ACLU Lawyers Will Get to Question Ex-CIA Officials in Torture Case

Here the Rain Never Finishes

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In a critical step towards accountability, a federal judge has ordered that former high-ranking CIA officials will have to sit for depositions in the lawsuit against the two psychologists who designed and implemented the CIA torture program.

Two of the officials are John Rizzo and Jose Rodriguez, who both held top positions when the torture program was developed and carried out. Rizzo was the CIA’s chief lawyer, and Rodriguez was the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center and then deputy director of operations. The depositions are expected to happen in the next few months as part of the discovery process, which will be completed by mid-February.

The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three men — Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, Gul Rahman — who were tortured using methods developed by the CIA-contracted psychologists, James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen.

Rizzo was the CIA’s acting general counsel for much of the George W. Bush administration. President Bush nominated him to be confirmed in the position in 2007 but was forced to withdraw the nomination amid objections over Rizzo’s involvement in the torture program. Rizzo went along with the now-discredited Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos that purported to approve torture, privately acknowledging the OLC’s “ability to interpret over, under and around Geneva, the torture convention, and other pesky little international obligations.” Rizzo also helped draft Bush’s still-secret order authorizing the CIA to establish secret detention facilities overseas and to interrogate detainees.

Rodriguez has repeatedly defended the CIA’s torture of detainees and played an integral role in the program from the start, authorizing the use of specific abusive methods on detainees. In 2005, over the objections of the White House and Congress and in violation of a federal court ruling, Rodriguez ordered the destruction of more than 90 videotapes that showed the torture of detainees through waterboarding and other methods.

The depositions were requested by Mitchell and Jessen, who have also asked the government to turn over a large number of documents relating to the torture program. The ACLU says that all of the information it needs to win the lawsuit is already public, mainly thanks to official government reports, including the Senate’s report on CIA torture. But the ACLU attorneys will still get to question Rizzo, Rodriguez, and two others, who will be under oath.

James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen
James Mitchell, left, and Bruce Jessen, right.

Mitchell and Jessen are being represented by private attorneys. The Justice Department is involved in the case to represent the government’s interests in keeping classified information secret. It sought an order that would have barred oral questioning of the CIA officials. During a hearing on the order last Thursday, Justice Department attorney Andrew Warden said:

“It is, frankly, unprecedented — and that word gets thrown around quite a bit — but unprecedented for the nation’s top spy, the head of the National Clandestine Service, to be deposed on operational information by a private party. I don’t think that’s ever happened in the history of this country.”

U.S. District Court Senior Judge Justin Quackenbush issued the decision on Tuesday. He also ordered the government to produce certain documents requested by Mitchell and Jessen, while focusing discovery on the issues identified by ACLU attorneys. A trial date has been set for June 26, 2017, and the judge has been adamant about staying on schedule. In his opinion, the judge wrote:

“The court intends to hold firm to the scheduled dates and it would be completely inappropriate for the Government and the Defendants to take actions, or fail to act, in a manner that would interfere with the court's schedule or the right of the Plaintiffs to have their claims resolved in accordance with the Scheduling Order.”

According to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the torture program, Mitchell and Jessen helped convince the CIA to adopt torture as official policy, making millions of dollars in the process. The two men, who had previously worked as psychologists for the U.S. 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 helped implement the program for the CIA.

Suleiman Abdullah Salim
Suleiman Abdullah Salim

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, starving them, inflicting various kinds of water torture, and chaining them in stress positions designed for pain and to keep them awake for days on end. The two plaintiffs who survived still suffer physically and psychologically from the effects of their torture. The third, Gul Rahman, died of hypothermia in a CIA secret prison.

In addition to torturing prisoners themselves, Mitchell and Jessen trained and supervised other CIA personnel in their methods. In 2005, they founded a company — Mitchell, Jessen & Associates — that the CIA contracted with to run its entire torture program, including supplying interrogators and security for black sites and rendition operations. According to the Senate report, the government paid the company $81 million over several years.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington State, where Mitchell, Jessen & Associates was based and where Jessen still lives. The plaintiffs are suing Mitchell and Jessen under the Alien Tort Statute — which allows federal lawsuits for gross human rights violations — for their commission of torture; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes.

For years, claims of secrecy shut the courthouse doors to survivors, but the systematic abuse of prisoners can’t be swept under the rug forever. This order affirms that our judicial system can handle claims of CIA torture, including when those claims involve high-level government officials.

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susan

I recall the New York Times story about a team of two men who got their government jobs as psychologists. They were hired as military or government contractors to devise conduct behavior modification experiments (i.e. torture) on prisoners, the "success" of which would produce prisoners who would become very docile, obedient, and extremely dependent upon their "masters." All manner of tortures were implemented. I deliberately use the word "masters" because the prisoners were trained and treated the same way that these psychologists treated their previous, and only subjects: DOGS. Yes. They trained dogs for their own purposes prior to becoming the chief masterminds of this USA government experimental program and utilized torture on them to gain compliance and obedience. Before being hired to create their behavior modification program with human prisoners, they had no experience whatsoever dealing with human "trainees," but only with dogs. They were first and foremost dog trainers, The story included graphics and design plans, of dog housing (cages), and various aspects of their treatment and training. There were photos of prisoners in certain positions of physical discomfort and during periods of deprivations and of basic needs such as food, clothing, blankets, perhaps water, sleep, and a toileting system. I believe there was also physical abuse. Some photos or sketches showed dogs in certain physical positions juxtaposed with photos of prisoners in the same positions., during their "training. " If my memory is correct in some photos they possibly were tied or bound into what I would describe as pain-producing positions. The story was written as an expose'. The two men were arrested, tried, fined monetarily and they were received prison sentences. The article brought to light that some of the prisoners had developed tremendous fears as a result of what was meant to develop fear in them. The whole concept of this treatment was so cruel, disgusting and inhuman to me, yet I could not put the newspaper aside until I finished reading and digesting the history of these 2 monstrous men. I also recall reading that they did not administer any of the training to the prisoners and were not even present during prisoners' training, but that they only devised the tortures and training. At the time I believed every terrible word in the article, but in retrospect I don't believe their allegations that they only designed the program and did not implement it in person.

Jessen and Mitc...

The orders to torture came from the top, from Condi Rice, Dick Cheney, George Bush and a number of their henchmen. In the Office of Legal Counsel, Dept of Justice, John Yoo and his partner Robert Delahunty, went to work right after 9-11, writing memos that claimed it was not only legal to torture but also to "legalize" other patently illegal acts. They told the President that freedom of speech and other First Amendment rights would have to be subordinate to the needs of war. Some of their OLC memos have been repudiated but not all. They have never been held accountable. CIA Counsel admitted that the OLC was tasked in "legalizing" torture and other crimes so that Bush Admin officials could claim their lawyers told them it was legal. But the Yoo, Delahunty, Bybee and other Bush lawyers were part of the illegal actions from the start.

Anonymous

Everyone involved in developing this program, encouraging, guiding, legalizing and enforcing this inhumane torture program needs to be convicted and jailed for life. WTF is wrong with them?

Anonymous

This issue, torture, is the disease that will bring our entire government to it's knees. Even though it is a just few, at the very foundation of the pillars that hold the great building aloft, those are a strategic few that they are now taking out, and which will topple the entire structure. They know this.

I personally have been tortured to suicide. Then, after all of my life was destroyed, I was lobotomized. I am now hooked permanently forever, to a Brain Computer Interface in order to access my mind clone on a computer server somewhere, in order to function and to feel anything. To this day, there is not a single person who has offered to help me, except for the case manager of the torture - which is their job. I am a walking dead person.

I live each day fearful every moment of what will happen next, and watch in terror, as our country disintegrates and the people are frozen, stiff like pillars of salt. The learned helplessness is 100% absolute. I barely function, except to eat and do my survival chores. My life is lost. For what? For money? Someone made money off of doing this to me?

Endless hours turn in to endless years, searching the internet for someone, somewhere, who is making headway on stopping this. There is none. As each day passes the flatness of life becomes even flatter, and the terror that this will never stop, that the AI has been created to do this in a tailored and meticulous manner, mechanically, to every brain on the planet, is obvious.

People have no idea what has been created against them in secret with their money. If they knew, they might just start vomiting and lie in their vomit and suffocate. It would be a far better death than the one coming. No one knows the real horror except for those who have been through it. They are being discarded like old trash. Don't look now, at those core pieces of marble that are being tossed away. What they do not understand is that the rules have changed.

The change is that the human being has been completely psychologically mastered. All weaknesses known and programmed to exploit. And one large weakness is ignoring the victims. They know the collective will do this, it is automatic. And they know that they can strategically pick out the ones who buttress the civil society, who defend the human rights. They are the ones to take. For once gone, there will be no one to protect the collective. It will have to conform or die. The more, the better, in their opinion.

This torture they made from the GITMO prisoners being tortured, is the child of the powerfully twisted minds of people gone insane. Automated to use on humans world-wide through invisible signals, it is beyond the most brutal experience of all ages combined. They are exceeding human thresholds and shattering the white layer of the brain. The lobotomy is excruciating. The terror ramps over days of time, starting where they left off the day before and increasing to hysteria; the rape by doctors video-recording for sale of the performance to the purchasers of the torture.

People have no idea what is going on in secret, away from the eyes of the public. In homes alone. It is hell on earth. All Mind Controlled madness.

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