DOES DRUGGING DETAINEES AGAINST THEIR WILL CONSTITUTE TORTURE?

Amy Goldstein and Dana Priest report that the U.S. Government has been using a psychotropic drug called Haldol (among others), once used on political dissidents in the Soviet Union, to sedate immigrant detainees against their will during deportation. The problem is many of the detainees aren't being violent or threatening, it's just, you know, easier to deal with them if they're all doped up.

Part of the problem seems to be that there was no established legal rule stating that drugging detainees for the purposes of transport alone was clearly illegal, although both Clinton and Bush Administration lawyers seemed to realize that drugging people against their will for no good reason might put the government at risk for liability. Agency rules within ICE were then established that stated that detainees could not be sedated for transport if they were not psychotic or violent, but this was likely because a local paper found out about what ICE was doing and the ACLU started drafting a lawsuit.

I'm not sure whether in legal terms injecting someone with anti-psychotics against their will constitutes some form of torture, but the article says countries like France and Belgium refused to allow American immigration agents to do so within those countries. Between drugging detainees, immigrant prisons that basically constitute a de-facto 33,000 person increase in our already bloated prison population (never mind that many of these people are refugees and asylum seekers, not criminals) and health care practices that have resulted in 83 entirely avoidable deaths, ICE is treating immigrants in a way that we would never accept Americans being treated.

I'm also shocked at the lack of attention this has gotten. But I guess there are flag pins and bowling scores to discuss.

--A. Serwer

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