WCW Home News Recent News 10-5-16 CIA officials ordered to testify in lawsuit over torture program
10-5-16 CIA officials ordered to testify in lawsuit over torture program PDF Print E-mail

From The Charlotte Observer | Original Article

The CIA hired two psychologists to oversee its top-secret Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. They’re now being sued by people who were subjected to the program.

A federal judge has ordered four former and current CIA officials to testify in a lawsuit against the psychologists who designed the spy agency’s post-9/11 torture techniques.

The American Civil Liberties Union announced that John Rizzo, a former CIA general counsel, and Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA deputy director of operations, had been ordered to give depositions in the case. The judge also ordered current agency lawyer Jonathan Fredman and retired intelligence officer James Cotsana to testify, according to court records.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit last October on behalf of two former detainees and the family of a third who died in custody. The plaintiffs accused James Elmer Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen of torture, cruel and degrading punishment, war crimes and conducting an “experimental torture program” as part of a “joint criminal enterprise” with the nation’s top intelligence agency.

The pair earned more than $80 million for developing a set of brutal interrogation methods – including simulated drowning known as waterboarding, beatings, starvation and confinement in “coffin-like boxes” – for supervising their use on detainees in secret overseas CIA prisons and for personally applying them to detainees, according to the suit.

Mitchell, Jessen, former Bush administration officials and the CIA have denied using torture, asserting that the interrogation methods were legal and produced information that helped disrupt terrorist attacks and led the agency to Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan, where he died in a May 2, 2011, U.S. special forces raid.

The depositions were requested by Mitchell and Jessen, who are attempting to question the CIA officials to defend themselves against the suit. “I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country by people at the highest level of the government and I did the best that I could,” Mitchell said in an April 2014 interview with Britain’s newspaper The Guardian.

There was no immediate response to a call requesting comment from Mitchell and Jessen’s attorneys.

The ACLU said it also plans to question the officials, who’ve long denied wrongdoing.

“This ruling is a critical step towards accountability, and it charts a way forward for torture victims to get their day in court,” said Dror Ladin, an ACLU attorney. “This order affirms that our judicial system can handle claims of CIA torture, including when those claims involve high-level government officials.”

The CIA declined to comment, saying it was “ongoing litigation.”

The lawsuit represents a new approach to seeking accountability for the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. It is the first to rely extensively on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s five-year, $40 million investigation into the agency’s top-secret effort to unearth terrorist plots after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Previous suits filed by former detainees were brought against the CIA. All were thrown out after the government cited official immunity and the state secrets privilege – a government claim that contends the disclosure of certain evidence would harm national security.

In contrast, the federal judge in Spokane, Washington, where Mitchell and Jessen founded a firm that the CIA hired to run the program, has indicated he will allow it to proceed. A trial has been set for next June.

“The court intends to hold firm to the scheduled dates and it would be completely inappropriate for the government and the defendants to take actions, or fail to act, in a manner that would interfere with the court’s schedule,” U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush wrote.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages for each plaintiff. The two survivors still suffer serious psychological and physical problems as a result of the abuses they underwent, the lawsuit said.

The action was brought on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, a Tanzanian fisherman and trader who was abducted from Somalia, and Mohammad Ahmed Ben Soud, a former Libyan opposition activist who was seized in Pakistan. Neither was ever charged with a crime.

The third plaintiff is a relative of Gul Rahman, an Afghan who died in CIA custody in November 2002 after, the lawsuit alleges, he was slapped, punched and dragged naked, hooded and bound, doused in cold water and left in freezing temperatures. His family was never notified of his death and was never given his body.

The Senate report found that the program, authorized by former President George W. Bush, failed to generate any significant information on terrorist plots and that the CIA misrepresented the results of the brutal interrogation techniques to the Bush administration, Congress and the public. The CIA rejected the findings.

Salim, Ben Soud and Rahman were among 39 people identified by name in the Senate report, which was released Dec. 9, 2014, as undergoing what the agency called enhanced interrogation techniques.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article106265712.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article106265712.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article106265712.html#storylink=cpy
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