Recruiting Timothy Leary for the War on Terror

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Over at TPMmuckraker.com, Justin Rood is shouting "Hey Mabel!"

Old-fashioned journalists have a term for bizarre, interesting and/or disturbing little articles -- "Hey Mabel" stories, they call them. And the New York Sun's Josh Gerstein had a doozy of a "Hey Mabel" in yesterday's paper.

In a new court filing on behalf of alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla, his lawyers allege that government interrogators forced him to take LSD, Gerstein reported.

"Additionally, Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations," he quotes the filing.

Now, There are some important details that aren't explained: Padilla's lawyers don't say what effects the prisoner reported to make them conclude it was LSD or PCP, nor do they report how many times such a drug or drugs were administered. And as any self-respecting child of the D.A.R.E era knows, LSD and PCP typically produce wildly different behavior (neither of which is particularly helpful if you're trying to get information out of someone).

Still -- if their charge is accurate, it's disturbing and bizarre. Of course, the U.S. government pioneered research into LSD in particular in the 1950s and 60s. CIA officers even tested the drug by surreptitiously dosing each other, leading at least one acid-tripping spook to run in a paranoid frenzy through Washington D.C. and over a bridge into Virginia, where his co-workers later found him cowering under a fountain.

But through experiences like this, the government concluded the drug was worthless as an interrogation tool, a means to "flip" Communist agents, or anything else their Cold War minds had feverishly dreamed possible. Is it possible that they're experimenting with mind drugs again? That sounds completely outlandish. But when you look at history, and then look at the Padilla filing, it's hard to rule out.


We knew the Bush administration's policies have a strong hallucinatory element, now we need to know if hallucinogens are part of its policies as well.

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