Psychologists Face Lawsuit Over Encouraging Torture

Psychologists who allegedly earned millions of dollars for assisting the CIA in devising and implementing post-9/11 techniques for interrogation which critics refer to as torture are facing a lawsuit on behalf of three men, one of whom passed away in the custody of the spy agency.



Attorneys working on the case believe that a report carried out on the CIA’s interrogation tactics carried out by the Senate intelligence committee will eventually lead to their victory. A summary of this report was released in December last year. Steven Watt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, says that the Senate torture report was the basis on which the lawsuit was filed.

law-book-gavelPrevious cases brought by the ACLU in response to the interrogation program of the CIA have failed, due to the government stating that the cases would put state secrets in jeopardy. Failed cases include a suit against a Boeing subsidiary that allegedly provided transport for torture victims, and a lawsuit against the former CIA director George Tenet by German citizen Khaled El-Masri who was unlawfully detained and allegedly subjected to torture.

Watt describes any potential similar claims by the government against the new lawsuit as absurd, saying that all of the information which the ACLU relies on for their clients’ claims is available publicly and primarily in the report by the Senate.

Lawsuit Allegations

cia-prisonThe two remaining survivors involved in the lawsuit are Libyan Mohammed Ahmed Bed Soud and Tanzanian Suleiman Abdullah Salim, who were never charged with any crimes. The two men say that they were detained for years at the mercy of the CIA and interrogated using the psychologists’ torture methods at CIA facilities.

Salim alleges that he was taken captive in Somalia, and taken to Afghanistan where he was held and tortured for five years. Ben Soud was kidnapped in Pakistan according to the lawsuit, and taken to Afghanistan where he was held for two years. He was then taken to Libya and imprisoned by Gadhafi’s dictatorship government until 2011.

The late Gul Rahman is the third alleged torture victim represented in the lawsuit, with damages being sued for by his estate on his behalf. 2002 Rahman died of suspected hypothermia, as a result of being shackled sitting on a cold floor without clothing. The lawsuit says that the Senate report shows that one of the psychologists was involved in the overseeing and encouraging of Rahman’s treatment.

The Psychologists

imageJames Mitchell and Bruce Jessen are the psychologists named in the lawsuits, and initially worked as contractors for the CIA after the events of 9/11 in order to help break down detainees. They earned $1.5 million and $1.1 million respectively, according to the report. In the report they were identified using the false names ‘Grayson Swigert’ and ‘Hammond Dunbar’.

The levels of torture alleged are horrific, with Salim alleging that once he had been taken, the CIA cut his clothes off and forced an object into his anus, causing him incredible pain. He also alleges that he was dressed in a diaper and photographed before moving to another location, where he was subjected to other torture methods such as waterboarding and beatings.

If the case is resolved in the men’s favor, they are expected to receive a significant sum based on the serious violations of human rights, according to Watt.

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