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Published On: Wed, Aug 9th, 2017

US torture psychologists to stand trial

nsnbc : Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen who took part in developing the CIA’s torture program in 2002 have now been ordered to stand trial in a civil lawsuit filed by three former detainees. This, after no criminal charges were filed despite a damning report into the CIA’s torture program adopted under the administration of US President George W. Bush.

USA_Military psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen_80 million dollar to develop CIA torture techniquesPsychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen actively helped design and develop the CIA’s interrogation program, adopted post 9/11 and approved under the euphemistic name enhanced interrogation techniques by the Bush administration.

The lawsuit comes after senior Judge Quackenbush on October 3, 2016, ruled that at least two senior CIA officials would have to sit for deposition in as requested by defendants Mitchell and Jessen. Former military psychologists James Mitchell and Jones Bruce Jessen are considered to be among the main architects of the CIA’s notorious torture program.

The CIA’s torture program has not only caused international outrage over systematic and criminal human rights abuse. Interrogation experts also stressed that torture yields very little useful intelligence. Others would stress that the program did not as much aim at extracting exact intelligence as it aimed at “extracting the intelligence that would serve political purposes”.

The previously released Senate Report on CIA torture revealed that neither Mitchell nor Jessen had experience as interrogator and neither did any of them have specialized knowledge about al-Qaeda, a background in terrorism, or any other relevant regional, cultural, or linguistic experience.

The two military psychologists served in the U.S. military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) program, teaching U.S. troops how to resist and cope with torture in the event of capture.

On Monday, August 7, 2017, two federal judges in Washington ordered a lawsuit on behalf of three former detainees, one of whom died in a CIA prison following “enhanced interrogation”, to go to jury trial: The judges rejected efforts to force a settlement out of court and to prevent a full hearing of the case.

The lawsuit against Mitchell and Bruce was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the ex-detainees. Although it is a civil lawsuit and not a criminal lawsuit, it is the first involving the notorious torture program going to trial. Its importance may indeed be that it creates precedence for other persons including members of the Bush  administration who were politically responsible for the development of the policy that led to the development of the “enhanced interrogation techniques”.  The case could, possibly also create precedent and lead to later criminal charges. The government has headed off previous efforts claiming it needed to protect sensitive intelligence.

Military psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2002 to design and help conduct interrogations on so-called terror suspects detained in Afghanistan and beyond in the United States so-called war on terror. The two psychologists were paid 80 million US dollar for their work which included participation in the interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaida. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was water boarded tens of times eventually admitted to his “role in the 9/11 terror attacks”.

The ACLU maintains that Mitchell and Jessen were responsible for and profited from the illegal torture of Tanzanian Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Libyan Mohammed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Afghani Gul Rahman. The first two were eventually freed after years imprisonment while Rahman died of hypothermia in a CIA prison cell in November 2002 after, according to the ACLU, two weeks of brutal torture.

ACLU attorney Dror Ladin issued a statement saying “This is a historic day for our clients who all seek accountability. … 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”.

The Court rejected the defendants’ arguments to the effect that they were not responsible for all of the CIA’s interrogation activities and had nothing to do with the interrogations of the two men – and the third who died. Mitchell and Bruce also claimed they were not responsible for specific decisions to use the “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the specific cases of the three plaintiffs. They only broadly supplied the CIA with “a list of methods to chose from”. The two also claimed that the decision to use such techniques was made by the CIA and approved by the Department of Justice.

CH/L – nsnbc 09.08.2017

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