In the past I have written more than once on the changes made to language on drugs in the 2006 version of the Army Field Manual on interrogation (FM 2-22.3, "Human Collector Intelligence Operations"), most notably in this June 30, 2009 article at Firedoglake. In that article I noted how John Yoo had approved the use of drugs by CIA interrogators, so long as they did not "rise to the level of 'disrupt[ing] profoundly the senses or personality.'" Such a "profound disruption," Yoo wrote, "must penetrate to the core of an individual’s ability to perceive the world around him, substantially interfering with his cognitive abilities, or fundamentally alter his personality."
As an example of such disruption, Yoo pointed to DSM-IV psychiatric diagnoses, including "drug-induced dementia," "brief psychotic disorder," obsessive-compulsive disorder, or induced suicidal or self-mutilating behavior. Even more, Yoo said that the use of "truth drugs," "where no physical harm or mental suffering was apparent," was rejected by the State parties to the UN Convention Against Torture as "not viewed as amounting to torture per se."
Yet a few years later, when the authors of the AFM rewrite (working for Stephen Cambone, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld's putative right-hand man) got to the sectio on drugs, even "profound disruption" wasn't too awful for them. They prohibited drugs to be used by Army interrogators to only "drugs that may induce lasting or permanent mental alteration or damage." Earlier language banning drugs that could produce "chemically induced psychosis" was dropped.
In my June 2009 article I wrote:
The main text of the AFM [2-22.3] also changed the wording from the previous Army Field Manual [FM 34-52] as regards the use of drugs on prisoners, and did so in a way that allowed greater latitude for drugs that cause disruption of the senses and temporary psychosis.While this was true, I had not realized that FM 34-52 itself represented a change from earlier Army interrogation doctrine regarding the use of drugs for interrogations. According to authoritative military sources, the change in drugging policy in FM 34-52 represented a definitive break with previous post-Nuremberg military policy, as the documented below.
Nor did I realize that Yoo's point about "truth drugs" and the CAT were in actuality a feint.
FM 34-52 was dated September 28, 1992, so we can date the changes in DoD doctrine regarding use of drugs in interrogation at least back to the close of the Bush, Sr. administration. As we begin to look with a more critical eye at US government denials of drugging of "war on terror" prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere (see the stories about the Dod Inspector General Report on use of "mind-altering drugs to facilitate interrogation" and the lastest revelations about the drugging of former Guantanamo detainee David Hicks), it will be important to understand the historical record.
I discovered this not insignificant change on policy about drugging prisoners in a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for Congress, "Lawfulness of Interrogation Techniques under the Geneva Conventions." The report is dated September 8, 2004. The author is listed as Jennifer K. Elsea, Legislative Attorney, American Law Division. The relevant part of the reported is excerpted below.
Under the interpretation set forth in [Army Field Manual for Interrogation] FM 34-52, “physical or mental torture and coercion revolve around the elimination of the source’s free will.”46 These activities, along with “brainwashing,” are not authorized, it explains, but are not to be confused with the psychological techniques and ruses presented in the manual. FM 34-52 includes in the definition of mental coercion “drugs that may induce lasting and permanent mental alteration and damage.” This appears to reflect a change from earlier doctrine, which prohibited the use of any drugs on prisoners unless required for medical purposes. 47
46 FM 34-52 at 1-8
47 See Stanley J. Glod and Lawrence J. Smith, Interrogation under the 1949 Prisoners of War Convention, 21 MIL. L. REV. 145, 153-54 (1963)(citing JAGW 1961 / 1157, 21 June 21, 1961).
In an opinion by The Judge Advocate General of the Army reviewing the employment of [“truth serum”] in the light of Article 17, it was noted that Article 17 justly and logically must be extended to protect the prisoner against any inquisitorial practice by his captors which would rob him of his free will. On this basis it was held that the use of truth serum was outlawed by Article 17. In addition, its use contravenes Article 18, which states in part : “. . . no prisoner of war may be subject to . . . . medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental, or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.” The opinion declared that “. . . the suggested use of a chemical “truth serum” during the questioning of prisoners of war would be in violation of the obligations of the United States under the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.” From this opinion it seems clear that any attempt to extract information from an unwilling prisoner of war by the use of chemicals, drugs, physiological or psychological devices, which impair or deprive the prisoner of his free will without being in his interest, such as a bonafide medical treatment, will be deemed a violation of Articles 13 and 17 of the Convention.The 1987 version of FM 34-52 suggested that the use of any drugs for interrogation purposes amounted to mental coercion. FM 34-52 ch. 1 (1987).