Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Compare and contrast

From the Washington Post (via the S.F. Chronicle):
Adel al-Nusairi remembers his first six months at Guantanamo Bay as this: hours and hours of questions, but first, a needle.

"I'd fall asleep" after the shot, Nusairi, a former Saudi police officer captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002, recalled in an interview with his attorney at the military prison in Cuba, according to notes. After being roused, Nusairi eventually did talk, giving U.S. officials what he later described as a made-up confession to buy some peace.

"I was completely gone," he remembered. "I said, 'Let me go. I want to go to sleep. If it takes saying I'm a member of al Qaeda, I will.' "

Nusairi, now free in Saudi Arabia, was unable to learn what drugs were injected before his interrogations. He is not alone in wondering: At least two dozen other former and current detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere say they were given drugs against their will or witnessed other inmates being drugged, based on interviews and court documents.

Like Nusairi, other detainees believe the injections were intended to coerce confessions.

The Defense Department and the CIA, the two agencies responsible for detaining terrorism suspects, both deny using drugs as an enhancement for interrogations and suggest that the stories from Nusairi and others like him are either fabrications or mistaken interpretations of routine medical treatment.

Yet the allegations have resurfaced because of the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees.

Written to provide legal justification for interrogation practices, the memo by then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo rejected a decades-old U.S. ban on the use of "mind-altering substances" on prisoners. Instead, he argued that drugs could be used as long as they did not inflict permanent or "profound" psychological damage. U.S. law "does not preclude any and all use of drugs," wrote Yoo, now a law professor at UC Berkeley. He declined to comment for this article.

18 USC ยง 2340:

Title 18, U.S. Code (Crimes and Criminal Procedure)
Chapter 113C (Torture)
Section 2340. Definitions
      As used in this chapter -

(1) "torture" means an act committed by a person
acting under the color of law specifically intended
to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering
(other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful
sanctions) upon another person within his custody or
physical control;

(2) "severe mental pain or suffering" means the
prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from -
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened
infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or
administration or application, of
mind-altering substances or
other procedures
calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or

the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will
imminently be subjected to death, severe physical
pain or suffering, or the administration or
application of mind-altering substances or
other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly
the senses or personality; and

(3) "United States" includes all areas under the
of the United States including any of
the places described in sections 5 and 7 of this
title and section 46501(2) of title 49.


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