CIA interrogators considered using a truth serum on an al Qaeda suspect after waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” failed to get the answers they wanted, according to newly declassified documents.
Abu Zubaydah was believed to have been involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks. Desperate to find out what he might know about any future terrorist activity, the CIA waterboarded him 83 times, as well using sleep deprivation and stress positions.
When he refused to crack agency doctors looked back at 1950s experiments with mind-altering drugs like LSD and to Russian testing of alleged truth serums in the 1980s.
They also considered a drug called Versed, a sedative that can cause temporary memory loss.
It was thought that by using this a suspect could be tricked into believing they had confessed and thus, with nothing to lose, would give up even more information.
The documents detailing the involvement of the CIA’s Office of Medical Services (OMS) in the questioning of suspects were released after a court battle led by the American Civil Liberties Union.
They reveal that the OMS examined details of the 1950s MKULTRA program in which mind-altering drugs were tested on humans. One man who was secretly given LSD in that programme committed suicide.
But they found an absolute lack of historical evidence that drugs could induce a subject to give up information. “No such magic brew as the popular notion of truth serum exists,” said a 1961 intelligence review.