Rahman died in Central Intelligence Agency custody in 2002 from hypothermia, dehydration and exposure.
Psychologists Mitchell and Jessen’s framework for “enhanced interrogation” torture program experimented on the concept of “learned helplessness” where the detainees would be forced to completely surrender subject to unbearable suffering.
On Friday, lawyers for the two defendants argued that the case ought to be dismissed as the psychologists did not commit the acts they are accused of. She and her team didn’t expect the judge to make a decision on whether to scrap the case so quickly and appeared genuinely surprised that he ruled in their favor.
Although the two claim that they qualify for immunity because they were working for the government, the Justice Department has notably allowed the case to move forward up to this point. “This is a very big deal for our clients”.
The CIA-contracted psychologists are James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, who are charged under the Alien Tort Statute for “their commission of torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes”, all of which violate worldwide law. The agency ultimately paid $81 million to the company they created to design and run interrogations at the CIA’s “black sites”, and then to evaluate the effectiveness of their methods. Moreover, the USA government did not provide them compensation in any form.
While in the Air Force, Mitchell and Jessen studied how torture had affected US servicemen captured in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
More than 100 men say they were subjected to waterboarding and beatings during interrogations in Afghanistan.
Torture methods they devised included slamming prisoners into walls, stuffing them inside coffin-like boxes, exposing them to extreme temperatures and ear-splitting levels of music, starving them, inflicting various kinds of water torture, depriving them of sleep for days, and chaining them in stress positions designed for pain, the ACLU has said.
ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said the fact that other decision-makers were involved “does nothing to exonerate the defendants”.
“There have been so many cases brought by torture victims…”
“It’s good to see organizations stand up to the U.S. government’s imperialism and tyranny that they continue, unfortunately, without any regard”, the analyst concluded.
Quackenbush, a veteran judge with 36 years of experience on his current bunch, was not deferential to the government on Friday.
In the past, the Justice Department has successfully fended off multiple lawsuits by invoking the state secrets privilege. The ACLU team has said it can litigate its entire case on public records, due largely to the declassification of the Senate torture report.
Jessen wanted “to determine which CIA enhanced interrogation techniques should be used on him”, a Senate intelligence panel report later concluded. Mitchell has admitted in an interview to waterboarding alleged 9/11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The case against the two psychologists has been brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three men, none of whom were ever linked to al-Qaeda, the Telegraph reported.