The world is full of ironies. The designers of the CIA's torture programme, the psychologists James Mitchell and John Jensen, have cited the supply of poison gas to the Nazis for the murdering of millions of people as their defence against criminal liability for the torturing. I could not make this up.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the CIA hired Messrs Mitchell and Jensen to design a torture programme. The psychologists were paid over eighty million dollars. They developed the techniques. They personally carried out torture and they oversaw the torture of others.
Today, a judge in a Washington court, is being regaled by the defence lawyers with the argument that Mitchell and Jensen cannot be held responsible because they were merely fulfilling a contractual obligation. The defence's explicit reference to the Nuremburg Tribunal is a monumental own goal, as it can only remind the judge of the Germans' defence of merely following orders - a defence that did not work. In fact, it gets even worse, for the owner and senior manager of the poison gas factory were found guilty.
Mitchell and Jensen and their lawyers appear to think that making money is a defence. If it is, someone ought to have told the mafia. But, of course, making money is no defence against illegal acts and torture is illegal.
So far none of the people who ordered and authorised and organised and implemented the torture programme have been held accountable, even though US law requires the prosecution of torturers. However, the current suit is different in that it has been brought by victims, who are seeking civil redress.
Later today, we should all know whether Mitchell and Jensen are to be at last held legally accountable.