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Federal judge allows CIA torture lawsuit to move forward

By Daniel Uria
Federal judge allows CIA torture lawsuit to move forward
Federal judge Justin L Quackenbush ruled that a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union which alleged that two CIA contract psychologists abused a group of detainees using a torture program described as "enhanced interrogation" would be allowed to proceed. The case states that Suleiman Abdullah Salim (pictured) and and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud were tortured along with Gul Rahman, who died of hypothermia during the interrogations. Screen capture/The Guardian

SPOKANE, Wash., April 23 (UPI) -- A federal judge gave the go-ahead for a civil lawsuit against two Washington state psychologists who allegedly helped orchestrate the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation techniques.

Judge Justin L Quackenbush said that he could not dismiss the case which alleges CIA contract psychologists James Elmer Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen abused a group of detainees using a torture program described as "enhanced interrogation."

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"I cannot summarily dismiss the complaint plaintiffs have filed," Quackenbush said. "It's thorough to say the least. On its face, the complaint alleges not only aiding and abetting but participation and complicity in the administration of this enhanced interrogation program."

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the case on be half of CIA detainees Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud as well as the family of Gul Rahman, who died of hypothermia during the interrogations.

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The suit claims that the men were left with psychological and physical injuries due to the harsh nature of the interrogation despite never facing accusations of being members of al-Qaida.

The Department of Justice has previously blocked cases regarding the CIA's detention and interrogation techniques, saying they might revealed secrets that could compromise national security.

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"It's unprecedented," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin told the Los Angeles Times."No CIA torture victim has ever taken this step toward accountability. Every previous lawsuit has been shut down before this stage."

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The plaintiffs are seeking damages of more than $75,000 after the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report in December 2014 allegedly exposed the roles Jessen and Mitchell played in the interrogation program.

Quackenbush gave both sides 30 days to come up with a plan to gather evidence including depositions and the handling of classified information.

"The judge has said these are claims that can go forward," Ladin said. "They will be decided on the facts of this case, which has never happened."

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