CIA Was Fully Aware of Drugs Used to Assist Interrogations - Ex-Pentagon Analyst

© AFP 2023 / Mladen AntonovThis photo reviewed by the US military and made during an escorted visit shows a US naval medic explaining the "feeding chair" procedures at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 9, 2014.
This photo reviewed by the US military and made during an escorted visit shows a US naval medic explaining the feeding chair procedures at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 9, 2014. - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The CIA decided against developing and using "truth" drugs because it had already overloaded the US Department of Justice with too many illegal requests for other activities, retired Department of Defense analyst Karen Kwiatkowski told Sputnik.

"The rationale for not going forward officially with the program was based on the already loaded CIA docket with the Justice Department," Kwiatkowski said. "The CIA didn't want to overwhelm the Justice Department, given its other illegal or controversial requests in the department’s pipeline."

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Shortly after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the CIA weighed using a sedative used to treat anxiety as "possibly worth a try" as a truth serum, newly-unveiled records requested by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed last week.

"One of the drugs mentioned in the CIA report was Midazolam, commonly known as Versed. It's been around since the mid 1970's and is a common and cheap medicine in hospital storerooms. It's functionally a sedative, an anxiety reducer," Kwiatkowski, a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel, pointed out.

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The CIA report mentioned that one of Versed’s possible side effects was memory loss, which was described as a positive, Kwiatkowski noted.

Also, "Versed has been used in the death penalty cocktail in several states, and in surgery as an anesthetic, unsatisfactorily in both applications," she said.

The CIA report indicated that in the past, narco-analysis in general was described as ineffective, but that every once in a while interrogators using it might learn something useful, which may or may not have been the result of the medication, Kwiatkowski commented.

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"The report indicated that two legal restrictions prohibited ‘Operation Medication’ — prohibition of human experimentation on prisoners and prohibition of the use of mind- or sense-altering drugs on prisoners, period," she said.

However, those restrictions did not mean that the drug was not used, or that prisoners were not experimented on with it and other drugs, Kwiatkowski explained.

"It seems as if it wasn't a formal program," she said.

Interrogations utilizing torture such as waterboarding, slamming, humiliation, the use of extreme temperature, sound and vibrations were also unproductive and ultimately embarrassing to the US government, Kwiatkowski acknowledged.

Nevertheless, "They continued to be conducted, and once publicized, defended, finally modified, but rarely ended," she said.

The CIA was fully aware, as its own report emphasized, that use of drugs to facilitate torture and to facilitate interrogations was illegal, and that data gleaned from such use of drugs was inadmissible in court, Kwiatkowski pointed out.

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"Existing law is sufficient to prevent medically enhanced interrogations. However, if its widespread use is discovered (illegal and unsanctioned) and not immediately punished and even accepted and defended by the US Government and Congress, that is exactly how society, and law itself in the United States, is changed," she warned.

The widespread acceptance of the use of narco-analysis or drug enhanced interrogations could alter modern interpretations of the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments of the US Constitution, at the expense of civil and natural rights of anyone unlucky enough to be in a cell without a lawyer present, Kwiatkowski cautioned.

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A rules change by the American Psychological Association in 2015 to bar its members from participating in any way in interrogations and a similar one by the American Medical Association indicated that physicians and psychologists had been assisting medically, including administering a variety of drugs, in government interrogations at least since September 11, Kwiatkowski said.

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