Controversial drug given to all Guantanamo detainees akin to “pharmacologic waterboarding”

At Truthout, Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye report:

The Defense Department forced all “war on terror” detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison to take a high dosage of a controversial antimalarial drug, mefloquine, an act that an Army public health physician called “pharmacologic waterboarding.”

The US military administered the drug despite Pentagon knowledge that mefloquine caused severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and anxiety. The drug was used on the prisoners whether they had malaria or not.

The revelation, which has not been previously reported, was buried in documents publicly released by the Defense Department (DoD) two years ago as part of the government’s investigation into the June 2006 deaths of three Guantanamo detainees.

Army Staff Sgt. Joe Hickman, who was stationed at Guantanamo at the time of the suicides in 2006, and has presented evidence that demonstrates the three detainees could not have died by hanging themselves, noticed in the detainees’ medical files that they were given mefloquine. Hickman has been investigating the circumstances behind the detainees’ deaths for nearly four years.

Interviews with mefloquine and malaria experts and a review of peer-reviewed journals and government documents show there were no preexisting cases where mefloquine was ever prescribed for mass presumptive treatment of malaria.

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4 thoughts on “Controversial drug given to all Guantanamo detainees akin to “pharmacologic waterboarding”

  1. Vince J

    Tell that whimpy Eric Holder to stop that obscene theatre about wikileaks and get real about prossecuting US’s War Crminals in the Bush administration as well as in the Obama’s.
    Obama’s refusal to prossecute Bush make him an assessory to war crimes. The drone attacks give him the full title: War Criminal.

  2. Norman

    If life were so easy. Unfortunately, A.G.Holder’s actions are exactly why “O” named him for the post. Think about it, before you call it irrational thoughts of a conspiracy nut. This is exactly how those in power defend themselves. As I’ve said, there are too many players, with too many wanting in on the freebies, at the taxpayers expense. Corruption, when everybody wants a cut of the pie, then those denied, retaliate. Hence, the whistle blowers. Off hand, with “O” proposing a 2 year wage & benefit freeze on government workers, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see the floodgates open on what is going on, in all avenues of the government. Add another notch in the B.S. column of the Bush/”O” presidencies, or you scratch my back while I scratch yours. Lie in the flea pit, you get flies.

  3. DE Tedoru

    MEFLOQUIN side-effects (from drug’s scrib sheet)

    What are the possible side effects of mefloquine (Lariam)?

    Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

    Stop taking mefloquine and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

    * depressed mood, feeling restless or anxious;
    * confusion, extreme fear, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior;
    * severe or uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea;
    * fever;
    * cough, wheezing, feeling short of breath;
    * nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
    * mouth sores;
    * unusual aches and pains, tired feeling, weight loss;
    * severe skin rash; or
    * easy bruising or bleeding.

    Less serious side effects may include:

    * cough;
    * headache;
    * weakness;
    * dizziness; or
    * itching.

    This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

    What is the most important information I should know about mefloquine (Lariam)?

    Do not use this medication if you are allergic to mefloquine or similar medications such as quinine (Qualaquin) or quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinidex, Quin-Release).

    You should not use this medication to prevent malaria if you have a recent history of seizures, depression, anxiety, or a psychiatric illness such as schizophrenia. However, your doctor may prescribe mefloquine to treat malaria even if you do have any of these conditions.

    Before using this medication, tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney disease, severe complications from infection with malaria, or uncontrolled vomiting or diarrhea.

    If you vomit within 1 hour after taking this medication, take another dose. If your vomiting continues, call your doctor.

    If you are taking this medicine to prevent malaria, start taking it 1 week before entering an area where malaria is common. Take the medication once per week during your stay and for at least 4 weeks after you leave. If you stop taking the medicine early for any reason, contact a healthcare professional about another form of malaria prevention.

    If you are taking this medicine to treat malaria, the usual dose is 5 tablets at one time as a single dose.

    Take this medication for the entire length of time prescribed by your doctor. Your symptoms may get better before the infection is completely treated.

    In addition to taking mefloquine, use protective clothing, insect repellents, and mosquito netting around your bed to further prevent mosquito bites that could cause malaria.

    Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you have been exposed to malaria, or if you have a fever or other symptoms of illness during or after a stay in an area where malaria is common.

    No medication is 100% effective in treating or preventing malaria. For best results, keep using the medication as directed. Talk with your doctor if you have fever, vomiting, or diarrhea during your treatment.

  4. John Somebody

    Can someone please tell me why people keep referring to obstruction of air passages, (usually called, “suffication”), as “waterboarding”?
    As a conspiracy theorist, I usually associate use of euphemisms, with people trying to cover something up, or people who have been brainwashed into behaviours helpful to the opposition.

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