Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

What should the military do when faced with terrorists who have taken hostages? The answer, according to the Pentagon, may be to give the bad guys some Valium. In recent years, the military has been researching the possibility of using “club drugs” like Special K and anti-depressants like Prozac as “non-lethal weapons” in counterterrorist and peacekeeping operations. “We need something besides tear gas — like calmative, anesthetic agents — that would put people to sleep or in a good mood,” explains Susan Levine, research director of the government’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. A study for the Marine Corps conducted by Pennsylvania State University concludes that such feel-good weapons are both “achievable and desirable,” noting that drinking water spiked with Ecstasy or rubber bullets filled with Zoloft could “produce less anxious, less aggressive, more tranquil-like behavior.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testified in February that such “riot control agents” could be used during an invasion of Iraq — assuming military planners find a way around international treaties that ban the use of chemical weapons. The military also wants to deploy drugs to soothe unruly mobs, including “hungry refugees that are excited over the distribution of food.” Last October, when Russian authorities used an opiate gas in an effort to free 700 hostages held by Chechen rebels, 117 were killed by the chemicals. But the Pentagon remains high on drugs as weapons; as one military official stated in New Scientist, “I would like a magic dust that would put everyone in a building to sleep — combatants and non-combatants.”


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend