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For the 1st Time, a Lawsuit Could Assign Individual Accountability in CIA Post-9/11 Torture Program

A lawsuit filed by two men who were tortured and the representative of a third who died in CIA custody may hold accountable two psychologists the agency contracted to design the post-9/11 interrogation program.

In October, one of the plaintiffs, Suleiman Abdullah Salim, told New York Times reporter James Risen that he can’t escape the “Darkness” of his experience of torture.

The Times reported Sunday:

Nearly 15 years after the United States adopted a program to interrogate terrorism suspects using techniques now widely considered to be torture, no one involved in helping craft it has been held legally accountable. Even as President Obama acknowledged that the United States “tortured some folks,” his administration declined to prosecute any government officials. …

Dr. Mitchell alleges that harsh interrogation techniques he devised and carried out, based on those he used as an Air Force trainer in survival schools to prepare airmen if they became prisoners of war, protected the detainees from even worse abuse by the C.I.A.

Dr. Mitchell wrote that he and Dr. Jessen sequestered prisoners in closed boxes, forced them to hold painful positions for hours and prevented them from sleeping for days. He also takes credit for suggesting and implementing waterboarding — covering a detainee’s face with a cloth and pouring water over it to simulate the sensation of drowning — among other now-banned techniques. “Although they were unpleasant, their use protected detainees from being subjected to unproven and perhaps harsher techniques made up on the fly that could have been much worse,” he wrote. C.I.A. officers, he added, “had already decided to get rough.”

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