Patterico's Pontifications

12/3/2008

Mumbai Police Use Truth Serum on Terror Suspect (Updated)

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 6:36 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Indian officials claim the “baby-faced gunman” Azam Amir Kasab, the only captured suspect from Mumbai’s recent terror incidents, is a native and resident of a Pakistani village but Pakistani officials dispute that claim. To resolve this and other questions, the Mumbai police announced they will use truth serum on Kasab:

“Police interrogators in Mumbai told The Times that they are poised to settle the matter of Kasab’s nationality through the use of “narcoanalysis” – a controversial technique, banned in most democracies, where the subject is injected with a truth serum.

The method was widely used by Western intelligence agencies during the Cold War, before it emerged that the drugs used – typically the barbiturate sodium pentothal – may induce hallucinations, delusions and psychotic manifestations.”

The deputy police commissioner described Kasab as a “highly-trained murderer” who is “a 24-year-old boy with the eyes of a killer.”

I don’t know enough about truth serum to say whether it’s a reliable source of information but I give the Indian authorities points for consistency and transparency. They’ve announced the use of truth serum on suspected terrorists for at least two years.

UPDATE: The Mirror reports the terror suspects may have been high on LSD, cocaine and steroids. There is also a photo of Kasab (or Kasav/Qasab), described as lying “dazed after his capture” and “hooked up to a life support machine.”

Please take a look at the photo. I don’t know if it’s a real photo but the machine looks like it might be a defibrillator. Is this what they mean by a “life support machine”? Do any medical folks out there recognize this?

— DRJ

52 Responses to “Mumbai Police Use Truth Serum on Terror Suspect (Updated)”

  1. Ain’t no such thing as “truth serum”. They’re no more reliable than booze (“in vino veritas”).

    Jim C. (8c7619)

  2. …may induce hallucinations, delusions and psychotic manifestations…”

    I can see the point there. Those side effects could make it difficult to separate any forthcoming “truth serum” talk from his usual radical Islamic ranting.

    allan (4caf0f)

  3. “a 24-year-old boy with the eyes of a killer.”

    Not to mention the hands, nose, feet and teeth of a killer.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  4. Not that anyone in the third world could possibly be less than 100% honest at all times, but is it possible that “truth serum” is just a euphemism for what used to be called the 3rd degree here?

    Stu707 (7fb2e7)

  5. I’m glad that Indian officials are dispensing this tonic. Imagine Bush trying it. The nuts and ‘bots would scream about the inhumanity to sacred life. In fact, if this guy starts writing some kindergarten poetry real fast he might get an Obama voter to take up his cause..

    Vermont Neighbor (5ea336)

  6. It’s Bush’s fault, of course. I overheard Deepak Chopra confirming it to Ron Howard while waiting on line in the WeHo Whole Foods.

    Chris (cefe13)

  7. “Truth serum” is usually sodium pentothal and it does work a bit like alcohol reducing inhibitions. Whether what you get is truth is suspect but it is probably harder to lie consistently.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  8. Can’t The One simply ask him politely?

    Da'Shiznit (089453)

  9. I’ve updated the post with a question.

    Mike K – I’d especially appreciate if you would take a look at the update since you have the medical expertise I need.

    DRJ (a50047)

  10. Oh, pump him up!

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  11. The device shown in the pic at the first Update link is a defibrilator.

    You can tell by the big red button with a lightning bolt on it. Unless Life Support comes with a “shock patient” button.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  12. It just looks like a portable monitor to me, DRJ. For heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen absorption, and with an attached cuff for blood pressure.

    nk (5fa892)

  13. Ok, Scott is right, too. It’s a monitor/defibrillator.

    nk (5fa892)

  14. As Jim and Mike point out, “truth serum” is really a misnomer for the use of a central nervous system depressant to reduce inhibition (aimed specifically at the inhibition to reveal something damaging to one’s cause, in this case), with sodium pentothal (and some others like ketamine hydrochloride) being staples of the Cold War in fact and fiction, and wine the classic of the ages.

    And as Scott and nk point out, that is a defibrillator in the picture at the link, of a style no longer used here. It is capable of delivering an electrical pulse that completely depolarizes the heart; while the instruments in use here today are assistive in restoring a proper rhythm. (Older defibrillators essentially stopped the heart completely, in the hope that as the electophysiology recovered from the depolarization that it would restart with a ‘normal’ rhythm. You often had to provide external massage (CPR) to initiate a rhythm.) The problem with the one pictured is that it’s not only dangerous to the patient, but to the people operating as well.

    (And I find myself unconsiously rubbing my leg where I didn’t get clear of a 400 Joule defibrillator fast enough, many years ago.)

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  15. The point is not whether the serum works flawlessly or not; the point is that it gives the terrorist an “out” by which to both capitulate and/or brag while not losing face.

    He can’t be blamed for spilling the beans, which to a narcissist from a shame culture is paramount. And in those other cases (not this one) where a suspect or their family were made to cooperate with a terrorist group via threats, it gives them a means to flip sides without necessarily getting their families killed.

    As long as the serum is seen as being used in every case, that is. My respect for the Indian interrogators just rose.

    ras (fc54bb)

  16. I was going to suggest that PE Obama offer to sit down and talk to the alleged (Reuters style manual) terrorist without preconditions to secure the desired information. Who could resist Baracky?

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  17. Scott, I would like to have a Shock Patient button on whatever device is attached to this ‘boy’. I’d pay money for a nice Web 2.0 button!

    I think truth serums can be helpful… A lead could be found and verified, of course. I don’t know what the Indians are supposed to do. They have no idea how many more attacks are coming, and their people are obviously unsettled and angry.

    Meanwhile, the ISI is more powerful today than yesterday.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  18. Thanks EW(1)SG. Can you speculate why that defibrillator might be there? He certainly looks dazed and confused and maybe there’s a medical basis for concern about his heart rhythm, such as if he’s experiencing drug withdrawal. Either way, this guy doesn’t look to be “on life support” to me. I don’t see any of the equipment, especially a ventilator or at least oxygen, that I expect to see in that situation.

    DRJ (a50047)

  19. i dont buy the whole LSD thing… that isnt exactly a drug that allows you to do things efficiently… it is kinda hard to change mags in your rifle when they keep melting.

    chris (fdf211)

  20. Juan,

    I read today that Kasab told his interrogators there are more terrorists and will be more attacks. Who knows if he’s right but the authorities are still finding explosives.

    DRJ (a50047)

  21. DRJ, that’s terrible. True or false, it’s still another dose of terror for people in India.

    Chris, perhaps Al Qaida is conducting it’s own MKULTRA tests, but otherwise I can’t see much reason for LSD being used. Then again, these terrorists are often not the devout Islamic saints we see on TV. They are often drug addicts and losers.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  22. it’s=its… I make more typos than anyone here, but that one always drives me crazy.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  23. Yep – it’s a defibrillator…don’t know if its a Lifepack series or not. Looks like the terrorist’s heart rate in the picture is about 100-120 and appears to be NSR (normal sinus rhythm). Defib is there to watch his heart rate (uppers and coke can jack you heart rate up, and give some wicked SVT or supraventricular tachycardia, and basically cause your heart to misfire) He’s not on “life support” – he’s not on a ventilator (no oral or tracheal airway), so he must be conscious enough to have a gag reflex, and breathing on his own. His eyes are real glassy, so he’s probably on something (cocaine/ uppers).

    Was in a cardiac arrest once (use to be a respiratory therapy tech years ago), doc called clear when he was defibrillating a patient, and one of the EMT’s was holding on to the metal gurney. EMT dropped to the floor, doc turned and put the paddles on his chest (there’s a “quick look” feature – you can see the patients EKG without hooking up the leads, through the paddles), saw that the EMT needed to be defibrillated, shocked him, and went back to work on the patient. EMT “woke up” wondering why he was on the floor, with a bump on his head, and muscle cramps in his chest…said all he remembered was the doc calling clear and having his hands on the gurney. Had to write up an incident report on it, and EMT found himself as a dispatcher for a while.

    fmfnavydoc (47a63f)

  24. The point is not whether the serum works flawlessly or not; the point is that it gives the terrorist an “out” by which to both capitulate and/or brag while not losing face.

    Good idea. I also think that’s what he meant when he said “now I don’t want to go home” after he blabbed. He knows he would be killed for being a wuss.

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  25. Throw away the “truth serum” and go back to some tried and true methods. Read about how the English got the truth out of Guy Fawkes just before they turned him into a Roman candle. Or watch the PASSION OF CHRIST and BRAVEHEART movies for some tricks that work. No more Abu Gharib panties on the head tricks–they don’t work either.
    ***
    Rocketman

    John Bibb (c0b69b)

  26. #18 DRJ

    Medically, that’s a strange scenario pictured. Nothing is really going on in terms of treatment. The defibrillator is just sitting there monitering his heart rate, rhythm, and electrical appearance: all are normal, but if someone wants to say the rate is a little fast, it’s fine with me.

    To make a long story short, I’d almost bet that someone has already given the guy the “truth serum”, which could sedate him enough to produce exactly the way he looks in the picture – sedated enough to be not totally “with it”, but not enough to make him sleep, and not depressing his respirations enough to require “assistance”. His “glassy” eyes really tell you nothing in particular.

    My guess, then: he’s been sedated.

    J."Trashman" Peden (bc50e2)

  27. #26 addendum

    “sedated” a little too far to get anything out of him right then. I assume they slowly i.v. “titrate” whatever the agent is mg. by mg., or whatever, and keep questioning, probably going as far with the agent as it takes to prove that a state of useless responsivity has been achieved, which is what that snapshot looks like to me.

    J."Trashman" Peden (bc50e2)

  28. Scott, I would like to have a Shock Patient button on whatever device is attached to this ‘boy’. I’d pay money for a nice Web 2.0 button!

    Having wrked as phone customer service for a vacuum cleaner company, I long ago decided that what I need is a button I can use to deliver a shock to the person on the other end of the phone… :)

    Can you speculate why that defibrillator might be there?

    Since it’s sitting right next to his head (I assume on the floor), I would suggest he just got brought back from whatever side terrorist POS goes when they check out. His face also isn’t that clean, so I think the pic was taken during the first little bit after he got taken.

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  29. Indian “Truth Serum.”
    One 24v battery
    One red cable.
    One black cable
    Red cable tagged,”Left.”
    Black cable tagged “Right.”
    Bound to work.

    Paul Albers (06d9a0)

  30. Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but doesn’t DNA confirm areas of origin? Something I read in National Geo?

    WAM (61bbb0)

  31. FWIW: I am old enough to have been given sodium pentothal as a surgical anesthetic, back when I was a teenager. My mom was with me in the recovery room: I remember babbling on and on about things (true things: for example, “Man, this stuff is better than hash!”) that I would never have mentioned in front of Mom under any other circumstances.

    Yes, I’ve had wine etc. also–none as effective for making me babble as the sodium pentothal was. Although I’m sure people can babble untrue things also, I must say that I certainly couldn’t have been deliberately deceptive with that stuff in my veins.

    P.S. To Mom’s credit, she never mentioned any of the stuff I babbled!

    I say, yeah, give the guy pentothal–enough to put him “out”–and then, as he is just starting to wake up, ask lots and lots of questions. They’ll get a lot of really valuable info that way, even if there’s a little fantasy mixed in.

    Valerie (0ba2dd)

  32. Paul Albers: If you torture somebody (anybody), they will most decidedly tell you whatever they think you want to hear. In Bush’s case, that would work out well (for him), but in reality it is just not an efficient method of information gathering.

    truthnjustice (3d65f9)

  33. I have seen a study indicating that naloxone (an opiod agonist) lowers the pain threshold and increases the fear response. I wonder if that might not be a better “truth serum”.

    nk (5fa892)

  34. Paul Albers: If you torture somebody (anybody), they will most decidedly tell you whatever they think you want to hear. In Bush’s case, that would work out well (for him), but in reality it is just not an efficient method of information gathering.

    Comment by truthnjustice — 12/4/2008 @ 4:06 am

    Bullshit! Waterboarding Khalid Shaykh Muhammad revealed the Library Tower attack in Los Angeles.

    Mossberg500 (9fd170)

  35. Maybe the Indians ought to give this guy some “date rape” drugs to lower his inhibitions, and if he doesn’t talk, introduce him to an obviously AIDS infected lover.

    PCD (7fe637)

  36. I think in the interrogation scale with car-batteries and AIDS-rape on one end and, I don’t know, harsh language on the other, Truth Serum probably balances the likelihood of getting useful information with the desire not to be evil fairly well, though I’m admittedly only using knowledge gained from movies and TV.

    I think it’s more useful, as ras commented, as a way to “explain” whatever information they receive without having to be too specific. For all we know, he was waterboarded, which is effective and (pax netroots) not evil.

    Pious Agnostic (291f9a)

  37. They should just offer him more cocaine every time they can confirm that he is telling the truth.

    LSD makes me think these were mind controlled stooges. What other good would it serve but to keep them from thinking for themselves? Perhaps these were simpleton drug addict losers who took meds at a “training camp.”

    Ben (b4f517)

  38. Our friends on the left would probably advocate the use of Comfy chairs and soft cushions.

    Old Coot (a8acc7)

  39. If you torture somebody (anybody), they will most decidedly tell you whatever they think you want to hear.

    In her first rendition on the “secret” CIA prisons – she won a Pulitzer Prize for her follow up rendition – Dana Priest, WaPo, stated up front that the info gained from such prisons were ~ “critcal to the success of the war on terror”, and gave many testamentory examples from officials who had been aware of or involved with the processes, which were no doubt the “extraordinary renditions” mentioned and ok’d by Bill Clinton, prior.

    I guess someone must have been torturing poor Dana?

    J."Trashman" Peden (7d0686)

  40. truthnjustice, you really don’t have any clue do you?

    SPQR (72771e)

  41. Comment by SPQR — 12/4/2008 @ 9:48 am

    It only knows what it reads at DK/DU/HP/etc.

    At some point, it must come up out of the basement and engage the real world.

    Woe the day!

    Another Drew (410846)

  42. I’m a bit late to the party but that is a “lifepack” type monitor/defibrillator. You can see some of the soft pack case. There was a bit of confusing explanation of the way defibrillators work. They all shock the heart and restart it. There are two modes, synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous is for people whose hearts are in a useful rhythm but may be too fast or it is atrial fibrillation or V-tach. The defibrillator times the shock to coincide with the patient’s heartbeat so it doesn’t induce ventricular fibrillation by hitting the T wave part of the EKG with the shock.

    Asynchronous is for people who are already in ventricular fibrillation. In that case, there is a disorganized electrical rhythm that isn’t pumping any blood but it might be enough to inhibit the defibrillator from firing.

    I’m sure they were using it to monitor his rhythm but they might also have been concerned that he could arrest from cocaine or whatever he had taken. I guess you could call it “life support” but it isn’t a respirator, the usual meaning of the term.

    Mike K (f89cb3)

  43. “Can you speculate why that defibrillator might be there?”

    Since it’s sitting right next to his head (I assume on the floor), I would suggest he just got brought back from whatever side terrorist POS goes when they check out. His face also isn’t that clean, so I think the pic was taken during the first little bit after he got taken.

    Nah, it’s academic and I didn’t want to make it a “long story”, but: if he cardiac-arrested on site, he arrested for a reason unrelated to intrinsic coronary artery disease, or etc, that is, for a reason most likely due to trauma. In which case he wouldn’t just be lying there so peacefully, looking actually as good as he does.

    Physiologically, he looks to be in a very good current state – including the moniter info – almost normal except for his mental status. Moreover, he is not intubated: whatever trauma [or “other”] caused his arrest, it itself would not be cured by defibrillation, and he would therefore be either intubated or having to have some other kind of respiratory assistance.

    That’s as long as I’m going to make it. And, btw, the same kind of argument would apply if he had intentionally overdosed himself on site – “other”.

    So if I were to have to bet the Farm, I’d go with my previous take: he’s in a state of sedation. But, luckily, it’s academic, and all I am really doing is shooting the bull fwiw.

    J."Trashman" Peden (7d0686)

  44. A point oft overlooked in the “torture doesn’t work cuz the info could be unreliable” arg is that, often, confirming info can subsequently be obtained to prove or disprove the original contention.

    For example, if a terrorist confesses that his buddies have a weapons cache at such-and-such an address, it’s pretty easy to check it out. If the info was false, not much is lost, but if it’s true, a lot was gained.

    And, to repeat my prev pt, that same terrorist is statistically more likely to fess up quickly if he can blame his newly garrulous nature on truth serum, thereby obviating the need for the painful intermediate steps to the same result.

    ras (fc54bb)

  45. i dont buy the whole LSD thing… that isnt exactly a drug that allows you to do things efficiently… it is kinda hard to change mags in your rifle when they keep melting.

    Well, the “melting” thing is sort of an exaggeration / old wives’ tale, but yeah, being on acid would seriously reduce your, uh, “mission focus” to the point of complete ineffectiveness, as you’d be extremely easily distracted and likely to go off on some random tangent or completely change your mind about what was your primary goal.

    Never mind how I know this.

    Now — it’s entirely possible that their handlers could have dosed them as part of their indoctrination & training. One could easily use psychedelics for brainwashing: i.e., making the recruit believe that he’s experiencing a glimpse of his heavenly reward, or conversely, showing him what devils the infidels are and the hell that awaits them. If the reports of LSD in their systems are true (and it’s still too soon to know for sure what rumors are true and what’s complete BS or speculation), then it is almost certainly trace amounts remaining from at least a couple days prior to the mission.

    A point oft overlooked in the “torture doesn’t work cuz the info could be unreliable” arg is that, often, confirming info can subsequently be obtained to prove or disprove the original contention.

    Right. An effective interrogator would mix in questions whose answers were already known or easily corroborated, and then use it against the the suspect victim interogatee so he doesn’t know what the interrogators know & don’t know, and is shit-scared that they might already know an answer to a question they’re asking him & will give him another jolt or whatever if he lies.

    Alex (2edb43)

  46. fmfnavydoc, J.”Trashman” Peden, and Mike K.,

    Thanks for your helpful thoughts on defibrillators and related subjects.

    DRJ (a50047)

  47. “may induce hallucinations, delusions and psychotic manifestation”

    Wingnut truth.

    imdw (261dd7)

  48. That’s a defibrillator/monitor–used to measure/monitor someone’s heart rate and if they were in cardiac arrest, it could be used to restart their heart, however from the picture you can’t tell if he’s hooked up to it or not.

    On the machine itself it shows a sinus rhythm, (normal) could be a sinus tachycardia, which would be normal for anyone on coke or speed, or any other stimulant, or his adrenaline could be naturally running high causing the tachycardia after just butchering a couple of hundred people.

    The pic looks like perhaps he’s in the back of the ambulance and they took his photo from inside while he was laying on the stretcher, like the tech was taking the picture. You’d have to pan out to see if the cardiac leads, three wires attached to the monitor and then to the patient by those self adhesive circles which are then placed on your chest in a triangle, were attached to him.

    b (6144bf)

  49. The method was widely used by Western intelligence agencies during the Cold War, before it emerged that the drugs used – typically the barbiturate sodium pentothal – may induce hallucinations, delusions and psychotic manifestations.”

    Then:

    UPDATE: The Mirror reports the terror suspects may have been high on LSD, cocaine and steroids

    Good for India for being one of those democracies that gives more of a sh!t about information than the sacred human rights of mass murderers to avoid hallucinations by giving them hallucinatory drugs when they are already high on acid and meth.

    mandible claw (27c074)

  50. #42 Mike K.: Thanks, Mike~I couldn’t for the life of me articulate the concept of synchrony/asynchrony even though that’s what I was thinking of.

    In the newest generations of defibrillators, they’re programmed to even handle ventricular fib, providing counter polarization at low levels to achieve a (nearly) quiescent state and then attempting to induce a sinus rhythm.

    EW1(SG) (836d47)

  51. Any liberal illuminati who disagree with this idea has some serious issues when it comes to the value of human life. I’m not talking about the life of this terrorist, no, I’m talking about the lives of the men and women who he’s hurt and who his organization has hurt and those that will be hurt if he does not talk.

    Rj (b3eac0)

  52. Do any of you think at this time Mumabai hospitals were full of people the terriost had shot Maybe the machine is in a chaotic room full of other people

    Jay (95dc2b)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3524 secs.