Settlement reached in CIA torture case

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against two psychologists who helped design the CIA’s interrogation program used in the war on terror. 

Tanzanian Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Libyan Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Afghani Gul Rahman were subjected to brutal CIA treatment under the agency’s enhanced interrogation program including beatings, water torture, solitary confinement, and sleep deprivation over the years that they were held. 

Rahman froze to death while detained at a CIA black site. His family pursued the case on his behalf. 

The three filed a lawsuit against Dr. James Mitchell and Dr. John ‘Bruce’ Jessen who helped design the CIA’s program, arguing that the doctors were paid for their work and are liable for the suffering the men endured. 

“As documents revealed in this case prove, Mitchell and Jessen specifically designed their torture program for the CIA to inflict ‘fear and despair’ until prisoners became ‘helpless,’” said attorney Dror Ladin, of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) representing the three victims, in a statement welcoming Thursday’s court decision. 

Ladin hailed the end of the “total impunity” that had existed since the administration of former President George W. Bush “turned to torture” in the war on terror. 

Salim, Soud, and Rahman’s family overcame multiple legal challenges put up by Mitchell and Jessen. Last week, a US judge denied a request to throw out the lawsuit, saying the evidence warranted a trial that was set for September 5. 

“Justice can be a long time coming,” Ladin stated, noting that his clients can now “turn to healing, and we can get closer to finally turning the page on torture. Now torturers who think they can hide from the courts know that impunity is not guaranteed.”

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump had stated that he would support bringing back so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding, but later said he would defer to his Defense Secretary James Mattis who opposes torture and mistreatment of prisoners. 

The terms of the settlement have not been made immediately public. 

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