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Were Guantanamo Bay Interrogations Drug-Assisted?

Lawyers claim interrogated prisoners made incriminating statements while "doped up" on prescribed anti-psychotics.

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By May Wilkerson

07/13/12

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Were Guantanamo Bay prisoners given mind-altering drugs in order to facilitate interrogations? A report was released this week based on an investigation conducted in 2008-2009, after a prisoner held at Guantanamo claimed he had been forcibly drugged. The findings show no evidence that prisoners were deliberately medicated—but they do reveal that a number of detainees were being prescribed anti-psychotic medications by prison doctors, to treat various diagnosed mental issues. Lawyers are arguing that the prisoners may have made incriminating statements while under the influence of these drugs, raising questions about the evidence that was used to keep them locked up. “If the government relied on statements by doped-up detainees, regardless of why they were doped up, the government has kept men locked up for more than a decade on the basis of evidence that can’t be trusted,” says David Remes, a human rights lawyer who represents 16 prisoners at the US base in Cuba. 

The report also shows that "numerous" detainees have complained of being forcibly medicated, and that prison officials often used "chemical restraints" to subdue prisoners perceived to be threatening. A Pentagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, says there's no evidence that any drugs were administered deliberately to pacify prisoners—who are mostly held on accusations of terrorism or alleged connections to Al-Qaida and the Taliban. "The detainees were not given drugs as a means to facilitate interrogation," says Breasseale. "Let me be clear about that." The Pentagon has declined to comment on the potential legal implications of prisoners being interviewed while under the influence of prescribed medications.

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