Prisoners of the CIA who were detained and tortured at America’s infamous “black sites” are now trying to receive compensation for their suffering. The detainees have sued two psychologists who designed and helped to oversee the interrogation programs.
The two psychologists are James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. Mitchell and Jessen are two former trainers of the United States Air Force who specialized in training military personnel how to resist interrogations if they are captured in combat. Their company, Mitchell Jessen & Associates worked heavily with military organizations.
The CIA paid the company $81 million in exchange for helping the CIA run their interrogation program on suspected terrorists.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington State. It was filed on behalf of the family of Gul Rahman, an Afghan man who passed away while being detained by the CIA, Suleiman Abdullah Salim, a Tanzanian man who was detained in Afghanistan for five years, and Mohammed Ahmed Ben Soud, a Libyan man who was detained in Afghanistan for two years before being sent to Libya where he was imprisoned until 2011.
The lawsuit is accusing Mitchell Jessen & Associates of violations of human rights through torture, cruel and inhumane treatment and crimes of war. It was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
While the CIA has admitted that interrogation techniques used in the past were a mistake, the agency has maintained its stance that its program was helpful in protecting the United States.
Many American leaders have stated that the interrogation methods used by the CIA were utterly barbaric in nature.
Mitchell has previously referred to reports accusing him of criminal activity as a "partisan pile of crap". He says that he only reluctantly agreed to some of the harshest aspects of the program because of pressure from CIA officials.
Mitchell said, “I'm perfectly willing to be responsible for everything I've done. I don't want to be held responsible for anything I haven't done. I went through my ethical obligations, and decided for me, the least worst choice was to help save American lives.”
Meanwhile, Jessen has not commented on the situation.
The CIA is paying for the legal defense of Mitchell and Jessen based on the terms of the contract.
Reports indicate that Rahman most likely died from hypothermia. He reportedly had to sit on a concrete floor while naked. His body was never returned to his family.
Salim survived techniques including prolonged sleep deprivation, being exposed to cold water while naked and being confined to extremely small areas.
Salim said, "The terrible torture I suffered at the hands of the CIA still haunts me. I still have flashbacks. This lawsuit is about achieving justice. No person should ever have to endure the horrors that these two men inflicted."
Ben Soud says that he is also still suffering from psychological illnesses while he was detained and tortured by the CIA. According to Soud, Mitchell was present at some of the interrogation sessions.
The United States Justice Department has previously investigated the harsh interrogation program of the CIA on three separate occasions, but representatives always decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute.