CIA Investigation Minimizes Use of Drugs on Rendition & Black Site Detainees

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The CIA has released documents regarding a 2008 Inspector General (IG) investigation into the use of “mind-altering” drugs to enhance or facilitate interrogations undertaken as part of their rendition, “black site” detention, and interrogation-torture (RDI) program. Not surprisingly, a brief investigation found, according to a January 29, 2009 newly declassified letter sent from the CIA IG to Senator Dianne Feinstein, then-chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), that CIA had not used any drugs on detainees for the purpose of interrogations.

The documents were released to Jason Leopold at VICE News, who posted a comprehensive article examining them earlier today. Leopold and I have previously written on the subject of drugging prisoners, and examined an earlier Department of Defense IG report on the subject a few years ago, as well as the use of mefloquine at Guantanamo, about which more below.

The CIA Inspector General, John L. Helgerson, referred Feinstein to a statement by the Director of CIA’s Office of Medical Services (OMS), to the effect that “no ‘mind-altering’ drugs were administered to facilitate interrogations and debriefings because no medications of any kind were used for that purpose.”

But as we shall see, there were many claims by prisoners of drugging during CIA renditions, and later by affiliated “liaison” government officials. Other prisoners claimed they were drugged during the time they were held by CIA itself at their black site prisons. None of those charges were addressed by Helgerson in his investigation, unless they were part of a 5-page section of the new CIA document release that was totally whited out by the CIA FOIA officials.

No CIA detainees were evidently ever interviewed as part of the IG investigation.

Helgerson said that he queried IG investigators working on another investigation of abuse claims by 16 high-value detainees then held at Guantanamo. The alleged abuse concerned treatment by CIA before the detainees were transferred to Guantanamo in 2006. Helgerson said the investigators had no knowledge of “the use of ‘mind-altering’ drugs as a part of the interrogation regimen.” Nothing is known about this IG investigation on detainee complaints.

Helgerson, who is now retired, did refer in his letter to Feinstein to the May 2004 CIA IG report that examined “isolated allegations of mistreatment or abuse of detainees, though he never specifically states that there were no claims of drugging in that “comprehensive review.”

Helgerson said that the CIA IG had investigated “a variety of specific unrelated detainee abuse allegations” since the 2004 report.

MKULTRA, KUBARK, and Phoenix

The issue of CIA drugging of prisoners has historical resonance since CIA engaged in a decades-long program of experimentation on the use of “truth serums” and other drugs, including LSD, for use in interrogations. Known under various acronyms, including Bluebird, MKDELTA and MKSEARCH, the program was best known in popular accounts as MKULTRA. The CIA’s KUBARK interrogation manual from the early 1960s drew specifically upon MKULTRA research when it advocated use of “narcosis” or the use of drugs for interrogations.

The latest version of the KUBARK manual (PDF), released to me last year after a Mandatory Declassification Request, showed a much heavier emphasis on the use of foreign “liaison” agencies for detention of CIA prisoners than had been previously revealed.

The CIA’s 1983 Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual also describes such liaison relationships in some depth, in addition to a discussion of using drugs during interrogation. According to National Security Archive, “The manual was used in numerous Latin American countries as an instructional tool by CIA and Green Beret trainers between 1983 and 1987 and became the subject of executive session Senate Intelligence Committee hearings in 1988 because of human rights abuses committed by CIA-trained Honduran military units.”

This aspect of the CIA’s program both before and after 9/11 has probably had the least amount of emphasis in the press, for partly understandable reasons, as the actions of police or intelligence agencies in foreign countries is least penetrable or open to examination by government or human rights agency, not to mention journalists. (more…)

New Evidence of APA Aid in Writing Defense Department’s Interrogation Guidance for Psychologists

BSCTs to be expert in “learned helplessness”

A new report by what New York Times reporter James Risen called “a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists” has provided the best proof yet of collaboration and links between the CIA, Department of Defense, and the American Psychological Association (APA) regarding the government’s interrogation program.

Not noted in the report but revealed here for the first time is the fact that APA’s long-time Ethics Director Steven Behnke worked directly with Department of Defense officials in creating a training curriculum for psychologists working with interrogators at Guantanamo and elsewhere. He has never revealed his role in that.

It has been widely reported, and was the topic of two major Congressional investigations, that both CIA’s and DoD’s interrogation programs involved widespread use of torture. This policy was supported and endorsed at all levels of the Executive Branch, and the programs involved were repeatedly funded by Congress. Indeed, a high-level report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that I obtained recently via FOIA indicated that detainee facilities at Guantanamo’s Camp Delta were built early on via solicitation of emergency contingency funds from the House and Senate intelligence committees.

The new report, All the President’s Psychologists: The American Psychological Association’s Secret Complicity with the White House and US Intelligence Community in Support of the CIA’s ”Enhanced” Interrogation Program (PDF), draws on a cache of over 600 emails from a former RAND employee and presumed CIA contractor, Scott Gerwehr, who died in a mysterious accident in 2008.

The narrative — as constructed by report authors, psychologists Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner, and Nathaniel Raymond, Director of Harvard’s Signal Program on Human Security and Technology — concentrates on events surrounding three key events: a July 2003 joint APA/CIA/RAND conference on “The Science of Deception”; a July 20, 2004 “confidential meeting between senior APA staff and senior national security psychologists and behavioral research personnel”; and the circumstances surrounding the June 2005 APA Task Force meetings, over a single weekend, to rush out policies on Professional Ethics and National Security, producing a report on the same (PENS).

While there is much that can be discovered from a close reading of the report and its accompanying documentation (one only wishes that more of the emails were released), one of the leading figures throughout the entire APA drama is its Ethics Director, Stephen Behnke.

Behnke Accused

As pointed out in a “Fact Sheet” on Behnke, put out by the Soldz and Reisner-linked Coalition for an Ethical Psychology in February 2011, the APA Ethics Director had been a key player in “the creation and management” of the PENS task force. Behnke kept the membership of the task force secret, even as it later turned out the members were largely drawn from the military and intelligence fields.

Indeed, an important email released in the new Soldz-Reisner-Raymond report describes the Science Policy Director at APA, Geoff Mumford, telling Kirk Hubbard, the chief of the CIA’s Research & Analysis unit at the Operational Assessment Division, Special Activities Division, CIA, that the PENS task force members were “very carefully selected” to represent his views and that of CIA psychiatrist Charles “Andy” Morgan and DoD intelligence official Kirk Kennedy.

The Coalition fact sheet also criticized Behnke with ignoring blatant conflicts of interest among PENS personnel. They specifically sited the selection of Russ Newman, then Director of APA’s Practice Directorate” to be an observer at the PENS meetings. The Coalition continued, “Dr. Newman’s wife was Lt. Col. Debra Dunivin, a member of the Guantanamo Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) — the very form of psychologist involvement that was a primary focus of the PENS Task Force’s ethics deliberations.”

The BSCTs were formed in the very early days of holding “war on terror” prisoners at Guantanamo. Over time, they were exposed as assisting interrogators in ferreting out psychological weaknesses, and even proposing “exploitation” of those weaknesses to interrogators.

But it wasn’t Behnke who sent Newman to PENS. Newman was recommended by then-APA Board of Director liaison, Dr. Barry Anton. Anton is the current President of APA.

As for Dunivin, a 2004 APA Monitor story identifies her as also being a SERE psychologist. SERE is the U.S. military’s program to inoculate soldiers and intelligence officers to the hardships of capture by foreign forces or terrorists. It includes a mock-torture camp experience, the procedures of which were utilized in forming the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program, reportedly devised by former SERE psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

Consulting with DoD on the BSCTs

The Coalition noted that after the PENS report was released and approved by the APA, Dunivin “subsequently joined members of the Task Force in revising the BSCT instructions on the basis of the PENS report.” While the Coalition simplifies history a small bit here — they were not simply “revising” BSCT instructions but developing a training curriculum for BSCT members, at the direction of then-Surgeon General Kevin Kiley.

Still, it is true that Dunivin and other PENS members, including Larry James, another Guantanamo BSCT, and Special Forces psychologist Morgan Banks, became advisers to top military officials on the organization of the BSCTs. They all attended a meeting on August 5, 2005, only a month after the public release of the PENS report, with its finding that it was ethically appropriate to work with government interrogators working with detainees in the “war on terror,” a stance which was rejected by both the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

It is with some irony that Behnke’s own role working on the new BSCT training was revealed in a 2014 book chapter written by Dunivin and another Special Operations psychologist, Jay Earles.

In an essay entitled “Behavioral Science Consultation to Interrogation and Detention Operations: Policy, Ethics, and Training” (PDF) (Ch. 14 in the book Forensic and Ethical Issues in Military Behavioral Health, Borden Institute, 2014), Dunivin and Earles describe the tasking from Medical Command and the Surgeon General’s office in 2005 to create new BSCT guidelines and procedures.

Then surgeon general of the Army, Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, convened a group in the summer of 2005 to develop doctrine in this specialized area. He assembled subject matter experts, including several psychologists and psychiatrists who had served as BSCs, a medical ethicist, a military attorney, a master interrogator, and two general officers who trained and educated military medical personnel.

Dunivin and Earles don’t go into more details on the tasking, but on May 24, 2005, Kiley approved the findings of a report by a “Functional Assessment Team” he had sent to Guantanamo and both Iraq and Afghanistan theater of operations to assess medical operations. (It is worth noting that by January 2004, BSCT staffing was only by psychologists.) (more…)

APA Ethics Director Consulted on Development of BSCT Training Program

BSCTs to be expert in “learned helplessness”

A new report by what New York Times reporter James Risen called “a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists” has provided the best proof yet of collaboration and links between the CIA, Department of Defense, and the American Psychological Association (APA) regarding the government’s interrogation program.

Not noted in the report but revealed here for the first time is the fact that APA’s long-time Ethics Director Steven Behnke worked directly with Department of Defense officials in creating a training curriculum for psychologists working with interrogators at Guantanamo and elsewhere. He has never revealed his role in that.

It has been widely reported, and was the topic of two major Congressional investigations, that both CIA’s and DoD’s interrogation programs involved widespread use of torture. This policy was supported and endorsed at all levels of the Executive Branch, and the programs involved were repeatedly funded by Congress. Indeed, a high-level report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that I obtained recently via FOIA indicated that detainee facilities at Guantanamo’s Camp Delta were built early on via solicitation of emergency contingency funds from the House and Senate intelligence committees.

The new report, All the President’s Psychologists: The American Psychological Association’s Secret Complicity with the White House and US Intelligence Community in Support of the CIA’s ”Enhanced” Interrogation Program (PDF), draws on a cache of over 600 emails from a former RAND employee and presumed CIA contractor, Scott Gerwehr, who died in a mysterious accident in 2008.

The narrative — as constructed by report authors, psychologists Stephen Soldz and Steven Reisner, and Nathaniel Raymond, Director of Harvard’s Signal Program on Human Security and Technology — concentrates on events surrounding three key events: a July 2003 joint APA/CIA/RAND conference on “The Science of Deception”; a July 20, 2004 “confidential meeting between senior APA staff and senior national security psychologists and behavioral research personnel”; and the circumstances surrounding the June 2005 APA Task Force meetings, over a single weekend, to rush out policies on Professional Ethics and National Security, producing a report on the same (PENS).

While there is much that can be discovered from a close reading of the report and its accompanying documentation (one only wishes that more of the emails were released), one of the leading figures throughout the entire APA drama is its Ethics Director, Stephen Behnke.

Behnke Accused

As pointed out in a “Fact Sheet” on Behnke, put out by the Soldz and Reisner-linked Coalition for an Ethical Psychology in February 2011, the APA Ethics Director had been a key player in “the creation and management” of the PENS task force. Behnke kept the membership of the task force secret, even as it later turned out the members were largely drawn from the military and intelligence fields.

Indeed, an important email released in the new Soldz-Reisner-Raymond report describes the Science Policy Director at APA, Geoff Mumford, telling Kirk Hubbard, the chief of the CIA’s Research & Analysis unit at the Operational Assessment Division, Special Activities Division, CIA, that the PENS task force members were “very carefully selected” to represent his views and that of CIA psychiatrist Charles “Andy” Morgan and DoD intelligence official Kirk Kennedy.

The Coalition fact sheet also criticized Behnke with ignoring blatant conflicts of interest among PENS personnel. They specifically sited the selection of Russ Newman, then Director of APA’s Practice Directorate” to be an observer at the PENS meetings. The Coalition continued, “Dr. Newman’s wife was Lt. Col. Debra Dunivin, a member of the Guantanamo Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT) — the very form of psychologist involvement that was a primary focus of the PENS Task Force’s ethics deliberations.”

The BSCTs were formed in the very early days of holding “war on terror” prisoners at Guantanamo. Over time, they were exposed as assisting interrogators in ferreting out psychological weaknesses, and even proposing “exploitation” of those weaknesses to interrogators.

But it wasn’t Behnke who sent Newman to PENS. Newman was recommended by then-APA Board of Director liaison, Dr. Barry Anton. Anton is the current President of APA.

As for Dunivin, a 2004 APA Monitor story identifies her as also being a SERE psychologist. SERE is the U.S. military’s program to inoculate soldiers and intelligence officers to the hardships of capture by foreign forces or terrorists. It includes a mock-torture camp experience, the procedures of which were utilized in forming the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program, reportedly devised by former SERE psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

Consulting with DoD on the BSCTs

The Coalition noted that after the PENS report was released and approved by the APA, Dunivin “subsequently joined members of the Task Force in revising the BSCT instructions on the basis of the PENS report.” While the Coalition simplifies history a small bit here — they were not simply “revising” BSCT instructions but developing a training curriculum for BSCT members, at the direction of then-Surgeon General Kevin Kiley.

Still, it is true that Dunivin and other PENS members, including Larry James, another Guantanamo BSCT, and Special Forces psychologist Morgan Banks, became advisers to top military officials on the organization of the BSCTs. They all attended a meeting on August 5, 2005, only a month after the public release of the PENS report, with its finding that it was ethically appropriate to work with government interrogators working with detainees in the “war on terror,” a stance which was rejected by both the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

It is with some irony that Behnke’s own role working on the new BSCT training was revealed in a 2014 book chapter written by Dunivin and another Special Operations psychologist, Jay Earles.

In an essay entitled “Behavioral Science Consultation to Interrogation and Detention Operations: Policy, Ethics, and Training” (PDF) (Ch. 14 in the book Forensic and Ethical Issues in Military Behavioral Health, Borden Institute, 2014), Dunivin and Earles describe the tasking from Medical Command and the Surgeon General’s office in 2005 to create new BSCT guidelines and procedures.

Then surgeon general of the Army, Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, convened a group in the summer of 2005 to develop doctrine in this specialized area. He assembled subject matter experts, including several psychologists and psychiatrists who had served as BSCs, a medical ethicist, a military attorney, a master interrogator, and two general officers who trained and educated military medical personnel.

Dunivin and Earles don’t go into more details on the tasking, but on May 24, 2005, Kiley approved the findings of a report by a “Functional Assessment Team” he had sent to Guantanamo and both Iraq and Afghanistan theater of operations to assess medical operations. (It is worth noting that by January 2004, BSCT staffing was only by psychologists.)

The recommendations in the report (long PDF) included this: “DoD should develop well defined doctrine and policy for the use of BSCT personnel. A training program for BSCT personnel should be implemented to address the specific duties.” Some of the development of BSCT operating procedures and organizational definitions and boundaries can be ascertained by comparing an early 2002 version of BSCT Standard Operating Procedures with a DoD 2008 policy statement on BSCTs, which includes a section describing the training program devised back in 2005.

As Dunivin and Earles describe it, military authorities at MEDCOM and the Surgeon General’s office were closely following the debates at medical and psychological associations regarding medical professionals in so-called behavioral consultant roles in interrogation. The military drew on a number of “experts” of their own, including Army, Navy and Air Force psychologists, and other personnel from JSOC, the Counterintelligence Field Activity office, the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (then parent-command for SERE), the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, and the Criminal Investigation Task Force.

Consultants also came from the shadowy Intelligence Science Board, which is best known for its 2006 report, Educing Information — Interrogation: Science and Art (large PDF). The members of the board are drawn from the intelligence community, broadly defined. It includes two members of the PENS board, NCIS’s Mike Gelles and CIA’s Scott Shumate, as well as the former Chief of the “Interrogation Control Element” in Guantanamo, David Becker.

Dunivin and Earles singled out Behnke as a significant consultant, though not by name, only title (bold emphasis added):

From the earliest stages, professional ethics and law were significant components of the curriculum development process; APA’s ethics director and staff judge advocates (attorneys) with expertise in law relative to interrogations and detention operations were consulted to ensure concordance with the ethics and the law.”

The APA ethics director then, and still is, Stephen Behnke. I emailed Dr. Behnke and asked for his input, including information on dates he consulted or “any information you deem helpful in understanding or describing your work in this regard.” As of publication, Dr. Behnke had not responded to my request. It seems likely his contribution occurred roughly around the same period as that of Dunivin and Banks, i.e., early August 2005, maybe even that same meeting Morgan Banks mentioned on August 5.

In general, we can only say Behnke’s contribution to DoD most likely came in the summer of 2005, and certainly well before the October 2006 release by MEDCOM of policy guidelines for medical personnel assigned to BSCTs (OTSG/MEDCOM Policy Memo 06-029). The PENS report was “Enclosure 1″ to the 2006 MEDCOM guidelines.

There was also an intriguing October 2005 visit by various “delegates from several major health and mental health associations, medical ethicists,” and others to Guantanamo to “learn more about operations and speak with DoD officials and other delegates about appropriate and effective roles of healthcare professionals in detainee operations.”

The BSCTs and “Learned Helplessness”

To understand the egregious nature of Behnke’s contribution, it is important to remember that he never indicated that he had any role in the current construction of the BSCTs, while he continued to be involved in ethics matters related to complaints against former BSCT members, and while he continued to talk and make recommendations regarding APA ethics policy in relation to torture and the BSCTs.

But matters stand even worse when you consider that participation with a BSCT program meant you accepted the authority of the interrogating regime. This meant Behnke had to overlook the human rights violations inherent in the detention of the detainees, especially at Guantanamo, with its emphasis on total control over prisoners, use of isolation, sleep deprivation, and other manipulations of environment, forced injections of drugs, and brutal guard attacks. The insistence that most prisoners’ detentions are in effect indefinite in nature, and that even those the government believes to be innocent or without intelligence value can be held in theory forever, is a gross violation of human rights norms, as well as deleterious to the health of the prisoners involved. (Regarding the latter, see this report by Physicians for Human Rights.)

Also alarming is the fact the training of BSCTs that was developed, and described in MEDCOM’s 2006 policy guidelines, included as a specific recommendation the possession of “professional level expertise” in the “application” of “learned helplessness” as an area of “behavioral science” relevant “to the interrogation/debriefing process.”

Learned helplessness (LH) was originally a theory developed by psychologist Martin Seligman. Seligman was a known consultant to SERE, and had met two or three times with James Mitchell, including at least once at Seligman’s house. The emails revealed by Soldz and his co-authors show that Seligman had also worked for or consulted to the CIA, presumably at Kirk Hubbard’s CIA Operational Assessment Division.

LH was subsequently the theoretical model behind the development of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” torture program, with the idea that use of inescapable shock and fear would break down captives into a state of “learned helplessness” — “learned” in the psychological sense of being conditioned. Indeed, the BSCT curriculum also calls for expertise in use of operant and classical conditioning.

Whether Behnke knew of the inclusion of the “learned helplessness” recommendation is impossible to say with complete certainty. But he should have known. Or he should have known after the fact.

It is now more understandable why APA has refused to call for the closure of Guantanamo, or why they have stalled in implementing an APA-member-derived referendum on pulling psychologists out of human rights violating settings like Guantanamo — one of their chief officers was involved in setting up the regime there, at least as it concerns the use of behavioral consultants.

Torture Program Assists Spread of Endemic Corruption

The meaning of the APA scandal opened up by the Soldz/Reisner/Raymond report, and James Risen’s reporting on same in the New York Times, must be seen in the context of a much larger breakdown in ethical standards by the wider society at large, particularly, though not exclusively, when it comes to the torture scandal.

Most recently, we’ve seen that key figures from the Bush administration torture program have gone on to hold important positions in the Obama administration. A recent New York Times article by Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo last month showed how CIA officials implicated in the torture program, like former CIA Counterterrorism Center official Michael D’Andrea, who Obama put in charge of the CIA’s drone operations. Meanwhile, former CIA officials from the days of the Bush administration torture program still essentially run the Agency — John Brennan as Director, and Greg Vogel as chief of the Directorate of Operations.

President Obama’s insistence that the nation should move on from the torture scandal, and his refusal to further investigations or prosecutions, is totally self-serving when looked at in the light of recent revelations.

It is worth noting that APA did not operate in a void either. They drew upon a top echelon of behavioral scientists when they worked with CIA or SERE officials, including, as I’ve noted in the past Albert Bandura, Richard Lazaraus, and Charles Speilberger, and more recently we have revelations regarding Seligman and Paul Ekman. As when CIA drew on the cream of behavioral science during the days of MKULTRA, many of these scientists and researchers are unwitting, in that they do not know (or deceive themselves) they are contributing to a torture program. But some of them certainly are very close to the CIA or other government intelligence agencies. Some must work directly for them, covertly.

The APA announced last year they would conduct an “independent” investigation, and hired Chicago attorney (and former mayoral candidate), David Hoffman. Hoffman’s report is supposed to be out in in another month or so. But the entire investigation is riddled with conflicts of interest. Hoffman used to work on the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence with soon-to-be CIA director George Tenet, the very man who led the CIA during the creation of the torture program.

The corruption of the APA is not very different than the corruption of many U.S. societal institutions, especially the police and the prison system, whose full racist and oppressive character is in the news daily lately. But this corruption is not reason for despair, but for further struggle. The actual roles of “experts” like Stephen Behnke need to be exposed, and the real nature of the institutions they serve revealed.

In New Book, Details on Antimalarial Drugs as Part of Secret Program to Torture Guantanamo Detainees

It isn’t often that a book that sets out a case that drugs were used to disorient and disable Guantanamo detainees for interrogation makes the front pages, or gets the news coverage one new book did. What’s even more remarkable is that the revelations in that book are just the tip of the iceberg, as new evidence shows the drug use was even greater and more varied than previously reported.

Earlier this year, Simon and Shuster published to great acclaim former Guantanamo guard Joe Hickman’s book, Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay. The book described Hickman’s investigation of the 2006 purported suicides by three Guantanamo inmates, deaths the Guantanamo commander, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., called at the time, “asymmetrical warfare waged against us.”

But rather than a planned terrorist event of exquisitely-timed suicidal protest — an implausible tale in the high-security Guantanamo setting to begin with — Hickman, whose story was first told in an award-winning Harper’s magazine article in 2010, discovered the deaths were likely linked to a secret, most likely CIA, black site on the Guantanamo base. As a tower guard, the night of the “suicides” he had witnessed three detainees secretly taken out of camp earlier that evening and driven in the direction of the black site.

Later, he was witness when the warden at the Guantanamo prison facility, Army Colonel Michael Bumgarner, told prison personnel that despite the fact it was known in the camp that the prisoners had died with rags stuffed down their throats, they were to say nothing to the press when the story was released the detainees supposedly had hanged themselves. A year after the Harper’s article, Almerindo Ojeda, a researcher at University of California, Davis, made a strong case that the three detainees had been killed by a torture technique known as “dryboarding.”

Hickman knew the official story did not hold together, and while he tried to put the nightmare of Guantanamo out of his mind, when a year later another detainee died of supposed suicide, Hickman knew he could not let the story rest. He began a private investigation into what occurred, later linking up with researchers led by attorney Mark Denbeaux at Seton Hall University Law School’s Center for Policy and Research. Together, they released a number of reports deconstructing and refuting the official story.

The most recent Seton Hall report, published last year, included claims Hickman would make in Murder at Camp Delta, including charges that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) had suppressed evidence from their report, removed witness statements, failed to interview other crucial witnesses, and in general had produced, at best, a shoddy work. At worst, it was circumstantial evidence of a major government cover-up.

But one of the strangest links in the tale of government crimes concerned the use of a drug meant to prevent or help cure malaria. As Hickman was looking over a deceased detainee’s medical record, he discovered that the detainee had been give a large dose of mefloquine upon admission to Guantanamo. (Mefloquine is often known by its former brand name, Lariam.) He later found that mefloquine had been administered to all the Guantanamo detainees on medical intake. But what was mefloquine?

Why Mefloquine?

Mefloquine administration was standard operating procedure upon admission. The official story, first reported to Jason Leopold and me and published at Truthout, was that Cuban officials told Guantanamo camp officials that they were worried that detainees would bring malaria to the otherwise malaria-free Cuban isle. Perhaps never in the annals of U.S. history were Department of Defense officials so sensitive to Cuban fears and needs.

According to Navy nurse, and then chief surgeon for Guantanamo’s Task Force 160, Capt. Albert Shimkus, at the behest of the Cubans he gathered experts, and a determination was made that mefloquine would be the primary drug used to control possible malaria. But when queried more closely on the issue, including the fact Cuba had no malaria, Shimkus admitted he and others had been told there were “certain issues we were advised not to talk about.”

But to date, Shimkus’s story, which supposedly included consultation with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Navy Environmental Health Center (NEHC) and the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center at Fort Detrick, Maryland, has not panned out, as FOIA requests for documents from the above agencies have all received a response of “no responsive documents.”

Even more, as another article I wrote in 2011 with Leopold explained, foreign workers brought in to build Camp Delta itself were drawn heavily from malarial-endemic parts of the globe, including India and the Philippines, but DoD showed no interest in ensuring these workers did not carry malaria.

What DoD did was administer 1250mg of mefloquine in divided doses in the first 12 hours. Hickman is correct that this is five times the usual prophylactic weekly dose of the drug. But it is not, as Hickman portrays it in the book, a “massive overdose” of the drug. It is the amount administered when you are seeking to eliminate a certain stage of the malaria parasite from the bloodstream. It is a “treatment dose.”

But that does not change the fact, which Hickman discovered, that there was no reason to administer such a large dose, and that large doses of the drug — even the lower 250 mg level prophylactic dose — carried intolerable neurological and psychological side effects. (more…)

New Book: Antimalarial Drugs Part of Secret Program to Torture Detainees at Guantanamo

It isn’t often that a book that sets out a case that drugs were used to disorient and disable Guantanamo detainees for interrogation makes the front pages, or gets the news coverage one new book did. What’s even more remarkable is that the revelations in that book are just the tip of the iceberg, as new evidence shows the drug use was even greater and more varied than previously reported.

Earlier this year, Simon and Shuster published to great acclaim former Guantanamo guard Joe Hickman’s book, Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay. The book described Hickman’s investigation of the 2006 purported suicides by three Guantanamo inmates, deaths the Guantanamo commander, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., called at the time, “asymmetrical warfare waged against us.”

But rather than a planned terrorist event of exquisitely-timed suicidal protest — an implausible tale in the high-security Guantanamo setting to begin with — Hickman, whose story was first told in an award-winning Harper’s magazine article in 2010, discovered the deaths were likely linked to a secret, most likely CIA, black site on the Guantanamo base. As a tower guard, the night of the “suicides” he had witnessed three detainees secretly taken out of camp earlier that evening and driven in the direction of the black site.

Later, he was witness when the warden at the Guantanamo prison facility, Army Colonel Michael Bumgarner, told prison personnel that despite the fact it was known in the camp that the prisoners had died with rags stuffed down their throats, they were to say nothing to the press when the story was released the detainees supposedly had hanged themselves. A year after the Harper’s article, Almerindo Ojeda, a researcher at University of California, Davis, made a strong case that the three detainees had been killed by a torture technique known as “dryboarding.”

Hickman knew the official story did not hold together, and while he tried to put the nightmare of Guantanamo out of his mind, when a year later another detainee died of supposed suicide, Hickman knew he could not let the story rest. He began a private investigation into what occurred, later linking up with researchers led by attorney Mark Denbeaux at Seton Hall University Law School’s Center for Policy and Research. Together, they released a number of reports deconstructing and refuting the official story.

The most recent Seton Hall report, published last year, included claims Hickman would make in Murder at Camp Delta, including charges that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) had suppressed evidence from their report, removed witness statements, failed to interview other crucial witnesses, and in general had produced, at best, a shoddy work. At worst, it was circumstantial evidence of a major government cover-up.

But one of the strangest links in the tale of government crimes concerned the use of a drug meant to prevent or help cure malaria. As Hickman was looking over a deceased detainee’s medical record, he discovered that the detainee had been give a large dose of mefloquine upon admission to Guantanamo. (Mefloquine is often known by its former brand name, Lariam.) He later found that mefloquine had been administered to all the Guantanamo detainees on medical intake. But what was mefloquine?

Why Mefloquine?

Mefloquine administration was standard operating procedure upon admission. The official story, first reported to Jason Leopold and me and published at Truthout, was that Cuban officials told Guantanamo camp officials that they were worried that detainees would bring malaria to the otherwise malaria-free Cuban isle. Perhaps never in the annals of U.S. history were Department of Defense officials so sensitive to Cuban fears and needs.

According to Navy nurse, and then chief surgeon for Guantanamo’s Task Force 160, Capt. Albert Shimkus, at the behest of the Cubans he gathered experts, and a determination was made that mefloquine would be the primary drug used to control possible malaria. But when queried more closely on the issue, including the fact Cuba had no malaria, Shimkus admitted he and others had been told there were “certain issues we were advised not to talk about.”

But to date, Shimkus’s story, which supposedly included consultation with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Navy Environmental Health Center (NEHC) and the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center at Fort Detrick, Maryland, has not panned out, as FOIA requests for documents from the above agencies have all received a response of “no responsive documents.”

Even more, as another article I wrote in 2011 with Leopold explained, foreign workers brought in to build Camp Delta itself were drawn heavily from malarial-endemic parts of the globe, including India and the Philippines, but DoD showed no interest in ensuring these workers did not carry malaria.

What DoD did was administer 1250mg of mefloquine in divided doses in the first 12 hours. Hickman is correct that this is five times the usual prophylactic weekly dose of the drug. But it is not, as Hickman portrays it in the book, a “massive overdose” of the drug. It is the amount administered when you are seeking to eliminate a certain stage of the malaria parasite from the bloodstream. It is a “treatment dose.”

But that does not change the fact, which Hickman discovered, that there was no reason to administer such a large dose, and that large doses of the drug — even the lower 250 mg level prophylactic dose — carried intolerable neurological and psychological side effects.

Indeed, by 2013, DoD had requested that all service personnel, including special forces, forego use of the drug because of rare but documented neurological toxicity. That same year, the prestigious Institute on Medicine as a Profession called for an investigation on the use of mefloquine at Guantanamo.

An Army doctor-researcher, Remington Nevin, later confirmed in a 2012 published report in the medical journal Tropical Medicine and International Health that DoD’s “presumptive treatment” of possible mefloquine in the detainees was both unprecedented and “inappropriate.” He added that his “analysis suggests the troubling possibility that the use of mefloquine at Guantanamo may have been motivated in part by knowledge of the drug’s adverse effects….”

Hickman would conclude that the mefloquine was used at the highest known dosage precisely because of its propensity to cause side effects, including dizziness, nightmares, nausea, and suicidal feelings. (more…)

Book Review: “This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in Korean War & Denied It Ever Since”

There is no historical controversy as contentious or long-lasting as the North Korean and Chinese charges of U.S. use of biological weapons during the Korean War. For those who believe the charges to be false — and that includes much of American academia, but not all — they must assume the burden of explaining why the North Koreans or Chinese made up any bogus claims to attack the credibility of U.S. forces. Because they had no reason to do that.

It is a historical fact that the United States carpet-bombed and napalmed North Korea, killing nearly 3 million civilians thereby.

In other words, massive war crimes are already self-evident, and if there is any mystery, it is how historical amnesia and/or callous disregard for crimes such as those committed by the U.S. and its allies in Korea, or the millions killed by the U.S. in Southeast Asia, can go ignored today.

But the U.S. media and academia largely ignore evidence of U.S. use of weapons of mass destruction in its wars against independence struggles and for imperial dominance, or hock their wares to support propaganda that claims such crimes never took place. Evidence to the contrary, such as the 1950s International Scientific Commission investigation into U.S. use of bacteriological weapons in the Korean War, or the many confessions under interrogation by U.S. Air Force personnel, were generally suppressed. (I published myself the ISC’s summary report earlier this year.)

The suppression of the ISC investigation was, as Chaddock points out, at least in part because ISC chair, Sir Joseph Needham, was not shy in mentioning the connections between the US use of BW in Korea and China and Japanese use of biological experimentation and warfare against China during World War II. This was of high sensitivity to the U.S. as they publicly denied that, having made a deal with Shiro Ishii and the Japanese war criminals of Unit 731 to not prosecute them if US scientists from Fort Detrick and the CIA could get Japanese data and samples — of human tissues gathered via vivisection! — and use them for the US’s own secretive BW program in the early years of the Cold War.

One man with evident integrity and unwilling to let the truth be buried is Dave Chaddock. His book, This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since, is a superb exercise in historical rebuttal. The falsifications and lies and secrets propounded by the U.S. on the issue of its crimes has been going on for decades now. For instance, the U.S. populace did not learn of its government’s post-war deal with Nazis, or its amnesty of the Japanese Imperial Army’s Unit 731, until nearly 40 years had passed from the time of these events. If the book seems partisan at times, it is understandably the passion of someone outraged at what he has discovered — just as many who have served in America’s imperial wars returned home outraged, and too often broken, by what they had seen and endured. (more…)

Book Review – “This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since”

There is no historical controversy as contentious or long-lasting as the North Korean and Chinese charges of U.S. use of biological weapons during the Korean War. For those who believe the charges to be false — and that includes much of American academia, but not all — they must assume the burden of explaining why the North Koreans or Chinese made up any bogus claims to attack the credibility of U.S. forces. Because they had no reason to do that.

It is a historical fact that the United States carpet-bombed and napalmed North Korea, killing nearly 3 million civilians thereby.

In other words, massive war crimes are already self-evident, and if there is any mystery, it is how historical amnesia and/or callous disregard for crimes such as those committed by the U.S. and its allies in Korea, or the millions killed by the U.S. in Southeast Asia, can go ignored today.

But the U.S. media and academia largely ignore evidence of U.S. use of weapons of mass destruction in its wars against independence struggles and for imperial dominance, or hock their wares to support propaganda that claims such crimes never took place. Evidence to the contrary, such as the 1950s International Scientific Commission investigation into U.S. use of bacteriological weapons in the Korean War, or the many confessions under interrogation by U.S. Air Force personnel, were generally suppressed. (I published myself the ISC’s summary report earlier this year.)

The suppression of the ISC investigation was, as Chaddock points out, at least in part because ISC chair, Sir Joseph Needham, was not shy in mentioning the connections between the US use of BW in Korea and China and Japanese use of biological experimentation and warfare against China during World War II. This was of high sensitivity to the U.S. as they publicly denied that, having made a deal with Shiro Ishii and the Japanese war criminals of Unit 731 to not prosecute them if US scientists from Fort Detrick and the CIA could get Japanese data and samples — of human tissues gathered via vivisection! — and use them for the US’s own secretive BW program in the early years of the Cold War.

One man with evident integrity and unwilling to let the truth be buried is Dave Chaddock. His book, This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since, is a superb exercise in historical rebuttal. The falsifications and lies and secrets propounded by the U.S. on the issue of its crimes has been going on for decades now. For instance, the U.S. populace did not learn of its government’s post-war deal with Nazis, or its amnesty of the Japanese Imperial Army’s Unit 731, until nearly 40 years had passed from the time of these events. If the book seems partisan at times, it is understandably the passion of someone outraged at what he has discovered — just as many who have served in America’s imperial wars returned home outraged, and too often broken, by what they had seen and endured.

Chaddock builds on the seminal work of Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman, whose 1998 book, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea, laid out the best case we have thus far for proving the U.S. BW campaign really did take place. Chaddock takes on Endicott and Hagerman’s critics, and has a particularly trenchant critique of the discovery of Soviet documents that indicate the BW evidence was “faked.” The documents were oddly serendipitously discovered at the time Endicott and Hagerman were publishing their book. (The actual documents have not been publicly released, if they in fact exist.) Chaddock shows that the Soviet “fake”, as presented, could not possibly have covered all the sites and evidence of biological weapons used in as short a time as given to create such a fantastic fraud.

Chaddock also takes on the controversy that surrounded the testimonies (“confessions”) of downed flyers interrogated by North Korean and Chinese captors. The flyers’ testimony was considered very convincing at the time, and the U.S. scrambled to find a way to discredit it. (The U.S. separated the flyers’ upon repatriation, with one group claiming they were tortured, and the other insisting they told the truth. All were threatened with court-martial if they did not recant.)

This Must Be the Place is unique in delving into the actual matter of the U.S. flyers’ confessions themselves. Chaddock makes a number of convincing observations. He notices that many of the flyers spoke to their shock at being told the U.S. was involved in germ warfare. One said he was shocked “beyond words,” while Air Force Colonel Walker “Bud” Mahurin described how pilots in his command reacted to his revelations surrounding the U.S. “campaign of germ warfare” with looks of “great shock.”

There is certainly more that could be unearthed about these confessions, and their aftermath, revelations that would add to Chaddock’s heavily documented analysis. For one thing, it is of high interest that Boris Pash, then chief of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID), and formerly a member of the secretive Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), not to mention the head of security on the Manhattan Project and the leader of the mysterious Alsos Mission, AND also a CIA assassin, was involved in the interrogations of the returned flyers, and the threats to prosecute some of them. Also of high importance is the fact the record of those interrogations have been “lost” by the military.

The CIA and military created a cover-story that the men that confessed to use of BW had been “brainwashed.” This so-called brainwashing was then used as an excuse to increase funding in their own mind-control programs, the most famous of which was MKULTRA. The CIA pushed the “brainwashing” story even though, as a memo by then CIA chief Allen Dulles showed the Agency knew there was “little scientific evidence to support brainwashing.”

Nevertheless, CIA efforts to push the “brainwashing” charges included recruiting the leading members of a generation (or two) of social science and psychological/psychiatric academics and practitioners, whose experiments on use of drugs like LSD, and on sensory deprivation, and mock torture at government “survival” camps, led ultimately to an institutional use of torture by the U.S. government itself after 9/11. Chaddock details much of this history, and as with other topics he covers, refers readers to ample numbers of sources and references. His bibliography is an important assemblage of modern literature on the entire controversy.

Given the scare campaigns that are still used by the West about use of chemical or biological weapons by any country dubbed “evil” by the U.S., Chaddock’s book takes on added relevance, if not urgency.

Chaddock’s book is a real treasure. It presents in an entertaining and convincing fashion what Chaddock himself calls the “overwhelming evidence” of BW use by the Americans during the Korean War.

This is a time when independent thinking is in short supply. Curiosity and a zest for fact and truth are not traits highly valued today, particularly not when it comes to politics or historical controversies. But if you are someone who really wants to know the truth, who wants to see what someone who has spent a good deal of time researching this subject has to say, then Chaddock’s book is just the thing for you.

US Government Classifies Term “America’s Battle Lab’ in War on Terror” in Pentagon Report

CJCS External Review of GTMO Intelligence Operations
CJCS External Review of GTMO Intelligence Operations, page 1

The Department of Defense, after consultation with the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency, has released via Mandatory Declassification Request an early Pentagon study of intelligence operations at Guantanamo (along with accompanying slide presentation). It is very heavily redacted, with whole pages blanked out.

But even more, DoD and its “consultants” have seen fit to classify material that was already made public during a much-reported Senate investigation, including the controversial assertion that interrogations at Guantanamo constituted an experimental “battle lab” for treatment of and interrogations on prisoners captured in the administration’s newly-minted “global war on terror.”

When the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) published their report, “Inquiry in the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody,” in November 2008, Section III was titled, “Guantanamo Bay as a “Battle Lab” for New Interrogation Techniques.” The quote was taken from a 2002 report commissioned by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on intelligence operations at Guantanamo’s new prison for “war on terror” prisoners.

The SASC report referred to the JSC study as the “Custer report,” named after Colonel John P. Custer, then-assistant commandant of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Ft. Huachuca, who led the review team for the Joint Chiefs. The report stated, “In his report, COL Custer referred to GTMO as ‘America’s “Battle Lab”‘ in the global war on terror, observing that ‘our nation faces an entirely new threat framework,’ which must be met by an investment of both human capital and infrastructure.”

Despite the fact the portions of the Custer Report quoted above were not classified in the SASC report, there are no comparable quotations or remarks in the Custer Report or the slides released via MDR request. Because there are so many redactions in the report itself, it is impossible to know which agency did the classification, or what FOIA “exception” was used to justify this specific instance of censorship.

The Senate report also documented use of similar characteristic language from two Guantanamo commanders, Major General Mark Dunleavy and Major General Geoffrey Miller.

The Senate committee would conclude that psychologists at the military’s SERE schools, and possibly special forces, along with their commanding officers and some legal officials, had colluded in creating a new and untested form of interrogation that amounted to abuse and torture of prisoners. While they did not say so, this program ran concurrently with the CIA’s notorious “enhanced interrogation” program, and many of the techniques used overlapped between CIA and DoD, including use of isolation, sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical abuse, and sensory deprivation and overload.

The redactions in the Custer report are currently under appeal with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, who told me in an October 23, 2014 letter it is “coordinating this appeal with the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Joint Staff.”

“Negative connotations”

The “Battle Lab” term was viewed with alarm by military investigators from the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF), which DoD had assembled from investigators from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. The SASC quoted CITF chief, Colonel Britt Mallow, who provided written testimony to the Senate committee:

MG Dunlavey and later MG Miller referred to GTMO as a “Battle Lab” meaning that interrogations and other procedures there were to some degree experimental, and their lessons would benefit DOD in other places. While this was logical in terms of learning lessons, I personally objected to the implied philosophy that interrogators should experiment with untested methods, particularly those in which they were not trained.

Mallow’s deputy, Mark Fallon, concurred, telling the SASC “CITF did not concur with the Battle Lab concept because the task force ‘did not advocate the application of unproven techniques on individuals who were awaiting trials…. there were many risks associated with this concept… and the perception that detainees were used for some ‘experimentation’ of new unproven techniques had negative connotations.”

Told that the FOIA release of the Custer report had censored use of the term “battle lab,” Fallon told this author he was “very disappointed” at the extent of the redactions in the FOIA version of the report.

“I was privy to the initial report when it was first published,” Fallon wrote in a March 6 email, “and in fact, one of the factors that contributed to the need for such a review were the complaints the CITF had made to the chain of command about the activities and actions associated with detainee operations and interrogations onboard Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Just as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) found when they were staffing the release of the Torture Report, redactions are often to avoid embarrassment and not based on legitimate national security purpose…. In fact, the 2008 SASC hearings and report contained specific information about Col Custer’s report about interrogations at Guantanamo…

“Having spent more than 30 years working national security issues, including investigating unauthorized disclosure of classified information and espionage related matters; there are two resounding themes that spanned across those decades. One was the over classification of information that is not based on legitimate national security interests and the other is the lack of accountability for the over classification of material.

“In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, we did some things that are contrary to our values and we can neither hide from them nor redact them from the record. Our Nation has always grown stronger when we have confronted our failings and learned from them. It’s time to illuminate the darkness on this dark chapter and to once again be the beacon for human rights and American values.”

Intelligence Contingency Funds

The Custer report as released is not without some interesting value. For one thing, it describes the recommendation for the founding of a “Terrorism University” at Guantanamo, meant to “provide a common orientation curriculum for personnel assigned to the GTMO operation.” Personnel who have contact with detainees would be trained prior to their deployment. “Interrogators and debriefers who have worked at [redacted] detention center should be sent to “TU” as advisors/instructors,” the document states.

CJCS External Review of Intelligence Operations at Guantanamo, p. 22
CJCS External Review of Intelligence Operations at Guantanamo, p. 22, with redactions

Even more interesting is the reports discussion of use of “Intelligence Contingency Funds.” Much of the section on this issue is, as is most of the document, censored. However, the intelligence officials who undertook the August 2002 review at Guantanamo were clearly unhappy about the facilities at the Cuba-based naval prison, citing them “too small for current and projected [nearly a line redacted] intelligence operations.”

Military intelligence officials recommended that the Joint Chiefs work with the House and Senate intelligence committees “for an emergency intelligence appropriation to fund construction…” of updated facilities.

It is not generally known that the Congressional intelligence committees, ostensibly formed to provide oversight on the actions of the CIA and other intelligence committees (while SASC is supposed to be responsible for military intelligence oversight), act dually to provide appropriations for intelligence operations. Indeed, I have never seen it reported on.

But on its web servers, the CIA has a history online, L. Britt Snider’s “The Agency and the Hill,” which discusses the development of this aspect of the intelligence committees. (See especially its Chapter 6, “Program and Budget.”)

The import of this information cannot be clearer. Whatever its oversight functions and actions, the House and Senate intelligence committees clearly were involved in funding “America’s ‘Battle lab'” of torture.

Intel Agencies’ Curiosity about “the limits of the human spirit”

In January 2015, the Seton Hall University School of Law, Center for Policy and Research, put out a report, “Guantanamo: America’s Battle Lab,” which amplified the points made above. The report (PDF) documented how an experimental program of torture had been implemented via a secret, unacknowledged Special Access Program (SAP), with no congressional oversight. (Strangely, the report failed to mention how the Custer report also used the “battle lab” language.)

The Seton Hall investigators summarized their findings:

The Center for Policy and Research has discovered the disturbing truth behind the purpose of GTMO. Instead of being used primarily as a detention facility, GTMO was designed and operated by Intel predominately as America’s Battle Lab—a facility where U.S. intelligence personnel could coordinate worldwide interrogation efforts and have unfettered control over persons in U.S. custody….

America’s most notorious detention facility was covertly transformed into a secret interrogation base designed to foster intelligence’s curiosity on the effects of torture and the limits of the human spirit….

… GTMO truly served as the think tank and center for experimentation in exploring interrogation techniques and training other military officials in facilities across the globe. In this sense, America’s Battle Lab served as the heart of worldwide interrogation testing and training.

“Murder at Camp Delta”

The discovery of the Gitmo SAP (or SAPs) was narrated in the first person, in the form of an odyssey though the maze of Guantanamo prison blocks and secret black sites taken by former Guantanamo prison guard Joseph Hickman, as described in his new book, Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay. Hickman was also a senior researcher on the Seton Hall study.

In June 2006, Hickman was eyewitness to lies told by high military officials about what happened when three young men were supposedly discovered dead by suicide. While at first he found the idea that command authorities or the Naval Criminal Investigative Service could be covering up a crime too difficult to believe, when a fourth detainee allegedly was found hanged in his cell nearly a year later, he realized that the evidence of his eyes and of his heart could be ignored no longer. The remainder of his extraordinary book details Hickman’s own investigation into the deaths of the three 2006 “suicides.”

Hickman cites many of the details found in the Seton Hall study, but unlike the documentary approach of the latter, the former guard’s story puts you right in the middle of the investigation.

According to Hickman: “… by the time I’d gathered and sifted though all the relevant documents, I realized that all of us who arrived there, even Admiral Harris, had entered an intelligence operation in which no normal military rules or codes applied.

“Instead of order and discipline, the authorities behind it aimed to create ‘controlled chaos.’ The people we were guarding weren’t just suspected jihadists or enemy combatants, but men who’d been given drugs by our medical personnel intended to make them believe they were insane when they arrived.”

Mefloquine and beyond

Hickman, like his collaborators at Seton Hall, concentrate on the bizarre use of the antimalaria drug mefloquine at high treatment doses on all incoming detainees, as an example of the way drugs were used to disorient and disable incoming detainees. But evidence from this author shows that not only melfoquine, but the antimalaria drug chloroquine was used on at least some of the detainees at points well past their entry into Guantanamo.

Similarly, some detainees, including one who died in 2006 and another in 2007, were possibly given mefloquine at other points in their incarceration for reasons that could only be to disable and harm them.

There is much left to explore and discover about the US torture programs of the CIA and the Defense Department, and the mysterious Special Access Programs, unaccountable to no one, that have undertaken a lawless program of torture and mayhem and murder that no one can guarantee isn’t over yet. Indeed, a recent UN meeting of the Committee on Torture castigated the U.S. for the continued use of isolation, sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation, as allowed in Appendix M of the Army Field Manual.

There are two things lacking in moving forward on this issue: political will, and the lassitude of the press. Of these, political will must come first, as the torture issue is tied to two political parties, one of which has members who are strong proponents of torture, and the other which has a leader in the Oval Office who refuses to prosecute former government officials for war crimes, and lectures others not to dwell on these past crimes because they are in the past. (This did not stop Obama’s DoJ for prosecuting Rasmea Odeh for crimes purportedly committed 40 years ago, or holding former American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier in prison for trumped up charges for 38 years.)

But political will also rests ultimately in the hands of the people themselves, and unless citizens of the United States start to take these issues with the seriousness they deserve, then the torturers will continue to go free. They are free now – from Guantanamo to Chicago, Illinois — and they are getting ever more aggressive. Failure of will to prosecute and punish the torturers will result in the total loss of democratic rights and the descent into the kind of hell usually reserved for U.S. torture-client states, like Egypt.

US Government Classifies Term “America’s Battle Lab’ in War on Terror” in Pentagon Report

CJCS External Review of GTMO Intelligence Operations
CJCS External Review of GTMO Intelligence Operations, page 1

The Department of Defense, after consultation with the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Intelligence Agency, has released via Mandatory Declassification Request an early Pentagon study of intelligence operations at Guantanamo (along with accompanying slide presentation). It is very heavily redacted, with whole pages blanked out.

But even more, DoD and its “consultants” have seen fit to classify material that was already made public during a much-reported Senate investigation, including the controversial assertion that interrogations at Guantanamo constituted an experimental “battle lab” for treatment of and interrogations on prisoners captured in the administration’s newly-minted “global war on terror.”

When the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) published their report, “Inquiry in the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody,” in November 2008, Section III was titled, “Guantanamo Bay as a “Battle Lab” for New Interrogation Techniques.” The quote was taken from a 2002 report commissioned by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on intelligence operations at Guantanamo’s new prison for “war on terror” prisoners.

The SASC report referred to the JSC study as the “Custer report,” named after Colonel John P. Custer, then-assistant commandant of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Ft. Huachuca, who led the review team for the Joint Chiefs. The report stated, “In his report, COL Custer referred to GTMO as ‘America’s “Battle Lab”‘ in the global war on terror, observing that ‘our nation faces an entirely new threat framework,’ which must be met by an investment of both human capital and infrastructure.”

Despite the fact the portions of the Custer Report quoted above were not classified in the SASC report, there are no comparable quotations or remarks in the Custer Report or the slides released via MDR request. Because there are so many redactions in the report itself, it is impossible to know which agency did the classification, or what FOIA “exception” was used to justify this specific instance of censorship.

The Senate report also documented use of similar characteristic language from two Guantanamo commanders, Major General Mark Dunleavy and Major General Geoffrey Miller.

The Senate committee would conclude that psychologists at the military’s SERE schools, and possibly special forces, along with their commanding officers and some legal officials, had colluded in creating a new and untested form of interrogation that amounted to abuse and torture of prisoners. While they did not say so, this program ran concurrently with the CIA’s notorious “enhanced interrogation” program, and many of the techniques used overlapped between CIA and DoD, including use of isolation, sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical abuse, and sensory deprivation and overload.

The redactions in the Custer report are currently under appeal with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, who told me in an October 23, 2014 letter it is “coordinating this appeal with the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Joint Staff.”

“Negative connotations”

The “Battle Lab” term was viewed with alarm by military investigators from the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF), which DoD had assembled from investigators from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. The SASC quoted CITF chief, Colonel Britt Mallow, who provided written testimony to the Senate committee:

MG Dunlavey and later MG Miller referred to GTMO as a “Battle Lab” meaning that interrogations and other procedures there were to some degree experimental, and their lessons would benefit DOD in other places. While this was logical in terms of learning lessons, I personally objected to the implied philosophy that interrogators should experiment with untested methods, particularly those in which they were not trained.

Mallow’s deputy, Mark Fallon, concurred, telling the SASC “CITF did not concur with the Battle Lab concept because the task force ‘did not advocate the application of unproven techniques on individuals who were awaiting trials…. there were many risks associated with this concept… and the perception that detainees were used for some ‘experimentation’ of new unproven techniques had negative connotations.”

Told that the FOIA release of the Custer report had censored use of the term “battle lab,” Fallon told this author he was “very disappointed” at the extent of the redactions in the FOIA version of the report.

“I was privy to the initial report when it was first published,” Fallon wrote in a March 6 email, “and in fact, one of the factors that contributed to the need for such a review were the complaints the CITF had made to the chain of command about the activities and actions associated with detainee operations and interrogations onboard Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Just as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) found when they were staffing the release of the Torture Report, redactions are often to avoid embarrassment and not based on legitimate national security purpose…. In fact, the 2008 SASC hearings and report contained specific information about Col Custer’s report about interrogations at Guantanamo…

“Having spent more than 30 years working national security issues, including investigating unauthorized disclosure of classified information and espionage related matters; there are two resounding themes that spanned across those decades. One was the over classification of information that is not based on legitimate national security interests and the other is the lack of accountability for the over classification of material.

“In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, we did some things that are contrary to our values and we can neither hide from them nor redact them from the record. Our Nation has always grown stronger when we have confronted our failings and learned from them. It’s time to illuminate the darkness on this dark chapter and to once again be the beacon for human rights and American values.”

Intelligence Contingency Funds

The Custer report as released is not without some interesting value. For one thing, it describes the recommendation for the founding of a “Terrorism University” at Guantanamo, meant to “provide a common orientation curriculum for personnel assigned to the GTMO operation.” Personnel who have contact with detainees would be trained prior to their deployment. “Interrogators and debriefers who have worked at [redacted] detention center should be sent to “TU” as advisors/instructors,” the document states.

CJCS External Review of Intelligence Operations at Guantanamo, p. 22
CJCS External Review of Intelligence Operations at Guantanamo, p. 22, with redactions

Even more interesting is the reports discussion of use of “Intelligence Contingency Funds.” Much of the section on this issue is, as is most of the document, censored. However, the intelligence officials who undertook the August 2002 review at Guantanamo were clearly unhappy about the facilities at the Cuba-based naval prison, citing them “too small for current and projected [nearly a line redacted] intelligence operations.”

Military intelligence officials recommended that the Joint Chiefs work with the House and Senate intelligence committees “for an emergency intelligence appropriation to fund construction…” of updated facilities.

It is not generally known that the Congressional intelligence committees, ostensibly formed to provide oversight on the actions of the CIA and other intelligence committees (while SASC is supposed to be responsible for military intelligence oversight), act dually to provide appropriations for intelligence operations. Indeed, I have never seen it reported on.

But on its web servers, the CIA has a history online, L. Britt Snider’s “The Agency and the Hill,” which discusses the development of this aspect of the intelligence committees. (See especially its Chapter 6, “Program and Budget.”) (more…)

What Role Did Chicago Police Detective Deployed to Guantanamo Play in Renditions?

Memo's evidence of EUCOM involvement in renditions
EUCOM involvement in renditions to Guantanamo

If one did not know who Richard Zuley was from reporter Jess Bravin’s account, or from my article linking Zuley, the interrogation leader in the torture of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, with a history of alleged Chicago police frame-up and coerced confessions (reported at The Dissenter last November), the splash of notoriety from a recent series of articles by Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian certainly made the former Chicago detective a near-household name.

While Ackerman himself, and others, have concentrated in follow-up stories on revelations of the existence of a so-called police “black site” at Homan Square, where cops reportedly lock-up suspects “off the books,” and torture them, or on the larger issue of police abuse in Chicago or other major American cities, Zuley’s links to military and other possible intelligence agencies have remained largely unexamined.

The lingering question remains: how did Zuley get from the Chicago precinct house to the interrogation booths at Guantnamo? Why was someone like him put in charge of the Special Projects Team responsible for the interrogation of an ostensible high-value detainee like Slahi, answering in the chain-of-command directly to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld?

If we follow the story down that rabbit hole, we will see that Zuley’s background links to the role played by the Pentagon’s European Command (EUCOM) in renditioning prisoners to Guantanamo. While we don’t know if Zuley played any role in these renditions, it seems highly likely he knew of them, as he apparently worked for what Washington Post reporter Dana Priest once called the “super-secret” Joint Analysis Center (JAC) at EUCOM headquarters in England.

RAF Molesworth and EUCOM’s Joint Analysis Center

In Ackerman’s in-depth story on Zuley, he noted that the former Chicago policeman had links to “naval intelligence” going back to the 1980s. Ackerman found a court transcript that stated Zuley had been “mobilized for the war on terror in November of 2002.”

Ackerman continued, referencing Zuley’s testimony in the court transcript, “Initially assigned to a Royal Air Force base in Molesworth, his superiors ‘sent me to Cuba as the liaison officer for the European Command. And that job has evolved to what I’m doing now’ – that is, ‘assigned to the Joint Task Force Guantanamo as an officer in charge of one of the teams down there for the intelligence collection.’”

The tasking to Molesworth is key, especially when linked to Zuley’s own admission that he was a liaison officer for EUCOM (reported first in my November 2014 Dissenter article). Ackerman didn’t follow up the Molesworth link, but the RAF base at Molesworth is the headquarters for EUCOM’s Joint Analysis Center.

According to a “Studies in Intelligence” report (PDF) by Adam D.M. Svendsen (liberated by the late Aaron Swartz), “The US Military European Command (EUCOM) Joint Analysis Center (JAC) based at RAF Molesworth, the US Visiting Forces base in Cambridgeshire, UK, also features as an important location where UK–US military intelligence liaison takes place” (p. 18).

Robert L. Davis, who had been a Naval Analyst at JAC in the 1990s, described the agency: “JAC Molesworth is the European Theater’s multiservice, JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] sponsored all source intelligence production facility. It provides intelligence support for contingency operations, special exercises, and ongoing combined Joint Task Force missions…”, including special operations forces.

The Role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Release of the “Custer Report”

The role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is worth noting. In a September 2002 “external review” of Guantanamo Bay Intelligence Operations tasked by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under the guidance of the Director JCS and “a team of subject matter experts from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint staff, and the US Army Intelligence Center and School, Fort Huachuca AZ” — known as the “Custer Report” — stated formally that “Joint Task Forces [at Guantanamo] are subordinate to SOUTHCOM and report thorugh Commander US Southern Command to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the Secretary of Defense.”

The Custer Report, which was prominently discussed in the 2008 Senate Armed Services Report on Detainee Abuse, was obtained by me via FOIA, and is released here for the first time (PDF). Unfortunately, it is way too heavily censored, and I’ve appealed the amount of censorship. Meanwhile, this is what we have.

The JAC is obviously an important if little-known intelligence center. According to one of its former leaders, even back in the 1990s, it consisted of numerous divisions and was a “1,000-personnel intelligence organization” with a $60 million budget.

According to a page at the Federation of American Scientists website, JAC is EUCOM’s version of a Joint Intelligence Center, which centers exist as “the principal element for ensuring effective intelligence support for combatant commanders in chiefs and theater forces.” The same site notes, “Men and women in the U.S. European Command’s Joint Analysis Center (JAC) process, analyze and consolidate data to produce fused intelligence information focusing on an area of responsibility consisting of more than 77 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.” (more…)