Monday, July 30, 2012

"Ombra di Nube"

A devotee of Claudio Muzio (1889-1936 ) posted this video of Muzio singing the rarely recorded but hauntingly beautiful "Ombra di Nube" by the Italian verismo composer (and priest) Licinio Refice (1885-1954).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

UK Judge OKs Wikileaks Cables in Chagos Islanders' Investigation

The other day, Marcy Wheeler took Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to task for upholding "the government’s right to withhold cables already released via WikiLeaks under FOIA." She quotes the judge's ruling in the ACLU lawsuit to obtain via FOIA the State Department cables released by Wikileaks (and for which Bradley Manning has falsely been indicted for espionage):
"No matter how extensive, the WikiLeaks disclosure is no substitute for an official acknowledgement and the ACLU has not shown that the Executive has officially acknowledged that the specific information at issue was a part of the WikiLeaks disclosure."
Wheeler has been following the case for some time, noting how the government is withholding already publicly released (but not officially released!) documents that point to the government's torture cover-up, not to mention "admissions of crime, including murder, torture, and kidnapping."

What I wanted to point out is a recent news article which shows how different is Judge Kollar-Kotelly's ruling from that of UK High Justice Stanley Burton. Burton, according to a Press Association (PA) article published July 25 at Huffington Post, in a ruling regarding claims by expelled Chagos Islanders against the UK government, specifically allowed the use of Wikileaks cables by the claimants. The expulsion was, as I pointed out in an article on the subject some months back, to allow for the presence of the huge U.S. Diego Garcia naval base (where prisoners have reported to have been disappeared or tortured).

PA reported the situation:
They say their case is supported by a cable obtained by WikiLeaks, sent by the US embassy in London to the US State Department in Washington in May 2009....

The judge said: "I understand why it is the policy of HM Government neither to confirm nor deny the genuineness of leaked documents, save in exceptional circumstances, particularly where, as here, the documents in question are not those produced or received by the UK Government.

"However, the documents have been leaked and indeed widely published.

He ruled: "I do not see how the present claim can be fairly or justly determined without resolving the allegation made by the claimant, based on the WikiLeaks documents."
I hope ACLU will add this fact to any appeal they make in their FOIA. But the larger issue is how craven the U.S. judiciary has become after ten years of heightened "war against terror," having lost all common sense in the drive to protect U.S. power, no matter how brutally applied.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Help Bring Anti-Torture Documentary "Doctors of the Dark Side" to DVD!

Psychologist and documentary film maker Martha Davis is making a new push to get her important film, "Doctors of the Dark Side," which is about the collaboration of doctors and psychologists with the US torture program, out on DVD. This is an important step towards getting wider distribution as a whole.

Davis, along with actress Mercedes Ruehl (who narrates the film) and Physicians for Human Rights' Anti-torture Program Director Kristine Huskey, have filmed a video appeal for funds. Watch the appeal and then make a tax-deductible donation:

From the film's website, where you can also watch a film trailer:
Doctors of the Dark Side exposes the scandal behind the torture scandal — how psychologists and physicians implemented and covered up the torture of detainees in US controlled military prisons. The stories of four detainees and the doctors involved in their abuse show how essential doctors have been to the torture program. Director Martha Davis (Interrogation Psychologists) spent four years investigating the controversy and produced the documentary with an award-winning team that includes Oscar-winners Mark Jonathan Harris (Writer) and Mercedes Ruehl (Narrator), and Emmy-winner Lisa Rinzler (Director of Photography). Editor M. Trevino (Hidden Battles) led the post-production team of the feature length documentary. The Executive Producers are Thea Kerman and Sergio Rothstein.
(Full disclosure: I was interviewed and appear briefly twice in the movie, as my reporting on some of these issues has contributed to exposures about the depth and breadth of psychologist and physician collaboration with the CIA and Department of Defense torture programs. -- Even so, I heartily recommend this film because I believe it to be an important contribution to the campaign to fully expose the torture scandal, and to also be an important work of documentary cinema.)

The Emotional Cost of the Struggle for Existence

Charles Darwin famously linked the biological fact of diversity in characteristics (we now know recognize as genetic diversity) with the pressures he collectively called, following the nomenclature of his time, as the "struggle for existence." The latter acted like a wedging device, shoving out from the world stage those characteristics of organisms that were less likely to reproduce and therefore hand down their own particular variants to the next generation.

His cousin, Francis Galton, popularized all this with the term "survival of the fittest."We know the theory by the name Darwin gave it: Natural Selection.

In his book On the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote that these biological facts would have great impact upon the burgeoning science of psychology, and indeed it did. Today, behaviorists, evolutionary psychologists, psychoanalysts, and others have claimed the mantle of Darwin's evolutionary thinking for their own particular field of academic or clinical endeavor.

But while the fact of evolution is scientifically accepted, and Darwin's own selectivist theories are fine-tuned and assimilated to the world of modern genetics, overlooked is his emphasis on the "struggle for existence." It is my contention here that this struggle for existence is in fact an omnipresent influence on our patients and on ourselves, and recognition of this fact is important in treating numerous mental ailments, including stress, anxiety, depression, hyposexual desire, and PTSD, among others.

The "struggle for existence" takes on many forms. For Darwin, it was primarily the competition between organisms for supremacy. It could take on many forms, from the classic predator-prey relationship, to the existence of parasitic forms of life, and even, counter-intuitively, the altruistic forms of cooperation, in which helping others becomes a form of helping oneself.

In fact, in his book The Descent of Man, Darwin explicitly rooted the sociability of human beings in the sociability of earlier forms of anthropoid and mammalian life. In doing so, he rejected the ideas of "social Darwinism," and believed that helping others was a key evolutionarily-derived part of human nature.

Nevertheless, it was also clear to Darwin that the struggle for existence in it more cruel aspects took a great toll on humanity. Microscopic organisms caused disease, whose fatal victims were drawn from the weaker parts of human society: the physically debilitated, the old, the very young. (He lost a very loved daughter himself when she succumbed to illness at age ten.)

Today, the struggle for existence takes many forms, including the competition for livelihoods, the warring of ethnic clans and groups in various societies, as well as the classic ongoing struggle against bacteria, viruses, and environmental disasters (earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, etc.).

As a working psychologist, I am aware of how the ever-existing pressure of these forces, collectively, the struggle for existence, affects my patients. This is true even when I work with couples, as it is a given that one very important aspect of the relationship, most often unstated, is how one's partner is helping one with what perceives are the pains and difficulties of life. Often it is a perceived failure of the other partner to alleviate one's own suffering, or satisfy basic needs that causes trouble in the relationship (usually because the couple hasn't found a neutral, non-blaming way of discussing such problems).

For the individual, fear of being found to be "weak," or a "failure" is a haunting constant in one's life, powerfully affecting self-esteem, and through that, one's sense of general well-being and health. Indeed, often the pressures of life are first felt somatically, with the body finely attuned to stress, and breaking down or showing symptoms in relation to such stress.

The emotional cost of the struggle for existence is too hard to bear for some, and for them suicide can seem like a way out. Tragically, that is a choice thousands in our society make every year. We cannot deny this social fact.

What we can do is be there to help our fellows. As therapists, we often provide the sole, or nearly the sole source of emotional support for the struggling patient. We provide through our respect for the struggle of our clients the necessary therapeutic environment for them to heal, to grow, to find new sources of support, and to find their own creative way to copy with their own unique blend of conflicts, struggles, victories and defeats.

It's a noble and rewarding task to take on the very struggle that is existence and the human condition, and in my practice over the years I have learned a great deal about the dignity of such struggle, whose value lies not in success or failure, but in a mutual recognition of what all human beings, indeed all living beings endure, and how in spirit they prevail

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Alyona Show Interviews Jason Leopold on DoD Drugging of Detainees

Alyona Mikovski at RT TV interviewed Jason Leopold, co-author of our July 11 Truthout article, DoD Report Reveals Some Detainees Interrogated While Drugged, Others "Chemically Restrained.

The Truthout article was noted by numerous news outlets, including Associated Press, the UK Daily Mail, and Wired Magazine. Kevin Gosztola also interviewed me about what the Inspector General report, "Investigation of Allegations of the Use of Mind-Altering Drugs to Facilitate Interrogations of Detainees" (PDF), was really all about.

If you're not done wanting to know more about the IG report and the whole issue of drugging the "war on terror" detainees, you might also want to listen to Scott Horton at The Scott Horton Show interview Jason on the latest revelations.

For more penetrating, original commentary on the IG report and the drugging issue in general, see Andy Worthington and Marcy Wheeler's recent blog postings.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

DoD Report Reveals Some Detainees Interrogated While Drugged, Others "Chemically Restrained"

Reposted with permission from Truthout

by Jeffrey Kaye and Jason Leopold
Original date of publication, July 11, 2012

Detainees in custody of the US military were interrogated while drugged with powerful antipsychotic and other medications that "could impair an individual's ability to provide accurate information," according to a declassified Department of Defense (DoD) inspector general's report that probed the alleged use of "mind altering drugs" during interrogations.

In addition, detainees were subjected to "chemical restraints," hydrated with intravenous (IV) fluids while they were being interrogated and, in what appears to be a form of psychological manipulation, the inspector general's probe confirmed at least one detainee - convicted "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla - was the subject of a "deliberate ruse" in which his interrogator led him to believe he was given an injection of "truth serum."

Truthout obtained a copy of the report - "Investigation of Allegations of the Use of Mind-Altering Drugs to Facilitate Interrogations of Detainees" - prepared by the DoD's deputy inspector general for intelligence in September 2009, under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request we filed nearly two years ago.

Over the past decade, dozens of current and former detainees and their civilian and military attorneys have alleged in news reports and in court documents that prisoners held by the US government in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan were forcibly injected with unknown medications and pills during or immediately prior to marathon interrogation sessions in an attempt to compel them to confess to terrorist-related crimes of which they were accused.

The inspector general's investigation was unable to substantiate any of the allegations by current and former detainees that, as a matter of government policy, they were given mind-altering drugs "to facilitate interrogation."

But the watchdog's report provides startling new details about the treatment of detainees by US military personnel. For example, the report concludes, "certain detainees, diagnosed as having serious mental health conditions being treated with psychoactive medications on a continuing basis, were interrogated."

Leonard Rubenstein, a medical ethicist at Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights and the former president of Physicians for Human Rights, said, "this practice adds another layer of cruelty to the operations at Guantanamo."

"The inspector general's report confirms that detainees whose mental deterioration and suffering was so great as to lead to psychosis and attempts at self-harm were given anti-psychotic medication and subjected to further interrogation," said Rubenstein, who reviewed a copy of the report for Truthout. "The problem is not simply what the report implies, that good information is unlikely to be obtained when someone shows psychotic symptoms, but the continued use of highly abusive interrogation methods against men who are suffering from grave mental deterioration that may have been caused by those very same methods."

Shayana Kadidal, the senior managing atty of the Guantanamo Project at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the report, which he also reviewed, "reinforces that the interrogation system at Guantanamo was a brutal system."

"One of the things that struck me after reading this," Kadidal said, "is under the system set up by the [US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia], any statements detainees made during these interrogations would be presumed accurate even if detainees took medication that could produce unreliable information."

"The burden ends up falling upon the detainee to prove what was said wasn't accurate if they were challenging their detention" in habeas corpus proceedings, Kadidal added.

Explaining the rationale behind forcibly drugging detainees, the former commander of the Joint Medical Group at Guantanamo said, "some detainees were involuntarily medicated to help control serious mental illnesses," according to the report, which added that an ethics committee approved of such plans.

"For example, one detainee had a piece of shrapnel in his brain which resulted in control problems and a limited ability to provide effective consent," the report said.

The detainee with the shrapnel injury may be Abu Zubaydah. In 1992, Zubaydah had suffered a shrapnel wound to the head while fighting on the front lines of a civil war in Afghanistan. Brent Mickum, Zubaydah's habeas attorney, said the high-value detainee has been routinely overdosed with Haldol, the only drug the inspector general identified that was used on certain detainees.

But the report suggests detainees were often not told what types of drugs they were given when they asked or for what purpose it was administered.

Brandon Neely, a former Guantanamo guard who was at the prison facility the day it opened in January 2002, told Truthout, "medics never informed the detainees what the medication was."

"The medics walked around with little white cups that had pills in it a couple of times a day," said Neely, who sometimes accompanied the medics when they distributed the medication. He added that if detainees refused to take it an "Immediate Reaction Force" team, who guards would call to deal with resistant or combative detainees, would administer the medication to prisoners by force.

Rubenstein said the failure to inform prisoners what drugs they were given means "some basic principles of medical ethics were cast aside, especially those requiring a doctor to explain his or her recommendation and seek consent for it as an affirmation of the dignity and autonomy of the patient."
"Even where consent is not forthcoming and involuntary medication is allowed after voluntary medication is not accepted, it should never take place unless this process is followed," Rubenstein said.

The cumulative effects of indefinite detention, interrogations, use of drugs, and other conditions of confinement also appear to have taken a toll on the detainees' mental state and impacted the DoD watchdog's ability to conduct a thorough investigation.

Indeed, when the inspector general sought to interview the attorney representing one detainee who claimed he was given mind-altering drugs during interrogations, the attorney responded, "at this state of his incarceration, [redacted] memory is severely compromised and, unfortunately, we are skeptical that he can provide you with any further details ..."

The investigation also found instances where "chemical restraints" were used on detainees "that posed a threat to themselves or others," which Rubenstein said, "is contrary to US Bureau of Prison regulations, decisions of the US Supreme Court and to medical ethics principles that forbid subordinating the patient's medical interests to prison security."

Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Defense Department spokesman, said, "as a matter of long-standing department policy," he could not comment on whether "chemical restraints" continue to be part of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), also known as Tactics, Techniques, Procedures (TTPs), at Guantanamo and other prisons operated by the DoD because "doing so might not only compromise security but [the SOPs] are 'living' documents, subject to regular change and updating."

Media Report Sparked Probe

The inspector general's yearlong probe was launched in June 2008, two months after the publication of a Washington Post report in which some detainees claimed they were forcibly drugged and coerced into making confessions.

One of the detainees at the center of The Washington Post report, Adel al-Nusairi, a former Saudi policeman who was imprisoned at Guantanamo from 2002 to 2005, is prominently featured in the inspector general's report and identified as "IG-02."

According to his attorney's notes cited in The Washington Post, al-Nusairi claimed he was injected with an unknown medication that made him extremely sleepy just before he was interrogated in 2002. When his captors awakened him, he fabricated a confession for US interrogators in hopes they would leave him alone so he could sleep.

"I was completely gone," al-Nusairi told his attorney, Anant Raut. "I said, 'Let me go. I want to go to sleep. If it takes saying I'm a member of al-Qaeda, I will.'"

The inspector general's review of al-Nusairi's medical records showed he was diagnosed as "schizophrenic and psychotic with borderline personality disorder" and injected with Haldol, a powerful antipsychotic medication, whose side effects include lethargy, tremors, anxiety, mood changes and "an inability to remain motionless," according to the watchdog's report.

Haldol can also cause the usually irreversible movement disorder known as tardive dyskinesia. But the inspector general did not say that in his report. The inspector general noted al-Nusairi had told his interrogators he was being forced to take monthly injections that he no longer wanted to receive. The report said "uncooperative" detainees were sometimes forcibly injected with psychoactive medications.

But the investigation concluded there was "no evidence that [al-Nusairi] was administered shots during interrogation."

Despite his diagnosis and the unreliability of the information he provided to his interrogators due to the effects of the antipsychotic medication, al-Nusairi was declared an enemy combatant after he confessed to being a member of al-Qaeda and imprisoned at Guantanamo for three more years before finally being repatriated to Saudi Arabia.

"I think any rational person would agree that confessions of terrorism while under the influence of mind-altering drugs are about credible as professions of love while under the influence of alcohol," Raut, al-Nusairi's attorney, told Truthout.

Two days after The Washington Post story was published, then-Sen. Joe Biden, who at the time was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; and Sen. Chuck Hagel, a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to DoD Inspector General Claude Kicklighter urging him to investigate the detainees' allegations and to focus solely on whether the Department of Defense and its sub-agencies issued written and/or oral policy authorizing the use of "mind-altering drugs to facilitate interrogations."

The CIA's inspector general also conducted an investigation at the request of the Democratic lawmakers into the claims about the use of mind-altering drugs pertaining to detainees in custody of the agency. That report, which Truthout is also seeking under the FOIA, remains classified.

Investigative Gaps

The inspector general reviewed Department of Defense interrogation policy from 2001 through 2008 and interviewed more than 70 military intelligence and medical officials who had oversight of detainee operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. Top military intelligence officials interviewed by the inspector general said they were "unaware" of any special access "black" program, policies, direction or order authorizing the use of drugs as an interrogation tactic or to "facilitate interrogations."

The watchdog also looked at classified and open-source documents, including detainees' medical records and 1,620 interrogation plans covering 411 detainees between August 2002 and January 2005.

"No interrogation plans were noted which mentioned drugging, medicating, or threatening to drug or medicate a detainee to facilitate interrogation," according to the report, which added that a separate review of detainees' medical records documenting their "physical and psychological care and treatment" did not turn up any evidence "of mind-altering drugs being administered for the purposes of interrogation."

"The 'headline' here is that there's no evidence of any organized, systematic [Department of Defense] effort to use drugs for interrogation purposes," said Gregg Bloche, the author of "The Hippocratic Myth" and a health policy expert and professor of law at Georgetown University who also reviewed the inspector general's report for Truthout. "Can isolated cases of drug use for interrogation purposes be absolutely ruled out? No - as the report acknowledges, there are gaps in evidence available to the [inspector general]. But if there were such cases, they were likely few and far between."

But it appears that the probe did not scrutinize other documents, such as a second set of detainee medical records maintained by the Behavioral Science Consultant Teams or BSCTs that may have contained information relevant to the inspector general's investigation into the use of mind-altering drugs during interrogations.

The BSCTs were made up of psychologists and other mental health technicians and, at one time, psychiatrists. The BSCTs work closely with interrogators in crafting interrogation plans based on the psychological assessments of a detainee's weaknesses. The BSCT psychiatrists and at least one psychologist who passed a special Defense Department psychopharmacology program were able to administer drugs, at least in principle.

Human rights activists have long believed the Defense Department controlled a second set of detainee medical records, but evidence never surfaced to support the suspicions.

However, Truthout has uncovered previously unreported testimony from Army Surgeon General Kevin Kiley's 2005 report on detainee medical operations in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan (pg. 18-13) that confirms the suggestion.

Kiley indicated that, while BSCTs were not medical personnel and "did not document the medical condition of detainees in the medical record," they "did keep a restricted database which provided medical information on detainees."

Rubenstein added, "if drugs were used those BSCT records should be consulted."

Jose Padilla and "A Deliberate Ruse"

The report also delves into the area of so-called "truth" drugs, which are administered for their presumed mind-altering effects.

Since the start of the "war on terror," intelligence officials have publicly said drugs like sodium pentothal should be introduced in interrogations as a way of getting "uncooperative" detainees to talk.

"We ought to look at what options are out there," former FBI and CIA Director William Webster told reporters in 2002.

The inspector general's report pointed to instances in which top military officials had considered introducing "truth" drugs during interrogations. The watchdog cited an October 2, 2002 meeting of Guantanamo interrogation command and legal staff where the use of "truth serum" on detainees was discussed as having a "placebo effect."

George Bimmerle discussed the use of placebos as ersatz "truth drugs" in a classic 1961 CIA text titled "'Truth' Drugs in Interrogation." Bimmerle wrote that placebos are "most likely to be effective in situations of stress." The drugs are described as acting upon "a subject's sense of guilt," absolving a prisoner under interrogation of responsibility for giving up information, because it is assumed the effect of the drug was to blame.

Interrogators utilized the "placebo effect" when they questioned convicted terrorist Jose Padilla, a US citizen who was arrested in May 2002 on suspicion of plotting to build and detonate a dirty bomb and held as an enemy combatant at the US Naval Brig in South Carolina.

Padilla's federal public defender, Michael Caruso, in a 2006 federal court filing, claimed Padilla was "given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations."

Sanford Seymour, the technical director of the US Naval brig in South Carolina where Padilla was held, however, vehemently denied the charge during a 2006 hearing to determine whether Padilla, a US citizen, was competent to stand trial. Seymour asserted Padilla was injected with an influenza vaccine.

But what Seymour failed to disclose, reported here for the first time, was that Padilla was given the flu shot during an interrogation session and told by his interrogators the injection was "truth serum."

The inspector general's probe determined "the incorporation of a routine flu shot into an interrogation session ... was a deliberate ruse by the interrogation team, intended to convince [redacted, Padilla] he had been administered a mind-altering drug," such as LSD.

Investigators from the inspector general's office reached that conclusion after a visit to the Naval Brig where they reviewed records and interviewed Brig officials about Padilla's claims.

Padilla's name is redacted from the report, but it's clear, based on the detailed descriptions of the allegations, the inspector general is referring to him. The report says the FBI and Joint Task Force 170, the "predecessor organization" of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, interrogated Padilla from June 2002 through October 2002. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) took over his interrogations from October 2002 through March 2003 at which point the FBI and DIA jointly conducted the interrogations.

The inspector general's office also viewed some of Padilla's interrogation videotapes where Padilla "expressed concern about the possible use of drugs to induce him to cooperate with the interrogators."

"The most detailed discussion of truth serum occurred on November 14, 2002, after [redacted] declined to take a polygraph examination," according to the inspector general's report. "The interrogation video recording depicts that following the polygraph declination, [redacted] and the interrogator had a discussion of other techniques which could be used to verify [redacted] statements. Among the techniques described by the interrogator was the use of a 'truth serum.'"

At the end of the tape, according to the inspector general, the interrogator told Padilla, "There is no such thing as a 'truth serum.'" But the initial suggestion apparently affected the detainee when he was given a flu shot during his interrogation session about three weeks later. Padilla asked his interrogator why he was given a shot.

"It was necessary," the interrogator said, "and proceeded to ask [redacted] what kind of shot he received."

Padilla said he was told it was a flu shot, but as the interrogation wore on he said he did not feel well and asked, "what did you shoot me with? Did you shoot me with serum?"
Bloche, the health policy expert and Georgetown University law professor, said the ruse interrogators pulled on Padilla "sounds like a juvenile prank."

"But it's a serious breach of medical ethics," Bloche said. "It undermines trust in military physicians and it's an unfair insult to the integrity of the vast majority of military doctors, who quite rightly believe that this sort of thing is contrary to their professional obligation."

The inspector general rebuked a government agency - possibly the DIA or FBI - involved in Padilla's interrogation for failing "to follow legal review procedures" established by US Joint Forces Command.

Padilla was convicted of terrorism support charges in 2007. Recently, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal Padilla filed against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials. The high court let stand an appeals court ruling, which dismissed Padilla's complaint related to his treatment at the Naval Brig. Caruso, Padilla's federal public defender, did not return messages left at his Miami office for comment about the inspector general's conclusions.

But just a few months after the deception on Padilla, according to the inspector general's probe, an unnamed DIA "representative" came up with a list of 40 techniques at the request of a Pentagon "working group" overseen by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that met between January and April 2003 to discuss interrogation methods to use on detainees captured in the global war on terror.

The "DIA representative" was identified in a declassified 2009 Senate Armed Services Committee report that probed the treatment of detainees in custody of the US military as Dave Becker, the Interrogation Control Element (ICE) Chief at Guantanamo. Becker recommended to the "working group" the use of drugs, "such as sodium pentothal and Demerol," which was number 40 on the list of interrogation methods presented to the "working group." Becker said those drugs "could prove to be effective" and "relaxes detainee to a cooperative state."

When Senate Armed Services Committee investigators interviewed him about the list of interrogation techniques, Becker said he had recommended the "use of drugs" to Rumsfeld's panel because he'd heard "a rumor" that another agency "had used drugs in their interrogation program."

The inspector general's report went on to say the working group ultimately rejected the use of drugs. But the report failed to mention an important document: a March 2003 legal opinion sent to Pentgaon general counsel William "Jim" Haynes by Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel attorney John Yoo, which said drugs could be used in interrogations as long as they did not "disrupt profoundly the senses or personality." Yoo's memo was cited in the senators' letter to the inspector general calling for the investigation. It's unclear why it was not mentioned in the watchdog's report.

The investigation also reviewed published reports prepared by the US government and human rights organizations revolving around the treatment of detainees in US custody. One report scrutinized was Kiley's 2005 US Army surgeon general report on detainee medical operations in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan, which said a doctor refused "to provide cough syrup as a 'truth drug'" to an Iraqi detainee. The inspector general interviewed this doctor, who indicated the request, which he turned down as unethical, came from his "brigade S-2 (Intelligence Officer)."

The surgeon general's report also said a licensed practical nurse saw "sedatives (ativan, diazepam, etc.) being used by medical personnel to calm a [Iraqi] detainee so that the detainee would talk more."

According to the DoD inspector general's investigation, after the watchdog attempted to obtain a sworn statement from the nurse, identified in its report as a "non-commissioned officer," about the use of sedatives on detainees, the nurse "elected to make a corrective statement" to what he had claimed three years earlier.

"Sedatives were only given to patient detainees to alleviate pain," the nurse's statement now says.

"They Said It Was Some Candy"

The inspector general's office also received permission from the deputy secretary of defense to interview three detainees in January 2009 about their claims of being forcibly drugged during interrogations. An attorney for one of the detainees declined the interview request. The inspector general did not attempt to interview detainees who claimed they were administered mind-altering drugs during interrogations and have since been repatriated.

The names of the two detainees interviewed are redacted in the report.

The detainee told the inspector general after he was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, by Pakistanis in September 2002 where he held for three days he was transferred to the "Prison of Darkness," in Kabul, Afghanistan for 40 days. He was then sent to the US prison base at Bagram for about a week and then shipped off to Guantanamo.

"[Redacted] stated that during an interrogation at Bagram he was given pills; green and red ones," according to statements the detainee gave the inspector general in April 2009. "After I ate like three of them, my tongue started getting heavier. After that, I woke up and they (interrogators) said thank you very much, we've got what we need. After I ate the stuff, it was like a state of delusion ... it took like three-four days to (feel normal again). I was not normal until I came to Cuba and then I started to feel my mind back. It was a state of delusion. Like everything was a dream. My sensation was not great."

The inspector general asked the detainee if he was told what the pills were.

"At the time they said it was some candy. And I was so hungry so I ate it," the detainee said.

The inspector general then asked the detainee if it was possible what he had experienced at the "Prison of Darkness" was due to exhaustion.

"I don't remember exactly," the detainee said. "If you saw my condition in the Prison of Darkness after 40 days of being tortured and having to stand all the time at Bagram. Those were things consuming my mind at the time ... when I start to remember that, I get somewhat upset, because it was a terrible event in my life. When you had been standing for three-four days in a row, I was so tired, I was exhausted. I can't describe those sensations."

Interrogators who questioned the detainee were interviewed by the inspector general's office. They did not remember the detainee "as each had interrogated over 100 persons during their respected assignments." They denied giving detainees drugs or medication for "interrogation purposes" and never witnessed other military personnel administer detainees drugs. The interrogators said, however, they "frequently gave the detainees food and candy to reward or encourage them to talk," such as "Fruit Loops," "Jolly Ranchers," "cookies," "suckers," and "Taffy's."

"Based on the statements provided by the interrogators and lacking any evidence of drugging, we concluded that we could not substantiate [redacted] allegation," the inspector general's probe concluded.

The inspector general also interviewed a detainee who was captured in Faisalabad, Pakistan, in March 2002 and claimed after he was transferred to Guantanamo that summer an interrogator told him "he would give me something that will make me talk."

However, the watchdog was unable "to correlate this information with records and documents pertaining to [the detainee's] interrogations."

Responding to the completion of the investigation in August 2009, J. Alan Liotta, the principal director in the office of detainee policy, warned in a letter to the inspector general signing off on the document, "The release of this report is likely to generate media attention."

"Please keep our office informed as to when it will be released and efforts to craft talking points regarding the release," Liotta wrote, signing off on the report.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Search for Info/News on Torture

Google Custom Search
Add to Google ">View blog reactions

This site can contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my effort to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.