For the first time, a federal judge is allowing torture victims to sue the psychologists who devised the CIA’s brutal interrogation methods that included sleep deprivation, starvation and forcing captives into coffin-like boxes.
Gul Rahman, an Afghan refugee who formerly lived in Pakistan, froze to death at a CIA black site, so his family is bringing the case on his behalf. The other men, Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, are also levying the suit with the backing of the ACLU.
The defendants are James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who received millions of dollars from the government for a company they established in 2005 to run the CIA torture program. In a searing report released in December 2014, Physicians for Human Rights slammed Mitchell and Jessen for their role in "conceptualizing and designing strategies for the direct infliction of a combination of physical and psychological harm on detainees." Mitchell dismissed the atrocities highlighted in the Senate torture report as a “load of hooey” in 2014.
Mitchell, like other high-level architects of CIA torture, has so far faced no consequences for his role in the systematic atrocities perpetrated by the post-9/11 U.S. government and its contractors. But this impunity could change after U.S. District Court Senior Judge Justin Quackenbush on Friday instructed lawyers that they will have 30 days to present their plan for discovery, making this the first CIA torture lawsuit that will be allowed to proceed.