Originally published 23rd Mar 2016 | last updated 21st Feb 2016
· ‘Truth drug’ trials men win out of court settlement
· Porton Down accused of duping volunteers in 50s
The Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, has paid thousands of pounds in compensation to servicemen who were fed LSD without their consent in clandestine mind-control experiments in the 1950s. MI6 has agreed an out-of-court settlement with the men, who said they were duped into taking part in the experiments and had waited years to learn the truth.
The men experienced vivid hallucinogenic trips when given the drugs. One recalled seeing distorted “Salvador Dali-style faces and cracks in people’s faces”. MI6 is also paying the cost of the men’s lawsuit, which alleged assault.
Don Webb, a former airman, said yesterday: “I feel vindicated; this has been a classic cover-up for years. They took a liberty.”
The LSD experiments were conducted in 1953 and 1954 by scientists working for MI6 who were trying to discover a “truth drug” to compel prisoners to confess.
MI6, then led by Sir John Sinclair, was worried that the Russians had a secret drug to brainwash cold war enemies. The service had seen captured American servicemen confessing to “crimes” during the Korean war and calling for a US surrender. A Hungarian dissident had admitted to crimes he did not commit.
MI6’s counterparts at the CIA also did LSD experiments on men without their knowledge to try to control their minds. Both agencies finally concluded that LSD could not be used to manipulate people.
One scientist involved in the trials wrote that the experiments were “stopped … when it was reported that in a few people it might produce suicidal tendencies”. The trials were described as “tentative and inadequately controlled” in one official document.
The amount of compensation paid to three servicemen in the lawsuit is not being disclosed by MI6 or the men; Alan Care, the men’s lawyer, called it modest.
One man did not wish to be named. But Mr Webb and a former Royal Navy radio operator, Eric Gow, were 19 when they volunteered to take part in what they believed was research to find a cure for colds. They were sent to the chemical warfare research establishment at Porton Down, Wiltshire. Both said they were not told beforehand that they were going to be tested with LSD. At the time, the effects of LSD, only discovered in 1943, were unknown to the general public.
Mr Webb said scientists gave him LSD at least twice in a week. He remembers a nightmarish experience when he hallucinated for a long time. He saw “walls melting, cracks appearing in people’s faces … eyes would run down cheeks, Salvador Dali-type faces … a flower would turn into a slug”.
He said he had first made inquiries about the experiments in the 1960s but was “blanked by the government, which quoted the Official Secrets Act”. He said he experienced flashbacks for 10 years after the experiments.
Mr Gow said the scientists acted in an “irresponsible and sloppy” way and had not properly monitored him. “They treated us just like guinea pigs. They did not know what was going to happen.”
One morning, Mr Gow began to trip on LSD, seeing a radiator moving “like a squeezebox”. He was still hallucinating when later he went dancing with his wellingtons on. Yesterday, he said: “I am glad they have finally admitted it.”
A Foreign Office spokeswoman, speaking for MI6, said last night: “Settlement offers were made to the government on behalf of the three claimants which, on legal advice … the government thought it appropriate to accept.” TheGuardian http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/feb/24/military.past
MI5 and MI6 unable to stop Secret Wars’ publication http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/apr/15/mi5-mi6-secret-wars-book-gordon-thomas
Three UK ex-servicemen have been given compensation after they were given LSD without their consent in the 1950s.
The men volunteered to be “guinea pigs” at the government research base Porton Down after being told scientists wanted to find a cure for the common cold.
But they were given the hallucinogen in mind control tests, and some volunteers had terrifying hallucinations.
The Foreign Office said the secret intelligence body MI6 had made the settlements after legal advice.
The out-of-court settlements are thought to be under £10,000 for each of the men.
The statement added: “The Ministry of Defence is very grateful to all those whose participation in studies at Porton Down made possible the research to provide safe and effective protection for UK Armed Forces.”
A spokesman for the Foreign Office, which oversees MI6, said: “The settlement offers were made to the government on behalf of the three claimants which, on legal advice, and in the particular circumstances of these cases, the government thinks it appropriate to accept.”
The men had volunteered for experiments at the government’s chemical warfare research base at Porton Down in Wiltshire in 1953 and 1954.
They stick to the old maxim: never apologise, never explain
Following the settlement, Don Webb, who was a 19-year-old airman at the time, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think they grudgingly acknowledged that they did something wrong.
“They stick to the old maxim: never apologise, never explain. But I think in this case they have decided to pay some money. I think that is as near to an apology or an explanation I’ll get.”
Both he and fellow serviceman Logan Marr, a former shepherd from the Scottish highlands, suffered hallucinations after they were asked to drink a clear liquid.
The third man did not wish to be named.
The research was carried out after British and American governments thought the Soviet Union had developed a “truth drug” which could compel spies and servicemen to yield up important secrets.
MI6 scientists decided to test LSD, the closest thing they thought they had to a truth drug, on volunteers to see how they reacted.
Alan Care, a lawyer who represented the three men, said: “As far as we are aware, these are the first settlements by the secret intelligence services for a personal injury action.”
He added that a request that documents relating to the case be put into the public domain had been refused.
Some volunteers at the base did not find out they had been given LSD until 50 years later. Thousands of servicemen and women have volunteered in the testing of defences against chemical and biological attacks at the Wiltshire military base.
Research began in 1916 using a “volunteers programme”, and up to 20,000 people took part in various trials in the 50 years up to 1989.
Last October, the government was found guilty of breaching the human rights of former soldier Thomas Roche, who claimed he developed health problems as a result of mustard gas and nerve agent tests in 1962 and 1963. BBCNews http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4745748.stm
MI5 and MI6 agreed to pay around £12 million from their own budgets to former British detainees in Guantánamo Bay, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
The payments were made as Sir Peter Ricketts, the National Security Adviser, warned that spending cuts could damage morale in the intelligence services and threaten security.
Details of the payments are contained in the accounts for the security and intelligence agencies, which were published this week.
They show that the agencies spent £13.7 million on “losses and special payments” in the 12 months to the end of March this year.
A note to the accounts says the sum was swelled by “an SIA [Security and Intelligence Agencies] contribution to a payment in respect of legal claims in excess of £250k”.
The actual figure paid to the Britons is not given, because of a confidentiality agreement with the lawyers of the former terrorist suspects.
It is thought that around £12million is likely to have been paid to the Guantánamo Bay suspects.
This is because the agencies have on average spent £1.5 million a year on losses and special payments over the past five years. The total compensation figure paid to 16 Britons who were suing the Government is likely to be around £14 million, and will have been swelled by payments from other government departments.
The former detainees have denied wrongdoing. In April, The Daily Telegraph disclosed for the first time details of the US accusations against the men, which were contained in files compiled about them in Guantánamo Bay.
In the accounts report, Sir Peter warned that spending cuts posed “risks to staff morale and security”. He wrote: “Like other Government departments, the agencies have or are currently undertaking workforce rationalisation strategies which could result in associated risks to staff morale and security.’’
He added: “The Agencies also face a challenge in that they must ensure their internal control systems are able to manage the significant increase in activity associated with the London 2012 Olympics. Preparations for this are in the advanced stages.”
Last night Patrick Mercer, a senior Tory MP, said: “I hope that this was the right decision to pay suspects at the same time as not rewarding our own agents in the way that they should be. Quite rightly their work is not obvious, but our intelligence agencies are stunningly successful and anything that hits their morale and efficiency has got to be very seriously questioned.’’
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “For legal reasons we cannot comment on the details of any settlement the Government came to with former Guantánamo detainees.’’
The legal settlement was first announced by Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, to the House of Commons last November.
The sums were paid not just to the detainees who brought legal action against the government but to an additional four who were not involved in the court cases but could have sued.
The men had claimed that the Government had allowed them to be sent to be mistreated at the US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay. Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/8680598/MI5-and-MI6-pay-out-12m-to-Britons-held-in-Guantanamo.html
21st Feb 2017
- British man who launched Isil suicide attack was Guantanamo Bay Telegraph.co.uk
- British former Guantanamo Bay inmate ‘dies fighting for IS in Iraq’ ITV News
- British suicide bomber dies in attack on Iraqi forces in Mosul BBC News
- ISIS suicide bomber in Iraq was former Gitmo detainee New York Post
- British suicide bomber who blew himself up in Mosul battle was Daily Mail
25th Jan 2017
How many released Guantanamo Bay prisoners commit new terrorist acts?
Republicans who agree with Donald Trump’s promise to keep Guantánamo Bay open have argued that too many released prisoners have committed new acts of terrorism.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said that Trump should put the worst offenders around the globe in the prison and provide transparency about the activities of released prisoners.
“We know that about 30 percent of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay went back into battle,” said Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Fox News Jan. 23. “We know that a dozen or so killed Americans. These are not good people. I hope the American people understand that. This is a facility that holds the worst of the worst offenders and now down to just a handful of people that can’t be released because they are so dangerous.”
Gardner makes the numbers sound much more concrete than they actually are; it’s not clear that all of these prisoners ultimately turned back to terrorism. But there is some evidence that Americans have died when fighting against groups that include released prisoners.
Former President Barack Obama reduced the prisoner population at Gitmo but fell short of his promise to close the prison. Trump promised to keep Gitmo open and “load it up with bad dudes.”
Estimates include unconfirmed reports
At least every six months, the Director of National Intelligence, an appointee of the president, publishes a Congress-mandated report detailing the number of former Guantanamo detainees who have re-engaged in terrorist or insurgent activity.
The most recent report, which was published in September, showed re-engagement of prisoners through July 15, 2016. The report included information on 693 prisoners released since the prison opened in 2002. The government reported that 17.6 percent — 122 individuals — had been “confirmed of re-engaging” and 12.4 percent — 86 individuals — “suspected of re-engaging” in terrorism.
To get to Gardner’s claim of 30 percent requires adding those confirmed and suspected of re-engaging in terrorism. A spokesman for Gardner cited a June 2016 article in the Washington Post for both portions of his claim. The article notes that the 30 percent figure includes both categories.
Gardner did not mention Obama while talking about Gitmo. However, it’s worth noting that about 90 percent who re-engaged or were suspected of doing so were released before Obama took office when George W. Bush was president. It was while Obama was president that the percent of released detainees who re-entered the battlefield became a Republican talking point.
The two-page report provides no details about how it arrived at the figures beyond some basic definitions. The report explains that the government labels those as “suspected of re-engaging” if the information is plausible but unverified or from only a single source.
A 2012 House Armed Services Committee report included some examples of released detainees who committed new terrorist acts, such as Abdallah Saleh Ali al-Ajmi who was released in 2005 and conducted a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2008.
The federal government stopped releasing the names of those who re-engaged in 2009 to protect intelligence sources and methods, according to the report.
“While this makes sense, it has hindered the public’s understanding of the topic and made it difficult to confirm DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) assessments in some instances,” states the report.
Some experts including DePaul University counterrorism professor Thomas Mockaitis have raised questions about the veracity of the numbers.
“I do have concerns over the use of such figures without explanation or context,” he said. “Many of those released are handed over to foreign states who assume responsibility for them. Tracking their activities after they leave Guantanamo can be problematic.”
Almost 10 years ago, the Director of National Intelligence, the Pentagon and other stakeholders tightened the criteria under which a released detainee was classified as “confirmed” or “suspected,” said Cully Stimson, who was involved in that process and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs during Bush’s administration. He says the criteria are valid.
“That said, there is no way to know of the actual number of recidivists because one cannot know what one does not know until one knows it,” said Stimson, who is now an expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Said another way, the intelligence community won’t know if a Gitmo transferee went back to combatant activity unless and until there is some level of proof of that recidivism, sufficient to satisfy either the ‘suspected’ or ‘confirmed’ level.”
In June 2014, the New America Foundation, a centrist think tank, compiled its own numbers of released former detainees, using Pentagon reports, news stories and other public information. At the time there were 620 released prisoners, and the foundation found that 54 of them “are either confirmed to be or suspected of engaging in militant activities against either the U.S. or non-U.S. targets.” That was about one-third of the government’s figure of 184 at the time. The foundation has not updated the report since that time.
A Post report documents American deaths
This part of Gardner’s claim stems from a Washington Post article that stated that the Obama administration believed that at least 12 released detainees launched attacks at U.S. or allied forces in Afghanistan, killing about a half-dozen Americans.
That information came from government officials including Paul Lewis, who oversaw Guantánamo issues at the Defense Department, and told lawmakers in March that former Guantánamo inmates were responsible for the deaths of Americans overseas. The other officials were quoted by the Post anonymously.
One official told the Post that: “Because many of these incidents were large-scale firefights in a war zone, we cannot always distinguish whether Americans were killed by the former detainees or by others in the same fight.”
Nine of the released detainees suspected to have launched new terrorist attacks were dead or in foreign government custody and all of them were released during Bush’s administration, the Post reported.
The other news reports we found about the 12 released detainees rehashed the Post story.
Gardner said, “about 30 percent of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay went back into battle. We know that a dozen or so killed Americans.”
Gardner omits that to get to the 30 percent figure requires adding those the Director of National Intelligence says were confirmed of re-engaging and those only suspected of re-engaging. Also, the federal government provides no details in its report about how it arrives at the figures or the identity of the detainees that went back into battle.
Gardner is on more solid ground that “a dozen or so killed Americans.” That stems from a 2015 Washington Post article based on interviews with government officials.
On balance, we rate this claim Mostly True. http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2017/jan/25/cory-gardner/how-many-released-guantanamo-bay-prisoners-commit-/ https://archive.is/qKMlX