Judge Rules CIA Can Go on Trial for Barbaric Interrogation Methods
• Government bid to stop lawsuit against “company” psychiatrists who designed brutal torture program fails.
By Ronald L. Ray —
One of the most disturbing accounts we have written for AMERICAN FREE PRESS told of the Senate report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) post-9/11 torture program. In October 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of three of “the Company’s” terrorized victims against the two psychologists who designed the horrific interrogation techniques. In April 2016, Senior Judge Justin L. Quackenbush of the United States District Court in Spokane, Washington denied a federal government motion to dismiss that lawsuit and gave the parties 30 days to submit documents and evidence before trial.
Plaintiffs are Suleiman Abdullah Salim, a Tanzanian, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, a Libyan, and the family of Gul Rahman, an Afghan farmer who died at the hands of the CIA from hypothermia, repeated beatings, and other abuse. Officials later admitted Rahman’s torture was a case of “mistaken identity.”
Torture techniques included, among others, solitary confinement, multiple beatings, use of highly prolonged exposure to either total darkness or blinding light, the constant blaring of satanic heavy metal “music,” being chained or otherwise held in excruciatingly painful positions, confinement to coffin-like boxes, waterboarding, forced rectal “feeding,” sexual humiliation, and repeated sodomization with foreign objects.
Moreover, the methods employed, according to the ACLU, amounted to involuntary human experimentation—internationally forbidden since World War II—as the two psychologists contracted by the CIA to develop the program had no experience with carrying out interrogations and no idea of the outcome of their efforts to induce “learned helplessness” as a means of obtaining information. Notably, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the time refused to take part in the program because of its utter brutality.
The two psychologists—who violated professional ethics to “do no harm” in order to develop use of interrogation techniques the U.S. condemned at Nuremberg—are James Elmer Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen. They had, as military personnel, monitored controlled sessions of the U.S. Armed Forces’ Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program, which trains military personnel to resist coercive methods of interrogation.
Mitchell and Jessen, however, turned that program on its head and, as government contractors, wrote and then implemented a plan to take the techniques to extremely abusive, harmful, and torturous levels of violent interrogation, in recent history practiced only by communist and other dictatorships and by the Israeli government. According to reports, including from the victims and in the case of Mitchell his own public admission, the pair also took active part in brutalizing detainees. Mitchell told VICE News, demonstrating the depth of his depravity, that the “whole point of the waterboard was to induce fear and panic.”
For this diabolical activity, the two men were paid over $1 million dollars each—$1,800 per day—from 2001 to 2005. They also formed a company, Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, to hire and train others to carry out their inhuman program. From 2005 to 2010, when the contract was terminated, that firm had received $81 million of the taxpayers’ money in order to carry out what are war crimes and crimes against humanity.
And while Mitchell, Jessen, the CIA, and the White House have tried to portray the torture program as a “success,” it appears that it produced no useful information. Any helpful intelligence was gained as a result of standard, persuasive—i.e., non-coercive—methods. As whistleblower John Kiriakou proclaimed, CIA “torture was for the sake of torture.”
In light of all this, it is a positive sign that Quackenbush has allowed the ACLU lawsuit to proceed. Judges typically toady to their federal confreres and early in the proceedings quash efforts to obtain redress by victims of the government’s thuggery. Quackenbush’s move thus may be an implicit recognition of the strength of the plaintiffs’ case.
Basic justice and restitution for the victims of CIA and military torture programs are long overdue, and the present court case is a welcome first step. Had the perpetrators and approving officials been WWII Germans or Japanese, they would have been executed and their country forced to pay billions of dollars in reparations. That degree of punishment would not be inappropriate now.
But before becoming overly laudatory, there is a long road to victory for the ACLU’s lawsuit. And techniques Mitchell and Jessen “pioneered” continue at Guantanamo Bay. Thanks to the USA PATRIOT Act, U.S. citizens could themselves well become victims of torture—not just for suspicion of “terrorist” activities, like owning guns, opposing abortion, or questioning the government, but even for allegations of typical criminal activity.
A November 2015 ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “permits” the FBI to circumvent the Fourth Amendment even further by accessing the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive surveillance files without a warrant in ordinary criminal investigations. It is but a short step from there to the rendition and torture of Americans to obtain confessions in the U.S. police state. It is time to stop the CIA, NSA, and FBI cabals—before it is too late.