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Torture, Interrogation, and Intelligence

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skoh-PAW-lah-mean), also known by another name -- hyoscine (hyoscine hydrobromide). It is colorless, odorless and tasteless. Its clinical uses are primarily as a sedative, and applied locally (directly) as a mydriatic, which causes the pupil of the eye to dilate.  When used as a sedative, the primary uses are to combat vertigo and motion sickness. When used with morphine and pentobarbital, to a woman in labor, it produces a "twilight sleep." It is also used as a premedication preliminary to surgery anesthesia.

Since scopolamine completely blocks the formation of memories, unlike most date-rape drugs used in the United States and elsewhere, it is usually impossible for victims to ever identify their aggressors (or interrogators, if you were a prisoner).

To use scopolamine most effectively to get a prisoner to tell you what he or she knows, the key is where you inject it, and in what amounts. Normally it is introduced into the body by a transdermal patch or intravenously in the arm. However, if you inject it into the spine (amount classified), it causes absolutely incredible pain, accompanied by violent convulsions and seizures. If injected into the spine in the appropriate amount, more than 95% of all prisoners will tell the truth -- not something fabricated to stop the pain -- within 24 hours (Source: classified).

A far milder form of psychological abuse involves exposing prisoners (intravenously or orally) to sodium pentathol—commonly known as "truth serum." Sodium pentathol is an ultra-short-acting barbiturate that depresses the central nervous system, slows heart rate, and lowers blood pressure. In the relaxed state produced by the drug, subjects are more susceptible to suggestion and are therefore easier to interrogate. The drug does not actually guarantee that prisoners will tell the truth, however. Often, it makes subjects "gabby" without revealing any important information.

Sodium amythal, also known as a type of "truth serum," with its clinical application in psychoanalysis, is used primarily to help in memory recovery and dealing with "false" memories. If you can confuse the prisoner as to what is a real memory and what is a false memory, you might be able to crack their resistance to telling the truth.  However, if the prisoner is smart, he or she will simply shut up and you'll get nothing from them.

What is interesting is that a prisoner could have been subjected to a truth serum singularly, or two or three over enough time given the appropriate washout of the prisoner's system, and flatly state that he or she did not tell his or her interrogators anything. From his or her perspective, he or she is telling the

truth -- because he or she has no memory of telling interrogators anything. That's the truth in his or her own mind, but it is not the fact of the situation.

In terms of training individuals to resist the three aforementioned truth serums, it is easiest to train someone to resist the sodium amythal, followed by sodium pentathol. There is no known training that will allow anyone to resist scopolamine, when injected into the spine in the correct amount.

What you don't want to do is "stack" scopolamine with sodium pentathol and sodium amythal. "Stacking" means adding one drug on top of another before the previous drug(s) has/have washed out of the system. You stack on somebody, you'll kill them.

When time is not a consideration, and when used in conjunction with skilled interrogators on a prisoner who has not been trained to resist the effects, sodium pentathol and sodium amythal will get you the truth in approximately 10% to one third of the cases. When the truth absolutely positively has to be there within five days, forget them – use scopolamine injected into the spine.

I don't honestly know if we have used any of these truth serums on Saddam Hussein. Too bad if we didn't.  My clearance doesn't extend that high.  For those of you who don't know -- and to oversimplify it -- there are four different levels of security clearances. They are: secret; top-secret; top-secret/code word; beyond top-secret/code word. The words "code word" could be something like UMBRA. So if I had that level, I would be cleared top-secret/UMBRA, which means I would be allowed to see or hear anything that is secret, top-secret, and -- separately -- anything that a classified under the code word UMBRA.

In 1909, before World War I, there were a number of terrorist attacks on the United States forces in the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, by Muslim extremists. General "Black Jack" Pershing was the appointed military governor of the Moro Province. He captured 50 terrorists and ordered them to be tied to posts for execution. Since all the prisoners were Muslim, he asked his men to bring two pigs and slaughter them in front of the prisoners. He then proceeded by dipping bullets into the pig’s blood.

In the process he executed 49 of the terrorists by firing squad. Then, the soldiers dug a big hole in the ground and dumped in the terrorists’ bodies and covered them in pig’s blood and viscera.  The last man was set free. For 42 years there was not a single Muslim attack anywhere in the world.

His rationale was quite simple and effective. Since a radical Muslim is willing to give his life for his religion in a Jihad war, killing him would not make much difference. He would be seen as a martyr (shahada).

But the General knew that all Muslims believe in eternal life after death with 72 virgins waiting for them in paradise. He also knew that those that embrace Jihad usually prepare themselves physically and spiritually in case they die in combat.

Since the pig is considered forbidden food (haram) in Islam, Pershing introduced this variable to thwart their hopes to enter Allah’s kingdom. The pig’s blood automatically nullified any prior purification by contaminating their bodies.

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Kevin Gosztola is a writer and curator of Firedoglake's blog The Dissenter, a blog covering civil liberties in the age of technology. He is an editor for OpEdNews.com and a former intern and videographer for The Nation Magazine.And, he's the (more...)
 

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