CIA considered using ‘truth serum’ on terror suspects after 9/11

A new report outlines how the CIA considered using a drug called Versed on detainees in the years following 9/11.

Pixabay
  • The 90-page report was released to the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday.
  • It describes how the CIA researched past attempts by governments to find an effective 'truth serum', including the agency's infamous MK-Ultra program.
  • Ultimately, the agency decided not to ask the Justice Department to approve drug-assisted interrogations.

The CIA considered administering a 'truth serum' drug to terror suspects in the years following 9/11, according to a new report obtained by the Associated Press.

On Tuesday, the 90-page report was released to the American Civil Liberties Union under a judge's order.

"This document tells an essential part of the story of how it was that the CIA came to torture prisoners against the law and helps prevent it from happening again," said ACLU attorney Dror Ladin.

The report describes how CIA doctors, psychologists and other medical professionals considered using Versed, a sedative and hypnotic, to get suspects detained in secret facilities abroad to share information.

"Versed was considered possibly worth a trial if unequivocal legal sanction first were obtained," the report said. "There were at least two legal obstacles: a prohibition against medical experimentation on prisoners and a ban on interrogational use of 'mind-altering drugs' or those which 'profoundly altered the senses.'"

The CIA didn't think the drugs would act as an unfailing truth serum, but thought suspects might be more willing to open up under altered states of mind.

"Such drugs, although widely regarded as unreliable sources of "truth", were believed potentially useful as an "excuse" that would allow the subject to be more forthcoming while still saving face," the report states.

But in the wake of a months-long effort to get the Justice Department to approve harsh interrogation tactics like waterboarding and sleep deprivation, the CIA didn't want to "raise another issue" with the department, the report said. That decision spared CIA medical professionals from "some significant ethical concerns."

In considering the use of Versed on terror suspects, the CIA researched past attempts by governments to use truth serums in interrogations, including Soviet-era drug experiments and the agency's own MK-Ultra program, which infamously involved giving LSD and other drugs to unwitting participants.

Lawyers for the ACLU said it's important to demand the release of reports like the one issued Tuesday, especially considering President Donald Trump promised during his campaign that he'd approve tactics a "hell of a lot worse" than waterboarding if elected.

"This document tells an essential part of the story of how it was that the CIA came to torture prisoners against the law and helps prevent it from happening again," said ACLU attorney Dror Ladin.

Why torture backfires

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

The history of using the Insurrection Act against Americans

Numerous U.S. Presidents invoked the Insurrection Act to to quell race and labor riots.

The army during riots in Washington, DC, after the assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., April 1968.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • U.S. Presidents have invoked the Insurrection Act on numerous occasions.
  • The controversial law gives the President some power to bring in troops to police the American people.
  • The Act has been used mainly to restore order following race and labor riots.
Keep reading Show less

Facebook finally adds option to delete old posts in batches

Got any embarrassing old posts collecting dust on your profile? Facebook wants to help you delete them.

Facebook
Technology & Innovation
  • The feature is called Manage Activity, and it's currently available through mobile and Facebook Lite.
  • Manage Activity lets users sort old content by filters like date and posts involving specific people.
  • Some companies now use AI-powered background checking services that scrape social media profiles for problematic content.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…