They psychologists that designed the CIA’s torture program just settled a lawsuit brought by Islamic terrorists – and torture victims. In the settlement, the federal government was forced to pay $81 million to the terrorists, and any surviving family members. This does not include the massive legal bill that they psychologists racked up during the trial – a bill of unknown size, being footed by the American taxpayer.
James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the two doctors who designed the torture programs and interrogation regimen after the 9/11 attacks, a program that Senate interrogators called “learned helplessness”, settled a case on Thursday that was brought forward by the three survivors of CIA black sites and the family of Gul-Rahman, a man who froze to death during one of these interrogations.
Although the terms of this settlement have not been made public, and the case is not that of a criminal trial, both the attorneys and human right advocates are happy and consider this to be a major victory in a long termed effort to end torture, and establishes valuable precedent for future torture survivors who may seek damages.
Where Mitchell and Jessen continued to state that they are not responsible for the physical or mental torture and abuse that these men under consideration had to suffer, and nor were they in any way responsible for Gul-Rahman’s death. But in a joint statement they said, “It is regrettable that Mr. Rahman, Mr. Salim, and Mr. Ben-Soud suffered these abuses.”
None of the other legal case intending to hold CIA torturers to account has progressed this far, as the Justice Department has successfully argued that all aspects of torture are state secrets beyond the reach of the public.
On Dec. 15, 2011, the U.S. government signed an indemnification agreement with Mitchell and Jessen for the non-criminal legal liabilities that they could encounter as a result of their work for the agency. According to the plan: “Any expenses actually and reasonably incurred by Mitchell or Jessen shall be paid by the U.S. Government in advance of the final disposition of any related Proceeding.”
Explicitly included in that agreement were the “fees, expenses, disbursements and retainers of attorneys, accountants, private investigators, expert witnesses and other advisors [and] court costs.” The liabilities covered include “all judgments, damages, losses, fines, penalties, excise taxes, amounts paid in settlement and other liabilities.”