The Trump administration appointed Gina Haspel as deputy director of the CIA in February, attracting criticism from human rights advocates due to her former role in abusive interrogations. The move was interpreted as a public sign of the administration's approval for some of the CIA's most brutal abuses after the 9/11 attacks.
Haspel is being called to provide a deposition by James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen – two contract psychologists who made tens of millions of dollars for their work shaping the CIA's torture program. The ACLU is suing Mitchell and Jessen on behalf of three former CIA detainees – one of whom died in captivity in 2002 after being beaten and doused with cold water.
Lawyers for Mitchell and Jessen claim that everything the psychologists did was authorized by the CIA, and that Haspel would confirm that if the court ordered her to give a deposition.