Two former CIA prisoners and the family of a prisoner who died in a secret CIA prison are suing the two psychologists contracted by the agency to design the torture program. The psychologists, James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, made millions by helping the CIA to implement torture as official policy, according to a release from the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“Mitchell and Jessen conspired with the CIA to torture these three men and many others,” Steven Watt, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program, said in a statement. “They claimed that their program was scientifically based, safe and proven, when in fact it was none of those things. The program was unlawful and its methods barbaric. Psychology is a healing profession, but Mitchell and Jessen violated the ethical code of ‘do no harm’ in some of the most abhorrent ways imaginable,” Watt said.
The suit, filed in Spokane, Washington, is on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, as well as Gul Rahman, who froze to death in his cell. The three men were never charged with a crime, but were tortured using methods developed by Mitchell and Jessen, the suit alleges.
Some of these methods, which the suit states were inflicted on the three former prisoners, included stuffing detainees in small boxes, exposure to extreme temperatures, exposure to ear-splitting loud music, starvation and sleep deprivation. Rahman froze to death because he was forced to sit on a cold concrete floor without pants, while Salim and Soud still have psychological and physical wounds from the alleged torture, the news release said.
Rahman, an Afghan refugee in Pakistan, died in November 2002, less than a month he was thrown in a CIA compound northeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported. The suit alleges that Jessen assisted interrogators torturing Rahman.
Jessen declined to comment to the Washington Post on the suit, and the newspaper left an unreturned message for Mitchell. Mitchell has told Vice that he did take part in the repeated waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, thought to be the principal operational architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
— Hugh Handeyside (@hhandeyside) October 13, 2015
The U.S. Senate conducted a five-year investigation into the CIA’s interrogation programs after Sept. 11, which concluded the harsh interrogation measures in the end did not work.