A report released by the Pentagon says that prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay were interrogated while under the influence of doctor-prescribed psychoactive medications, used to treat diagnosed mental conditions. The report, issued by the Department of Defense Inspector General, has been seized upon by lawyers for the detainees, who say it casts suspicion on incriminating statements made by the medicated detainees.
David Remes, a Washington-based human rights lawyer who represents 16 prisoners being held at the U.S. base, told the Associated Press, “If the government relied on statements by doped up detainees, regardless of why they were doped up, the government has kept men locked up for more than a decade on the basis of evidence that can’t be trusted.”
Officials at the Pentagon deny the drugs were either mind-altering or used as a means to extract information or confessions. “The detainees were not given drugs as a means to facilitate interrogation, let me clear about that,” Pentagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said. Rather, the prisoners were given the anti-psychotic Haldol.
Haldol—better known as Haloperidol—was developed in the 1960’s to treat psychiatric disorders. According to the National Institute of Health website, Haloperidol is usually taken two to three times a day, and is used to treat adult psychosis, motor tics related to Tourette’s syndrome in both children and adults, and aggressive behavior and hyperactivity in children. The potential side effects are extensive, and include:
- dry mouth
- increased saliva
- blurred vision
- loss of appetite
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- blank facial expression
- uncontrollable eye movements
- unusual, slowed, or uncontrollable movements of any part of the body
- mood changes
- breast enlargement or pain
- breast milk production
- missed menstrual periods
- decreased sexual ability in men
- increased sexual desire
- difficulty urinating
One case probed by investigators for the report involved former Saudi police officer Adel al-Nusairi, who alleged in an April 2008 Washington Post article that he and other suspects were forcibly drugged during lengthy interrogations, in violation of U.S. law. The terror suspect claims he gave a false confession as a means to get a break from one interrogation session. According to the Inspector General, al-Nusairi was given Haldol to treat schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder. The report states there is no evidence he was administered the drug during interrogations. Neither al-Nusairi nor his lawyer was interviewed for the report.
The 41-page report, based on an investigation conducted from 2008 to 2009 at the request of members of Congress, was published in July 2012 on the website Truthout, a left-wing, politically-oriented online news organization. Truthout obtained the report through the Freedom of Information Act two years after first requesting it in 2010. Guantanamo Bay currently holds nearly 170 terror suspects as prisoners.
In the end, it comes to down to terror suspects and their lawyers on one side and Pentagon officials on the other. Whom to believe? Each has plenty incentive to bend the truth, if not twist it beyond comprehension. It’s hard to take much that is said by anyone connected with this story at face value, given how much each side has to lose if the validity of the allegations are proved either true or false. It will likely take years—if not decades—for everything to be sorted out and concrete conclusions to be made.
- Fox, Ben. “Guantanamo drug probe raises new questions.” Associated Press. 13 July 2012. Web. 18 July 2012.
- “Guantanamo Bay inmates were ‘injected with mind altering drugs and interrogated’ according to Pentagon report.” Daily Mail. 12 July 2012. Web. 18 July 2012.
“Haloperidol.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. 16 May 2011. Web. 18 July 2012.
Filed under: Latest News