The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Thursday announced a settlement in a lawsuit against two psychologists who devised the torture techniques used on three former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prisoners. The ACLU 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. As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs and defendants agreed to the following joint statement [ACLU press release]:
Drs. Mitchell and Jessen acknowledge that they worked with the CIA to develop a program for the CIA that contemplated the use of specific coercive methods to interrogate certain detainees.
Plaintiff Gul Rahman was subjected to abuses in the CIA program that resulted in his death and in pain and suffering for his family, including his personal representative Obaidullah. Plaintiffs Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud were also subjected to coercive methods in the CIA program, which resulted in pain and suffering for them and their families.
Plaintiffs assert that they were subjected to some of the methods proposed by Drs. Mitchell and Jessen to the CIA, and stand by their allegations regarding the responsibility of Drs. Mitchell and Jessen.
Drs. Mitchell and Jessen assert that the abuses of Mr. Salim and Mr. Ben Soud occurred without their knowledge or consent and that they were not responsible for those actions. Drs. Mitchell and Jessen also assert that they were unaware of the specific abuses that ultimately caused Mr. Rahman’s death and are also not responsible for those actions.
Drs. Mitchell and Jessen state that it is regrettable that Mr. Rahman, Mr. Salim, and Mr. Ben Soud suffered these abuses.
Judge Justin Quackenbush of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington [official website] had rejected [JURIST report] the psychologists’ motion for summary judgment last week and the case was scheduled to go to trial 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].