[Ppnews] Detainees recall being injected, then questioned

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 22 12:08:06 EDT 2008

Detainees recall being injected, then questioned

Issue gains attention with release of '03 Justice Dept. memo that OKd 
use of drugs

Joby Warrick, Washington Post

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

(04-22) 04:00 PDT Washington - --

Adel al-Nusairi remembers his first six months at Guantanamo Bay as 
this: hours and hours of questions, but first, a needle.

"I'd fall asleep" after the shot, Nusairi, a former Saudi police 
officer captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002, recalled in 
an interview with his attorney at the military prison in Cuba, 
according to notes. After being roused, Nusairi eventually did talk, 
giving U.S. officials what he later described as a made-up confession 
to buy some peace.

"I was completely gone," he remembered. "I said, 'Let me go. I want 
to go to sleep. If it takes saying I'm a member of al Qaeda, I will.' "

Nusairi, now free in Saudi Arabia, was unable to learn what drugs 
were injected before his interrogations. He is not alone in 
wondering: 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.

Like Nusairi, other detainees believe the injections were intended to 
coerce confessions.

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.

Written to provide legal justification for interrogation practices, 
the memo by then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo rejected a 
decades-old U.S. ban on the use of "mind-altering substances" on 
prisoners. Instead, he argued that drugs could be used as long as 
they did not inflict permanent or "profound" psychological damage. 
U.S. law "does not preclude any and all use of drugs," wrote Yoo, now 
a law professor at UC Berkeley. He declined to comment for this article.

The memo has prompted new calls for the Bush administration to give a 
full accounting of its treatment of detainees, and to make public 
detailed prison medical records. Legal experts and human rights 
groups say that forced drugging of detainees for any nontherapeutic 
reasons would be a particularly grave breach of international 
treaties banning torture.

"The use of drugs as a form of restraint of prisoners is both 
unlawful and unethical," said Leonard Rubenstein, an expert on 
medical ethics and president of Physicians for Human Rights. "These 
allegations demand a full inquiry by Congress and the Department of Justice."

So far, the evidence is limited to the accounts of detainees who 
describe similar episodes in which they were forcibly given drugs and 
experienced unnatural physical effects ranging from extreme 
drowsiness to hallucinations. U.S. military officials have 
acknowledged using only therapeutic drugs, such as vitamins and 
vaccines, on Guantanamo Bay detainees.

"Our policy is, and always has been, to treat detainees humanely," 
said Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman. "The use of 
medication to manipulate a detainee has never been an approved DOD 
interrogation technique."

Former U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged using sedatives 
to subdue some terrorism suspects as they were being transported from 
one facility to another, but likewise insist that drugs were never 
used as interrogation tools.

Several former military and intelligence officials familiar with the 
detention program said they were unaware of any systematic use of 
drugs to manipulate behavior.

But Alberto J. Mora, a former Navy general counsel who opposed the 
Bush administration's decision to use aggressive interrogation 
tactics, said he understands why some detainees are concerned. "They 
knew they were being injected with something, and it is clear from 
all accounts that some suffered severe psychological damage," Mora said.


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