Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lawsuit Targets Psychologists Who Designed CIA Torture Program

Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen helped design the CIA's interrogation program and are now facing a lawsuit filed Tuesday (today) on behalf of three CIA prisoners who claim to have been unfairly tortured. Their company, Mitchell Jessen & Associates, was paid $81 million by the CIA to help oversee the program. Mitchell and Jessen claimed their program was "scientifically based, safe and proven" which was completely false.

These three men were allegedly tortured at a site called the Salt Pit and underwent sleep deprivation, hypothermia, being confined in small boxes, and being thrown against a wall. The interrogator's theory was based on "learned helplessness."

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union based on a summary of events found in the Senate report. This brought up debate about CIA techniques used on Al Quaeda members previously. Although the CIA did regard these techniques as something of the past that would not happen again, they claim that the program was effective in both national security and furthering terrorist knowledge. They seem to have been using these methods again.

There is debate over how to exactly approach the lawsuit. The Obama administration hesitates to become involved because the CIA program is classified, and in the past the government has used its states secrets privilege to bar lawsuits dealing with classified CIA information. Furthermore, although the Justice Department has investigated the situation three times, they decided they couldn't prosecute because doing so would expose classified information and the torture techniques used were backed by the Justice Department in 2002.

What do you think should happen to these men? Should defending civil liberties take precedence over keeping classified information secret? Should the CIA be allowed to hire people without consulting other executive officials or the president (do we need more of a bureaucracy?)? And going all the way back to spin, is there anything we can do to prevent people from lying for personal gain, or at least figuring out they're lying before hiring them?

CNN Article
US News Article

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