the CIA torture program. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] last year against 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 court order also requires [ACLU press release] the government to furnish documents requested by the psychologists. Although the federal government is not a party in the case, it filed motions to prevent the depositions, arguing that it could lead to an accidental disclosure of classified information. The court denied the request and stated counsel for the parties must agree on scheduling the depositions and on the best manner to conduct them efficiently.

The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report [JURIST backgrounder] in 2014 on the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed during the Bush administration, calling the practices “ineffective” [JURIST report]. Days later, the UN Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson called for the prosecution [JURIST report] of CIA and other government officials for the interrogation and torture of detainees. Human Rights Watch (HRW) also urged [JURIST report] prosecution the following year. In June the CIA declassified [JURIST report] 50 documents related to its detention and Interrogation program following a Freedom of Information Act [text] request by the ACLU. Earlier this week HRW reported that two Tunisian men came forward [JURIST report] with claims of previously unreported accounts of torture at the hands of the CIA.