The history of US Government use of Truth Serums

Lawyers for terror suspect Jose Padilla allege that whilst he was in US government custody he was subjected to “hooding, stress positions, assaults, threats of imminent execution and the administration of ‘truth serums’. ” (New York Times, 22 Feb). Jeff Stein at Congressional Quarterly (23 Feb) asked the Pentagon, CIA, Navy and FBI about the use of truth serums:

The government refuses to say what is almost certainly true: that interrogators did not, in fact, use any kind of so-called “truth serum” on Padilla.

Although a spokesman for the Defense Secretary, the Navy and the CIA would not comment on the record, “the FBI did not hesitate to answer the question”:

“The FBI would neither use, condone nor be partner to the use of any such tactic,” public affairs unit chief Rich Kolko responded within minutes of an e-mailed inquiry. Indeed, the FBI had objected to the harsh methods that CIA and Defense Department interrogators were using on Padilla and other detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

The irony of the government’s silence on truth serums — to me anyway — is that nobody I talked to outside of Padilla’s camp believes U.S. interrogators employed drugs to loosen his tongue. […] Why? The first reason is that the drugs normally associated with the term “truth serum” aren’t likely to work.

In the rest of the article, Stein discusses the chequered and murky history of government use of truth serums.

Hat tip to the Anti-Polygraph Blog for the link.

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