Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nutty post: An alternative to torture

A few of statements of opinion before I venture this idea.

First - I consider torture to be a heinous act, whether committed by individuals alone, or those acting under institutional provisions. It's up there with the death penalty, as something that cannot be attributed clemency or moral excuse, regardless of context.

Second - I acknowledge that torture is probably highly effective in obtaining information, particularly from resistant targets and in time sensitive situations. Torture has probably saved innocent lives at some point.

Third - I find it incredibly naive to think that torture does not happen under our government and military. Likely it is conducted with some para-institutional guidelines that are difficult to document or use to establish accountability.

With that out of the way, I am wondering if there isn't a better interrogation through chemistry. The experiments with hallucinogens in the middle of the 20th century seem quaint, but I think there is probably a good bit of potential use here. Like torture, I'm sure there is some limited amount of drugging going. I'm suggesting using it in a much more organized and sanctioned way.

This post is prompted by viewing an article on vbs,tv about the use of scopolamine in Bogota. In columbia, the naturally growing drug is used to rob and rape victims - stay with me here... The drug affects the areas of the brain that control free will. The subject becomes completely willing and beyond suggestible to controllable by the administer of the drug. Hence all of the nefarious uses by criminals. But here's why I think it would work well for interrogations.

1. It can be controlled. Torture reeks of emotional hotheadedness. How many captors die at the hands of overzealous interrogators. Unlike torture, the correct amount of a drug can be presribed, and it is abstracted away from the interrogation itself.

2. It isn't psychological torture. Unlike true hallucinogens, this drug doesn't create visions, or instill fear. It simply renders the user completely willing to carry out instructions.

3. It leaves the victim without memory of the event. This is true from what little I've read and watched. The only thing better than extracting this information, would be to extract it without the knowledge of the person you interrogated. This would reduce the ability for enemies to respond to know information had been obtained. it would also open the door for subsequent interrogations over time, if needed.

4. It has no real potential for recreational abuse. Although it can be used like a date-rape drug, there is no personal recreational potential. You wouldn't see this drug pop up into the counter culture the way LSD did.

I know this is a weird post and suggestion, and I'm probably missing something as to why this avenue hasn't been pursued more aggressively. However, used in the right way, it seems like a very effective weapon. If we are going to fight a war on terrorist groups, wouldn't this be an effective method to break down the cell structure of terrorist organizations, member by member? It would also eliminate the need to occupy foreign countries, when we could act with precision to extract what we needed using very modest resources. It would eliminate the need for long-term rendition - we could extract, drug, interrogate, determine guilt, and release. It's pretty extreme, and I wouldn't want to see it used by the police, but the alternative we are facing and exacting on our "enemies" seems even more extreme.


Jess said...

Interestingly, I took care of a hospice patient the other night, who had a scopolamine patch behind her left ear. Used to dry up secretions to help prevent the "death rattle" and coupled with BIG doses of morphine, supposedly these two together produce a "twilight sleep". Hopefully it did for her.

Mark said...

What would the CIA do for fun if they couldn't extract information the fun way.