Yahoo News Two psychologists who helped design the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program settled a lawsuit Thursday by detainees alleging they were illegally tortured. The secret settlement in the suit, brought on behalf of two living ex-detainees and one who died of hypothermia after brutal questioning in US custody, avoided what would have been the first public trial of the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of torture on suspected Al-Qaeda members. The two psychologists who supplied the CIA with “coercive” interrogation techniques, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, maintain that they personally had nothing to do with the use of waterboarding, extreme stress positions and beatings on detainees.
The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit in 2015 against Mitchell and Jessen, who were recruited by the CIA in 2002 to design and help conduct interrogations of war-on-terror suspects captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The two were paid around $80 million for their work. James Smith, the main lawyer for Mitchell and Jensen, said the treatment of the three, while regrettable, was not the fault of his clients.
The suit accused Mitchell and Jessen of responsibility for the CIA’s use of torture methods on the three detainees, Suleiman Abdullah Salim from Tanzania, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud from Libya, and Gul Rahman of Afghanistan Mr. Rahman died of hypothermia in a CIA prison cell in 2002, after what the ACLU says were two weeks of brutal torture.
The ACLU had sought to pin responsibility in part on the psychologists, as well as gain a significant financial award for the men and Rahman’s family. The trial had been set to begin next month. The ACLU and lawyers for the defendants declined to give any details of the settlement. However, they said afterward, “We brought this case seeking accountability and to help ensure that no one else has to endure torture and abuse. We were able to tell the world about horrific torture, the CIA had to release secret records, and the psychologists and high-level CIA officials were forced to answer our lawyers’ questions,” they said.