The International Criminal Court’s investigation into myriad US torture programs the world over has rested on the fact that the US government is not doing anything to punish any of those involved in the crimes. One civil lawsuit is continuing to slowly advance, however.
Dr. James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, a pair of contracted psychologists, were hired by the Bush Administration to design and run the entire torture program. Mitchell has even written a book bragging of his involvement, and the fact that they both got medals from the CIA for their “services.”
Their defense is built around the idea that they acted “with government permission” in committing these crimes, and seems to rest heavily on their ability to get the current government’s support in suppressing classified evidence of all the sordid details.
While President Obama spent the last eight years admitting “we tortured some folks” and shirking responsibility for it, experts are saying is likely to rest on President-elect Donald Trump whether to claim “state secrets” to block this particular civil case from going any further.
While Trump campaigned on the idea of returning to the days of torture, it isn’t clear he’s going to be on board with using the state secrets claim to cover up the torture of the past. This is particularly true because he has previously presented the torturing as something of a badge of honor for the US, and the recent lack as a sign of weakness. Trump is also said to be souring on the return to torture, after discussions with Gen. James Mattis, and that could also change things.