A former private first class, to whom the Army admittedly administered LSD without his knowledge 17 years ago, sued the federal government and 31 past and present officials yesterday for $10 million in damages.
The ex-serviceman, James R. Thornwell, now 41 and jobless, charged in a suit filed in U.S. District Court here that the doses of the potent hallucinogenic drug, administered to him by the army in Orleans, France, in June 1961, left him "a social and emotional cripple, chronically and painfully isolated and withdrawn from the normal experiences of life in human society."
Thornwell, who now lives in Oakland, Calif., also alleged in his suit that he was "continuously subjected to a battery of brutal and unlawful interrogation techniques" before he was given the drug. The Army last year said that at the time it was conducting an investigation into allegations that Thornwell had stolen classified documents.
The former soldier charged that the interrogation techniques included "severe forms of physical and sensory deprivation as well as beating and verbal abuse."
The suit said he was confined alone to a "small chamber, his isolation broken only by periods of interrogation." At the same time, the suit alleged that reading materials were taken away from him, food and drink were withheld from him for "extended periods," he was not permitted to sleep and he was forced to urinate and defecate in his isolation chamber.
The drugging of Thornwell was part of an Army program known as "Third Chance," which was designed to test the efficacy of LSD in interrogations. The Army released documents to Thornwell's attorney last year indicating that 16 foreign nationals and Thornwell, the only American, received LSD in the tests.
Thornwell said in his suit that he once was "a stable, healthy, highly motivated and productive individual" who had graduated first in his high school class. But he said that since being given the LSD he has suffered and continues to suffer from serious mental illness and psychiatric disorders and servere physical pain."
The officials sued include a variety of past and former Pentagon, Army, health and intelligence officials.