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AP Repeats Fable: “CIA never had been in the interrogation and detention business”

5:29 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

In an otherwise interesting article summarizing much of what is wrong with the non-accountability policies of the U.S. state when it comes to punishing its torturers, Associated Press reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo repeat in passing an old canard about the CIA’s previous activities in regards to interrogation.

The CIA had never been in the interrogation and detention business, so agency lawyers, President George W. Bush’s White House and the Justice Department were writing the rules as they went.

While the comment may have been made in passing, and Goldman and Apuzzo mindlessly accepted a piece of history they were told, the significance of the statement is of more than passing interest, as it provides the framework for understanding the entire episode of torture and detention in the Bush II years, not to mention what is happening now under President Obama, at least in regards to the CIA. The article doesn’t mention that key Pentagon officials, not least Donald Rumsfeld, who has a self-serving and well-publicized biography just published, and many generals, admirals, and other officers, as well as officials of the Defense Intelligence Agency and JSOC, have also escaped punishment for their actions in the Defense Department torture and detention scandal.

As the article points out, a number of key CIA officials in the Obama administration were themselves key actors in the rendition and torture program of the CIA. Marcy Wheeler has nicely summarized Goldman and Apuzzo’s list. But the intrepid AP reporters — they spend a couple of paragraphs explaining why they took the supposedly courageous step of mentioning the first names of CIA agents (pseudonyms anyway, at least in one case that I know of) — are off the mark in believing this non-accountability is something new. The promotions and the rewards are standard operating procedure for a government that has used the CIA as a praetorian guard and shock troops for U.S. control abroad.

Not in the Interrogation Business? How About KUBARK?

There have been a number of excellent histories of CIA research into and operational use of torture. One of the most recent was Professor Alfred McCoy’s A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Another excellent resource is H.P. Albarelli’s long investigation into the CIA killing of DoD Special Operations Division researcher Frank Olson, published last year. (Albarelli also was the fascinating subject of an FDL Book Salon last year, too.)

These authors, and there are plenty of others as well, detail the decades-long research project into coercive interrogation and torture that was undertaken by the CIA and the Defense Department, going back to the immediate post-World War II period. The research undertaken in such programs as Project Bluebird, Project Artichoke, MKULTRA, MKSEARCH, MKCHICKWIT and others, utilized both CIA and academic contract researchers to study the effects of drugs like mescaline and LSD, sensory deprivation, isolation (such as inflicted upon alleged Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning), stress positions, dietary and environmental manipulation, and numerous psychological and physical stressors on prisoners under their control.

The research was well-advanced by the early 1960s, when the CIA produced their secret manual of “Counterintelligence Interrogation.” Known as by its CIA in-house acronym KUBARK, one section of the manual is specifically dedicated to a discussion of “coercive counterintelligence interrogation of resistant sources.” CIA noted that “detention in a controlled environment and perhaps for a lengthy period is frequently essential to a successful counterintelligence interrogation of a recalcitrant source,” and mentions techniques such as “bodily harm”, “deprivation of sensory stimuli,” hypnosis, use of threats and fear, as well as situations where “medical, chemical, or electrical methods or materials are to be used to induce acquiescence.”

Even the use of photography in the torture of prisoners was discussed in the KUBARK manual, which noted “The interrogation room affords ideal conditions for photographing the interrogatee without his knowledge by concealing a camera behind a picture or elsewhere.”

The KUBARK methods were later used, along with Army manuals compiled from the U.S. military’s Vietnam experience — part of a still quite secretive “Project X” — into a “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual” distributed by U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to military and intelligence organizations in five Latin American countries (Peru, Columbia, Ecudaor, El Salvador, and Guatemala) in the 1980s. The Project X material had been stored at the Army intelligence center at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona.

The torture techniques were also taught, even as late as 1991, to military and intelligence officers from throughout Latin America at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. For reference, see the DoD 1992 report on the Exploitation manuals delivered to then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney (PDF).

In 2002, SOUTHCOM became the military command responsible for oversight of the detention and torture policies at the new Guantanamo detention facilities. The provenance of the Guantanamo techniques from within the CIA can be clearly established, although military research and experimentation also played a significant role. The use of military torture survival schools (known today as SERE school) as laboratories for studying such techniques can be documented back to the 1950s.

CIA Detention Centers Predate the “War on Terror”

The CIA has had extensive experience in running detention centers, and was well-known for assisting and helping staff foreign military and intelligence services’ interrogation and detention centers. No full history of this activity is available, but there are plenty of references sprinkled about. An article by investigative journalist Douglas Valentine report quotes John Patrick Muldoon, “the first director of the CIA’s PIC [Province Intelligence Committee] Program in Vietnam,” that “[t]here was a joint KCIA-CIA interrogation center in Yon Don Tho, outside Seoul.”

The PIC program itself revolved around detention centers set up by the CIA in the hundreds across South Vietnam. The PICs became an integral part of the U.S. Phoenix Program, which tortured and murdered tens of thousands of people during its reign of terror in Vietnam.

In December 1970, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces captured a high North Vietnamese security officer, Nguyen Tai. According to the story as it is related on the CIA’s own website, Tai was tortured by the South Vietnamese, and resistant to this brutal treatment, he was taken into custody by the CIA, where he was held in CIA control for a number of years. His chief interrogator was “Peter Kapusta, a veteran CIA Soviet/Eastern Europe counterintelligence specialist with close ties to the famed and mysterious chief of CIA counter-intelligence, James Jesus Angleton.”

In early 1972, Tai was informed he was being taken to another location to be interrogated by the Americans. After being blindfolded, he was transported by car to an unknown location and placed in a completely sealed cell that was painted all in white, lit by bright lights 24 hours a day, and cooled by a powerful air-conditioner (Tai hated air conditioning, believing, like many Vietnamese, that cool breezes could be poisonous). Kept in total isolation, Tai lived in this cell, designed to keep him confused and disoriented, for three years without learning where he was.

The CIA has been involved in vetting and help establish entire intelligence establishments, from the Korean CIA to the former SAVAK of the Shah, to innumerable Latin American agencies. As John Marks has documented, the CIA even sent its psychologists to vet the operatives for use in these establishments.

On a smaller scale, the CIA has run a series of so-called “safe houses” that included small detention facilities. The recent reports concerning secret CIA prisons in Poland and Lithuania appear to describe facilities that are not much more than slightly elaborated or enlarged safe houses. For instance, the description of the New York and San Francisco “safe houses” used in the CIA’s MKULTRA experiment, Operation Midnight Climax, are highly suggestive of the kinds of regimes set up by the CIA in Thailand, Poland and elsewhere, complete with two-way mirrors, recording and bugging equipment, drugging facilities, etc.

Some researchers have charged the CIA with the use of “terminal experiments” at its various detention facilities, though this is hard to document (even if the discussion did reach the pre-9/11 pages of the New York Times).

It is very hard, if not impossible, to square the myth of CIA incompetence and inexperience with interrogation and running detention centers with the historical record. Goldman and Apuzzo are only repeating the establishment line concerning the CIA scandal, albeit, perhaps with good intentions, and with the aim of bringing some accountability to bear upon the process. But they and other reformers will be forever confused and stymied by the policies by high government officials protecting these torturers. In this, we see that responsibility for torture goes to the highest levels of the U.S. political establishment.

Guantanamo Medical Chief Was “Advised Not to Talk About” Drug Decision

5:54 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

A new story at Truthout, which I co-authored with Jason Leopold, takes up the investigation of the story into the mass drugging of Guantanamo detainees with the controversial drug mefloquine, aka Lariam, which we originally reported earlier this month. When I wrote about the issue here at Firedoglake, I noted that DoD had scrubbed one the key documents we used. I thought it had resurfaced, but looking today, it’s gone again.

The issue of documents is not so key for this latest look into DoD actions at Guantanamo, as we interviewed or had email exchanges with key individuals involved. The most important was Captain Albert Shimkus, Jr. (ret.), who from 2002 to summer 2003 was former commanding officer and chief surgeon for both the Naval Hospital at Guantanamo Bay and Joint Task Force 160, which administered health care to the detainees. A copy of a January 23, 2002 SOP obtained by Truthout showed that it was Shimkus who signed off on the mefloquine policy.

As the article at Truthout explains:

Capt. Albert J. Shimkus… defended the unprecedented practice, first reported by Truthout earlier this month, to administer 1250 mg of the drug mefloquine to all “war on terror” prisoners transferred to Guantanamo within the first 24 hours after their arrival, regardless of whether they had malaria or not. The 1250 mg dosage is what is used to treat individuals who have malaria and is five times higher than the prophylactic dose given to individuals to prevent the disease. One tropical disease expert said there is no “medical justification” for the practice….

Although there were two media reports in 2002 that quoted Shimkus saying “war on terror” detainees were given antimalarial medication, neither he nor any other military or Pentagon official ever disclosed to lawmakers or military personnel who raised questions about the efficacy of mefloquine, that mass presumptive treatment was the policy in place at Guantanamo.

“There were certain issues we were advised not to talk about,” Shimkus told Truthout in an interview, explaining the reason the policy was never publicly disclosed.

In the interview with Truthout, Shimkus goes on to describe what agencies and personnel he relied on to make the decision, as he readily admitted that he was no public health or malaria expert himself. Nevertheless, he persistently defended the mass administration of mefloquine, even if it did possibly lead to serious side effects in some of the detainees. He maintained the “benefits outweighed the risks.”

The Truthout article explains how unusual this kind of antimalaria approach is. In fact, in regards to the use of mefloquine, or of any population transfer from Central or South Asia to a non-malarial endemic area, the procedure was unprecedented, and if you believe the many links provided from the CDC, and elsewhere, was dangerous.

With the original Truthout investigation drawing upon a parallel study by Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy and Research, and suppositions by both investigations that mefloquine, whose drug family was linked to studies done by the CIA’s MKULTRA (see section on quinolines), was used experimentally to soften up the detainees, Captain Shimkus specifically denied any knowledge of any experiment done on the detainees in regards to mefloquine, or anything else. “I don’t remember in my 18 months [at Guantanamo] a word spoken in regards to research.”

But there was some reason he had been told not to talk about the procedure, and other matters. If the medical treatment at Guantanamo was so world-class, why are they hiding information about what was done there? Why can’t redacted medical records be released? Why do even detainee’s attorneys find it next to impossible to obtain these records? Why is a DoD Inspector General report on drugs and detainees kept totally classified?

The only way such thing can be kept secret is because the American people are not clamoring for the truth to be revealed. That is a sad and sombre reflection upon the state of this society as it goes into the second decade of the 21st century.

Jason and I have brought the country the first clear indication of what kind of drugging shenanigans were happening at Guantanamo. I’ll be honest, I’m unhappy with the response from the human rights community and key political bloggers, not to mention the mainstream press. Has the decision of the Obama administration to leave Guantanamo open, and to follow Bush in the policy of indefinite detention and abusive interrogation (Appendix M), so paralyzed the country that very serious charges of drugging of prisoners can pass by unremarked?

I thank Firedoglake and Truthout for supporting the work that furthers these kinds of investigations. But much more needs to be done. The blowback from non-accountability over torture is creeping into the society at an ever-expanding rate. We see this in the seeming acceptability in which accused prisoners, like Bradley Manning, are kept in onerous conditions akin to a Supermax prison… or Camp Echo at Guantanamo.

For readers, the question of what next lies before you with a moral imperative this holiday season. We bring you the news. You can hide your heads, or you can choose to act, raise your voice, make known the unacceptability of such treatment by the state on prisoners held without charge, without trial, victims of a “war on terror”, itself the blowback from a decades-long policy of supporting dictators and torturers abroad.

Did Abu Zubaydah Have Dissociative Identity Disorder? And Why It Matters

5:58 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

Last week, Jason Leopold got an important scoop in his interview with former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Kiriakou first became known when he revealed the CIA had indeed used waterboarding. He was also the agent known for capturing supposed Al Qaeda mastermind, Abu Zubaydah. His interview with Leopold is fascinating and bears re-watching, as he also touches on other subjects, including his role in the Plame affair.

Marcy Wheeler has noted the inconsistency between Kiriakou’s claims in the video that Abu Zubaydah’s diaries were not, as portrayed by Ron Suskind in his book, The One Percent Doctrine, the diaries of a mentally ill individual, but simply those of a creative mind, since the government relies on these diaries as supporting material in its terrorism case against Zubaydah. (See also this earlier story by Leopold.)

According to Kiriakou (Marcy’s transcription):

Those weren’t diaries…. They were journals and doodle books. He would write these letters to himself. They weren’t really letters to himself. It was like a work of fiction.

Well, were they letters or not, John?

The quick switch (they were, they weren’t) is highly suggestive of lying and the use of a cover story. The preponderance of the reports from third parties suggest that Zubaydah has a mental disorder. The use of different personalities would suggest that disorder could be Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), one of the dissociative syndromes listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR, otherwise known as the DSM.

Could Abu Zubaydah simply have been a singularly creative fellow, a Muslim belles-lettrist? For one thing, that side of his personality never surfaced in the psychological profile written up on him in July 2002. While this psychological profile is full of lies, half-truths, and other material aimed at allowing for a decision to use advanced EITs on him (like waterboarding), there is no reason to think that it would have left out a significant aspect of his functioning regarding what was in his diaries. Instead, it likely points to the fact that the CIA cover story on Abu Zubaydah was not yet fully developed by the summer of 2002, or that is would have to change significantly in the following years.

The existence of a DID profile for Zubaydah (if that were to be true, and there is some indication that it might be) is also notable because the artificial creation of dissociated personalities was a primary aim of CIA interrogation research for decades. This article by Dr. Colin Ross, past president of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation, describes some of this history, beginning with Projects Bluebird and Artichoke, and including the "psychic driving" experiments of Ewan Cameron (as described, among other places, in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine). Over the years, the subject was relegated to conspiracy websites, haunted by a combination of schizophrenic, paranoiacs, and dedicated would-be historians, in addition to real victims of former government experiments.

I say relegated, because discussion of this topic has long not been considered respectable. (This might change now that the current Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, has stated that MKULTRA was a "true" conspiracy (PDF).) There is only one successful, mainstream book, which has been in print for 30 years or so now, that even treats the subject of government-created dissociated personalities, and that is John D. Marks’ Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control – The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences. (This is not to belittle the other excellent authors who have published on the subject.)

Marks, who was once staff assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, wrote his book utilizing 16,000 documents obtained painstakingly via FOIA, as well as interviews with psychologists and CIA officers. He blew the whistle on the mind control programs, which had been partly revealed by the Rockefeller Commission and Congressional investigation.

DID is a relatively rare psychiatric disorder. If Abu Zubaydah has this disorder, it certainly could have been developed in the course of his life. On the other hand, it would also be quite a coincidence that the man trumpeted by the government as an Al Qaeda mastermind, close to Osama bin Laden, who later turned out to be no such thing, and who was a key experimental guinea pig in the CIA’s EIT program, should also turn out to have DID.

It should be noted, too, that the study of dissociative phenomenon among SERE trainees has been a primary focus of military and CIA researchers, as evidenced by this report (PDF), and this journal article. An article at Truthout last year explored the links between one of the key researchers of these studies and the CIA.

The Man Who Was Almost There

According to an article by Ron Suskind in Time Magazine, Zubaydah’s diaries, "which the government refuses to release, is written in three voices over 10 years and is filled with page after page of quotidian nonsense about housekeeping, food and types of tea." The diaries, discovered in the safehouse where Zubaydah was captured, are thousands of pages long. In a Washington Post review of Suskind’s book, Barton Gellman went into more detail:

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" — a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI’s top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

But according to George W. Bush, in a statement made as late as September 6, 2006, Zubaydah was "a senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin Laden" (H/T Blueness at Daily Kos). Who was this man captured by Kiriakou and his associates? There are only so many scenarios here that fit the known facts.

1) Abu Zubaydah was a lower-level jihadist who was the victim of bad intel and tortured. He was also a creative individual who wrote "doodle" notebooks to himself using multiple narrators as representing himself, mostly to amuse himself. Nevertheless, some good intel came from his interrogations.(Kiriakou’s narrative)

2) Abu Zubaydah was a high-level jihadist, worked with OBL. Was captured and tortured, and the U.S. obtained valuable intel that stopped terrorist attacks. His diaries contain evidence of his crimes. While they show evidence of "cognitive impairment," such impairment, or even any possible evidence re "multiple voices" is not relevant to the case against him. (Official U.S. government narrative)

3) Abu Zubaydah was thought to be a high-level jihadist, but upon examination wasn’t really too important. In fact, he appeared mentally ill, and wrote his diaries in multiple voices (three of them). He was inadvisedly used as a subject of the CIAs EIT program. (FBI interrogators’ and Ron Suskind narrative)

4) The biography of Abu Zubaydah is only partial known. He was a jihadist in the anti-Soviet war, and was badly wounded there. At some point he developed DID, or a DID syndrome was produced within him by government action. The government had a good deal of interest in experimenting on someone with DID, as it would have been valuable to them to know if the physiological variables they were testing (e.g., cortisol, catecholamines, etc.) would vary under "uncontrollable stress" (torture); in addition, if a learned helplessness syndrome could vary under different personalities. He was a very unusual and valuable guinea pig to them. It is also not impossible that they intended at some point to use him as a double agent, testing the use of dissociated personality "Manchurian Candidates" in dangerous Muslim extremist circles. (This is my quite speculative, hypothetical narrative, but grounded in reports of his possible mental illness, and in known practices and ambitions of the U.S. defense and intelligence agencies.)

By the way, Kiriakou’s assertion that Zubaydah did not seem schizophrenic or "mentally retarded," so therefore could not have multiple personalities shows his naivete or ignorance regarding DID. Someone with multiple personalities can appear quite normal and logical in some or all of these personalities. It is the dissociated or separate nature of the different personalities, far beyond the different tendencies or ways of operating publicly vs privately that is in all of us, that makes it unique and pathological. That and the fact that some of these personalities can be unconscious of the existence of other personalities. Remember, this is a rare phenomenon.

There are surely plenty of readers who believe this kind of analysis to be "far-out" there. Yet my hypothesis is quite possible. I won’t say it is probably true, because I don’t have enough information. Those still thinking that Zubaydah as a dissociated guinea pig is some sort of science fiction hokum should read more deeply into the history of U.S. mind control programs. One could start with an article by H.P. Albarelli and myself that reviewed the "Lyle case," an example of the CIA using Artichoke techniques to "re-condition" and "re-orient" a person through the use of drugs and hypnosis.

The attempt to control and predict human behavior, which was a cardinal principle of modern behaviorist psychology, has joined up with the imperial ambitions of post-Hiroshima America, and what it has produced are outlandish schemes and programs aimed at the control of individuals through psychological and physiological techniques that can only be called torture. Whether Abu Zubaydah was a potential Manchurian Candidate or not, the experiments done upon him and others to create an all-powerful form of coercive interrogation will go down as one of the horrors of modern times.

The Real Roots of the CIA’s Rendition and Black Sites Program

11:06 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

The following is a reposting of an article published on February 17, 2010 at Truthout. I felt the article important enough to bring to FDL/Seminal readers. Author H.P. Albarelli was the subject of an FDL Book Salon back on January 23. The other guy I assume you know.

* * * * *

The Real Roots of the CIA’s Rendition and Black Sites Program

by H.P. Albarelli and Jeffrey Kaye

On Tuesday, February 10, the British High Court finally released a "seven-paragraph court document showing that MI5 officers were involved in the ill-treatment of a British resident, Binyam Mohamed." The document is itself a summary of 42 classified CIA documents given to the British in 2002. The US government has threatened the British government that the US-British intelligence relationship could be damaged if this material were released. The revelations regarding Mohamed’s torture, which include documentation of the fact the US conducted "continuous sleep deprivation" under threats of harm, rendition, or being "disappeared," were criticized by the British court as being "at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities," and in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The Mohamed case is the most prominent of a number of cases that have come to public attention. While the timeline of Mohamed’s torture places the implementation of the Bush administration’s so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" many months prior to their questionable legal justification in the August 1, 2002, Jay Bybee memo to the CIA, the use of torture and rendition has a much earlier provenance. Over the past decade, many Americans have been shocked and disturbed about the CIA’s secret program of rendition and torture carried out in numerous secret sites (dubbed "black sites" by the CIA) around the globe. The dimensions of this program for the most part are still classified "Eyes Only" in the intelligence community, but the program’s roots can be clearly discovered in the early 1950′s with the CIA’s Artichoke Project. Perhaps the best and strangest case illustrating this can be found in the agency’s own files. This is the so-called "Lyle O. Kelly case." The facts of this case are drawn from declassified government documents.

An Early Example of Torture and Rendition: "The Kelly Case"

In late January 1952, Morse Allen, a CIA Security Office official, was summoned to the office of his superior, security deputy chief Robert L. Bannerman, where he met with another agency official to discuss what Bannerman initially introduced as "the Kelly case." Wrote Allen, in a subsequent memorandum for his files, the official "explained in substance the Kelly case as follows: "Kelly, (whose real name is Dimitrov), is a 29-year-old Bulgarian and was the head of a small political party based in Greece and ostentively [sic] working for Bulgarian independence." The official described Dimitrov [whose first name was Dimitre] to Allen as "being young, ambitious, bright … a sort of a ‘man-on-a-horse’ type but a typical Balkan politician."

The official continued explaining to Allen that months earlier CIA field operatives discovered that Dimitrov was seriously considering becoming a double agent for the French Intelligence Service. "Accordingly," states the memo, "a plot was rigged in which [Dimitrov] was told he was going to be assassinated and as a protective he was placed in custody of the Greek Police." Successfully duped, Dimitrov was then thrown into prison. There he was subjected to interrogation and torture, and he witnessed the brutal torture of other persons the CIA had induced authorities to imprison. Greek intelligence and law enforcement agencies were especially barbaric in their methods. Highly respected Operation Gladio historian Daniele Ganser describes the treatment of prisoners: "Their toes and fingernails were torn out. Their feet were beaten with sticks, until the skin came off and their bones were broken. Sharp objects were shoved into their vaginas. Filthy rags, often soaked in urine, and sometimes excrement, were pushed down their throats to throttle them, tubes were inserted into their anus and water driven in under very high pressure, and electro shocks were applied to their heads."

According to Allen’s memo, after holding Dimitrov for six months the Greek authorities decided he was no more than "a nuisance" and they told the CIA "to take him back." Because the agency was unable to dispose of Dimitrov in Greece, the memo states, the CIA flew him to a secret interrogation center at Fort Clayton in Panama. In the 1950′s, Fort Clayton, along with nearby sister installations Forts Amador and Gulick, the initial homes of the Army’s notorious School of the Americas, served as a secret prison and interrogation centers for double agents and others kidnapped and spirited out of Europe and other locations. Beginning in 1951, Fort Amador, and reportedly Fort Gulick, were extensively used by the Army and the CIA as a secret experimental site for developing behavior modification techniques and a wide range of drugs, including "truth drugs," mescaline, LSD and heroin. Former CIA officials have also long claimed that Forts Clayton and Amador in the 1950′s hosted a number of secret Army assassination teams that operated throughout North and South America, Europe and Southeast Asia.

There in Panama, Dimitrov was again aggressively interrogated, and then confined as "a psychopathic patient" to a high-security hospital ward at Fort Clayton. Allen’s memo makes a point of stating: "[Dimitrov] is not a psychopathic personality."

The Artichoke Treatment

This remarkable summary brought the official to the purpose of his meeting with CIA security official Morse Allen. After months of confinement in Panama, Dimitrov had become a serious problem for the agency and the military officials holding him in the hospital. Dimitrov had become increasingly angry and bitter about his treatment and he was insisting that he be released immediately. Dimitrov, through his strong intellect and observation powers, was also witnessing a great deal of Project Artichoke activity and on occasion would engage military and agency officials in unauthorized conversations. The official explained to Allen that the CIA could release Dimitrov to the custody of a friend of his in Venezuela, but was prone not to because Dimitrov was now judged to have become extremely hostile toward the CIA. "Hence," explained the official, "[CIA] is considering an ‘Artichoke’ approach to [Dimitrov] to see if it would be possible to re-orient [Dimitrov] favorably toward us."

Wrote Allen in his subsequent summary memorandum: "This [Artichoke] operation, which will necessarily involve the use of drugs is being considered by OPC with a possibility that Dr. Ecke and Mike Gladych will carry out the operation presumably at the military hospital in Panama. Also involved in this would be a Bulgarian interpreter who is a consultant to this Agency since neither Ecke nor Gladych speak Bulgarian." Allen noted in his memo that security chief Bannerman "pointed out" that this type of operation could "only be carried out" with his or his superior’s (security chief Sheffield Edwards) authorization, and "that under no circumstances whatsoever, could anyone but an authorized M.D. administer drugs to any subject of this Agency of any type." (The "Dr. Ecke" mentioned above was Dr. Robert S. Ecke of Brooklyn, New York, and Eliot, Maine, where he died in 2001. "Mike Gladych," according to former CIA officials, was a decorated wartime pilot who after the war became "deeply involved in black market trafficking in Europe and the US," and then in the early 1950′s was recruited to join a "newly composed Artichoke Team operating out of Washington, DC.")

Allen also wrote that Bannerman was concerned that the military hospital at Fort Clayton may not approve of or permit an Artichoke operation to be conducted on the ward within which Dimitrov was being held, thus necessitating the movement of Dimitrov to another location in Panama. Lastly, Bannerman stated to the official and Allen that "[the CIA's Office of] Security [through its Artichoke Committee] would have to be cognizant" of the operation, and may even want to "run the operation themselves since this type of work is one which Security handles for the Agency. Here it is interesting to note that among the many members of the agency’s Artichoke Committee in 1952 was Dr. Frank Olson, who would about a year later be murdered in New York City.

Morse Allen concluded his memo: "While the [Artichoke] technique that Ecke and Gladych are considering for use in this case is not known to the writer [Allen], the writer believes the approach will be made through the standard narco-hypnosis technique. Re-conditioning and re-orientating an individual in such a matter, in the opinion of the writer, cannot be accomplished easily and will require a great deal of time…. It is also believed that with our present knowledge, we would have no absolute guarantee that the subject in this case would maintain a positive friendly attitude toward us even though there is apparently a successful response to the treatment. The writer did not suggest to [Bannerman and the CIA official] that perhaps a total amnesia could be created by a series of electro shocks, but merely indicated that amnesia under drug treatments was not certain." Interesting also is that Allen noted in his memo, about thirty days prior to his meeting, an official in the CIA’s Technical Services Division, Walter Driscoll, discussed "the Kelly case" with him. No details of that discussion were provided.

About a month later, according to former CIA officials, after Artichoke Committee approval to subject Dimitrov to Artichoke techniques, a high-ranking CIA official objected to treating Dimitrov in such a manner. That objection delayed application of the techniques for about "three weeks." In March 1952, according to the same former officials, Dimitrov was "successfully given the Artichoke treatment in Panama for a period of about five weeks."

In late 1956, the CIA brought Dimitrov, at his request, to the United States. Apparently, the Agency felt comfortable enough with Dimitrov’s diminished hostility and anger to agree to bring him to America from Athens, where he had returned for undetermined reasons. CIA files state, "The Agency made no further operation use of Dimitrov after he came to the United States, however, former CIA officials dispute this and relate that Dimitrov was "used on occasion for sensitive jobs."

This, however, was not the end of Dimitre Dimitrov’s story.

After being relocated to the United States, Dimitrov either remained bitter or resumed his bitterness toward the CIA. In June 1960, he contacted the CIA’s Domestic Contact Division and requested financial assistance for himself and additional covert support and assistance for activities against Bulgaria. In 1961, he contacted an editor at Parade, a Sunday newspaper magazine then with reported strong ties to the CIA, with the intention of telling his story. A Parade editor contacted the CIA and was informed, according to CIA documents, that Dimitrov was "an imposter" who was "disreputable, unreliable, and full of wild stories about the CIA."

About ten years after the JFK assassination, Dimitrov, operating sometimes under the aliases Lyle Kelly, James Adams, General Dimitre Dimitrov and Donald A. Donaldson, informed a number of people that he had information about who ordered the murder of JFK and who had committed the act. Reportedly, he had encountered the assassins while he had been imprisoned in Panama. He also told several people that he knew about military snipers who had murdered Martin Luther King. In 1977, Dimitrov actually met with US Sen. Frank Church, head of a Senate Committee investigating the CIA, and President Gerald Ford to share his information. Dimitrov said after the meeting that Ford had asked him to keep the information confidential until he could verify a number of facts. Immediately following the March 29, 1977, death of Lee Harvey Oswald’s friend George de Mohrenschildt, Dimitrov became extremely frightened and contacted a reporter with a foreign television station who either mistakenly, or intentionally, revealed Dimitrov’s name publicly on American television. Not long after this, Dimitrov disappeared in Europe where he had fled. He has never been seen or heard from since. Former CIA officials say privately, "Dimitrov was murdered" and "His body will never be found."

A 1977 memorandum written, before Dimitrov’s disappearance, by an attorney in the CIA’s General Counsel’s Office, A. R. Cinquegrana, states: "[It appears] to me that the nature of the Agency’s treatment of Dimitrov might be something which should be brought to the attention of appropriate officials both within and outside the Agency. The fact that he is still active and is making allegations connected with the Kennedy assassination may add yet another dimension to this story."

Binyam Mohamed’s Torture

Dimtrov’s story takes on added significance when one considers the latest stories of the unraveling torture conspiracy and operations conducted by the American CIA and Department of Defense, in conjunction with their British allied organizations, and a host of other governments, including Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland and numerous others. After a series of exposures during the 1970′s, many assumed the worst excesses of the Cold War torture research program, and its implementation in programs such as the CIA’s Operation Phoenix in Vietnam were a fixture of the past. However, subsequent revelations, e.g. the appearance of a US-sponsored torture manual for use in Latin America in the 1980′s, including documentation of torture by US forces in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, demonstrate that a direct line exists between the torture and rendition programs of the past and the practices of the present day. Recently, articles have detailed how the 2006 rewrite of the Army Field Manual allowed for use of ongoing isolation, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, induction of fear and the use of drugs that cause temporary derangement of the senses.

The Binyam Mohamed story is unfortunately not unique, but it does demonstrate that the implementation of a SERE-derived experimental torture program began months before it was given legal cover by the memos written by John Yoo and Jay Bybee. Other stories, for instance of "War on Terror" captives being drugged and tortured, have been related by the prisoners themselves, by their attorneys, and by US and international rights agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, whose report on the torture of CIA "high-value detainees" was leaked to Mark Danner of the New York Review of Books.

While Binyam in many ways had a very different personal background than Dimitrov, like the Bulgarian political leader, he was rendered to a US foreign ally for torture. He was drugged. He was considered unreliable and a "disposal" problem for US leaders, who kept secret the actual treatment they endured. Both were victims of a torture program run by the CIA. Both were sent from their foreign torturer back to US custody, where they endured intense psychological torture.

Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002, where his torture, as evidenced by the latest UK court release, was supervised by US agents. This torture was akin to the treatment meted out to Abu Zubaydah. Binyam was subsequently sent to Morocco in July 2002, where he was hideously tortured for 18 months, including a period where multiple scalpel cuts were made to his penis, and a hot stinging fluid poured on the wounds in an attempt to get him to confess to a false "dirty bomb" plot. (The US only dropped the bombing claims in October 2008.) At one point, a British informer was used to try to "turn" Mohamed into an informant for the US or Britain, just as the Artichoke treatment was used to "re-orient" Dimitrov in a pro-US direction. Mohamed also indicated that he had been drugged repeatedly.

In January 2004, Binyam Mohamed was flown to a CIA "black" site in Afghanistan, the infamous "Dark Prison." Mohamed is one of five plaintiffs in an ACLU suit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan Inc., which ran the aircraft for the CIA’s "extraordinary rendition" program. According to an ACLU account:

In US custody, Mohamed was fed meals of raw rice, beans and bread sparingly and irregularly. He was kept in almost complete darkness for 23 hours a day and made to stay awake for days at a time by loud music and other frightening and irritating recordings, including the sounds of "ghost laughter," thunder, aircraft taking off and the screams of women and children.

Interrogations took place on almost a daily basis. As part of the interrogation process, he was shown pictures of Afghanis and Pakistanis and was interrogated about the story behind each picture. Although Mohamed knew none of the persons pictured, he would invent stories about them so as to avoid further torture. In May 2004, Mohamed was allowed outside for five minutes. It was the first time he had seen the sun in two years.

Amazingly, this was not the end of Mohamed’s ordeal. From the Dark Prison he was sent to Bagram prison, and then later to Guantanamo. In August 2007, the British government petitioned the US for release of their subject. Eighteen months later, and after being subjected to more abuse at Guantanamo, he was finally able to leave US custody and return to Britain.

The Use of Drugs in Torture by the United States

The allegations of drugging by Mohamed and other prisoners are redolent of the use of hallucinogenic and other powerful mind-altering drugs by the US in its Artichoke, MK-ULTRA and other programs. A recent account, by Joby Warrick of The Washington Post, described some of these allegations of drugging of "detainees." The Post article subsequently led to an ongoing DoD Inspector General investigation into Possible Use of Mind Altering Substances by DoD Personnel during Interrogations of Detainees and/or Prisoners Captured during the War on Terror (D2007-DINT01-0092.005) "to determine if DoD personnel conducted, facilitated, or otherwise supported interrogations of detainees and /or prisoners using the threat or administration of mind altering drugs." According to his attorney’s filings in the Jose Padilla case, Padilla, who was also originally implicated in the "dirty bomb" so-called plot with Binyam Mohamed, was forced to take LSD or other powerful drugs while held in solitary confinement in the Navy brig in South Carolina.

Another former Guantanamo prisoner, Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian-born Australian Muslim released in 2005, has consistently told his tale of being subjected to electroshock, beatings and drugging while in US custody.

The CIA has been accused of involvement in continuing interrogation experimentation upon prisoners. The recent release of the previously censored summary of Mohamed’s treatment in Pakistan notes that "The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed." As Stephen Soldz notes in an article on the British court revelations, "Why were these effects being ‘carefully observed’ unless to determine their effectiveness in order to see whether they should be inflicted upon others? That is, the observations were designed to generate knowledge that could be generalized to other prisoners. The seeking of "generalizable knowledge" is the official definition of "research," raising the question of whether the CIA conducted illegal research upon Binyam Mohamed." The role of doctors, psychologists and other medical professionals in the CIA/DoD torture program has been condemned by a number of individuals in their respective fields, and by organizations such as Center for Constitutional Rights and Physicians for Human Rights.

Most recently, in an important article by Scott Horton at Harpers, the reexamination of the evidence in the supposed 2006 suicides of three prisoners at Guantanamo pointed to the possibility that the prisoners were killed in a previously unknown black site prison on the Guantanamo base – "Camp No" – run by the CIA or Joint Special Operations Command. This raises the question of why they were taken off site at all. One prisoner, 22-year-old Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, had needle marks on both of his arms. The marks were notably not documented in the US military’s autopsy report.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The tale of Dmitri Dimitrov documents the existence of a US-run torture and rendition program decades before the post-9/11 scandals of the Bush administration. Both the CIA and the Department of Defense have been implicated in both the research and implementation of torture for much of post-World War II US history. And yet, aside from the famous Church and Pike Congressional investigations of the 1970′s, and the hearings and report from the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2008-09 on detainee abuse, the perpetrators of these crimes have gone unpunished. The current administration of President Barack Obama has clearly stated that it had little appetite to "look backwards" and seek accountability for the abuses of the past. Yet these abuses are never really "past," as the suffering of the victims and their families continues into the present. Additionally, the practice of torture, or use of "cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" of prisoners has not ended, and the same generals, colonels, admirals and intelligence agency bureaucrats and politicians who have been linked to past programs are free to research or implement ongoing abuse of prisoners and experimentation.

This country needs a clear and definite accounting of its past and present use of torture. Like a universal acid, torture breaks down the sinews of its victims, and in the process, the links between people and their government are transformed into the naked exercise of pure sadistic power of rulers over the ruled. The very purpose of civilization is atomized in the process. We need a full, open and thorough public investigation into the entire history of the torture program, with full power to subpoena, and to refer those who shall be held accountable for prosecution under the due process of law.

H.P. Albarelli Jr. is the author of "A TERRIBLE MISTAKE: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments." He has written numerous newspaper and magazine articles on biological warfare and intelligence affairs. He can be contacted through his Web site: www.albarelli.net.