Video: CIA Officials Forced to Testify About Torture Program

Suleiman Abdullah Salim, a torture survivor from Tanzania who is suing the psychologists behind the notorious CIA program.

A lawsuit against the two psychologists who devised a CIA torture program reached another new milestone last month, as three victims asked a U.S. court to rule in their favor and to find that the psychologists were liable for aiding and abetting the illegal program.

The ACLU has filed a motion asking the judge in the case to rule that James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen played a critical role in designing, implementing, and profiting from the CIA torture program. Our clients are Suleiman Abdullah Salim, a fisherman from Tanzania; Mohamed Ben Soud, a Libyan citizen who opposed the Gaddafi regime; and Gul Rahman, an Afghan citizen who died as a result of his torture.

The motion came at the end of a months-long evidence-gathering process that was historic for survivors and victims of torture: It was the first time key people responsible for the program ever had to answer questions under oath in a civil lawsuit about torture. That discovery process shed new light on the CIA’s thinking; we provide video excerpts from those testimonies below.

The three plaintiffs — none of whom was ever charged with a crime by the United States — endured horrific cruelty at the hands of their torturers, including beatings, various forms of water torture, constant exposure to extreme temperatures and ear-splitting levels of music, confinement in stress positions designed to keep them awake for days at a time, and more. If the court finds that the defendants are indeed liable for aiding and abetting CIA torture, we’ll be fighting on behalf of our clients for damages and other liability claims in a trial later this year.

Our clients were among more than 100 men officially known to have been abducted and detained by the CIA in a network of secret prisons during the George W. Bush presidency. Previous lawsuits on behalf of the CIA’s victims, including those filed by the ACLU, were shut down at the insistence of the government, which claimed that they raised issues too secret for the justice system to hear. Salim v. Mitchell, however, marks the first time the program’s victims have been able to litigate their claims.

Below are excerpts from the depositions, conducted by the ACLU and our co-counsel from Gibbons law firm, of Jose Rodriguez, former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, and John Rizzo, who was acting general counsel at the agency for much of the program’s existence. They confirm that in devising and promoting the torture program, Mitchell and Jessen relied on theories that top CIA officials eagerly accepted with virtually no questions. All these years later, it remains jarring to hear the two men speak so matter-of-factly about a program hastily thrown together using perverse and unsupportable theories to brutalize helpless prisoners.


At the time of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the agency had no experience in detention or interrogation. But on September 17, Bush authorized the CIA to capture and detain members of al-Qaida. (His order said nothing about interrogation, much less torture.) Mitchell and Jessen, two psychologists with experience training U.S. troops to resist abuse in case of capture, were brought on to devise what they called a “psychologically based program” that would use “fear and despair” to make prisoners talk.

Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from

But neither Mitchell nor Jessen had any experience in real-world interrogations — only in mock sessions conducted on volunteer U.S. service members with protections in place to ensure their physical and psychological safety. “Nor did either have specialized knowledge of al-Qa'ida, a background in terrorism, or any relevant regional, cultural, or linguistic expertise,” notes a Senate study of the torture program, the executive summary of which was released in 2014.

Rodriguez, who was charged with steering the CIA’s new and dangerous authorities, did little to ensure Mitchell & Jessen’s qualifications.

Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from

The CIA paid Mitchell and Jessen $1,800 per day to administer the torture of detainees. They ultimately earned millions for their work, both as individual contractors and through a company they created in 2005 to expand the program. By the time the CIA terminated its contract in 2010, it had paid Mitchell, Jessen & Associates more than $80 million in taxpayer money.

As Mitchell and Jessen were developing their torture techniques — referred to euphemistically by the government as “enhanced interrogation techniques” — the CIA wanted to ensure it could operate without the restraints of domestic and international law. In his testimony, Rizzo confirms that in the summer of 2002, after the CIA captured its first prisoner, he began a process to seek the formal commitment of the Department of Justice that CIA employees would not be prosecuted as a result of their brutal interrogations.

Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from

The Justice Department refused to provide the CIA with that assurance. (It also never prosecuted anyone responsible for the CIA torture program.)

Rizzo also confirmed that Mitchell and Jessen were given extensive latitude to develop the program without the CIA undertaking basic research into the effects of using abusive methods on prisoners.

Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from

Mitchell and Jessen’s techniques were built on a theoretical assumption that reducing detainees to a state of “helplessness” would make them compliant with interrogators’ demands. They based their theory on research into “learned helplessness” conducted in the 1960s on animals by psychologist Martin Seligman, who discovered that dogs that had been subjected to inescapable pain would eventually stop trying to avoid it. Seligman’s theory had never been tested on humans — because doing so would violate a host of laws prohibiting torture, cruel treatment, and human experimentation.

Senior CIA officials described their lack of interest in understanding the basis for the program Mitchell and Jessen were selling.

Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from

Mitchell and Jessen were also tasked with evaluating their own work, from which they reaped huge profits. (The Senate report quotes complaints from CIA personnel over the clear conflict of interest, which the CIA later admitted was a mistake.) And from the very beginning, the program’s brutality was apparent: In the case of Abu Zubaydah, a detainee whom Mitchell and Jessen used as a test case, his torture persisted well after they were sure he could not provide information they had demanded.

Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from

The torture of Abu Zubaydah and another early detainee was documented on more than 90 CIA videotapes, which Rodriguez famously ordered destroyed. After a years-long investigation, the Justice Department chose not to bring charges against him.

Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from

As a deeply effective New York Times series makes clear, Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ben Soud remain, all these years later, deeply traumatized by their torture. Salim continues to suffer from crippling flashbacks because of what he calls the “darkness,” along other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Alongside various physical ailments, Ben Soud too battles depression, anxiety, and more as a result of his treatment. The family of Gul Rahman — who died from hypothermia in 2002 after being tortured and left half naked and chained to the wall of a freezing-cold cell — has never been told where his body was taken and cannot give him a dignified burial. For our clients, along with every other prisoner who saw the inside of a CIA black site, the story of the torture program isn’t over. In fact, the refusal of the U.S. government to provide so much as an apology makes it much harder for them to heal.

But now, for three of the program’s victims, after many years of courthouse doors slammed shut in the face of survivors, there finally exists hope for justice.

Add a comment (18)
Read the Terms of Use


The nerve of some GODDAM people. SUING them. Do *I* get to sue THEM for torturing my loved one into death and then SMIRKING about it? No I DON'T get to bc every fuckin' politician is in the POCKET of the ROYAL family and wouldn't even let us!
Then accused terrorists have the nerve to SUE some damn body, just as if they were the ONLY ones who were ever HARMED by anybody and STILL they have no regrets for DOing it and all the OUTRIGHT LIES they told for WHY they did, which was never the reason at ALL.
Sadiq Khan, the Muslim mayor of London, said they don't do this in the name of Islam and that they've been perverting the religion he follows and that acts of terrorism are done by cowards, that it's unforgivable and there's no excuse for it. He doesn't treat them as the "VICTIM HEROES" all these assholes have decided they are just bc some idiot who had nothing to do with 9/11 family of victims (they never asked our permission before torturing people) had them tortured and didn't care how we felt before they did it. It ruined our case, why would anyone have wanted it done.
Until I heard of Sadiq Khan I went all those years thinking their religion deMANDED that they kill my loved one for being an infidel, that there was some reason it had to occur and I just didn't understand well enough to know what it was. I know nothing about their nationality, religion or other ways of life and had no way of telling myself it was being perverted (and believing it in my heart of hearts.) I had to hear it from Sadiq Khan - and that took almost 16 goddam years.
I can't even believe that. All that time they've been perverting a religion & I didn't know it until now. That's almost completely unforgivable, especially all those damn VIDEOS that Osama bin Laden made SURE he kept producing the whole time he was alive for no other reason than to make us suffer.
I'm glad I'm not them bc I wouldn't even want to WATCH the day they get judged by whatever passes for their god.
I have no sympathy left to give to them. It doesn't matter anyway bc enough jerks are gonna feel sorry for them for no good reason; they sure don't need ME to do it.

From family of Eric Bennett, 10/17/71--9/11/01 (One of the people some of you cowards helped kill)


To the family of Eric Bennett:

The people your sickening words are describing were never even accused of any crime in any court of law. You are advocating for the torture of innocent people.

If your words here represent the memory of Eric, then at least know he didn't die in vain. His death allowed your racism to flourish. It filled you with hatred. It made you EVIL enough that you are okay with torturing innocent people.

You're so angry and violent, so filled with hatred, but Americans have murdered hundreds of thousands of people overseas. Imagine how their families feel, when the wars you cheer for kill hundreds of innocent people like Eric every day.

If this is how Eric would want to be remembered, then I certainly don't grieve for him. Nor, I'm sure, do the families who have lost their own Erics to this evil hatred, and the wars and torture you support.

From someone sick of those Americans who justify murder and torturous violence with their hypocrisy and cowardice.


I wish I could delete comments. I completely misread that comment and I apologise profusely for my misdirected stupidity.

From the previous commenter.


Don't even talk about "dignified burials." You gotta be kidding me. We never even received remains that were identifiable, not even through DNA matching bc the fire burned for 4 months and damaged the structure of the DNA so it couldn't be identified and that's how it was w/ all but 300 people and those are mostly those who jumped from the building or died on the planes.
They don't care at ALL that we never had remains either. If you told them we didn't they wouldn't give a fig in a high wind, they'd say we "caused it" our own damn selves, as if it's NORMAL to give someone the death penalty for greed (if they WERE greedy) and just as sensible to do it to someone who WASN'T a greed-monster. Eric wasn't greedy. I don't care what Osama bin Laden said. He never met any of the people he had killed. He doesn't get to say they were "all greedy with money and deserved to die."


As a former and experienced Marine Corps interrogator I can say and I'm sure I speak for hundreds of other professionals that we were never contacted about the work needed. Yet, we all know what torture is and that it is illegal, unlawful, and a war crime. We also know that "enhanced" is a buzzword for torture. That no one is prosecuted is beyond me. What does that say about our system? Not much I have to say. Pretty sad indeed. Recall that former President Geo. W. Bush once bragged "Sure, we tortured and I'd do it again to keep people safe." Oops - torture does not work or keep anyone safe. It has one purpose: To inflict pain; NOT gain valuable intelligence that can actually save lives.

My page on this is here - FYI

A. Rafter

Excellent! These CIA APA shrinks and the CIA needs to be punished for torture and racketeering. There are plenty of laws against it. Now, maybe you can do something for Targeted Individuals. This is happening to innocent victims in every state and well as in every major country. I've been tortured 24/7 for 11 years with psychotronic electromagnetic frequencies by the CIA, NSA, DOD, down to local law enforcement. I can ID about 100 who are directly involved, 25 of whom I know personally. I HAVE the proof. You have no idea the amount of pain, torture, trauma I and many others have endured. Bill Binney and Kirk Wiebe are starting to look into this for us. This is the biggest human rights issues ever! Please help us!


Me and my family have been targeted all of our life and daily attacked still by the NSA DEW's known as Cyber Attacking Covert Electronic Harassment and Surveillance and Gang Stalking with NSA equipment. I am the first born of girl/boy twin's Grew up in IA. from the USA. I have four children,,,Jason, jennifer, Jessica & Jamie. We are all daily attacked through the years as well as having deprived sleep and brain washing with high tech. and controlling our lives. We are of royality and very targeted and looking for the truth to come out... for the years of the stalking and invasion's are very real besides, the tall tailing slander that goes around media. I pray that our future has a silver lining somewhere.

Mz. Donna Joy Plattner
Omaha Neberaska.


U.S. citizens are being tortured as well. The U.S., corporations and/or government agencies / military are torturing many people in the U.S. They are destroying lives! They are conducting human experimentation on U.S. citizens without their consent! Shockingly, they have the cooperation of medical professionals, hospitals, surgery centers, dentists and more. People are being implanted without their knowledge at dentists offices, hospitals and other medical facilities. Later, because of the sheer torture, they find out that they have been implanted and in some cases, their children have also been implanted. The people who are targeted are destroyed financially, professionally, physically, personally and emotionally. They are falsely painted as delusional in an effort to destroy the innocent person's credibility. Crimes ensue that are heinous and unimaginable. Their medical studies and medical reports are falsified. They are attacked with directed energy weapons, electromagnetic weapons (EMF) and extremely low frequency weapons (ELF). The technology is organ specific. With this technology, they are able to target a persons liver, heart, hungs, brain, teeth, etc. Some people who are targeted are injected with chemicals that destroy their immune system, induce connective tissue disorders, viruses, bacteria and so on. Some are literally burned via satellite weapons and in some cases, like myself, I was brutally forced under anesthesia and maimed physically and via injections that burned and corroded the soft tissue throughout my back, spinal column, shoulders, neck and more. There are thousands of people in the U.S. who at assaulted daily via advanced technology. DEFINITIONS: **Targeted Individual - A person who is the target of corporate and/or government assaults that may consist of slander, physical harm, covert torture programs, stalking on foot, in the car and on the internet. **Organized Stalking - A campaign of crimes beset against a "targeted individual" for various reasons including to destroy the person financially, professionally, personally, physically and emotional. They will be covertly surveilled sometimes for years in advance before overt aggressive stalking on foot, in the car, on the internet ensues. They will be eventually physically harmed via "no touch torture", "directed energy weapons", and other covert technologies. They may be harmed in person via medical treatments and other covert / overt manners. A campaign of crimes will include intrusions into their private residence, tainting of food / drink, poisoning of pets, wire tapping of home phones, tapping of cell phones, video tapping inside and outside of their home and at work, destruction of personal or real property, vandalism of personal property, automobiles, real property (the idea is to keep the TI - targeted individual spending money until there is nothing left). Inability to get legitimate medical treatment wherever the TI goes. Induced pain via directed energy assaults and manipulation of their nervous system. Gasslighting, work place mobbing, errors in their financial statements. Induced illness via no touch torture weapons. And much more. The following are some quotes from Dr. Robert Duncan, who formerly worked with the CIA, DARPA, DOJ, DOD, "It destroys lives!", "These people are killers.", "They are morally ambiguous.", "Every time the military gets a bigger budget, more targets come on line.", "It involves tactics that are unimaginable unless you have a devious, criminal mind.", "This is truly the most sophisticated weapons system ever created.", "It is being used on innocent people.", "They are scaling the technology to the entire population!". 1. To learn more about these programs / black projects, go to "Christians Against Totalitarianism, Remote Mind Control & Torture Weapons" on Facebook. 2. Also, be sure to visit, - International Center Against Abuse of Covert Technology 3. and - People Against Covert Torture and Surveillance, International. There is no doubt that we are in end times. If you are a Christian, make sure that your family and friends are saved. If you know of anyone who is experiencing stalking, pain, gass lighting, etc.. please direct them to the above captioned websites and facebook page.


Sign Up for Breaking News