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.
The government has headed off previous efforts, citing what is said is a need to protect sensitive intelligence.
The case targets psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who were recruited by the CIA in 2002 to design and help conduct interrogations of war-on-terror suspects captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The two were paid $80 million for their work, which included helping interrogate Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks by Al-Qaeda, and Abu Zubaydah, another top Qaeda official.
The ACLU suit alleges that Jessen and Mitchell were responsible for, and profited financially from, the illegal torture of Tanzanian Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Libyan Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and Afghani Gul Rahman.