WASHINGTON (AP) – Soon after September 11, the CIA decided to use a drug that was supposedly able to act as a true serum and to force terror suspects to give up information about possible attacks.
After several months of research, the agency decided that the "Versed" drug, which was often signed to reduce anxiety, was "probably worth a try". But in the end, the CIA decided not to require government lawyers to approve its use.
The existence of a research program called "Project Medication" has been published following a one-time report that was submitted to the American Civil Liberties Union, according to a judge's order, and the organization released it on Tuesday.
The 90-page CIA report previously provided by The Associated Press is an internal battle window that medical staff working in the agency's Detention and Hearing Program faced a combination of professional ethics with the ability to save lives by preventing future attacks.
"It does not mean that the doctors were sadistic or something like that," said ACRL lawyer Dror Ladin. "But this means they were partakers of, because this pseudo-scientific torture could not have happened without the participation of doctors."
The report states that between 2002 and 2007, CIA doctors, psychologists, doctors and nurses were directly involved in the interrogation program. They assessed, monitored and cared for 97 detainees in 10 secret CIA institutions abroad and were detained on more than 100 flights.
The CIA eventually decided not to require the Department of Justice to approve drug-related inquiries, preventing CIA physicians from "having known significant ethical issues," the report said. The Justice Department needed several months to retaliate for brutal interrogation tactics, including sleep deprivation, closure in small rooms, and simulated clogging techniques, known as waterproof. The CIA anti-terrorist group "did not want to raise another issue with the Ministry of Justice," the report said.
Before discussing Versed, the report says that researchers were investigating records of old Soviet drug experiments, as well as the CIA-discredited MK-Ultra program from the 1950s and 1960s, which allowed experimenting with people with LSD and other mental changes in drugs as unwanted people as part of long look for some truth serum. These experiments were widely criticized and even today, experts doubt the existence of an effective substance.
"But decades later, the agency is considering experimenting with people again to test theories of helplessness of pseudo-consciousness in their prisoners," Ladin said.
He has a tradition of sedative midazolam, which has been used since the late 1970s and is now generally sold as general. It causes drowsiness and alleviates anxiety and agitation. It can also temporarily reduce memory, and is often used for a minor operation or medical procedures, such as colonoscopy requiring sedation, but not full blown anesthesia. It is a class anti-anxiety drug known as benzodiazepine that works by affecting a brain's chemical that calms the activity of nerve cells.
"A new unequivocal legal sentence was first obtained," said that it might be worth trying the case, "the report said." There were at least two legal obstacles: the prohibition of medical tests for prisoners and the ban on "changing the mind-blowing drug" or "deeply altered senses" "
These questions became clearer after the CIA decided not to require the Department of Justice to grant the green light. "At the beginning of 2003, the reports of the Medical Services, which were informally called" Project Medications ", were lifted, would never be activated," the report said.
The CIA did not comment on the release of the report, but government lawyers stressed the court's submission at the beginning of last year that the report, clearly marked by the "project", was only one impression of the agency officer on the detention and interrogation program. This document is not the "final official history or program evaluation by the CIA or the Medical Service Bureau," wrote lawyers.
The ACLU has been litigious for more than two years trying to get a message. In September 2017, the New York Federal Judge ordered the CIA to release it. Government lawyers tried to continue the information contained in the report three more times, but a high-level report was received in most of this report. The government is still struggling to keep portions secret. They have to submit reports to the federal court of appeal in New York on Wednesday, arguing that the judge ordered too much release.
Although the CIA's harsh interrogation program ended in 2007, the ACLU considers it important to continue the search for the publication of these documents, in particular because President Donald Trump announced during his campaign that he would confirm the persecution of terrorist suspects by water, which now is prohibited by US law, and "hell is much worse."
CIA Director Gina Haspels, who participated in the secret monitoring of the CIA's detention facility in Thailand, where the detainees were exposed to water, during the Senate during her confirmation hearing, stated that she "did not support the use of improved search techniques for any purpose."
The report cites many cases where medical practitioners expressed concerns or protected the detainees' health. Those who were thrown against the walls – a practice called "the wall" – their necks were protected from whiskers with rolled towels around the neck walls, the report said. When a prisoner injured during the capture was fitted in a box, he was cautious to put his legs in a position that "could endanger wound healing." Doctors' assistants refused to fly by using a duct tape behind the prisoner's mouth, as airborne illnesses can cause vomiting and possible aspiration.
At the same time, the medical report says that water insurance is not "really painful". It said that there was a "physical discomfort from sometimes crying", but that two prisoners who had passed the most extensive sessions of the water board complained only about "strap limbs".
This contradicts the Senate 2014 report on the CIA's interrogation program, which states that a prisoner Abu Zubaydah suspected of al-Qaeda operation, which was more than 80 times watered, "called, asked, requested, expressed vomiting and demanded a medical reanimation after having made water. "
Some CIA practitioners called water "a bit more than an enjoyable experiment", and others worried that this practice would trigger spasms of voice, which could, at least temporarily, make it harder to talk or breathe.
At the same time, other medical staff argued that the diver actually "provided periodic relief" to the prisoner, as it was a break from being forced to stand for a long time. Agency medical staff also said that the harsh questioning program was "convincing without long-term physical or psychological consequences."
Dr Sondra Crosby, who suffered from torture victims, including two who were kept in secret places in the CIA, did not agree.
"The long-standing CIA's pain and suffering that the survivors of the CIA program are suffering is enormous and includes severe, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, physical illness and psychosocial dysfunctions," said Crosby's School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Boston. "At least one detainee was tortured to death, their physical and psychological scarring lasts forever."
AP medical writer Laurent Neergaard in Washington participated in this report.