Suspicions grow that drugs were used in detainee interrogations
Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday April 22, 2008

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The Washington Post charged on Tuesday that detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been injected with drugs in the course of their interrogation. "At least two dozen other former and current detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere say they were given drugs against their will or witnessed other inmates being drugged, based on interviews and court documents," the Post reports.

The CIA and the Defense Department have denied using drugs in interrogations and suggest that the detainees' stories "are either fabrications or mistaken interpretations of routine medical treatment."

However, a newly-released memo written by Justice Department lawyer John Yoo in 2003, which argued that nothing in U.S. law limits what the president can order done to prisoners in time of war, also suggested that drugs could be used on prisoners as long as they did not cause permanent psychological damage. Even with that restriction, such a practice would likely be in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

The Post points out that "the interrogation memo was considered a binding opinion for nine months until December 2003, when OLC chief Jack Goldsmith told the Defense Department to ignore the document's analysis."

According to Congressional Quarterly, the use of drugs on detainees was anticipated by the administration as early as January 2002 and was first rationalized by Yoo in a 2002 memo for top administration officials. The justification was further elaborated by Yoo in his 2003 memo due to "the rising resistance to harsh interrogation techniques by military lawyers and the FBI."

The detainee claims cited by the Post have been widely circulated for several years, although they have been less publicized within the United States.

When four British subjects were released from Guantanamo in 2005, one of them claimed that "he was repeatedly injected with an unknown substance that triggered psychosis."

Another British detainee told a television interviewer after his release in 2004 that "many detainees were given regular injections, after which 'they would just sit there like in a daze and sometimes you would see them shaking'" and that "he was beaten and put in isolation because he refused injections and was sometimes forcibly given unidentified drugs."

A Moroccan detainee released in 2004 also claimed he was given forcible injections, and Jose Padilla's lawyer has asserted that his client was given drugs against his will, possibly LSD or PCP. However, no charges of this nature have ever been proven.