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MK-ULTRA: The CIA's Mind Control Program

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MK-ULTRA: The CIA's Mind Control Program
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MK-ULTRA was the code name for a secret CIA mind control program, begun in 1953, under Director Allen Dulles. Its purpose was multifold, including to perfect a truth drug for interrogating suspected Soviet spies during the Cold War. It followed earlier WW II hypnosis, primitive drugs research, and the US Navy's Project Chatter, explained by its Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request as follows:

It began "in the fall of 1947 focusing on the identification and testing of drugs (LSD and others) in interrogations and the recruitment of agents. The research included laboratory experiments on both animal and human subjects. The program ended shortly after the Korean War in 1953."

It was run under the direction of Dr. Charles Savage of the Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, MD from 1947 - 1953, after which CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence continued it under the name Project Bluebird, its first mind control program to:

-- learn how to condition subjects to withstand information from being extracted from them by known means;

-- develop interrogation methods to exert control;

-- develop memory enhancement techniques; and

-- establish ways to prevent hostile control of Agency personnel.

In 1951, it was renamed Project Artichoke, then MK-ULTRA under Deputy CIA Director Richard Helms in 1953. It aimed to control human behavior through psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs, electroshock, radiation, graphology, paramilitary techniques, and psychological/sociological/anthropological methods, among others - a vast open-field of mind experimentation trying anything that might work, legal or otherwise on willing and unwitting subjects.

Ongoing at different times were 149 sub-projects in 80 US and Canadian universities, medical centers and  three prisons, involving 185 researchers, 15 foundations and numerous drug companies. Everything was top secret, and most records later destroyed, yet FOIA suits salvaged thousands of pages with documented evidence of the horrific experiments and their effects on human subjects.

Most were unwitting guinea pigs, and those consenting were misinformed of the dangers. James Stanley was a career soldier when given LSD in 1958 along with  1,000 other military "volunteers." They suffered hallucinations, memory loss, incoherence, and severe personality changes. Stanley exhibited uncontrollable violence. It destroyed his family, impeded his working ability, and he never knew why until the Army asked him to participate in a follow-up study.

He sued for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), his case reaching the Supreme Court in United States v. Stanley. Argued and decided in 1987, the Court dismissed his claim (5 - 4), ruling his injuries occurred during military service. Justices Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan and Sandra Day O'Conner wrote dissenting opinions, saying the Nuremberg Code applies to soldiers as well as civilians. In 1996, Stanley got $400,000 in compensation, but no apology from the government.

Perhaps MK-ULTRA's most publicized victim was Frank Olsen, a biochemist working for the Army Chemical Corps' Special Operations Division at Ft. Detrick, MD. On November 18, 1953, he was administered LSD. Immediately, he became agitated and severely paranoid. Nine days later, he reportedly committed suicide by jumping 13 stories to his death through a New York hotel's closed window. His family members didn't know he was drugged until MK-ULTRA was exposed in 1975.

President Gerald Ford apologized, granted a $750,000 settlement, but Olson's son discovered documents suggesting his father was killed. In 1994, he exhumed the body, had it forensically evaluated, and the conclusion was homicide based on a previously undetected skull fracture suggesting a blow on the head and other disturbing evidence.

Stanley Glickman was another MK-ULTRA tragedy, an unwitting victim of hallucinogenic drugs and electroshock treatment. He became traumatized, couldn't work, barely ate, suffered a psychological breakdown and never fully recovered. After learning about the CIA's LSD experiments, he sued in 1983. The trial was delayed 16 years, he died, but his sister Gloria Kronisch pursued the case.

MK-ULTRA chief Stanley Gottleib was at issue, hired to run its Technical Service Staff (TSS) to develop poisons to assassinate political opponents, truth serum drugs for interrogating spies, and mind control techniques to create robot assassins or unwitting double agents. He used Nazi scientists and their state of the art methods, perfected on concentration camp victims. Some were known as programmers, skilled professionals in the art of breaking down and controlling the human mind.

Joseph Mengele did similar work, experimenting extensively with children and adults using mescaline, electroshock therapy, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, torture, rape, starvation, and trauma bonding. He was so successful with the latter technique that survivors expressed strong affection for him.

The CIA and US military copied the Nazi methodology through numerous programs, including MK-ULTRA, MK being an abbreviation for words "mind control" in German. According to obtained documents, it works best when severe trauma (such as rape) occurs by age three, the result often causing the personality to split or dissociate (called dissociative identity disorder or DID) to repress painful memories.

Therapists can cause multiple personality disorder (MPD) by mind manipulation, but early in life trauma makes victims especially vulnerable. Gottlieb focused on LSD for mind control and exotic poisons and drugs for political assassinations.

Under Operation Paperclip, 9,000 Nazi scientists and technicians were recruited to help undermine the Soviet Union.

In 1952, Gottlieb met Glickman in a Paris cafe, bought him a drink and laced it with LSD. After finally being held to account, he became ill. The trial was postponed, and on the eve of its resumption he died unexpectedly. At the time, New York Times and Los Angeles Times obituaries reported that his family refused to disclose the cause. The online WorldNet Daily explained it was after a "month-long bout with pneumonia," saying that after being admitted to the University of Virginia Medical Center, he lapsed into a coma, never recovered, but foul play couldn't be determined.

At trial against his estate, the judge died of a heart attack while exercising. The question again arose. Was it natural or was he killed, especially since his replacement was prejudicial to the plaintiff having thrown out his case two years earlier. Perhaps so after the jury ruled against Glickman's family, denying them  justice.

On December 22, 1974, Seymour Hersh exposed MK-ULTRA in a New York Times article. Headlined, "Huge CIA Operation Reported in US Against Antiwar Forces, Other Dissidents in Nixon Years," it documented illegal activities, including secret experiments on US citizens during the 1960s and earlier. Church Committee Congressional investigations followed, headed by Senator Frank Church, on abusive intelligence practices, replaced by the Pike Committee five months later. The Rockefeller Commission, under vice president Nelson Rockefeller, also examined the domestic activities of the CIA, FBI, and military intelligence agencies.

By summer 1975, it was learned that CIA and Department of Defense had conducted illegal experiments on willing and unwitting subjects as part of an exhaustive program to influence human behavior through psychoactive drugs (including LSD and mescaline) and other chemical, biological, psychological, and other methods.

Origins of CIA Mind Manipulation Practices

CIA became interested in Montreal Dr. Ewen Cameron's work at McGill University's Allan Memorial Institute. With full knowledge of the Canadian government, he was funded to perform bizarre experiments on his psychiatric patients, including keeping them asleep and isolated for weeks, then administering large doses of electroshock and experimental drug cocktails, LSD and PCP angel dust among them.

Though clearly unethical, Cameron believed by blasting the human brain with an array of shocks, he could unmake impaired minds, rebuilding them with new personalities cleansed of their previous state. It was voodoo science and failed, but CIA gained a wealth of knowledge it's used to this day.

In 1951, the Agency engaged McGill's director of psychology, Dr. Donald Hebb, and others to conduct sensory-deprivation experiments on volunteer students. They showed intense isolation disrupts clear thinking enough to make subjects receptive to suggestion. They were also formidable interrogation techniques amounting to torture when forcibly administered.

These early experiments laid the foundation for CIA's two-stage torture process - sensory deprivation followed by overload. University of Wisconsin historian Alfred McCoy documented them in his book, "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror," calling them "the first real revolution in the cruel science of pain in more than three centuries."

CIA developed and codified them in manuals, used extensively in Southeast Asia, Central America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and at secret black sites globally. McCoy referred to an offshore information extraction mini-gulag during the Cold War and War on Terror. Out of sight, nothing is banned, including physical harshness and psychologically crippling mind control methods that turn human beings into mush.

MK-ULTRA was one of them, even though Gerald Ford's 1976 Executive Order (EO 11905) "establish(ed) policies to improve the quality of intelligence needed for national security (and) establish(ed) effective oversight to assure compliance with law in the management and direction of intelligence agencies and departments of the national government."

The EO prohibited "experimentation with drugs on human subjects, except with their informed consent, in writing and witnessed by a disinterested party, of each such human subject," according to guidelines issued by the National Commission. Subsequent Carter and Reagan directives banned all human experimentation. Nonetheless, they continue, in violation of the Nuremberg Code that prohibits:

-- medical experiments without the voluntary consent of human subjects - "without coercion, fraud, deceit, and the full disclosure of known risks;"

-- those "where there is an a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur;" and

-- only ones expected "to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study...."

Conducting human mind control experiments are clearly illegal and unethical. They're more sophisticated than ever today, and claims that MK-ULTRA experiments were halted in the 1970s were false. Renamed they continue and much more.



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