Lawsuit on harsh CIA interrogation methods designed by Spokane psychologists moves toward trial

SPOKANE, Wash .- The federal torture lawsuit against two psychologists formerly based out of the Spokane area will move forward. James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen face federal charges for designing and implementing a harsh CIA interrogation program.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued James E. Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen last October on behalf of three former CIA prisoners.

The lawsuit alleges that the psychologists, despite having no expertise on al-Qaida, devised an interrogation program for the CIA that drew from 1960s experiments involving dogs and the theory of "learned helplessness," the Associated Press reported.

The ACLU said one of the prisoners, Gul Rahman, died because of the torture program. The ACLU reports 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.’” 

A judge denied the psychologists’ motion for summary judgment on Monday in a written opinion. The ACLU said they expect the case to go to trial on September 5 and last two to three weeks.

If the case goes to trial, it will likely reveal some secret information in the war on terror. Previously, other lawsuits accusing the CIA of a harsh torture program were dismissed because the government argued that letting things proceed would reveal state secrets. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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