A US judge has allowed a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s military psychologists to proceed, marking a major victory for a group of the agency’s torture victims.
The decision by the District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush was a major achievement in the fight to hold CIA individuals responsible for conducting a program that according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) resulted in the torture of at least 119 men between 2002 and 2008.
The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU last October on the behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, a Tanzanian national detained by the CIA and Kenyan security forces in Somalia in 2003; Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, a Libyan captured in a US-Pakistani raid the same year; and Gul Rahman, an Afghan national who died in 2002 in CIA custody from hypothermia that came by dehydration and exposure.
The case is seeking damages of up to $75,000 for the three victims, all of whom underwent torture in CIA « black sites » in Afghanistan.
According to the ACLU, the US government has so far blocked several similar cases arguing that they would jeopardize the country’s security.
The ruling goes against requests by the US Justice Department which had asked the court to consider « the interests of the United States » in relation to classified details that may leak while gathering evidence for the case.
This is the only lawsuit of its kind that has been filed after a 2014 report by Senate that confirmed the CIA’s use of torture and accused it of paying $80 million to a company run by two former US Air Force psychologists who had no interrogation or counter-terrorism experience.
The CIA employed brutal techniques like waterboarding, physical abuse, sleep deprivation, mock executions, and anal penetration performed under cover of “rehydration” to interrogate terror suspects imprisoned after the September 11 attacks.
These torture techniques migrated from the CIA’s undocumented prisons, known as black sites, to US military prisons at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, and Abu Ghraib in Iraq.
A former guard at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, revealed in January that CIA has staged suicides to cover up inmate deaths at the notorious US military prison.