A DECLASSIFIED DoD Inspector General’s report obtained by Truth-Out titled “Investigation of Allegations of the Use of Mind-Altering Drugs to Facilitate Interrogations of Detainees” reveals information for the first time about interrogations at Guantanamo. The impetus of the investigations and Truth-Out’s FOIA request was a Washington Post article in 2008. An excerpt from that story:
Former U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged using sedatives to subdue some terrorism suspects as they were being transported from one facility to another, but likewise insist that drugs were never used as interrogation tools. “Any suggestion that the agency’s enhanced interrogation techniques included the administration of drugs is simply wrong,” said a senior intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing secrecy concerns.
Several former military and intelligence officials familiar with the detention program said they were unaware of any systematic use of drugs to manipulate behavior. Alberto J. Mora, a former Navy general counsel who opposed the Bush administration’s decision to use aggressive interrogation tactics, said he recalled no discussions about the use of drugs.
But Mora said he understood why some detainees are concerned. “They knew they were being injected with something, and it is clear from all accounts that some suffered severe psychological damage,” Mora said.
It’s important to emphasize that the Post‘s reporting came in April 2008, while Pres. George W. Bush was still in office. Barack Obama had campaigned on closing Gitmo, but it became politically untenable as far as the White House was concerned. At the time Pres. Obama was sworn in, a Democratic Congress had the power to investigate the situation and the Bush administration’s policies. For political reasons, which was stated often, Democrats, led by the newly elected Pres. Obama, chose to look forward, not backward, instead of doing their jobs, which was to investigate allegations that under the Bush administration the United States had engaged in wholly unethical treatment of detainees, holding those responsible accountable no matter where the truth would lead. Read Scott Horton’s investigative reports from 2010 if you need reminding what went on under Pres. Bush’s watch, which Democrats chose to ignore.
The now declassified DoD report found “no evidence that the DoD authorized the use of mind-altering drugs to facilitate interrogation,” however, the opposing reality is that they “note that some detainees received ongoing medication with psychoactive drugs (for treatment of diagnosed medical conditions) which could impair an individual’s ability to provide accurate information.” The report also states that some who were receiving these drugs were interrogated.
The use of language is a form of art.
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.”
image via Shutterstock