The Central Intelligence Agency was considering using a sedative to make prisoners tell the truth following the 9/11 terror attacks. The CIA was forced to release a classified 90-page report on a program named “Project Medication" following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.
While the agency was trying to seek approval from the Justice Department for enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, a team of doctors and psychologists were contemplating whether they should use midazolam, a sedative used to treat anxiety, to compel prisoners to tell the truth. Midazolam, which sells under the brand name Versed, is also used for minor medical procedures that do not require the use of anesthesia to knock a patient out.
“Versed was considered possibly worth a trial if unequivocal legal sanction first were obtained,” the report said. “There were at least two legal obstacles: a prohibition against medical experimentation on prisoners and a ban on interrogational use of ‘mind-altering drugs’ or those which ‘profoundly altered the senses.’”
The CIA ultimately shelved the program in 2003 and there are no reports that any prisoners were given Versed.
“That doesn’t mean that the doctors were sadistic or anything like that,” said ACLU attorney Dror Ladin. “But it means they were complicit because this pseudo-scientific torture could not have happened without the doctors’ participation.”
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