Settlement Reached in ACLU Lawsuit Against CIA Interrogation - NBC Boston
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Settlement Reached in ACLU Lawsuit Against CIA Interrogation

The defendants were James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen, who were under contract with the federal government following the Sept. 11 terror attacks

Find NBC Boston in your area

Channel 10 on most providers

Channel 60 and 8 Over the Air

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Settlement Reached in ACLU Lawsuit Against CIA Interrogation
    AP/Andrew Harnik
    This Jan. 21, 2017, file photo shows the floor of the main lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Virginia.

    A settlement was announced Thursday in a landmark lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against two psychologists involved in designing the CIA's harsh interrogation program used in the war on terror.

    Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

    Trial had been scheduled for Sept. 5 in federal court in Spokane, Washington.

    Attorneys for the ACLU called it a historic victory, saying this is the first time the CIA or its private contractors had been held accountable for torturing suspects in the war on terror.

    Charles Manson, Killer and Self-Proclaimed Devil, Dead at 83

    [NATL] Charles Manson, Killer and Self-Proclaimed Devil, Dead at 83

    Charles Manson, the sinister hippie cult leader who declared himself "the Devil" and dispatched his followers to commit a series of Hollywood murders in 1969 that shocked the country, died Sunday night in a California hospital at the age of 83. 

    (Published Monday, Nov. 20, 2017)

    The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of three former detainees, who contended they were tortured at secret sites overseas.

    The defendants were psychologists James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen, who were under contract with the federal government following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

    The lawsuit claimed the psychologists designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program. The techniques they developed included waterboarding, slamming the three men into walls, stuffing them inside coffin-like boxes, exposing them to extreme temperatures, starving them and keeping them awake for days, the ACLU said.

    "This outcome shows that there are consequences for torture and that survivors can and will hold those responsible for torture accountable," said Dror Ladin, an attorney for the ACLU. "It is a clear warning for anyone who thinks they can torture with impunity."

    James T. Smith, lead attorney for the psychologists, said his clients were public servants whose interrogation of suspected terrorists was authorized by the government.

    "The facts would have borne out that while the plaintiffs suffered mistreatment by some of their captors, none of that mistreatment was conducted, condoned or caused by Drs. Mitchell and Jessen," Smith said.

    These Tips Will Get You Through TSA Faster

    [NATL-DC] These Tips Will Get You Through TSA Faster

    It's the middle of the busy summer travel season, and if you've flown lately, you know how long it can take to get through security. News4's Justin Finch in Washington D.C. has the top travel tips the TSA says can move you through faster.

    (Published Monday, Nov. 20, 2017)

    Jessen, who lives in the Spokane area, said in a statement that he and Mitchell "served our country at a time when freedom and safety hung in the balance."

    Mitchell also defended their work, saying "I am confident that our efforts were necessary, legal and helped save countless lives."

    The lawsuit was filed in 2015 on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud and the estate of Gul Rahman. It sought unspecified monetary damages from the psychologists, whose company was based in Spokane.

    Rahman, an Afghan, was taken from his home in Pakistan in 2002 to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. He died of hypothermia several weeks later after being shackled to a floor in near freezing conditions.

    According to the lawsuit, Salim and Ben Soud both were subjected to waterboarding, daily beatings and sleep deprivation while inside CIA secret prisons. Salim, a Tanzanian, and Ben Soud, a Libyan, were later released after officials determined they posed no threat.

    A U.S. Senate investigation in 2014 found that Mitchell and Jessen's techniques produced no useful intelligence in the war on terror. They were paid $81 million for their work, the Senate report said. President Barack Obama terminated the contract in 2009.

    Site of 2 Super Bowls Implodes With Cloud of Smoke

    [NATL] Georgia Dome Impodes in Plume of Smoke in Downtown Atlanta

    Nearly 5,000 pounds of explosives were used in a scheduled demolition of the Georgia Dome, former home to the Atlanta Falcons and the site of two Super Bowls.

    (Published Monday, Nov. 20, 2017)

    Mitchell and Jessen previously worked at the Air Force survival school located at Fairchild Air Force Base outside Spokane. They trained pilots to avoid capture and resist interrogation and torture. They were hired by the CIA, which wanted them to reverse-engineer their methods in order to break terrorism suspects.

    The Justice Department got involved in the case to represent the government's interests in keeping classified information secret but did not try to block the lawsuit.

    The ACLU said this was the first lawsuit involving the CIA's torture program that was not dismissed at initial stages.

    The ACLU issued a joint statement from the surviving plaintiffs, who said they achieved their goals.

    "We were able to tell the world about horrific torture, the CIA had to release secret records, and the psychologists and high-level CIA officials were forced to answer our lawyer's questions," the statement said.

    Because the two psychologists worked as government contractors, their legal bills were covered by taxpayers.

    NASA Captures 20 Years of Seasonal Changes

    [NATL] NASA Satellites Show 20 Years of Seasonal Changes

    NASA has captured 20 years of seasonal changes in a new global map of the home planet.

    (Published Friday, Nov. 17, 2017)