A settlement was announced Thursday in a landmark lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against two psychologists involved in designing the CIA's harsh interrogation program used in the war on terror, the AP reports. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Trial had been scheduled for Sept. 5 in federal court in Spokane, Washington. Attorneys for the ACLU called it a historic victory, saying this is the first time the CIA or its private contractors had been held accountable for torturing suspects in the war on terror. The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of three former detainees, who contended they were tortured at secret sites overseas. The defendants were psychologists James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen, who were under contract with the federal government following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The lawsuit claimed the psychologists designed, implemented, and personally administered an experimental torture program. The techniques they developed included waterboarding, slamming the three men into walls, stuffing them inside coffin-like boxes, exposing them to extreme temperatures, starving them, and keeping them awake for days, the ACLU said. "This outcome shows that there are consequences for torture and that survivors can and will hold those responsible for torture accountable," said Dror Ladin, an attorney for the ACLU. "It is a clear warning for anyone who thinks they can torture with impunity." The ACLU said this was the first lawsuit involving the CIA's torture program that was not dismissed at initial stages. A US Senate investigation in 2014 found that Mitchell and Jessen's techniques produced no useful intelligence.