- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

Many years ago, I was accused of a crime I hadn't committed. I tried to take a lie detector test, but was declared untestable by a top expert. So I volunteered to take a "truth serum" test.
It was administered by a respected physician, in his office, with mydefense lawyers present. I put on a hospital gown, lay down on anexamining table, and the doctor inserted a needle into the back of my hand. He told me to count from 10 down, and at about 4, the truth serum (sodium amytal in this case) took over.
Those present later told me that while I was under, I was interrogated, and answered all questionsfor hours. Afterward, like a sleeptalker, I didn't know what I had said. But my responses convinced the prosecutors that I knew nothing about the crime and could not have been involved. In fact, I repeatedly named another party as the probable perpetrator, and five years later, documents emerged confirming that I was right (and innocent). But that is another story.
It's often said that we can't acquire information from terrorists by "torturing them or giving them truth serum tests" as if they were the same thing. But my test didn't hurt at all unless you want to call the pricking of the needle in the back of my hand "torture." Nor was it mental torture. And while we have captured terrorists who probably know enough to save us from devastating future attacks, international and military law views the use of drugs to acquire information as a form of torture.
Former CIA and FBI Director William Webster believes that the United States should consider injecting Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden's former operations chief with truth serum to find out what he knows. I sometimes wonder if September 11th would have ever occurred if we had used it last August on suspected terrorist Zacharius Moussaoui to find out why he was really taking that flight training, which he claimed was for "personal enjoyment."
Imagine if we could peer now into the future plans of imprisoned suspected terrorists? Or could look at the past of our incarcerated prisoners to find out which ones are really dangerous terrorists and which are just poor schnooks caught in a dragnet.
Because of my personal experience with truth serum, I often tell people that we should immediately give these tests to suspected incarcerated terrorists. And I hear the same arguments. "We can't put someone in a semi-surgical state without their consent." But if a captured terrorist had a bullet that had to be surgically removed, we might put him in a similar state to operate on them. Why are the rules different for saving "them" than for saving "us"?
You can't inject something into someone one without his/her agreement. When we force fed the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, we did so intravenously and you can bet it was without their consent.
What people say under truth serum isn't always true. Lie detector tests are frequently inaccurate, yet that doesn't stop them from being administered and its findings used.
It's time to wake up and smell the uranium before it's too late. And truth serum tests are one of the fastest, easiest, least painful ways to get information our lives could depend on.

Paulette Cooper is an author.

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