By Jeff Stein
CQ National Security Editor
April 4, 2008
There can be little doubt now that the government has used drugs on terrorist suspects that are designed to weaken their resistance to interrogation. All that’s missing is the syringes and videotapes.
Another window opened on the practice last week with the declassification of John Yoo’s instantly infamous 2003 memo approving harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects.
Yoo advised top Bush administration officials that interrogators could employ mind-altering drugs if they did not produce “an extreme effect” calculated to “cause a profound disruption of the senses or personality.”
Yoo had first rationalized the use of drugs in a 2002 memo for top Bush administration officials.
But this latest revelation shows Yoo reiterating conditions on the use of drugs a year later, despite the rising resistance to harsh interrogation techniques by military lawyers and the FBI.
“The new Yoo memo, along with other White House legal memoranda, shows clearly that the policy foundation for the use of interrogational drugs was being laid,” says Stephen Miles, a University of Minnesota bioethicist and author of “Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror.” “The recent memo on mood-altering drugs does not extend previous work on this area,” he said. “The use of these drugs was anticipated and discussed in the memos of January and February 2002 by DoD, DoJ, and White House counsel using the same language and rationale. The executive branch memos laid a comprehensive and reiterated policy foundation for the use of interrogational drugs.”
“Yes, I believe they have been used,” Jeffrey S. Kaye, a clinical psychologist who works with torture victims at Survivors International in San Francisco, told me.
“I came across some evidence that they were using mind-altering drugs, to regress the prisoners, to ascertain if they were using deception techniques, to break them down,” said Kaye.
Yet the situation remains unclear.
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