Shocking: DoD Tortured Guantanamo Bay Prisoners With Neuropsychiatric Malaria Drug

An Army physician called it "pharmacologic waterboarding." Guantanamo Bay prisoners were given violently high dosages of a controversial antimalarial drug, known to cause extreme side effects including suicidal thoughts, intense anxiety and hallucinations. The drug, mefloquine, was administered to all Guantanamo detainees in 2002 in the highest dosage to treat malaria––before they were tested for the disease. Three prisoners who committed suicide in 2006 were all administered the drug.

The discovery was found deep in public documents released as part of the Department of Defense investigation into the prisoners' suicides. According to the Army physician, Maj. Remington Nevin, the way mefloquine was used was,"at best, an egregious malpractice."

The government has exposed detainees "to unacceptably high risks of potentially severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including seizures, intense vertigo, hallucinations, paranoid delusions, aggression, panic, anxiety, severe insomnia, and thoughts of suicide," said Nevin, who was not speaking in an official capacity, but offering opinions as a board-certified, preventive medicine physician. "These side effects could be as severe as those intended through the application of 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'"

Mefloquine has been known for decades to have such extreme effects, but the Guantanamo detainees were administered the drug with no concern for their prior medical or psychological histories.

In 2002, when the prison was established and mefloquine first administered, there were dozens of suicide attempts at Guantanamo. That same year, the DoD stopped reporting attempted suicides.

The DoD claims to have been “presumptively treating” malaria, despite the fact that in 2002, a DoD memo observed that malaria was “not a threat” at Guantanamo. According to Nevins, "It appears that for years, senior Defense health leaders have condoned the medically indefensible practice of using high doses of mefloquine ostensibly for mass presumptive treatment of malaria among detainees from the Middle East and Asia lacking any evidence of disease. This is a use for which there is no precedent in the medical literature and which is specifically discouraged among refugees by malaria experts at the Centers for Disease Control."

Read the full story at Truth Out.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at December 2, 2010, 5:08am

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