Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!

2004-06-23

Versed-based interrogation



Brad Templeton blogs:



There are drugs which erase memory (or rather block the formation of memories while they are used.) It seems disturbingly probable to me that these might be being used for torture.


This is not a new idea. I googled on versed interrogation. The 5th hit was a New Republic article written by Jed Babbin, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense in the first Bush administration, from more than a year ago. Here is the relevant extract:




Captured al Qaeda suspects and other terrorists should be subjected to very intensive chemically assisted interrogation. So-called "truth serums" are not foolproof, and do not guarantee success. But chemically assisted interrogation can significantly increase the interrogator's chance to get the facts without descending into barbarism. There are legitimate differences between the constitutional and legal limits we impose on police interrogating a suspected criminal for prosecution in a civilian court and the means interrogators use to get as much as they can — as quickly as they can — from Mohammed and his ilk. Those limits do not require us to forego chemically assisted interrogation.



Intelligence agencies and the military have been experimenting with so-called "truth drugs" since the Egyptians began making beer about 5,000 years ago. During World War II, Germany and Japan both used chemical interrogation with very mixed results. Today, there are several drugs that are more effective and safe than the ones used then.



The object of a chemically assisted interrogation is to release the cortical functions of the brain. Most of the drugs that would be used — sodium amatol and related drugs — are sedatives that have a general calming effect. So do barbiturates. Another group — valium and its progeny, including Versed — have essentially the same effect, but also induce short-term memory loss, so the subject won't remember this morning what he told you last night. The beauty of these chemicals is that there is a minimal danger of allergic reaction, and they can be administered in relative safety to all but the most elderly or those with diabetes, or other conditions that can generally be detected by blood tests and an electrocardiogram.



If a suspect is being interrogated while under the influence of one of these drugs, it is possible to further boost the ability of the interrogator to succeed by administering an amphetamine. If administered properly, the sedative calms the suspect and breaks down resistance. The amphetamine can raise his anxiety level, causing him to blurt out what he might otherwise conceal even under sedation.




Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I wouldn't be surprised if some agency like the CIA had had a hand in the original development of at least some of these drugs.



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