Secret CIA Document Shows Plan to Test Drugs on Prisoners

Thanks to an ACLU victory in federal court, we know much more about how CIA doctors violated the medical oath to “do no harm.”

One of the most important lessons of the CIA’s torture program is the way it corrupted virtually every individual and institution associated with it. Over the years, we have learned how lawyers twisted the law and psychologists betrayed their ethical obligations in order to enable the brutal and unlawful torture of prisoners.

Now we’ve won the release of a 90-page account of the CIA’s Office of Medical Services role in the CIA torture program — a secret history written by the top CIA medical official, whose identity remains classified.

The history reveals that CIA doctors were hunting for a “truth serum” to use on prisoners as part of a previously secret effort called Project Medication. The CIA studied records of old Soviet drug experiments as well as the CIA’s notorious and discredited MK-Ultra program, which involved human experimentation with LSD and other drugs on unwitting subjects. The CIA doctors involved in Project Medication wanted to use Versed, a psychoactive drug similar to some of those used in MK-Ultra, on prisoners.

Image of declassified document

The CIA ignored lessons from its own history. After MK-Ultra was shut down, the CIA director testified in 1977, “It is totally abhorrent to me to think of using humans as guinea pigs.” But decades later, the agency decided to experiment on humans again, testing pseudoscientific theories of “learned helplessness” on its prisoners.

While Project Medication never got off the ground, CIA medical professionals remained critical participants in experimenting with torture. Just like the government lawyers who tried to give unlawful torture a veneer of legality, the secret history reveals that CIA doctors were “indispensable” to the effort of “legitimizing the program.”

Image of declassified document

Perhaps the most striking element of the document is the CIA doctors’ willful blindness to the truth of what they were doing. CIA doctors decided that waterboarding actually “provided periodic relief” to a prisoner because it was a break from days of standing sleep deprivation. Similarly, CIA doctors decided that when a different prisoner was stuffed into a coffin-sized box, this provided a “relatively benign sanctuary” from other torture methods. CIA doctors described yet another prisoner — who cried, begged, pleaded, vomited, and required medical resuscitation after being waterboarded — as “amazingly resistant to the waterboard.” Incredibly, CIA doctors concluded that the torture program was “reassuringly free of enduring physical or psychological effects.”

The truth is that CIA torture left a legacy of broken bodies and traumatized minds. Today, with a president who has vocally supported torture and a new CIA director who was deeply complicit in torturing prisoners, it’s more important than ever to expose the crimes of the past. Recognizing the roles played by the lawyers, doctors, and psychologists who enabled torture is critical to making sure it never happens again.

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Anonymous

"to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Recognize this?

pissed off american

if the CIA supposedly is NOT allowed to drug interrogate--WHY are the POLICE of hertford county north carolina allowed to...
and i'm speaking PRE-911?!

Anonymous

Looking for solutions: using a construction metaphor, a big problem is that Harry S. Truman’s design for our current national security agencies “foundation” was fundamentally flawed and everything constructed on top of that foundation was also flawed. Article VI and the 9th Amendment mandate, by law and by oath, that national security agencies operate within constitutional boundaries for dealing with all persons (citizens and non-citizens) on U.S. soil and Americans on foreign soil. These legal boundaries still leave plenty of room for legitimate national security operations. Truman was a great president but his national security model was fundamentally flawed. The OSS agency (CIA’s predecessor) was constitutionally and legally required, at inception, to operate within these constitutional boundaries. The problem, needing a solution, is that there is no real watchdog to correct this fundamental design flaw. It will probably take the agency itself to solve it due to the degree of secrecy involved. Maybe the most effective solution would be a “Truth Commission” where the Judicial Branch offers “conditional immunity” from criminal prosecution to agency officials and contractors in exchange for truth telling used to restore the “foundation” of this agency. After 9/11 the government’s own records reveal there are over 1 million persons on combined blacklists worldwide. There are likely hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans, here at home, making up that over 1 million person list. Some of those blacklisted persons have essentially taken an annual 70% paycut for more than 17 years. To put that in perspective, if you made about $30,000 before 9/11, you may have lost over $357,000 since 9/11 just in paychecks alone. This blacklisting likely caused loss of employment, homes, marriages, reputation, job history (resumes) and premature death to totally innocent people, including Americans. Essentially a form of incremental Chinese Water Torture, torturing these people for 17 years, far worse than water boarding torture. These people today vitally need an “Official Written Apology/Explanation” from the U.S. Department of Justice and other agencies merely to help repair job histories plus some financial compensation in some cases. DOJ attorneys green-lighted torture, blacklisting and war crimes. Based on a similar blacklisting program by the East Germans during the Cold War, It’s very likely that the unconstitutional RESPONSE to 9/11 has killed and destroyed more innocent Americans than 9/11 ever did. It may have easily resulted in premature death of thousands of Americans. Due to excessive secrecy nobody knows the exact numbers. A “Truth Commission” is the fastest and best way to get relief to these blacklisted people. It’s also a great opportunity to correct Truman’s flawed national security model.

Dr. Victor Fran...

It is simply not politically correct to use the term "blacklist" anymore. I don't see why the NAACP and such organizations are not making an issue out of it. I suggest that another color be used like "mauve list" or perhaps and animals name like "dog list".

AnonymouS

"was fundamentally flawed and everything constructed on top of that foundation was also flawed."

That's always the case, in retrospect (hindsight being 20/20). Very few things (if any) are developed perfectly, and are seldom perfected over time. Humans are flawed. Our Declaration of Independence promotes, "in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare . . ." But is it the flaws of humans that hinder this? Or is it the ignorance of the populace? Or are there evil actors perpetrating hidden crimes to prevent the actualization of our better angels to fulfill our virtues as best we can? You've thought this over diligently, so I'm sure you can locate probably all three (flaws, ignorance, evil), as influences in this regard.

Anonymous

Alexander Hamilton, the primary architect of the American Justice system, thought "constitutionality" should always supersede "legal precedent". This is a vitally important point because the vast majority of court rulings are won using past "legal precedent". If the U.S. Supreme Court would follow Alexander's design, it would prevent precisely this type of mission creep. The court could outlaw all of it today regardless of unconstitutional legal precedent.

Anonymous

Thank you for bringing this out. We have the same issues in family court, child custody where attorneys, psychologists , Psy. and social workers work together to drug children who disclose sexual abuse. Not just this they are placed with their abusive parents and protective parent is removed. Most often leading the protective parent to bankruptcies, court cost and attorney fees. No other agency in the US is so unregulated as the family and juvenile court system. The Jusges clear protective DVPO for law firms that work with judges, psychologists etc all making money and drug children so they do not disclose sexual abuse. Total discredit of protective parent and child. What will ACLU do for millions of child abused victims that end up being covered up in family courts?

Anonymous

Absolutely, protect families from lawyers, psychologists , doctors and CPS. Unregulated broadly and covered up agency. Mind altering drugs being used on children who report crime and have no protection due to the collaborative cover up of the agencies involved. Stop Child Abuse in Wake Counfy N.C. and cover up of child abuse files by judges who fail to protect these innocent children. While we fight for rights of adults, who is going to speak for these children?

Anonymous

It happens everyday in Courts with the above mentioned unprofessional greedy providers.

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

Once again the ACLU has censored my comment here, and it was not offensive.

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