The ACLU filed the lawsuit against the psychologists on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud and the family of Gul Rahman, who froze to death in a secret CIA prison.
The torture methods used on Salim Soud and Rahman included slamming them into walls, stuffing them into coffin-like boxes, exposing them to extreme temperatures, starving them, inflicting various kinds of water torture, and chaining them in stress positions designed to inflict pain and keep them awake for days on end, the ACLU said.
BREAKING THROUGH LEGAL WALLS
According to the ACLU, the lawsuit has now cleared the final legal hurdle before a scheduled trial, set for September 5, which would be the first for a case involving CIA torture.
"Yes, this is a major development in breaking through the wall of impunity that has so far surrounded the CIA torture program set up under the Bush Jr. administration," University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle told Sputnik on Tuesday.
Boyle said human rights attorneys were determined to still bring senior officials in the Bush administration and the "torture lawyers" to justice, Boyle added.
Boyle acknowledged that human rights activists would face many obstacles in their efforts to expose to public gaze the crimes and excesses of the CIA’s secret, worldwide program of torturing suspects.
"There will be many obstacles thrown up in front of it by the United States government that has so far covered up the CIA torture program under the Bush Jr., Obama and now [President Donald] Trump administrations in gross violation of the Convention against Torture," Boyle said.
However, Boyle insisted that the judge’s decision to allow the case against Mitchel and Jessen would mark a historic breakthrough or turning point in the efforts to bring the torturers to justice.
"The case can go forward because as civilians the two psychologists do not enjoy immunity from being sued, as would be true of the US government personnel involved in the interrogations," Quigley said.
However, any finding against Mitchel and Jessen in the lawsuit they faced was likely to have wider consequences, Quigley advised.
"If a court says that the two were participants in torture, it would mean that the Government was as well," he noted.
Quigley also recalled that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague was currently considering whether to investigate the US military for torture committed in Afghanistan, Romania and Poland.
"A decision by a US court that torture was committed could be used by the ICC as a kind of precedent for the proposition that the US was committing torture," he warned.
In 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee released an executive summary of a more than 6,000 page report concluding that CIA detainees were tortured under a program enacted between 2001 and 2007, at the early stages of the US War on Terror.