A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington [official website] on Monday denied a motion for summary judgment [opinion] filed by two psychologists who devised the torture techniques used on three former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prisoners, allowing the case to proceed to trial. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] in 2015 against 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. In rejecting the both the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ motions for summary judgment, Judge Justin Quackenbush wrote, “[n]either side has demonstrated judgment as a matter of law is appropriate.” The case is scheduled to go to trial [ACLU press release] September 5.
According to the lawsuit, the psychologists 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 under the Alien Tort Statute [text] after the release of the so-called “Senate Torture Report” [text, PDF] in 2014, which found the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed during the Bush administration were ineffective [JURIST report].