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DOD Inspector General Report: Investigation of Allegations of the Use of Mind-Altering Drugs to Facilitate Interrogations of Detainees

Sept. 23, 2009 | DOD | ACLU-RDI 5020

This report concerns allegations that mind-altering drugs were administered to facilitate the interrogation of detainees under DOD control between September 2001 and April 2008. The report concluded that it could not substantiate the claim that mind-altering drugs were used specifically to make detainees more cooperative, but it found that “some detainees were involuntarily medicated to help control serious mental illnesses” and other medical problems, and “that certain detainees diagnosed as having serious mental health conditions and being treated with psychoactive medications on a continuing basis were interrogated while under the effects of the medication.” The investigation determined that the Secretary of Defense did not authorize the use of mind-altering drugs for the purpose of detainee interrogation, and that no such drugs were used upon any detainee under DoD control for the purposes of obtaining cooperation during interrogation.  However, the report concluded that interrogators in some cases told detainees that the medication they were being given was a “truth serum.” The report concluded that in the interrogation of Jose Padilla, interrogators engaged in a “deliberate ruse” to convince Padilla that he had been administered a mind-altering drug in advance of interrogation.

[This report was released to truthout and the Constitution Project on June 28, 2012 pursuant to their separate FOIA requests.  You can read truthout's article about the document using the related link on the righthand side of this page.]

  • 2002-05-08, Unknown, Guantanamo
    • Jose Padilla alleged that he was given a truth serum against his will during his interrogations. An investigation by the DOD Inspector General concluded that Padilla was given a flu shot but that his interrogators had engaged in a "deliberate ruse" to convince him it was a truth serum.  

  • 2002-10-22, Bagram Air Base (Bagram Theater Internment Facility), Afghanistan
    • A foreign national of undetermined nationality was captured in Karachi, Pakistan by the Pakistanis in September 2002. After three days in Pakistan, he stated that he was taken to "the Prison of Darkness," that he believes was in Kabul, Afghanistan. According to the detainee, after 40 days in Kabul he was transferred to Bagram, Afghanistan and held there for six or seven days prior to being transported to Guantanamo. He stated stated that during an interrogation at Bagram he was given pills; green and red ones. "After I ate like three of them, my tongue started getting heavier. After that, I woke up and they (interrogators) said thank you very much, we've got what we need. After I ate the stuff, it was like a state of delusion." He also said "it took like three-four days (to feel normal again). I was not normal until I came to Cuba and then I started to feel my mind back. It was a state of delusion. Like everything was a dream. My sensation was not great." He later stated, "when I start to remember that, I get somewhat upset, because it was a terrible event in my life. When you had been standing for three-four days in a row, I was so tired, I was exhausted. I can't describe those sensations." The DoD Inspector General Report of September 23, 2009 documented this incident on pages 7 & 8.
  • 2004-08-18, Abu Ghraib (Baghdad Correctional Facility (BCCF)), Iraq, Death
    • On August 18, 2004 at about 5:45 AM, a fight broke out among detainees at the Abu Ghraib detention facility. It was reported that guards observed a large group of detainees attacking another detainee using rocks and tent poles. In an attempt to disperse the group, the guards used non-lethal rounds, however, when the non-lethal rounds failed to quell the disturbance, the guards resorted to lethal force, which left two dead and five wounded.
  • Unknown date, Kirkuk, Iraq
    • At Kirkuk, Iraq, one non-commissioned officer in the medical support field stated to the Army Surgeon General interviewer that he saw sedatives being used by medical personnel to calm a detainee so that the detainee would talk more. When interviewed on October 14, 2008, the non-commissioned officer "elected to make a corrective statement" in which he claimed no knowledge of a request to administer mind-altering drugs for interrogation purposes. In the second statement, the non-commissioned officer stated that sedatives were only given to patient detainees to alleviate pain.

  • Unknown date, Baghdad, Iraq
    • A medical officer stationed at Baghdad, Iraq reported that he was treating a wounded civilian when he was asked to administer cough syrup under the ruse of it being a truth serum. The doctor refused and issued instructions to his colleagues that medical treatments were not to be used for interrogation purposes. On October 7, 2008, the OIG interviewed the medical officer mentioned in the Army Surgeon General Report. He stated that the brigade S-2 (Intelligence Officer) made the request and he refused as it would be a violation of medical ethics. The doctor further stated that he had no knowledge of anyone else requesting the use of drugs on a detainee for the purpose of interrogation.

  • Unknown date, Unknown, Everywhere Else
    • Physicians for Human Rights produced a report entitled: "Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact," (Physicians for Human Rights, June, 2008). This report provides first person accounts of treatment by eleven former detainees and subsequent medical and psychological evaluations by representatives of the Physicians for Human Rights. Four of the former detainees described being given medications (including Zocor, Valium, and Zoloft) at times without their consent. One former detainee alleged that he was often forcibly medicated both orally and through injections of unknown drugs. 

  • Unknown date, Unknown, Guantanamo
    • A University of California report detailing the Guantanamo detention facilities and mental health treatment of detainees states that detainees were medicated for the purpose of transporting them from the theater of operations to Guantanamo.