US civil liberties union sues developers of CIA’s torture prog

Washington: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of three former detainees of CIA has sued two psychologists who designed and implemented the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture programme, the rights group said.

The CIA-contracted psychologists, James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, helped convince CIA to adopt torture as official policy, making millions of dollars in the process, ACLU said in a statement yesterday.

The two men, who had previously worked for the US military, designed the torture methods and performed illegal human experimentation on CIA prisoners to test and refine the program. They personally took part in torture sessions and oversaw the program’s implementation for the CIA, ACLU alleged.

ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of three men – Gul Rahman, Suleiman Abdullah Salim, and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud – who were allegedly tortured using methods developed by Mitchell and Jessen, as detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s landmark report on CIA torture, the press note said.

“The US has never charged or accused the victims of any crime. One of them was tortured to death, and the other two are now free,” ACLU said.

In its lawsuit, ACLU alleged torture methods devised by Mitchell and Jessen and inflicted on the three men include slamming them 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 and to keep them awake for days on end.

The two victims who survived still suffer physically and psychologically from the effects of their torture, ACLU said.

The plaintiffs include the family of Gul Rahman, who died because of torture. He was an Afghan refugee living in Pakistan with his wife and their four daughters, making a living selling wood to fellow residents of their refugee camp, the group said.

While in Islamabad for a medical checkup in 2002, Rahman was abducted in a joint US-Pakistani operation and rendered to a CIA “black site” in Afghanistan.

According to the Senate report, Rahman was tortured by a team of CIA interrogators that included Jessen and died in his cell.

An autopsy and internal CIA review found the cause of death to be hypothermia caused “in part by being forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants” with contributing factors of “dehydration, lack of food, and immobility due to short chaining”. The family has never been officially notified of his death, and his body has never been returned to them for burial, ACLU said.