Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Over 20 people say they were given drugs or witnessed such acts during interrogations by US authorities at the Guantanamo prison, USA Today reported Tuesday.

"I felt a shot and then was very sleepy, I was completely gone. I said, Let me go. I want to go to sleep. If it takes saying I'm a member of al-Qaeda, I will," said Saudi Arabian Adel al-Nusairi, a former prisoner at the facility in Cuban territory against the will of the people and authorities.

According to Al-Nusairi, after hours of questions and under the effects of some substance, he decided to talk to please his captors.

Other former detainees at Guantanamo and secret jails worldwide narrated experiences similar to Al-Nusairi's and explained those affected describes symptoms ranging from drowsiness and hallucinations.

The Washington Post says the Defense Department and the CIA, the two agencies responsible for detaining terrorism suspects, both deny using drugs as an enhancement for interrogations, and suggest that the stories from Nusairi and others like him are either fabrications or mistaken interpretations of routine medical treatment.

Yet the allegations have resurfaced because of the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees.

On April 9, ABC News correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburgh broke an exclusive story on World News Tonight that provided new details surrounding how top Bush administration officials signed off on the use of harsh interrogation tactics in the "war on terror."

"Indeed, vice president Dick Cheney, secretary of state Colin Powell, attorney general John Ashcroft, CIA director George Tenet, and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, grouped in the National Security Council's Principals Committee, gave the U.S. military and the CIA a green light to torture suspected al-Qaeda operatives and other "enemy combatants."'

The LA Chronicle points out that in October 2006, lawyers for Jose Padilla, who was found guilty in 2007 of supporting terrorism overseas, claimed in court papers that U.S. authorities gave him "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." Rather than directly denying Padilla's claim, the Defense Department simply claimed that it does not torture and "it has always been our policy to treat all detainees humanely."

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is calling for Congressional and criminal investigations into the allegations.

The use of drugs on detainees would be a clear violation of the Helsinki Declaration and the Nuremberg Code.

Not that Bush Administration stooges gives a hoot about either.

Maybe they would care if they were "detained."

The following is a press release from Physicians for Human Rights.

Allegations of Drugging in US Interrogations

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) urgently called on Congress and the Department of Justice, with the involvement of the FBI, to each immediately investigate allegations by detainees that they were forcibly drugged while in US custody. These claims, reported today by the Washington Post, also raise new and deeply troubling questions about what role health professionals may have played in violating detainees' human rights, domestic and international law, and codes of medical ethics established since World War II. The report claims that forced medication may have been used for a number of purposes including as a chemical restraint, as a facilitator of interrogation, and possibly for therapeutic purposes in the absence of informed consent. Any use in interrogation of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to profoundly disrupt the senses or personality is criminal under US law, including the War Crimes Act and the Anti-Torture Statute.

"The forced medication of detainees without their consent, either for interrogation or as a chemical restraint, is an affront to the very foundations of medical ethics," stated Leonard Rubenstein, President of PHR and a legal expert on scientific and medical ethics [SEE BIO BELOW]. "Even if used for purportedly therapeutic purposes, absent very exceptional circumstances, detainees have a right to consent to modes of treatment, just as others do, and the Department of Defense has indeed recognized this right."

Simultaneous Congressional and criminal investigations are necessary, according to PHR, to determine whether medical expertise and personnel were used to drug detainees for purposes of interrogation, sedate them for transport, and to medicate them without their consent for other non-therapeutic purposes. PHR also called on the Department of Defense to investigate whether military physicians and other health professionals have violated their professional ethical standards and detainee rights, including in denying detainees informed consent for therapeutic use of medication.

"There is no acceptable use for mind-altering drugs in interrogation, so any use of medication to aid in interrogation of detainees in US custody would be experimental. As such, it would be a clear violation of international codes and domestic law in place since the doctors' trials at Nuremberg," said Dr. Scott A. Allen, MD, a medical advisor to PHR and Co-Director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University [SEE BIO BELOW]. "Additionally, use of medication as a restraint is unethical. Even therapeutic use of forced medication under US military regulations is not ethically permissible in the absence of informed consent except for the rarest of cases, such as treatment for a highly infectious disease like tuberculosis."

The Helsinki Declaration and the Nuremberg Code establish standards for the protection of individual rights in human experimentation, which are largely codified in US law. They absolutely prohibit human experimentation without the consent of the subject. These ethical rules, the Nuremberg Code in particular, were created in response to human experiments conducted by German health professionals on prisoners during World War II. The doctors involved in those human rights abuses were later convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Since 2005, PHR has documented the systematic use of psychological torture by the US during its interrogations of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and elsewhere in its groundbreaking report Break Them Down. The organization has repeatedly called for an end to the use of the SERE tactics by US personnel, the dismantling of the Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCT) teams, and a full Congressional investigation of the use of psychological torture by the US Government, among other recommendations. Additionally, PHR has worked to mobilize the health professional community, particularly the professional associations, such as the American Medical Association, to adopt strong ethical prohibitions against direct participation in interrogations.


Leonard S. Rubenstein, JD is the President of PHR, an organization that mobilizes the health professions to advance human rights. He has been a leader in the effort to end health professional involvement and the use of torture in US national security interrogations since the events of 9/11. Additionally, he has written on issues of medical ethics, including illegal medical experimentation, in Apartheid-era South Africa, the US, including past instances of human experimentation by the CIA, and elsewhere. Mr. Rubenstein has conducted human rights investigations throughout the world and has published widely, from academic journals to the op-ed pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times. He has received numerous awards, including the Health Care Hero Award from the Congressional Minority Caucuses.

Scott A. Allen, MD is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Alpert Medical School, Brown University. He is co-founder and co-director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at the Miriam Hospital. He is a former state prison medical director and has experience as a researcher in prison settings. He is the lead medical author of the joint report from Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights First Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality and currently serves as an advisor to PHR.

1 comment:

Linda said...

A man after me own heart! I also got a picture of syringe(s) go take a look on http://freedetainees.org

I also agree that those responsible should be detained! An eye for an eye - in this case anyway. Especially with this bunch of miscreants.

It's also good to see people blogging about this. It's an important issue, one that a lot of Americans would much rather brush under the rug.