A major Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigation on the drugging of detainees held at Guantanamo and other Department of Defense (DoD) facilities was completed almost a year ago and shared with a key Senate committee. According to DoD spokesperson, Maj. Tanya Bradsher, the report is classified. News of the completion of the investigation and the OIG’s report came as a surprise to human rights advocates who had been involved in investigating the drugging claims. While the findings of the investigation is unknown, a spokeswoman for the Senate Armed Services Committee said the OIG’s investigation did not substantiate allegations of drugging of prisoners for the “purposes of interrogation.” The involuntary use of drugs on prisoners would violate a number of domestic and international laws, as well as basic ethical codes of the medical professions.
Truthout filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request last week to gain access to the OIG report. Kelly McHale, a senior FOIA Specialist who works in the Inspector General’s office, said Tuesday the Defense Department “may be unable to respond to your request within the FOIA’s 20 day statutory time period as there are unusual circumstances which may impact on our ability to quickly process your request.
“These unusual circumstances may be: (a) the need to search for and collect records from a facility geographically separated from this Office; (b) the potential volume of records responsive to your request; and (c) the need for consultation with one or more other agencies or DoD components having a substantial interest in either the determination or the subject matter of the records,” McHale wrote in an email in response to Truthout’s FOIA request. “For these reasons, we placed your request in our complex processing queue and will process it consistent with the order in which we received your request. Please note that we currently have an administrative workload of 105 cases.”
Stephen Soldz, president-elect for Psychologists for Social Responsibility, who also wrote about the drugging controversy in April 2008, told Truthout, “Given that ex-detainees’ accounts of other abuses have repeatedly proved reliable when they were independently corroborated by official documents and accounts from guards, there is no reason to doubt detainees’ accounts of drugging. Was ‘interrogation’ defined so narrowly as to exclude drug use designed to make detainees cooperate with interrogators or to instill terror or confusion in detainees?” Soldz asked.
The initial impetus for the OIG investigation was a Washington Postexposé by reporter Joby Warrick in April 2008. A few weeks prior to the Post story, Jeff Stein had written about the drugging of prisoners in an article at Congressional Quarterly, noting that the chief federal defender for supposed al-Qaeda suspect Jose Padilla asserted in a 2007 legal motion that Padilla was “was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.” Warrick’s story described as an example of possible drugging the case of former Saudi detainee, Adel al-Nusairi. According to his attorney, “[Nusairi] was injected in the arm with something that made him tired – that made his brain cloudy. When he would try to read the Koran, his brain would not focus. He had unusual lethargy and would drool on himself.”