Washington (AFP) – Two psychologists who helped design the CIA’s post-9/11 detainee interrogation program will stand trial in September for promoting the use of torture methods like water-boarding, starvation and chaining prisoners in extreme stress positions.
Federal judges in Washington state late Monday ordered a lawsuit on behalf of three former detainees — one of whom died in a CIA prison following harsh interrogation — to go to a jury trial, rejecting efforts to force a settlement and prevent a full hearing of the case.
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the ex-detainees, will be the first involving the torture program to go to trial.
On a balmy day in February, Jedidiah Brown drove onto a busy expressway in the heart of Chicago, firearm in tow, with the intention of killing himself. The South Side activist, now 30 years old, sat in his parked car holding the gun to his head while he broadcast over Facebook Live. He cited the death of a family member and living in a city rocked by police violence and political corruption as reasons for the episode.
While Brown sat weeping, a team from the Chicago Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics division was deployed to the scene. The SWAT team rammed Brown’s car from the front and back with two large armored vehicles, which he says looked like “tanks.” Video footage of the incident, which Brown captured on Facebook Live, shows him growing increasingly agitated and pleading with the police. “Fucking stop it,” he said at one point, to the sound of more crashing.
“It made everything race, made everything chaotic,” Brown said of the SWAT team, comprised of several heavily armed officers. “I went from having the desire to commit suicide to thinking, ‘Now I’m going to be killed by the police.’”
Brown’s friend Alicia Spikes, who says she witnessed the incident, was troubled by the SWAT team’s actions. “I believe,” she said, “they escalated the situation more than it had to be.”