Historic Legal Settlement on Torture

Torture is a crime under international law, but the CIA was (and perhaps still is) involved in it anyway. Ironically enough, the War Crimes Act of 1996 was actually passed under a Republican Congress too.

On the historic legal settlement though, it’s a definitely a new development that there’s been some justice in addressing crimes of the torture programs.

TWO VICTIMS OF the CIA’s torture program have reached a historic legal settlement with the contract psychologists who designed and helped implement it. The U.S. government has never publicly compensated any of the men tortured in CIA custody, and this legal settlement — the terms of which are confidential — is the first of its kind.

Under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the Justice Department repeatedly moved to block lawsuits at their early stages, arguing that court cases about government torture in clandestine prisons would reveal state secrets. In 2015, however, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the two psychologists the CIA paid to create torture techniques.

The lawsuit argued that those techniques were later used on the plaintiffs in the case — Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ben Soud, who had been tortured in CIA custody before being released without charges, as well as the family of a third man, Gul Rahman, who was tortured to death in U.S. custody in 2002.

After overcoming multiple government attempts to dismiss the case, the suit was set to go to trial Sept. 5. Today, the ACLU announced the last-minute settlement. Because the settlement mandates confidentiality, lawyers for the ACLU declined to discuss the terms with The Intercept.

“Every previous case involving the CIA torture program was shut down before it even began,” said Dror Ladin, an ACLU attorney. “But our clients prevailed over three separate attempts to dismiss their claims, were able to force top CIA officials to answer questions under oath, and secured a first-of-its-kind settlement.”