Two former Air Force psychologists who helped design the CIA‘s enhanced interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects acknowledge using waterboarding and other harsh tactics but deny allegations of torture and war crimes leveled by a civil liberties group, according to new court records.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued James E. Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen of Washington state last October on behalf of three former CIA prisoners, including one who died, creating a closely watched case that will likely include classified information.

In response, the pair’s attorneys filed documents this week in which Mitchell and Jessen acknowledge using waterboarding, loud music, confinement, slapping and other harsh methods but refute that they were torture.

“Defendants deny that they committed torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, non-consensual human experimentation and/or war crimes,” their lawyers wrote, asking a federal judge in Spokane to throw out the lawsuit and award them court costs.

The records don’t say why Mitchell and Jessen don’t consider the techniques to be torture. They declined to respond to many of the ACLU’s allegations, saying much of the information is classified.

“This is historic,” ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said Wednesday, whose group also has sued the CIA and its former Director George Tenet over a program that has since been discontinued and widely discredited. “Until now, no one responsible for the CIA torture program has ever been forced to admit their actions in court.”

Read more at Stars and Stripes

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