Sidney Gottlieb started out as the non-observant son of Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Hungary, born in the Bronx on August 3, 1918, under the name Joseph Scheider. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. A stutterer from childhood, Gottlieb got a master's degree in speech therapy.
In 1951, Gottlieb joined the Central Intelligence Agency. As a poison expert, he headed the chemical division of the Technical Services Staff (TSS). Gottlieb became known as the "Black Sorcerer" and the "Dirty Trickster." He supervised preparations of lethal poisons and experiments in mind control.
Headed by Sidney Gottlieb, the MKULTRA project was started on the order of CIA director Allen Welsh Dulles on April 13, 1953, largely in response to alleged Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean use of mind control techniques on U.S. prisoners of war in Korea. The CIA wanted to use similar methods on their own captives.
The CIA was also interested in being able to manipulate foreign leaders with such techniques, and would later invent several schemes to drug Fidel Castro.
Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a covert, illegal CIA human research program, run by the CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence. This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s, continuing at least through the late 1960s, and it used U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects.
The published evidence indicates that Project MKULTRA involved the use of many methodologies to manipulate individual mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, and verbal and sexual abuse.
Experiments were often conducted without the subjects' knowledge or consent. In some cases, academic researchers being funded through grants from CIA front organizations were unaware that their work was being used for these purposes.
In 1964, the project was renamed MKSEARCH. The project attempted to produce a perfect truth drug for use in interrogating suspected Soviet spies during the Cold War, and generally to explore any other possibilities of mind control.
One 1955 MKULTRA document gives an indication of the size and range of the effort; this document refers to the study of an assortment of mind-altering substances described as follows:
- · Substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public.
- · Substances which increase the efficiency of mentation and perception.
- · Materials which will prevent or counteract the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
- · Materials which will promote the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
- · Materials which will produce the signs and symptoms of recognized diseases in a reversible way so that they may be used for malingering, etc.
- · Materials which will render the induction of hypnosis easier or otherwise enhance its usefulness.
- · Substances which will enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion during interrogation and so-called "brain-washing".
- · Materials and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use.
- · Physical methods of producing shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use.
- · Substances which produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc.
- · Substances which will produce "pure" euphoria with no subsequent let-down.
- · Substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced.
- · A material which will cause mental confusion of such a type that the individual under its influence will find it difficult to maintain a fabrication under questioning.
- · Substances which will lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men when administered in undetectable amounts.
- · Substances which promote weakness or distortion of the eyesight or hearing faculties, preferably without permanent effects.
- · A knockout pill which can surreptitiously be administered in drinks, food, cigarettes, as an aerosol, etc., which will be safe to use, provide a maximum of amnesia, and be suitable for use by agent types on an ad hoc basis.
- · A material which can be surreptitiously administered by the above routes and which in very small amounts will make it impossible for a person to perform physical activity.
- The MKULTRA director was granted six percent of the CIA operating budget in 1953, without oversight or accounting. An estimated $10 million USD or more was spent.
- It was not until 1972 that Gottlieb called a halt to the experiments with psychedelics, concluding in a memo that they were "too unpredictable in their effects on individual human beings . . . to be operationally useful."
- He retired the same year, spending the next few decades in eclectic pursuits that defied the stereotype of the spy. He went to India with his wife to volunteer at a hospital for lepers. A stutterer since childhood, he got a master's degree in speech therapy. He raised goats on a Virginia farm. And he practiced folk dancing, a lifelong passion despite the handicap of a clubfoot.
- A malignant, real-life Q, or an eccentric genius whose intentions were honorable and just? Gottlieb led the agency in 149 mind control experiments, of which about 25 were conducted on unwitting subjects. According to the survivor of one victim, the way Gottlieb duped American citizens was nothing but despicable.
- Less black and white in his assessment is John Marks, author of the definitive book on the CIA's mind control programs, "The Search for the 'Manchurian Candidate.' “Marks sees Gottlieb as an unabashed patriot who nonetheless "crossed the same ethical lines we hanged German doctors in World War II for."
- In 1973 CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKULTRA files destroyed. Pursuant to this order, most CIA documents regarding the project were destroyed, making a full investigation of MKULTRA impossible. A cache of some 20,000 documents survived Helms' purge, as they had been incorrectly stored in a financial record building and were discovered following a FOIA request in 1977. These documents were fully investigated during the Senate Hearings of 1977.
U.S. General Accounting Office Report:
The U.S. General Accounting Office issued a report on September 28, 1994, which stated that between 1940 and 1974, DOD and other national security agencies studied thousands of human subjects in tests and experiments involving hazardous substances.
The quote from the study:
… Working with the CIA, the Department of Defense gave hallucinogenic drugs to thousands of "volunteer" soldiers in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition to LSD, the Army also tested quinuclidinyl benzilate, a hallucinogen code-named BZ. (Note 37) Many of these tests were conducted under the so-called MKULTRA program, established to counter perceived Soviet and Chinese advances in brainwashing techniques. Between 1953 and 1964, the program consisted of 149 projects involving drug testing and other studies on unwitting human subjects…
Given the CIA's purposeful destruction of most records, its failure to follow informed consent protocols with thousands of participants, the uncontrolled nature of the experiments, and the lack of follow-up data, the full impact of MKULTRA experiments, including deaths, will never be known.
Several known deaths have been associated with Project MKULTRA, most notably that of Frank Olson. Olson, a United States Army biochemist and biological weapons researcher, was given LSD without his knowledge or consent in November, 1953 as part of a CIA experiment and died under suspicious circumstances a week later. A CIA doctor assigned to monitor Olson claimed to be asleep in another bed in a New York City hotel room when Olson exited the window and fell thirteen stories to his death. In 1953, Olson's death was described as a suicide that occurred during a severe psychotic episode. The CIA's own internal investigation concluded that CIA Director Stanley Gottlieb had conducted the LSD experiment with Olson's prior knowledge; although neither Olson nor the other men taking part in the experiment were informed as to the exact nature of the drug until some 20 minutes after its ingestion. The report further suggested that Gottlieb was nonetheless due a reprimand, as he had failed to take into account Olson's already-diagnosed suicidal tendencies, which might have been exacerbated by the LSD.
The Olson family disputes the official version of events. They maintain that Frank Olson was murdered because, especially in the aftermath of his LSD experience, he had become a security risk who might divulge state secrets associated with highly classified CIA programs, many of which he had direct personal knowledge. A few days before his death, Frank Olson quit his position as Acting Chief of the Special Operations Division at Detrick, Maryland (later Fort Detrick) because of a severe moral crisis concerning the nature of his biological weapons research. Among Olson's concerns were the development of assassination materials used by the CIA, the CIA's use of biological warfare materials in covert operations, experimentation with biological weapons in populated areas, collaboration with former Nazi scientists under Operation Paperclip, LSD mind-control research, the use of biological weapons (including anthrax) during the Korean War, and the use of psychoactive drugs during "terminal" interrogations under a program code-named Project ARTICHOKE. Later forensic evidence conflicted with the official version of events; when Olson's body was exhumed in 1994, cranial injuries indicated Olson had been knocked unconscious before he exited the window. The medical examiner termed Olson's death a "homicide". In 1975, Olson's family received a $750,000 settlement from the U.S. government and formal apologies from President Gerald Ford and CIA Director William Colby, though their apologies were limited to informed consent issues concerning Olson's ingestion of LSD.
In his 2009 book, A Terrible Mistake, researcher H. P. Albarelli Jr. concurs with the Olson family and concludes that Frank Olson was murdered because a personal crisis of conscience made it likely he would divulge state secrets concerning several CIA programs, chief among them Project ARTICHOKE and an MKNAOMI project code-named Project SPAN. Albarelli presents considerable evidence in support of his theory that Project SPAN involved the contamination of food supplies and the aerosolized spraying of a potent LSD mixture in the village of Pont-Saint-Esprit, France in August, 1951. (The French word "pont" translates to "bridge" in English; a synonym is "span".) The Pont-Saint-Esprit incident resulted in mass psychosis, 32 commitments to mental institutions, and at least seven deaths. In his work as Acting Chief of the Special Operations Division, Olson was involved in the development of aerosolized delivery systems, he was present at Pont-Saint-Esprit in August, 1951, and several months before he resigned his position he had witnessed a terminal interrogation conducted in Germany under Project ARTICHOKE. Other researchers have reached conclusions similar to Albarelli's, including John Grant Fuller, author of The Day of Saint Anthony's Fire, a landmark book that originally cited ergot poisoning as responsible for the events at Pont-Saint-Esprit.
Another known victim of Project MKULTRA was Harold Blauer, a professional tennis player in New York City, who died in January, 1953 as a result of a secret Army experiment involving MDA.
A considerable amount of credible circumstantial evidence suggests that Theodore Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, participated in CIA-sponsored MKULTRA experiments conducted at Harvard University from the fall of 1959 through the spring of 1962. During World War II, Henry Murray, the lead researcher in the Harvard experiments, served with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was a forerunner of the CIA. Murray applied for a grant funded by the United States Navy, and his Harvard stress experiments strongly resembled those run by the OSS. Beginning at the age of sixteen, Kaczynski participated along with twenty-one other undergraduate students in the Harvard experiments, which have been described as "disturbing" and "ethically indefensible."
Merry Prankster Ken Kesey, author of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, volunteered for MKULTRA experiments involving LSD and other psychedelic drugs at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Menlo Park while he was a student at nearby Stanford University. Kesey's experiences while under the influence of LSD inspired him to promote the drug outside the context of the MKULTRA experiments, which influenced the early development of hippie culture.
Robert Hunter is an American lyricist, singer-songwriter, translator, and poet, best known for his association with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. Along with Ken Kesey, Hunter was an early volunteer MKULTRA test subject at Stanford University. Stanford test subjects were paid to take LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline, and then report on their experiences. These experiences were creatively formative for Hunter:
Sit back picture yourself swooping up a shell of purple with foam crests of crystal drops soft nigh they fall unto the sea of morning creep-very-softly mist...and then sort of cascade tinkley-bell like (must I take you by the hand, ever so slowly type) and then conglomerate suddenly into a peal of silver vibrant uncomprehendingly, blood singingly, joyously resounding bells....By my faith if this be insanity, then for the love of God permit me to remain insane.
Candy Jones, American fashion model and radio host, claimed to have been a victim of mind control in the 1960s.
Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger volunteered for testing while in prison.
Project MKULTRA was first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee, and by a presidential commission known as the Rockefeller Commission. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKULTRA files destroyed in 1973; the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission investigations relied on the sworn testimony of direct participants and on the relatively small number of documents that survived Helms' destruction order.
In 1977, a FOIA request uncovered a cache of 20,000 documents relating to project MKULTRA, which led to the Senate Hearings of 1977. In recent times most information regarding MKULTRA has been officially declassified.
Although the CIA insists that MKULTRA-type experiments have been abandoned, 14-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti has stated in various interviews that the CIA routinely conducts disinformation campaigns and that CIA mind control research continued. In a 1977 interview, Marchetti specifically called the CIA claim that MKULTRA was abandoned a "cover story."
· Richelson, JT (ed.) (2001-09-10). "Science, Technology and the CIA: A National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book". George Washington University. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
· a b c "Project MKULTRA, the CIA's Program of Research into Behavioral Modification. Joint Hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, United State Senate, Ninety-Fifth Congress, First Session". U.S. Government Printing Office (copy hosted at the New York Times website). August 8, 1977. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
· "Chapter 3, part 4: Supreme Court Dissents Invoke the Nuremberg Code: CIA and DOD Human Subjects Research Scandals". Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments Final Report. Retrieved 2005-08-24.
· "The Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Foreign and Military Intelligence". Church Committee report, no. 94-755, 94th Cong., 2d Sess.. Washington, D.C..: United States Congress. 1976. p. 392.
· Dick Russell (2008). On the trail of the JFK assassins. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 273.
· Church Committee; p. 390 "MKULTRA was approved by the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] on April 13, 1953"
· "Chapter 3, part 4: Supreme Court Dissents Invoke the Nuremberg Code: CIA and DOD Human Subjects Research Scandals". Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments Final Report. Retrieved August 24, 2005. "MKULTRA, began in 1950 and was motivated largely in response to alleged Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean uses of mind-control techniques on U.S. prisoners of war in Korea."
· Church Committee; p. 391 "A special procedure, designated MKDELTA, was established to govern the use of MKULTRA materials abroad. Such materials were used on a number of occasions."
· Church Committee; "The congressional committee investigating the CIA research, chaired by Senator Frank Church, concluded that '[p]rior consent was obviously not obtained from any of the subjects.'"
· Price, David (June 2007). "Buying a Piece of Anthropology: Human Ecology and unwitting anthropological research for the CIA" (PDF). Anthropology Today 23 (3): 3–13. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8322.2007.00510.x. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
· a b "Senate MKULTRA Hearing: Appendix C--Documents Referring to Subprojects, (page 167, in PDF document page numbering)." (PDF). Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Committee on Human Resources. August 3, 1977. Archived from the original on 2007-11-28. Retrieved 2007-08-22.
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· a b "Chapter 3, part 4: Supreme Court Dissents Invoke the Nuremberg Code: CIA and DOD Human Subjects Research Scandals". Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments Final Report. Retrieved
August 24, 2005. (identical sentence)
"Because most of the MK-ULTRA records were deliberately destroyed in 1973
... MK-ULTRA and the related CIA
· a b Quote from "Is Military Research Hazardous to Veterans Health? Lessons Spanning Half A Century", part F. HALLUCINOGENS 103rd Congress, 2nd Session-S. Prt. 103-97; Staff Report prepared for the committee on veterans' affairs December 8, 1994 John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia, Chairman. Online copy provided by gulfweb.org, which describes itself as "Serving the Gulf War Veteran Community Worldwide Since 1994". (The same document is available from many other (unofficial) sites, which may or may not be independent.)
· a b c H. P. Albarelli (2009). A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments. Trine Day. pp. 350–58, 490, 581–83, 686–92. ISBN 0-9777953-7-3.
· a b Marks 1979: chapter 5.
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· Ronson, Jon (2004). The Men Who Stare at Goats. New York: Picador. ISBN 0-330-37548-2.
· "Documents on Cheney Coverup of Olson Assassination" (PDF). Voltaire Network.
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· Marks 1979: p 72n.
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· Baker, J (2001-11-11). "All times a great artist, Ken Kesey is dead at age 66". The Oregonian: pp. A1.
· McNally, DA (2002). A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. Broadway Books. pp. 42–3. ISBN 0-7679-1186-5.
· Bennett, C (2001-07-01). "Candy Jones: How a leading American fashion model came to be experimented upon by the CIA mind control team". Fortean Times. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
· Bruno, A. "James "Whitey" Bulger". truetv.com. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
· "An Interview with Richard Helms". Central Intelligence Agency. 2007-05-08. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
· a b "Government Mind Control Records of MKULTRA & Bluebird/Artichoke". Wanttoknow.info. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
· "Interview with Victor Marchetti". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
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