Julian Borger in Washington
Wed 14 Nov 2018 00.37 GMT
CIA doctors considered using a “truth serum” on suspected terrorists in detention after waterboarding appeared to be ineffective and traumatic for US personnel who witnessed it, according to newly declassified documents.
The proposal to use the drug in a programme codenamed “Project Medication” was revealed in a 90-page report by a senior CIA medical officer, which was released on a judge’s order to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), after a prolonged legal battle. The ACLU published the report by the unnamed officer on Tuesday.
The idea of using drugs on US captives in the “war on terror” was recommended as “probably worth a try” by the CIA’s office of medical services but dropped after the agency’s counter-terrorism centre decided not to ask the Department of Justice in George W Bush’s administration for a legal ruling. The department had previously provided legal memos justifying the use of torture like waterboarding and confinement in small boxes.
The CIA report, which reviews the medical office’s participation in detainee operations from 2002 to 2007, shows that the agency’s medical staff played a key role in interrogations in the days after the 9/11 attacks.
They took part in over 120 rendition flights, taking prisoners to secret CIA detention centres. They helped keep inmates alive and provided the appearance of medical rectitude. The CIA report notes that its doctors were “indispensable” to the effort of “legitimising the programme”.
In the case of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaida mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks who was waterboarded 140 times, the CIA medical officer said that the torture, which simulates the experience of drowning, “provided periodic relief from his standing sleep deprivation”.
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