Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:40 pm

Magical Politics

The peace movement had reached a crossroads in the spring of 1967, after people took to the streets in unprecedented numbers all across the country to protest the war in Vietnam. Despite this tremendous outpouring of public sentiment President Johnson continued to escalate the war effort. American troop strength swelled to nearly a half-million, and young men were returning in body bags at a rate of five hundred a month. All of this was deeply disturbing to David Dellinger, director of the National Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam (otherwise known as the Mobe). Dellinger, an avowed pacifist, was strongly committed to nonviolence, but he questioned whether petitioning the government solely through legal means was an adequate response to the Vietnam debacle. His dilemma was compounded by the fact that the antiwar coalition had grown to encompass a broad range of groups from moderate to radical, each pursuing its own strategy and objectives. The only thing they all agreed on was to meet at the next big event: an antiwar demonstration in Washington, DC, on October 21, 1967, sponsored by Dellinger and the Mobe.

Dellinger feared that anything less than a huge turnout would be depicted in the press as a sign that the peace movement was losing steam. Big demonstrations were essential for media coverage, and the Mobe needed publicity to keep up the momentum. But the prospect of yet another well-mannered, nonviolent event that the government would simply shrug off did not appeal to radical elements. At one point SDS threatened to boycott the protest rally on the grounds that it would "delude" people into thinking they were having an effect on public policy. The Mobe eventually opted for a multi tactical approach that included a call for defiant mass resistance at the Pentagon after the main rally at the Lincoln Memorial. To attract as many young people as possible Dellinger invited Jerry Rubin, the noted Berkeley activist, to New York to help organize the Pentagon action.

Rubin had impressive credentials among radicals and youth groups. He was one of the prime movers of the Vietnam Day protest in Berkeley two years earlier, and he led marchers in an attempt to block troop trains. After spending a month in jail for his political work, he was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in Washington. Instead of pleading the Fifth Amendment as most people did when called by HUAC, Rubin entered the hearing room dressed in an American Revolutionary War uniform. "I wear this uniform to symbolize the fact that America was born in revolution, but today America does violence to her own past by denying the right of others to revolution," he told a group of reporters. It was a political ploy designed to make a mockery of the HUAC proceedings; the congressmen were caught off guard, and Rubin's stunt became page-one news throughout the country. The publicity helped him garner 22% of the vote when he ran for mayor of Berkeley the following year on a platform opposing the war and supporting black power and the legalization of marijuana.

As soon as Rubin arrived in New York, he teamed up with Abbie Hoffman, an East Village hippie who'd been a civil rights organizer before he turned on to acid in 1965 courtesy of his roommate, an army psychologist who supplied the LSD. Hoffman got into drugs and grew his curly hair long, but he remained an activist at heart. He was involved in staging the New York be-in during the spring of 1967 -- an event modeled after the first Human Be-In in San Francisco, which had featured Rubin as a speaker.

Hoffman's politics got a lot saucier after he met a group of San Francisco Diggers in June 1967 at a "Back to the Drawing Boards" conference sponsored by SDS. At this gathering, which took place in Denton, Michigan, a Digger spokesman took off his clothes and challenged everyone else to do likewise. When no one budged, he started tossing tables and chairs around while berating the New Lefties in a burst of "do your own thing" rhetoric for being stodgy and unimaginative in their discussions of strategy. For many of the SDS members it was like watching the sulfurous fumes of hell. But not for Hoffman; he just sat there transfixed, absorbing everything he heard and saw. When he returned to New York he began calling himself "Abbie Digger" and opened a Free Store in the Bowery. Hoffman later published Steal This Book, a widely read underground treatise that incorporated much of what he had gleaned from the Diggers.

While Hoffman admired the acid anarchists from San Francisco, he did not share their disdain for using the media as a political tool. "A modern revolutionary headed for the television station, not for the factory," he declared. His eagerness to exploit the TV cameras struck a responsive chord in his newfound friend Jerry Rubin, who was also strongly influenced by the acid scene in San Francisco. ("If everyone did it," Rubin said of LSD, "it would be like heaven on earth.") They got stoned together and shared ideas about building a grand alliance between the bohemian and New Left tendencies. Such a combination, they believed, would provide an inexhaustible source of energy for the Movement. They agreed that the psychedelic subculture could be a significant political force, but if more young people were to be drawn into the protest struggle they would have to be engaged theatrically, via long hair, costume, and clever gamesmanship. With this in mind they set their sights on the upcoming march on the Pentagon.

Rubin had picked up a bit of occult folklore from Michael Bowen, the Psychedelic Ranger from Haight-Ashbury who had organized the San Francisco be-in and turned Rubin on to LSD earlier that year. A five-sided figure, Bowen explained, is a symbol of power, and when the figure is pointed north like the Pentagon building in Washington, it represents the forces of evil. This being the case, Bowen introduced the notion of encircling the Pentagon -- not to capture it or shut it down, as some militants had urged, but to wound it symbolically. The idea of a mass antiwar ritual appealed to Rubin and Hoffman. At a press conference preceding the demonstration, they announced their intention to exorcise the Pentagon's evil spirits by levitating the building three hundred feet in the air until it started to vibrate and turn orange, whereupon the war in Vietnam would immediately cease. Hoffman also threatened to release a mysterious gas called "LACE," allegedly concocted by Owsley, which "makes you want to take off your clothes, kiss people and make love."

Seventy-five thousand protesters assembled at the Lincoln Memorial, including a sizable number of hippie types dressed in colorful costumes. The motley army of witches, warlocks, sorcerers, and long-haired bards who had come to celebrate the mystic revolution lent a carnival atmosphere to the demonstration. After a rousing prelude of speeches and songs, a large contingent crossed the Arlington Memorial Bridge into Virginia and raced toward the Pentagon, waving banners and shouting antiwar epithets. Some were high on acid when they stormed the grim ziggurat. They surrounded the entire building, dancing and hissing in unison, while soldiers stood guard at all five walls. Posters and slogans memorializing Che Guevara, the Latin revolutionary who had been killed in Bolivia a few weeks earlier, appeared on abutments, and a Viet Cong flag, blue and red with a gold star, fluttered in the breeze. And then the promised exorcism began.

"Out, demons, out!" boomed the voice of Ed Sanders, leader of a burlesque folk-rock ensemble called the Fugs, which provided musical edification for the antiwar constituency. On a flatbed truck in front of the high church of the military- \industrial complex, the Fugs worked their "gene-shredding influence" on the crowd. Thousands shrieked their approval -- "Out, out, out!" -- and the stage was set for an ecstatic confrontation.

The demonstration had become a form of ritual theater, a preview of what politics would be like in the post-Haight-Ashbury era. As Norman Mailer wrote in The Armies of the Night, a best selling account of the march on the Pentagon, "Now, here, after several years of the blandest reports from the religious explorers of LSD, vague Tibetan lama goody-goodness auras of religiosity being the only publicly announced or even rumored fruit from all trips back from the buried Atlantis of LSD, now suddenly an entire generation of acid-heads seemed to have said goodbye to easy visions of heaven, no, now the witches were here, and rites of exorcism, and black terrors of the night.... The hippies had gone from Tibet to Christ to the Middle Ages, now they were Revolutionary Alchemists."

Despite their incantations and spells the protesters could not transmute the lead weight of the Pentagon into a golden vision in the sky. But it hardly mattered, for they were celebrating a new kind of activism, a style so authentically unique that it verged on the bizarre. "What possibly they shared," said Mailer, "was the unspoken happy confidence that politics had again become mysterious, had begun to partake of Mystery. The new generation believed in technology more than any before it, but the generation also believed in LSD, in witches, in tribal knowledge, in orgy, and revolution. It had no respect whatsoever for the unassailable logic of the next step: belief was reserved for the revelatory mystery of the happening where you did not know what was going to happen next; that was what was good about it."

What happened next was not something anyone had expected -- in fact, it might never have happened had it not been for the FBI, which attempted to disrupt the antiwar gathering upon learning of a plot to sky-bomb the Pentagon with ten thousand flowers. Peggy Hitchcock (the sister of William Mellon Hitchcock, owner of the Millbrook estate) gave Michael Bowen and friends money to purchase two hundred pounds of daisies for the occasion, but the plan never got off the ground because of a dirty trick by the FBI. J. Edgar Hoover's men answered an ad for a pilot in the East Village Other but never showed up at the airport. Bowen was stuck with more flowers than he knew what to do with, so he turned around and drove back to the demonstration. Distributed among the crowd, the flowers were subsequently photographed by the world press protruding from the muzzles of rifles held by the soldiers guarding the Pentagon.

It was one of the spectacular images of the 1960s: the troops with their bayonets sprouting daisies, frozen in a tense face-off with the antiwar activists. By sundown most of the press had left. The police moved in with tear gas and arrested people -- over eight hundred in all -- and many were brutally beaten. But these tactics did not dampen the spirits of the demonstrators. They were elated by what had transpired. Some felt that it was a watershed event, comparable in magnitude to the Boston Tea Party. "It made me see that we could build a movement by knocking off American symbols," said Rubin. "We had symbolically destroyed the Pentagon, the symbol of the war machine, by throwing blood on it, by pissing on it, dancing on it ... painting 'Che lives' on it. It was a total cultural attack on the Pentagon. The media had communicated this all over the country and lots of people identified with us, the besiegers."

After the march Rubin decided to remain in New York with his girlfriend, Nancy Kurshan. They spent the next few months with Hoffman and his wife, Anita, cooking up new stunts so audacious and compelling that the press would have to cover them. "An event doesn't exist until the media announces it," Rubin asserted. "Once the media announces it, it is an event whether or not it exists." He and Hoffman believed that television was little more than an elaborate mirror game the authorities used to pacify the public. In their stoned reveries they dreamed of switching the mirrors around in order to reflect a different set of images that would shock the viewers, blow their minds, and make them confront the idea that there was a crazy alternative to the straight way of life.

Hoffman and Rubin possessed an uncanny knack for showmanship, a sixth sense for what would capture the imagination of young people. But they needed some kind of focal point, a central theme that would enhance the impact of their efforts. On New Year's Day 1968 they dropped acid together so they "could look at the problem logically," as Rubin put it, and they hit upon a recipe for social change. Mix one part hippie and one part activist, marinade in Marx (Groucho, not Karl) and McLuhan, season radically with psychedelics, and what do you come up with? Paul Krassner, editor of the Realist, a satirical underground magazine, said it first: "Yippie!" -- the battle cry of the Youth International Party. It was a name to conjure with, a rallying point for stoned politicos and militant hippies who had merged the "I protest" of the New Left with the "I am" of the counterculture. "We figured we could create a new myth of the dope-taking, freedom-loving, politically committed activist," Rubin explained. "Some day, we dreamed, the myth will grow and grow until there were millions of yippies.... Soon there will be yippies and a Youth International Party throughout the Western world."

The Yippies didn't go along with the notion that being a serious activist meant you couldn't have a good time. Convinced that boredom was a revolutionary sin, they were determined to make outrage contagious on a mass scale. "No need to build a stage," said Hoffman, "it was all around us. Props would be simple and obvious. We would hurl ourselves across the canvas of American society like streaks of splattered paint. Highly visual images would become news, and rumor mongers would rush to spread the excited word."

The Yippies were political pranksters, and their lunatic style of attack played upon the media's insatiable appetite for anything new or eccentric. They knew the press would give them free publicity as long as they flaunted the holy goof: burning money on Wall Street, appearing naked in church; dumping soot and smoke bombs in the lobby of Con Edison's headquarters; mailing Valentine's cards to persons unknown, each containing a joint. Their bombastic antics were framed as political commercials ("advertisements for the revolution") that would mobilize oppositional consciousness and compel people by dramatic example to change their lives. "Our lifestyle -- acid, long hair, rock music, sex -- is the revolution," Rubin declared.

To the Yippies the masses of American youth were potential revolutionaries who merely had to be "turned on" by media buttons -- and by LSD. They believed that acid was a subversive instrument, and they urged everyone to take the drug in order to break the mind-forged manacles that bound people to a repressive society. This presumably would lead to an understanding of why a revolution was necessary, thereby accelerating the dawn of a twentieth-century utopia. "Once one has experienced LSD," said Hoffman, "one realizes that action is the only reality." But what kind of action did the Yippies propose? Drugs made them more willing to gamble on their intuitions. "Mostly it's a catch-as-catch-can affair," Hoffman admitted. "You just get stoned, get the ideas in your head and then do 'em."

TV and LSD: both magical and instantaneous, both ways of leap-frogging the long and arduous task of grassroots political organizing. The Yippies had no predefined strategy other than epater les bourgeois (tweaking the nose of the middle class) via media freaking. They rejected the idea of a program as too confining. Ideology was dismissed as "a brain disease." If they had any doctrine at all, it was that people should do "whatever the fuck they want." Rubin described his Yippie vision in the closing passages of Do It!

At community meetings all over the land, Bob Dylan will replace the National Anthem.
There will be no more jails, courts, or police.
The White House will become a crash pad for anybody without a place to stay in Washington.
The world will become one big commune with free food and housing, everything shared.
All watches and clocks will be destroyed....
The Pentagon will be replaced by an LSD experimental farm....

The Yippies were not an organization in the formal sense. They had no membership list, no direct relationship with a grassroots, face-to-face constituency, and it was not clear whether their views represented a majority opinion in hip communities; nevertheless, these TV-promoted gadflys became the most celebrated spokesmen for the youth movement. In this respect the Yippies had much in common with Timothy Leary, whose status as leader of the psychedelic movement was certified by the media rather than by those who actually took LSD. Leary also lacked an organizational base but was adept at manipulating the press, which was one of the reasons the Yippies sought him out. "We had many analytical discussions about the tactical necessity of using the media," Leary recalled. But he was not particularly enthusiastic when the Yippies asked him to endorse their cause. Despite the halfhearted response Hoffman acknowledged his debt to the High Priest of LSD: "I studied his technique of karmic salesmanship."

The Yippies were the first group on the left to define themselves solely through the media projections of their flamboyant leaders. On their own terms they were quite successful. They articulated a spirit of revolt that was alive in young people throughout the country and helped foster an antiestablishment consciousness among some who might not have been reached in any other way. But the Yippie approach was not without pitfalls. As former SDS president Todd Gitlin explained, "When movements become too 'mediated,' it becomes hard to tell the difference between a movement and a fad, a movement and a trend, or just a press conference. The results are pernicious for movements. The line between leadership and celebrity becomes very thin. It's easy for leaders to cross over and become wholly unaccountable to a movement base."

Rubin and Hoffman were the two most famous radical celebrities of the 1960s. Their lust for the spotlight, doubtless the product of personal as well as political motives, drove them to new peaks of self-promotion. But the Yippies paid a high price for a ticket on the publicity loop. As four-star attractions in an ongoing radical soap opera, they inadvertently trivialized the very issues they sought to dramatize. The result was a parody of left-wing politics that may have undermined serious efforts to reform America. "I didn't know if I was headed to Hollywood or to jail," Rubin later confessed. "I purposefully manipulated the media, but on a deeper level I see that it was mutual manipulation. To interest the media I needed to express my politics frivolously.... If I had given a sober lecture on the history of Vietnam, the media cameras would have turned off."

So the Yippies kept pranking and the cameras kept cranking. The most outlandish, abrasive, and extravagant gestures were the surest to be broadcast, and the media, always hungry for novelty, gave leading roles to those who, in Gitlin's words, "seemed like Central Casting's gift to revolutionary imagery." By no means, however, did the Yippies have a monopoly on movement histrionics in the late 1960s. Indeed, their zany youth cult capers were timid in comparison to the militant theatrics of the Black Panther party.

Founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the Panthers first gained attention the following year when they strolled into the California state capitol building in Sacramento twenty strong, with their leather jackets, black berets on blossoming afros, and loaded Magnum rifles and shotguns, to protest a bill forbidding such weapons in Oakland, where the Panthers were based. The ensuing publicity gave them a big boost, and they began to organize chapters in urban ghettos across the country. Initially their focus was on police brutality and self-defense, but soon the Panthers developed a black socialist ideology and a forthright party program that reflected the influence of Malcolm X, who in the final years of his life had rejected anti-white bigotry. To promote the party in the community, the Panthers launched a variety of "survival programs," such as free medical clinics, pest control projects, and free breakfast for poor children (black, brown, and white) on a daily basis -- an idea that had been suggested by the San Francisco Diggers. Meanwhile they continued to cultivate the symbolism of violence. Their overinflated language, menacing leather attire, and radical cool provoked a great deal of attention in the mainstream press, and thousands of young blacks joined their ranks.

The Panthers rejected the goal of assimilation into a system they saw as repressive and inhumane -- a sentiment shared by many white radicals. The black nationalist culture, with its dashikis, tiger-tooth necklaces, and afro haircuts, often espoused values similar to those of the white counterculture: spontaneity, simplicity, respect for individuality and ethnic identity, cooperation rather than competition, and so forth. A number of black activists were also into drugs -- mostly marijuana and cocaine -- for rest and relaxation. Some of the Panthers, for example, liked to get stoned and listen to Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited on headphones. They were particularly impressed by "The Ballad of a Thin Man," which taunted "Mr. Jones," the archetypical honkie who knows something's happening but doesn't know what it is. "These brothers would get halfway high, loaded on something," Bobby Seale recounted, "and they would sit down and play this record over arid over and over, especially after they began to hear Huey P. Newton interpret that record. They'd be trying to relate to an understanding about what was going on, 'cause old Bobby [Dylan] did society a big favor when he made that particular sound."

While the black power movement had a strong cultural component, it never embraced LSD, which made only minor inroads into black society during the 1960s. Reality was already too heavy a trip in the ghetto, and many black militants were unkindly disposed toward the black soul singers and rock stars who expressed a preference for hippie drugs in their music: Sly and the Family Stone, ("I Want to Take You Higher"), Jimi Hendrix ("Are You Experienced?"), the Chambers Brothers ("Time Has Come Today"), the Temptations ("Cloud Nine" and "PsychedeIic Shack"). Certain black radicals, such as A. X. Nicholas, went so far as to denounce these songs as "counterrevolutionary" and urge that they be boycotted by the black community.

Thus it took on added significance when Eldridge Cleaver, minister of information of the Black Panther party, offered to make an alliance with those notoriously wacked-out acidheads the Yippies. "Eldridge wanted a coalition between the Panthers and psychedelic street activists," Rubin explained. So they got together, smoked a lot of grass, and composed a "joint" manifesto called the Panther-Yippie Pipe Dream. "Into the streets!" Cleaver proclaimed. "Let us join together with all those souls in Babylon who are straining for the birth of a new day. A revolutionary generation is on the scene. There are men and women, human beings, in Babylon today. Disenchanted, alienated white youth, the hippies, the yippies and all the unnamed dropouts from the white man's burden, are our allies in this cause." The Black Panther party newspaper later featured an article entitled, "The Hippies Are Not Our Enemies."

The prospect of a genuine coalition between white radicals and black militants sent chills up the spine of the political establishment in the United States, which greatly feared, in the words of former air force secretary Townsend Hoopes, "the fateful merging of antiwar and racial dissension." But the Panther Yippie alliance was more symbolic than anything else, and only nearsighted observers could have thought otherwise. The Yippies were essentially freelance activists whose shadow organization lacked a community base; hence there was nothing for the Panthers to ally with other than an image, a set of fleeting gestures. But the Yippies and Panthers did share certain important attributes. Both knew how to use the media in creative ways to get their message across, and both were excited about the prospects for an explosive year in 1968.
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Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:41 pm

Gotta Revolution

Few people realized just how intense things would get in 1968, and no one was prepared for the bewildering series of events that unfolded. With each passing month the political temperature rose a few more notches. First there was the Tet offensive launched by the Viet Cong in February, which belied President Johnson's optimistic predictions of an impending US victory. Twenty thousand Americans had already been killed in action, a hundred and ten thousand were wounded, and still there was no sign that the war would be over in the near future. A "dump Johnson" movement mounted by doves within the Democratic party gathered unexpected momentum when Senator Eugene McCarthy decided to challenge LBJ for the presidential nomination. McCarthy scored an impressive showing in the early primaries, and on March 31, 1968, Johnson announced he would not seek reelection.

The demise of LBJ was a great victory for the New Left, but the euphoria passed quickly. Four days after Johnson's abdication Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis. The death of the nation's most gifted civil rights leader sparked the worst domestic strife since the Civil War. There were riots in a hundred and twenty-five cities nationwide, including Washington, DC. Forty-six people died, more than twenty thousand were arrested, and fifty-five thousand federal troops and National Guardsmen were deployed to handle the emergency. In the wake of the ghetto uprisings a nervous Congress passed the so-called Rap Brown amendment, making it a federal crime to cross state lines with the intent to start a riot. This law would be used in subsequent years to prosecute antiwar activists.

Violent confrontations became a normal occurrence in 1968 not only in the ghettos and barrios of America, but also on college campuses throughout the country. The first pitched battle between students and police took place at Columbia University in New York City, the media capital of the world, when the local SDS chapter led a series of actions beginning in late April and lasting for several weeks. Hundreds were injured during the protest, which sent shock waves reverberating through all of academia. "This is a ferocious, but effective way to be a student -- to be educated," said former SDS president Carl Oglesby. "The policeman's riot club functions like a magic wand under whose hard caress the banal soul grows vivid and the nameless recover their authenticity -- a bestower, this wand, of the lost charisma of the modern self: I bleed, therefore I am."

Hundreds of campuses in the US enacted similar confrontations in the coming months. But academic insurrections were by no means exclusively an American phenomenon. During the late 1960s student radicals took to the streets in nearly every country in Western Europe, as well as in Japan, South Africa, Canada, Turkey, Latin America, and a number of Eastern bloc nations. The most dramatic upheaval occurred in Paris in May 1968, when left-wing activists at the Sorbonne succeeded in triggering a nationwide strike that threatened to topple the Gaullist government. [1]

During the peak of the Sorbonne uprising a group of artists and cultural workers got together to discuss how they could best show their support for those who were engaged in running battles with the police. Among those present at the meeting was Julian Beck of the Living Theater, an experimental performing troupe that traveled extensively in Europe. Controversy always surrounded the Living Theater, for they were among the boldest and most innovative experimenters of the 1960s. Their performances included rituals of love, affirmation, nonviolence, and communality drawn from various mystical and contemporary sources: Artaud, the kabbalah, the continuous use of drugs. The thirty members of the Living Theater frequently tripped together and often performed while high on LSD. "We were willing to experiment with anything that would set the mind free," Beck explained. "We were practicing anarchists, and we were talking about freedom in whatever zones it could be acquired. If drug trips were a way of unbinding the mind, we were eager to experiment."

The Living Theater was already heavily into drugs when the police chased them out of New York City in the early 1960s after many of them had been arrested during pacifist demonstrations. They fled to Europe on a wing and a prayer, hoping to avoid the legal hassles that plagued them in the States. Wherever they traveled on the Continent, the Living Theater interacted with the thriving acid subculture that took root in the mid-1960s. In each city they mingled with turned-on artists, poets, dropouts, and other nonconformists who shared their anarchist vision and provided them with cannabis and acid. The Living Theater, in turn, helped to spread the psychedelic creed as they moved from one locale to another.

Amsterdam was the touchstone, the magic city where every drug was readily available. It was also the home of the Provos (short for Provocateurs), a large anarchist tribe whose political art happenings anticipated the style and essence of the San Francisco Diggers. The Provos took Amsterdam by storm in 1965 when they plastered peace insignias across the city streets along with their own logo, an upside down apple, which represented the modern Johnny Appleseed implanting the seeds of a liberating culture. They unrolled reams of newsprint like carpets through the streets of Amsterdam to protest the "daily newspapers which brainwash our people." They also staged pro-ecology rallies and elected several of their pot-smoking members to the city administration.

Provo groups sprang up in Milan, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Brussels, and Antwerp (a transit point for shiploads of Congolese grass) as the drug scene spread rapidly throughout Europe. London emerged as a major psychedelic center in the summer of 1965. Acid was also plentiful in Munich and Berlin, where hippies were called Gammler. Rome had its capellones who liked to get stonati by ingesting hallucinazione. LSD trickled into Paris, Zurich, Madrid, and the Greek Isles, and a Czech expatriate reports that young people in Prague were turning on to acid in the months prior to the Russian invasion in August, 1968. As Beck put it,

LSD carried with it a certain messianic vision, a certain understanding of the meaning of freedom, of the meaning of the as yet unattainable but nevertheless to be obtained erotic fantasy, political fantasy, social fantasy -- a sense of oneness, a sense of goodness, a marvelous return to the Garden of Eden morality.... That's why we thought if you could put it into the water system, everybody would wake up and we would be able to realize the changes we were dreaming in terms of societal structures. People wouldn't be able to tolerate things as they were any longer. They'd realize that something is wrong out there, something is wrong inside me, something is too beautiful, too indescribable, too irresistible to put off any longer.

During their travels the Living Theater befriended many leaders of the student movement in Europe, who were also concerned about selfhood, new human beings, new possibilities. But the hard-politicos were not overly enthusiastic about psychedelic drugs. "We pushed reefers on them all the time," Beck recalled. "They were getting high, but not enough." Most left-wing activists in France, Germany, and Italy saw drugs as a pleasant diversion at best; they never thought the most effective way to organize people was to turn them on. As a general rule there was far less overlap between the drug scene and the New Left in Europe than in the United States. This became apparent to the Living Theater when they returned to North America in the summer of 1968, after four and a half years of self-imposed exile.

Much had changed on the cultural and political front in the US during this period. The peace movement, having grown by leaps and bounds, was now a mass movement. Polls showed a majority of Americans disapproved of the administration's Vietnam policy. As opposition to the war became more respectable and mainstream, the New Left as a whole edged toward a more radical posture. The V sign for peace gave way to the clenched fist, denoting a change not so much to violence as to militance. An increasing number of activists came to view the war not as an error in judgment or an aberration of American foreign policy but as the latest in a series of imperialist interventions in many countries. The emphasis on vigorous street tactics and a sweeping anti-imperialist analysis set the young radicals apart from the reform-minded liberals and moderates who after years of bloodshed in Southeast Asia finally decided to give peace a chance.

Buoyed by the surging popularity of the antiwar cause and the heightened tempo of the black rebellion, many people began to take for granted a context of political extremity. Predictions of the coming revolution were rampant, and much of the New Left assumed it was on the threshold of a political transformation that was actually way beyond its means. Indeed, it was hard for radicals not to get carried away as the decade rocked to a bloody climax in 1968. They had forced LBJ into early retirement, and now the whole lousy system seemed to be teetering on the brink. A few shouts, a few kicks, a good hard shove in the right place, and surely Babylon would fall.

This was the unspoken assumption behind the Yippies' decision to stage a massive demonstration at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago during the last week of August. At the heart of the Yippie scenario was a "Festival of Life" that would offer an enticing alternative to the "death politics" inside the convention hall. Plans for the festival included a variety of counterconvention activities: a nude grope-in for peace and prosperity, a joint-rolling contest, the election of Miss Yippie. All the top rock and roll acts would perform, the hippest poets would recite the best poems. And what demonstration would be complete without a bell-festooned contingent of holy men leading the protesters in life-affirming incantations? There'd be free food for everyone and workshops on drugs, communes, guerrilla theater, first aid, and draft dodging.

It was an ambitious scheme for a group of dope-smoking misfits who had no political organization to speak of. But the Yippies knew they had the media at their beck and call, and they hoped hype would make up for what they lacked on a grassroots level. They tantalized reporters with visions of a Chicago inundated by a million stoned freaks who would force the Democrats to conduct their business under armed guard. The Yippies, meanwhile, would nominate their own presidential candidate -- a pig named Pigasus, whom they vowed to eat after he won the election. This, the Yippies maintained, would reverse the normal procedure in which the pig is elected "and proceeds to eat the people."

Of course, the Yippies realized that nowhere near a million people would turn up for the demonstration, but exaggeration was the crux of their organizing strategy. They inflated the figures to attract more publicity, hoping to create a snowball effect and draw a large crowd. "We competed for attention like media junkies after a fix," Rubin admitted. "Television (kept) us escalating our tactics." Whereas a sit-in or a picket line might have made headlines a few years ago, now it took bloody heads and tear gas to get coverage on the evening news. In the months preceding the convention the Yippies flatly predicted violence and spiced up their rhetoric to keep their audience enthralled. "We will burn Chicago to the ground!" "We will fuck on the beaches!" "We demand the Politics of Ecstasy!" "Acid for all!" "Abandon the Creeping Meatball!" And always: "Yippie! Chicago -- August 25-30."

A handful of Yippie stalwarts worked long hours at an ad hoc office in New York, printing tens of thousands of posters, leaflets, and buttons as part of the PR campaign for the Festival of Life. Getting stoned was standard operating procedure among office staffers, and their fanciful literature carried their dope-induced hallucinations. They kept in touch with young people throughout the country by issuing sporadic press releases that were picked up by the Liberation News Service and disseminated to three hundred underground newspapers.

The Yippies were preparing monkey-warfare hijinks and other street theater actions, but their plans did not call for organized violence or rioting on the part of demonstrators. Nevertheless, they made no secret of the fact that they relished the possibility of a showdown with the "pigs." By forcing a confrontation the Yippies hoped to reveal the "true nature of the beast," as the saying went, and make the fence-sitters take sides. This, they believed, would automatically benefit the radical cause. "It's not the Republicans and Democrats," Rubin asserted. "It's what America is doing and what it stands for and against. And when that becomes clear in every living room in this country, wow -- our side's gonna win."

Victory for the Yippies was nothing less than "total revolution" -- or something like that. Just what they actually meant by "revolution for the hell of it" or how such a thing would come to pass was never very clear, but it hardly seemed to matter. They were confident that their moment of shining glory had arrived. "We want the world and we want it now!" sang Jim Morrison of the Doors (who took their name from Huxley's The Doors of Perception) in what became the anthem of the young rebels who dismissed any notion of temperate or deliberate change. Those who combined youthful anger with untrammeled experimentation had little patience for the politics of the long haul. Things had developed so quickly and so far beyond expectations that the only honorable course was to take every idea to the limit, to indulge every form of excess. Surely all this energy would lead to something amazing, something chaotic, a crisis so massive that it would sweep aside the gray-haired masters of war and bring the government to its knees. For a generation "born to be wild," anything less seemed like a cowardly evasion of destiny.

And it wasn't just the Yippies who entertained this fantasy. Caught up in their own inflated rhetoric, almost everyone associated with the New Left began to lose track of what was politically feasible. Radicals blithely spoke of revolution as if it were just around the corner, a historical certainty as imminent as tomorrow's sunrise. And why not! The flamboyant images of revolt were everywhere -- in the daily papers, in the underground press, on the TV news. In a society thoroughly bombarded by media images, who could tell what was real? Stoned or otherwise, the baby boom rebels were tangled in a net of reflected events, a hall of mirrors; they related to a distorted picture of reality that filtered through the cracked looking glass of the mass media. By focusing on highly charged incidents and giving the greatest airplay to the wildest and most aggressive gestures, the commercial media reinforced and accentuated the social chaos. Add to this confusion the sudden explosion of the acid scene in the wake of the Summer of Love, and one begins to get a sense of the hallucinatory nature of this period.

The revolutionary fervor of the late 1960s was amplified by the widespread use of LSD and other hallucinogens. These drugs tended to blur the distinction between the imaginary and the real, so that daily life for frequent users became infused with the exaggeration of a mythic dream. Many political activists who got high regularly behaved as though they were living in the midst of a revolutionary situation.

"The effect of LSD was really heavy," acknowledged John Sinclair, former head of the White Panther party in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "Acid blew all sense of proportion, all sense of a frame, to smithereens. I mean it just blew the frame right out of the picture.... It gave you a sense of infinite possibility. You could do anything if you just did it-totally! You could walk right into the sky." Sinclair now considers this attitude foolhardy. "All your big decisions were made on LSD. And while that might be an exciting way to operate, it's not the most intelligent way. To think that your personal consciousness can overcome historical forces is a mistake."

Sinclair first turned on to psychedelics in the early 1960s, after reading Ginsberg and the beats. Known among his peers as a poet and jazz aficionado, he got involved with the Detroit Artists Workshop and started turning on more frequently with his creative clique. After the Detroit riots in 1967 Sinclair began to study the literature of the black power movement. "Anything to the right of Malcolm X just wasn't happening," he asserted. At the time there was a lot of acid floating around. "In my case it was the idealistic poetry stuff coupled with the black militant stuff and the turned-on black jazz artists, " Sinclair recalled, "and all those things came together in my little psyche, 500 mikes a week, and POW! After one particularly stunning LSD experience, I got to the point where I felt that writing and poetry and all that was cool, but it was really important to develop some sort of instrumentation to make it relevant on a larger scale."

Sinclair credits LSD with facilitating the transition from the secretive, cabalistic mentality of the beats to the collective orientation of the 1960s. "When the beatniks started taking acid, it brought us out of the basement, the dark place, the underworld, the fringes of society.... all of a sudden one was filled with a messianic feeling of love, of brotherhood.... LSD gave us the idea it could be different. It was tremendously inspiring. We thought this would alter everything. We were going to take over the world. This was the general belief. It was the LSD.... Acid was amping everything up, driving everything into greater and greater frenzy."

In retrospect Sinclair wonders whether the CIA was behind the acid craze. "They're the ones who had it," he says. But the notion that LSD might have been part of a government plot was the furthest thing from Sinclair's mind when he moved to Ann Arbor with a coterie of radicals in early 1968 and formed the White Panther party. One of their main objectives was to spread the revolutionary message to high schools throughout the Midwest with the help of a politically dedicated rock and roll band, the MCS, which Sinclair managed. "School sucks," declared the White Panther manifesto. "The white honkie culture that has been handed down to us on a plastic platter is meaningless to us! We don't want it! Fuck God in the ass. Fuck your woman until she can't stand up. Fuck everybody you can get your hands on. Our program of rock and roll, dope and fucking in the streets is a program of total freedom for everyone. And we are committed to carrying out our program. We breathe revolution. We are LSD-driven total maniacs in the universe."

When Sinclair heard about the Yippies' plan for Chicago, he thought it was fantastic. "I could never see what was more important than cultural activity, what people did each day to reflect the way they thought and felt about things," he said. "To me that was really political." For a while the White Panthers even considered becoming the Michigan chapter of the Youth International Party. They were, after all, natural allies; like the Yippies, Sinclair was high on the revolutionary potential of drugs and the druggy potential of revolution. The Festival of Life was particularly appealing to the White Panthers, who liked the idea of merging rock music with politics. It was also an opportunity for the MCS to perform before a national audience. Thus, on grounds of politics and promotion, the Panthers wholeheartedly endorsed the Yippie festival.

With the Democratic Convention only weeks away, the Yippies persisted in needling Mayor Daley as much as possible. They circulated a list of demands including the legalization of marijuana and LSD, the abolition of money, the disarming of the Chicago police, and -- not to be overlooked -- a statement in favor of general copulation: "We believe that people should fuck all the time, anytime, whomever they wish." When the Yippies slyly let it be known that they intended to put LSD in the water supply (a scenario cooked up by the CIA fifteen years earlier), Daley ordered a round-the-clock guard at the local reservoirs. Hoffman and Rubin countered by threatening to dispatch Yippie girls dressed up as whores, "but young, you know, and nice," who would pick up convention delegates and slip acid into their drinks (another scenario reminiscent of CIA escapades during the Cold War). Moreover, thousands of protesters would run naked through the streets while "Yippie studs" seduced the delegates' wives and daughters.

Apparently these fictive threats touched a raw nerve somewhere and were taken quite seriously by Daley's men. The Yippies were humiliating the old fogies by reminding them of their fading sexuality as well as heaping scorn on their patriotic ideals. Rubin again: "We were dirty, smelly, grimy, foul, loud, dope-crazed, hell-bent and leather-jacketed.... We were a public display of filth and shabbiness, living in-the-flesh rejects of middle-class standards. We pissed and shit and fucked in public.... We were constantly stoned or tripping on every drug known to man.... Dig it! The future of humanity was in our hands!"

There was no "fucking in the streets" as the Yippies had promised. But even the thought of such erotic impudence was enough to jack up the angry riot squads and the secret service goons who had assembled in Chicago. Mayor Daley prepared for the acidheads and the foul-mouthed subversives by turning the city into an armed camp. He ordered twelve thousand police to work overtime, and hundreds of undercover agents were deployed on "special assignments." There were also six thousand National Guardsmen ready for action, and an equal number of regular army troops complete with bazookas, barbed-wire jeeps, and tanks. Then he issued a discreet warning: come to Chicago at your own risk.

Daley's intimidation tactics succeeded. In the end only about ten thousand protesters showed up, far fewer than the Yippies had expected. The much-heralded Festival of Life commenced on Sunday, August 25, the day before the convention. The protesters met at Lincoln Park, where acid was passed around in the form of spiked honey. A free rock concert had been announced, but all the musicians stayed away except for Phil Ochs and the MC5. Then the police moved in and started arresting people. Tempers flared on both sides, and the Festival of Life soon became a Festival of Blood.

The street fighting continued for the next five days while the Democrats deliberated inside the convention hall. The confrontation reached a dramatic crescendo during the middle of the week. Thousands of demonstrators massed along Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton, where Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee, was staying along with many of the convention delegates. It was late at night, but that portion of the street was floodlit for the sake of television. The crowd took up the rousing chant, "The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching."

The National Guard in full battle dress moved into position with M-I rifles, gas masks, and machine guns mounted on military vehicles. Tear gas was thrown and a gruesome melee ensued. The police attacked with indiscriminate fury, clubbing and macing young and old, male and female, protesters and innocent bystanders. News reporters and photographers were beaten along with the rest, while the powerful lamp of an army helicopter shone down through billowing clouds of orange smoke. Dozens of patrol cars flashed blue siren lights, and the silhouettes of mangled bodies were barely visible in the stroboscopic mist.

"For me, that week in Chicago was far worse than the worst acid trip I'd even heard rumors about," said Hunter Thompson. "It permanently altered my brain chemistry, and my first new idea -- when I finally calmed down -- was an absolute conviction there was no possibility for any personal truce ... in a nation that could hatch and be proud of a malignant monster like Chicago. Suddenly it seemed imperative to get a grip on those who had somehow slipped into power and caused the thing to happen."

Young people throughout the country shared Thompson's sense of urgency, as they watched the unmuzzled savagery of the police on television. (The Walker Commission later attributed the mayhem to a "police riot.") Over a thousand demonstrators had been injured, and one youth died during that tumultuous week. But even more significant than the number of casualties was the profound impact these events had on the New Left as a whole. The Battle of Chicago drew a line across the political landscape, marking the symbolic end of the resistance period and the turn toward revolution. It proved once and for all that the pernicious system was beyond any hope of reform; it would have to be completely dismantled. In the wake of Chicago, many activists concluded that peaceful means of protest, no matter how noble or well-executed, were not enough to eradicate the evils of America; social institutions grounded in violence would resort to violence if any serious challenge to the status quo was mounted.

The Yippies came away from Chicago strengthened in their resolve to fight the establishment by any means necessary. They felt they had won a great victory, and in some ways they were right. The ruthlessness of those in power had been laid bare for all to see in what was perhaps the most memorable media event of sixties protest culture. But the Yippies overlooked a very basic fact: getting TV coverage did not necessarily mean getting their message across. While the street brawl may have shocked some viewers into sympathy for the demonstrators, every poll indicated that a vast majority of the public applauded the brutality of the Chicago police.

To the average citizen the Yippies epitomized the calamitous upsurge of wayward youth gone anti-American and wild. Their obnoxious behavior offended millions who would no longer look upon student protest with indifference, much less with favor. But it wasn't just the Yippies who were putting people on edge. Not since the Civil War had life in America been so disorienting and confusing, so terribly violent, as it was during the late 1960s. Everything seemed to be spinning out of control. The assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the ghetto riots, the campus strikes, the soaring crime rate, the spread of drugs, the black power movement -- all these factors raised genuine fears that American society was coming apart. And then along came Richard Nixon, the law-and-order candidate, who promised to put the Commie-hippie-freaks in their place. Nixon won the '68 election in the streets of Chicago when the madness of an entire decade spilled into the living rooms of a nation of bewildered onlookers.

"Chicago, I think, was the place where all America was radicalized," wrote Tom Wicker of the New York Times. "The miracle of television made it visible to all -- pierced, at last, the isolation of one America from the other, exposed to each the power it faced. Everything since Chicago has had a new intensity -- that of polarization, of confrontation, of antagonism and fear."
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Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:41 pm

Chapter 9: Season Of The Witch


It was a typical sixties scene: a group of scruffy, long-haired students stood in a circle passing joints and hash pipes. The setting could have been Berkeley, Ann Arbor or any other hip campus. But these students were actually FBI agents, and the school they attended was known as "Hoover University." Located at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, this elite academy specialized in training G-men to penetrate left-wing organizations. To cultivate the proper counterculture image, they were told not to wash or bathe for several days before infiltrating a group of radicals. Refresher courses were also held for FBI agents who had successfully immersed themselves in the drug culture of their respective locales. For months they had smoked pot and dropped acid with unsuspecting radicals, and now the turned-on spies had a chance to swap stories with their undercover comrades. Former FBI agent Cril Payne likened the annual seminar to a class reunion. Between lectures on the New Left, drug abuse, and FBI procedure, the G-men would sneak away to the wooded grounds to get stoned while American taxpayers footed the bill.

In the late 1960s the Yippies were infiltrated by an FBI agent named George Oemmerle. Known in New York radical circles as "Prince Crazy," Oemmerle wore weird costumes, smoked a lot of pot, and instigated some of the most outrageous street theater actions. He also was a member of the YIP steering committee, and he served as Abbie Hoffman's bodyguard during the Chicago convention. At one point Oemmerle tried to interest the Yippies in a plan to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, but fortunately wiser heads prevailed. They never suspected he was a spook; after all, marijuana was a "revolutionary" drug, and no pig could maintain his cover while under the honest influence of the herb (the old truth drug scenario). So the Yippies believed until they learned the extent of the government's penetration of the New Left.

According to Army intelligence documents later obtained by CBS news, nearly one out of six demonstrators at the Chicago convention was an undercover operative. The retinue of spies included Bob Pierson, a Chicago cop disguised as a biker, who latched onto Jerry Rubin during the convention and became his bodyguard. Enthralled by the romantic notion of an alliance between motorcycle gang members and middle-class radicals, the Yippies were easily conned by Pierson's tough-talking rhetoric. He was always in the thick of the street action, throwing stones at police, pulling down American flags, leading crowds in militant chants, and urging protesters to start fires and tie up traffic. Pierson's testimony at the trial of the Chicago Seven was instrumental in putting Rubin behind bars for sixty-six days, before his sentence and those of the other defendants were overturned by an appeals court.

The use of informants and provocateurs was part of a massive sub rosa campaign to subvert the forces of dissent in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Joining the FBI in this effort was an alphabet soup of federal agencies: the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), the intelligence divisions of all the military services, and numerous local police forces. Over a quarter of a million Americans were under "active surveillance" during this period, and dossiers were kept on the lawful political activities and personal lives of millions more. Those affiliated with black militant, antiwar, and New Left [1] groups were prime targets of dirty tricks and other underhanded tactics designed to stir up factionalism and "neutralize" political activists.

During the Nixon presidency the CIA stepped up its domestic operations even though such activity was outlawed by the Agency's charter. In 1969 the CIA prepared a report entitled "Restless Youth," which concluded that the New Left and black nationalist movements were essentially homegrown phenomena and that foreign ties to American dissidents were insubstantial. That was not what President Nixon wanted to hear. The "Communist conspiracy" had become an idee fixe in the White House, and Nixon pressed CIA director Richard Helms to expand the parameters of Operation CHAOS (an appropriate acronym) and other domestic probes. In addition to monitoring a wide range of liberal and left-wing organizations, the CIA provided training, technical assistance, exotic equipment, and intelligence data to local police departments. The Agency also employed harassment tactics such as sprinkling "itching powder" (concocted by the Technical Services Staff, the unit that oversaw the LSD experiments in the 1950s) on public toilets near leftist meetings, which drove people wild for about three days after they sat down.

The FBI, meanwhile, escalated its secret war against all forms of political and cultural dissent in America. The assault on freedom of expression included a systematic attempt to cripple the underground press, which FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover found loathsome because of its "depraved nature and moral looseness." There was also a concerted campaign to make political arrests by charging radicals with possession of small amounts of marijuana. "Since the use of marijuana and other narcotics is widespread among members of the New Left, you should be on the alert to opportunities to have them arrested on drug charges," Hoover stated in a top-secret FBI memo. "Any information concerning the fact that individuals have marijuana or are engaging in a narcotics party should be immediately furnished to local authorities and they should be encouraged to take action."

Nixon made the issue of drug abuse a cornerstone of his law-and-order campaign during the 1968 election, and when he took office he pushed through a series of no knock laws allowing police to break into homes of suspected drug users, unannounced and armed to the hilt, to search for a tiny tab of LSD or a pipeful of pot. While no-knock and other draconian legal ploys were allegedly designed to crack down on the abuse of controlled substances, the targets of the antidrug campaign were often involved in radical politics. Examples are legion: in 1969 John Sinclair, leader of the White Panther party in Michigan, was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison for giving two marijuana joints to an undercover officer, Lee Otis Johnson, a black militant and antiwar organizer at Texas Southern University, was given a thirty-year jail term after sharing a joint with a narc, Mark Rudd, an SDS militant who played a prominent role in the uprising at Columbia University, was fingered for drugs by an informant; and police in Buffalo, New York, planted dope in a bookstore run by Martin Sostre, a black anarchist who served six years in prison before Amnesty International successfully interceded on his behalf.

Drug laws were also used to persecute Timothy Leary and other counterculture leaders. An example of this type of harassment came to light in federal court when Jack Martin, a musician who'd been busted on a dope rap, testified that he was asked to turn informant and assist the Federal Narcotics Bureau in framing Allen Ginsberg on a marijuana charge. The FBI and the CIA kept tabs on Ginsberg's activities in the late 1960s and early 1970s, while the narcs maintained a file that included a photograph of the well-known poet "in an indecent pose." The picture was placed in a special vault at BNDD headquarters and marked for "possible future use."

A number of big-name rock musicians were also targeted for surveillance by the FBI. Hoover's men shadowed John Lennon after he and Yoko Ono got involved in radical politics in the US (Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" became the anthem of the antiwar movement). In addition the FBI kept tabs on Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, the Fugs, and other rock stars, many of whom were prosecuted on drug charges. The harassment of rock musicians was part of a crusade against the emerging counterculture and the alternative lifestyles associated with radical politics in the late 1960s. Some rock groups took explicitly political stands, and their music received wide airplay despite halfhearted attempts at government censorship. As a result large numbers of young people were exposed to the rhetoric of radical politics. While rock music certainly did not politicize its entire audience, it reinforced a pervasive anti-authoritarianism and provided an audacious sound track to the hopes and anger of the younger generation. High energy rock songs were clarion calls to revolt: the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man," Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild," the Doors' "Break on through to the other side," Jefferson Airplane's "We are all outlaws ..." "All of these and many more items of popular culture thrived in and reproduced an apocalyptic, polarized political mood," noted former SDS president Todd Gitlin. "In ensemble they shaped a symbolic environment that was conducive to revolutionism out of context, to the inflation of rhetoric and militancy out of proportion to the possible."

After the Chicago convention an increasing number of radicals began to talk about the need for violence to raise the domestic political costs of the war in Vietnam. The revelations of My Lai, the tiger cages, the napalm, the cancer-causing defoliants, the carpet bombings, the delayed-action antipersonnel weapons, the images of daily carnage on television -- all this and much more dislocated the sensibilities of young and old alike until it was difficult for some to see anything virtuous in "Amerika" (or "AmeriKKKa"), as it came to be spelled by left-wing militants. The imperial center had to be defeated at all costs for the sake of those who were dying in Southeast Asia.

As every legitimate gesture of dissent was rebuffed by another round of US atrocities, antiwar activists were forced to reconsider their tactics. The overwhelming horror of Vietnam made all political choices seem urgent and simple. Radicals were under tremendous pressure to translate their jargon into action, to demonstrate their revolutionary commitment by pushing militancy to the extreme. Although they did not realize it at the time, the ultramilitants were playing right into the hands of the Nixon administration, which seized upon incidents of violence by protesters to justify the imposition of repressive measures against the antiwar movement as a whole. During this period the New Left became open turf for undercover operatives who spouted revolutionary rhetoric in order to incite others to violence. But covert manipulation was not solely to blame for what happened in the late 1960s. The provocateurs' success depended on a climate of tolerance for their wild suggestions and antics.

Some radical groups didn't need any provocation. The "Up Against the Wall, Motherfucker" collective made their antisocial debut during the New York City garbage strike in early 1968 when they set fire to heaps of rubbish and threw bricks and bottles at firemen who came to douse the blaze. Formed as the Lower East Side chapter of SDS, this band of acid-fueled fanatics supported the student strike at Columbia by occupying a building and sabotaging the school's electrical system. After the strike was over, however, they berated their fellow communards for not slugging it out with the cops. The Motherfuckers proceeded to terrorize other radical organizations, causing havoc at meetings and protest rallies. At one point, they crashed a conference of socialist scholars and denounced the participants as "armchair book-quoting jive-ass honky leftists. ... who are the VD of the revolution."

In pursuit of "total revolution" the Motherfuckers divided into small affinity groups and introduced "motion tactics" or "trashing" to SDS. The idea was to get loaded on drugs and run wild through the streets, breaking store windows, spilling trash cans, and smashing windshields in an improvised war dance. It was sheer bravado, a blow for a blow's sake, but there was something almost mystical about it. The political efficacy of trashing was less important than how it felt, the sense of psychic liberation, the existential buzz that came from "doing it in the road." They just wanted to let loose and do whatever they could to put some hurt on the oppressor.

The Motherfuckers saw their role as "a permanent fermenting agent, encouraging action without claiming to lead." In a poster disseminated on the Lower East Side they denounced Timothy Leary and his apolitical followers for "limiting the revolution" with their lightweight metaphysical theories and gooey religious rhetoric. Shortly before they dispersed in 1969 the Motherfuckers issued a manifesto called "Acid Armed Consciousness," which spoke in grandiose terms of picking up the gun and correcting the cosmic imbalance: "We are the freaks of an unknown space/time.... We are the eye of the Revolution.... Only when we simultaneously see our magic drugs as an ecstatic revolutionary implement, and feel our bodies as the cellular macrocosm and galactic microcosm will our spiral/life energy destroy everything dead as it races over the planet.... Blown minds of screaming-singing-beaded-stoned-armed-feathered Future-People are only the sparks of a revolutionary explosion and evolutionary planetary regeneration. Neon Nirvanas finally overload their circuits ... as we snake dance thru our world trailed by a smokescreen of reefer."

The Motherfuckers might be dismissed as a lunatic fringe had they not prefigured the paramilitary fad that engulfed the New Left as the decade drew to a close. The classic photo from this period appeared on the front page of the Berkeley Tribe, an offshoot of the Berkeley Barb; it showed a hip couple posing earnestly in front of a wooded commune, the long-haired man with a rifle in hand, and his woman in a granny dress holding a baby on her back. This was the mood of the late 1960s. A lot of self-styled outlaws and freaky-looking people were studying karate and learning how to handle shotguns. Former pacifists were now talking about bloodshed as a necessary evil in political struggle. The underground press published instructions on bomb making, and Yippie tactics of humor and guerrilla theater were supplanted by real guerrilla attacks. The Anarchist Cookbook included a recipe for concocting Molotov cocktails as well as LSD. "Acid armed consciousness" -- a far cry from flower power, but that was what the Movement had come to since the Summer of Love.

There was no containing the violence any longer. Across the country militants blew up power lines, burned down ROTC headquarters, trashed draft board offices, and traded potshots with police. All told, major demonstrations occurred at nearly three hundred colleges and universities during the spring of 1969, involving a third of the nation's students. A plethora of radical groups sprang up: the Young Lords (a Puerto Rican organization), the Brown Berets (Chicanos), the GI resistance movement, the Gay Liberation Front, the American Indian Movement, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in the car factories of Detroit. High school students were becoming more militant, and women's liberationists were going after Playboy magazine, Wall Street, the Miss America Pageant, and other bastions of sexism. Whether all these groups could cooperate in a comradely way was another matter entirely, but the sum total of their efforts produced a thunderous cacophony that almost sounded like a revolution.

Ironically, just when the New Left was experiencing an unprecedented wave of support, its leading organization, SDS, which claimed almost a hundred thousand members and a million supporters, was being torn asunder by internal contradictions. Chapter meetings throughout the country degenerated into ideological squabbles as the Progressive Labor party (PL) a disciplined Old Left cadre, made a power play and tried to take over SDS. The PL people were cultural conservatives, they wore their hair short, dressed straight, mouthed Marxist dogma, and dismissed lifestyle as a peripheral concern that diverted attention from the true working-class struggle. On repeated occasions PL castigated SDS regulars for being "escapist" and "objectively counterrevolutionary" when they spoke in favor of turning on. (Quite a few SDS members would have agreed with Arthur Kleps when he said, "Marxism is the opiate of the unstoned classes." [1] PL also criticized propaganda tactics like guerrilla theater and rock bands at rallies as "creeping carnivalism," and they even claimed that Timothy Leary was a CIA agent who pushed acid on the Movement as part of an imperialist plot.

The drug issue wasn't the only axis of division within SDS. Action freaks taunted the "wimps" who emphasized day-to-day grassroots organizing, hippie elements were angry at hard-core militants, and women started to leave the organization in droves, criticizing the New Left for its ingrained male chauvinism. Through it all the ubiquitous FBI and CIA stoked the fires of internal dissension at every given opportunity. A CIA document of April 1969 forecast the fatal rupture that occurred two months later: "The SDS prize continues to be fair game for takeover by any organized communist group on the American scene with the power, prestige, and cunning to do so.... It can be predicted that such efforts will continue until someone succeeds. Then SDS will split and their influence on the American campus can be expected to diminish."

The death knell was sounded at the SDS national conference in Chicago in June 1969, when an ultramilitant faction put forward a position paper called "You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows." The title came from a line in Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," a song full of homespun advice to disaffected youth, with the usual Dylanesque overtones of anti-authoritarianism and rebellion that appealed to many SDS members. The Weathermen, as this group immediately came to be known, announced their intention to form urban guerrilla cadres and carry on the revolution with sporadic gestures of violence. Then they walked out en masse after declaring that they had "expelled" PL from SDS. When the dust settled, there were two groups stridently claiming to be the "real" SDS, neither of which inspired much enthusiasm among students. Just as the CIA had predicted, the split marked the end of SDS as an effective organization, and the collapse of the New Left as a whole soon followed.

The Weathermen's decision to go underground was formulated during a period when many of their key leaders, including chief spokesperson Bernardine Dohrn, were tripping out on LSD. Dohrn, whose fiery personality and good looks raised eyebrows among her male comrades, showed her solidarity with the youth culture when she organized a be-in for Chicago in the spring of 1967. Her enthusiasm for acid was shared by Jeff Jones, a former Motherfucker who joined the Weather contingent when SDS bit the dust.

Some Weather leaders were initially reluctant to experiment with psychedelic drugs. Mark Rudd, who had been chairman of the Action Faction at the Columbia University chapter of SDS, declined numerous offers to turn on with the Crazies (a militant offshoot of the Yippies) on the grounds that it would interfere with his politics. The Crazies chided Rudd and his cohorts for being straitlaced and ignorant of the youth culture, but Rudd's crowd was not to be persuaded. Finally the Crazies took matters into their own hands and put acid in the wine at a Weather party without telling the hosts. Soon the place exploded into a frenzy of song and dance; afterwards the local leadership agreed that LSD was inherently revolutionary, and they ordered every Weatherperson in New York to take the drug and get "experienced."

Meanwhile the White Panthers were turning on future Weather recruits in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Billy Ayers was a prominent figure in the Jesse James Gang, Ann Arbor's version of the Action Faction, before joining the Weathermen, and he too had reservations about LSD until Ken Kelley, a White Panther who edited an underground newspaper called the Ann Arbor Argus, turned him on. "I remember when it hit the Weathermen," said Kelley. "That's when they just got out there."

While the Weathermen are an extreme case, the degree to which acid accentuated their militant tendencies underscores an essential truth about the drug: LSD does not make people more or less political; rather, it reinforces and magnifies what's already in their heads. Most of the Weatherpeople (at the outset there were three hundred full-fledged members) came from middle and upper-middle-class families and their encounter with LSD dredged up a lot of guilt about "white skin privilege." They felt that all white youth, including themselves, were guilty of crimes against Third World people. This guilt, according to Weather logic, could only be purged in sacrificial blood: white blood must flow to prove to blacks, Vietnamese, and other victims of American imperialism that white revolutionaries were serious. Accordingly the Weatherpeople organized themselves into a network of secret cells, each with ten or twelve members, and prepared to undertake armed attacks against the state.

"We have one task," Billy Ayers stated, "and that's to make ourselves into tools of the revolution." Toward this end the Weather collectives embarked upon a rigorous process of internal purification. They sought to overcome their bourgeois cultural conditioning by living in places that were filthy and foul. Sometimes they went without food to save money for more important items, such as guns. They rejected romantic love as a capitalist hangup and abandoned monogamous sexual relations in favor of orgies and freewheeling partner swapping. ("People who fuck together, fight together" was the going slogan.) Their days were filled with weapons training and karate practice; at night they held endless criticism and self-criticism sessions, often with the aid of LSD, in an effort to exorcise their natural passivity and bring themselves closer to that apocalyptic edge where political violence intersects with personal transformation and privileged youth become street fighters. The amount of acid a person could take during these sessions without freaking out was a measure of personal toughness. (For all the talk about the ego-dissolving properties of LSD, the male ego flourished among the Weathermen.)

The communal ingestion of LSD also served as a rudimentary security check. In a manner recalling the CIA's use of LSD as a truth drug, the Weatherpeople attempted to weed out suspected informants by putting them through a group acid test. On one occasion a Weather collective in Cincinnati thought they had identified an agent provocateur when Larry Grathwohl, an ex-Green Beret who had fought in Vietnam, announced during an acid trip, "You're right, I am a pig." After mulling over his confession, the Weather cadre concluded he was merely expressing his guilt for having served in the army, and he was accepted into their ranks. They were particularly attracted to Grathwohl's military skills. He supplied guns and drugs and taught them how to make bombs. A few months later Grathwohl fingered two New York Weatherwomen for the FBI. [2]

When a group of people trip together frequently, it's easy for them to get caught up in a mutually reinforcing world view and lose sight of the degree to which they've drifted off-center, far from the day-to-day perceptions of most individuals. This was particularly true of the Weatherpeople, who lived a very isolated existence. The collective was their whole world. All their waking hours were geared toward making the revolution. They were totally consumed by it -- eating less, sleeping less, getting charged up until they were oblivious to the outside world. They used to sing a song to the tune of the Beatle's "Yellow Submarine": "We all live in a weather machine, a weather machine ..." And that's how it was; they were like a machine, an integral unit composed of interchangeable parts. "We got carried away," an ex-Weatherwoman admitted. "We were out on limb with each other.... We thought about picking up the gun all the time. We really thought there was going to be a revolution."

The Weathermen's fantasies about the coming revolution were nourished by the hermetic quality of their own experience and the hectic atmosphere of the late 1960s. Things were moving so fast during this period, people were going through so many changes, the antiwar cause had picked up such incredible momentum, but hardly anyone paused to absorb what was happening. It was easy to lose a sense of balance as the pace of history accelerated. Committed activists felt as though they had lived through several lifetimes in a few months, which inevitably led to widespread exhaustion. "Inside the movement," Todd Gitlin recalled, "one had the sense of being hurled through a time tunnel, of hurtling from event to event without the time to learn from experience."

This dizzying sense of onrushing time was reinforced by the use of psychedelic drugs. An LSD trip encapsulates an enormous amount of experience in a relatively short period, insights that might normally take years to acquire can burst forth in an awesome flurry during an eight-hour acid high. "It was like a cheap form of shrinkdom," Ken Kelley stated. "A week became a decade in terms of your consciousness.... Every single aspect of your life was affected by it.... It was like if Jesus Christ came for the Second Coming and said, 'Follow me.' That's what LSD was like. No one could believe it. All you knew was that you'd find out more of what was going on in the cosmic scheme of things if you took LSD."

As a catalyst of psychic and social processes, LSD amplified a chaotic cultural milieu which in the late 1960s was completely saturated by the inflated images of the mass media. Both these perceptual technologies -- LSD and the media -- combined to accelerate the temporal flux and fuel the wishful thinking of the young activists who jumped from rebellion to revolution without knowing what they were really getting into. Television was particularly insidious, reducing history to a series of discontinuous freeze-frames or, as Gitlin put it, "a sequence of tenuously linked exclamation points" -- Columbia! Sorbonne! Chicago! In this mythic "event time," each tumultuous confrontation was a peak moment, like an LSD trip, packed full of vivid experience not always easy to assimilate or put into proper context in the short term. "Tripping ratified and gathered into a single day's experience what, in fact, life had become," an SDS veteran explained. "Life was very trippy from about 1968 on in the worst and best sense, and the conflict was, do you go with it or do you escape it?"

Those who lived inside the high-velocity Weather machine chose to go with it no matter what the cost. After months of intensive preparation they plunged into the next mythic showdown, the Days of Rage demonstration in Chicago in October 1969. It was the second anniversary of the death of Che Guevara, and the Weatherpeople were determined to "bring the war back home" by making revolutionary violence a reality inside the Mother Country. Armed with pipes, clubs, poles, motorcycle helmets, gas masks, goggles and flak jackets, six hundred hardcore militants went on a rampage, whipping themselves into a frenzy with Battle of Algiers war whoops. They marched through the streets carrying Viet Cong flags and trashing everything in sight. Hundreds of demonstrators were beaten, a dozen were shot, and half of the Weatherbrigade was arrested within a few hours.

For the Weatherpeople, the violent outburst in Chicago was a way of "upping the cost of imperialism." They had little patience for those who were still hung up on building a broad-based movement. "Organizing is just another way of going slow," said Mark Rudd. He and his cohorts wanted to get on with the business of destruction; everything else was dismissed as liberal dillydallying. Drunk on confrontation and intoxicated by an overblown sense of their capacity to "make history," the Weathermen believed they could overthrow the American system by sheer willpower. Theirs was an acid dream of revolution, and the course they had chosen, more by instinct than by rational planning, sent them hurtling down a one-way road to political oblivion.



1. The FBI never arrived at a precise definition of the New Left. "It's more or less an attitude, I would think," an FBI official told a senate committee in 1975.

2. Another FBI informant named Horace J. Packer infiltrated SDS and the Weathermen at the University of Washington. Packer later testified that he supplied campus radicals with drugs, weapons and materials for making Molotov cocktails. He also admitted that while posing as a leftwing activist he used acid, speed, mescaline and cocaine.
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Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:42 pm

The Acid Brotherhood

"Bringing the war back home" the deeper resonance of the Weather motto returned to haunt the New Left. As millions of Americans took to the streets to protest the Vietnam debacle, the Defense Department was drawn ever more deeply into the problem of containing domestic violence. Military strategists recommended an array of bizarre weapons to quell civil unrest, including the psychochemical incapacitating agent BZ, which had been utilized on a limited basis as a counterinsurgency device in Vietnam.

In March 1966 French journalist Pierre Darcourt described in L'Express an action known as Operation White Wing, in which grenades containing BZ were deployed against a Viet Cong battalion of five hundred troops by the First Cavalry Airmobile; only one hundred guerrillas were said to have escaped. According to Dutch author Wil Vervey the superhallucinogen was used on at least five other occasions in Vietnam between 1968 and 1970. In all probability, however, the Vietnam experience showed the drug to be only marginally effective as a counterinsurgency agent, given its tendency to elicit maniacal behavior and the difficulties of controlling the amount of BZ absorbed in a combat situation. As one senior Defense Department official admitted, all the incapacitants "have dosage ranges into lethality. They can clobber people." Despite these drawbacks the army stockpiled no less than fifty tons of BZ, or enough to turn everyone in the world into a stark raving lunatic.

Documents prepared at the army's "limited war laboratory" at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, one of three major military installations where BZ is stored, indicate that the government seriously considered using the superhallucinogen as a domestic riot control technique. One scheme involved the use of tiny remote-controlled model airplanes nicknamed "mechanical bees." The bees, mounted with hypodermic syringes, would be aimed at selected protesters during a demonstration to render them senseless. Another plan called for spraying BZ gas to incapacitate an unruly mob. A CIA memo dated September 4, 1970, reaffirmed the importance of BZ-type weapons: "Trends in modern police action and warfare indicate the desire to incapacitate reversibly and demoralize, rather than kill, the enemy.... With the advent of highly potent natural products, psychotropic and immobilizing drugs, a new era of law enforcement ... is being ushered in."

While American soldiers were waging psychochemical warfare with BZ gas to subdue the Viet Cong, other GIs were dropping acid and tripping out on the battlefield -- an ironic development in light of the fact that a few years earlier the army had tested LSD on American servicemen to see if the drug would impair their ability to carry out military maneuvers. Now the soldiers were taking LSD voluntarily in order to incapacitate themselves. "I was stoned every day of my life in Vietnam," a GI acid veteran admitted, "stoned to the gourd. It was the only way to deal with all the horror and the insanity, and that's what everyone did. Everyone was stoned on something."

An authentic drug subculture thrived among American troops in Vietnam. Soldiers often wore beads and peace symbols on their uniforms and grooved to the same rock music that was popular in the States. Words such as "bomb" and "knockout" were coined by soldiers to describe the drug experience and were soon adopted by heads back home. Vietnamese reefer was especially potent, and its widespread use both in the barracks and in the field was a unifying factor among dissident Gls. Pot smoking was so prevalent (80% of American servicemen got stoned) that the military brass never even tried to crack down on it. There was also plenty of heroin available, and soldiers often smoked or injected it (15% of those who saw action in Vietnam returned home as heroin addicts). But nothing compared with getting high on LSD for the first time in a combat situation. "Apocalypse Now -- that's how it really was," said a former employee of the supersecret Army Security Agency. "After a while, Vietnam was an acid trip. Vietnam was psychedelic, even when you weren't tripping."

One type of acid was particularly popular among American ground forces in Vietnam. It was called "orange sunshine," and much of it was smuggled in from southern California during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Far from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia a group known as the Brotherhood of Eternal Love was waging its own holy war of sorts in their tireless efforts to turn the world on to LSD. During their heyday the Brotherhood ran the world's largest illicit LSD ring. Ironically their base of operations was Orange County, home turf of Richard Nixon, Disneyland, and the John Birch Society.

The saga of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love is a bizarre melange of evangelical, starry-eyed hippie dealers, mystic alchemists, and fast-money bankers. Federal investigators described them as a "hippie Mafia" of approximately seven hundred fifty people that allegedly grossed $200,000,000. But the Brotherhood's secret network of smugglers lived by a code different from that associated with organized crime. They were fired with idealism, committed to changing the world by disseminating large quantities of psychedelics. At least that's how it was at the beginning....

It all started back in 1966 when a motorcycle gang from Anaheim, California, led by a stocky, intense man known as Farmer John Griggs, held up a Hollywood producer at gunpoint and robbed him of his stash of Sandoz LSD. A week later the bikers dropped the acid on a hill overlooking Palm Springs in Joshua Tree National Park. They must have seen the Burning Bush, for they threw away their guns and ran around the desert at midnight screaming, "This is it!" The next morning Griggs and company roared back to Anaheim, determined to begin a new life. They experimented with psychedelics on a weekly basis and dabbled in mysticism. Griggs was the proselytizer, the moving spirit of the group. In the summer of 1966 he traveled to Millbrook to meet with Leary, who was quite taken by the ex-hoodlum. "Although unschooled and unlettered he was an impressive person," Leary said of Griggs. "He had this charisma ... that sparkle in his eye."

Griggs looked to Leary for guidance, revering the older man as a guru. At the time, the High Priest of LSD was urging everyone to start their own church. This seemed like an excellent idea to Griggs. The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, consisting of approximately thirty original members, was formally established as a tax-exempt entity in October 1966, ten days after LSD was made illegal in the state of California. The articles of incorporation announced the group's objective: "to bring to the world a greater awareness of God through the teachings of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Ramakrishna, Babaji, Paramahansa Yogananda, Mahatma Gandhi, and all true prophets and apostles of God, and to spread the love and wisdom of these great teachers to all men.... We believe this church to be the earthly instrument of God's will. We believe in the sacred right of each individual to commune with God in spirit and in truth as it is empirically revealed to him."

The Brothers settled in Laguna Beach, a small seaside resort thirty miles south of Los Angeles. It was the pure scene, an electric beach community tucked against a semicircle of sandstone hills rising twelve hundred feet above the Pacific. The majestic landscape attracted an artist colony, and the sun and waves brought surfers. John Griggs supplied a lot of LSD for a growing Freaktown where hippies danced barefoot across beaches and mountains murmuring, "Thank you, God." In this exquisite setting the Brothers employed acid as a communal sacrament, hoping eventually to obtain legal permission to expand their consciousness through chemicals in much the same way that the Indians of the Native American Church used peyote. To support their spiritual habit, they opened a storefont in Laguna Beach called Mystic Arts World, which sold health food, books, smoking paraphernalia and other accoutrements of the psychedelic counterculture. The headshop became a meeting place for hippies and freaks of every persuasion, and soon more people wanted to join the fledgling church.

While Mystic Arts provided a steady income, it wasn't enough for the ambitious plans of the Brotherhood. They needed more money to purchase land for their growing membership, so they started dealing drugs -- mostly marijuana at first, which they snuck across the border in hundred-pound lots after paying off police officials in Mexico. Within the next few years the Brotherhood of Eternal Love developed into a sophisticated smuggling and distribution network that stretched around the globe. Huge quantities of hashish were brought in from Afghanistan by Brothers equipped with false ID and crew-cut wigs. They eluded the authorities by zigzagging across oceans and continents in transport outfitted with hollow compartments filled with contraband -- unloading at one port, sometimes traveling a short distance overland, then reloading at the next port and substituting yet another phony registration for the vehicle. They also sold LSD obtained from Owsley's lieutenants in Haight-Ashbury.

The dealing operation was already in high gear when Timothy Leary decided to pull up roots and head for the West Coast, the Mecca of hippiedom. By the spring of 1967 the Millbrook scene was collapsing. Three rival religious sects (the League for Spiritual Discovery, the Neo-American Boohoo Church, and a Hindu-oriented ashram) had taken up residence at the acid commune, and the entire place was under round-the-clock surveillance by the police. California beckoned, and Billy Hitchcock, the Millbrook patron, decided to move to the Bay Area. He gave Leary a parting check for $14,000 and sent him on his way after evicting everyone else from the estate.

Leary and his new wife, a young ex-model named Rosemary, had a standing invitation from John Griggs to visit Laguna Beach. He was greeted by the Brotherhood like a private heaven-sent prophet, and he acted the part, preaching to the group about love, peace, and enlightenment. Leary enjoyed the adulation as well as the town's mellow atmosphere. He and Rosemary rented a house near the ocean and spent much of their time dropping acid, lolling in the surf, and talking with the hippies on the beach. Leary was very conscious of his role as elder statesman of the town's burgeoning head colony. He tried to stay on good terms with everyone and never missed a chance to flash his trademark grin when he saw a policeman.

But there was one person Leary could not win over. Neal Purcell, a rookie cop, came to Laguna Beach in the fall of 1968. A squat, dark-complected man with a pencil-thin moustache, Purcell harbored a deep animosity toward long-haired skinny-dippers and young women without bras. He considered marijuana and LSD part and parcel of a generational corruption that was destroying the country's moral fiber, and it irked him to see Leary roam freely through town spreading his evil creed while America was going down the tubes.

Purcell had previously been assigned to entice and entrap homosexuals at a nearby beach, but he had bigger things on his mind as he patrolled the quiet residential section of Laguna. He was determined to put the screws to Timothy Leary. Shortly after Christmas 1968 Purcell spotted a station wagon blocking a narrow road. He later claimed that he did not realize it was Leary's until he approached and saw Tim roll down the window, releasing a thick cloud of marijuana smoke. Rosemary sat next to her husband in the front seat while Leary's son, Jack, frolicked in the back, making faces at the officer. Purcell searched the car and came up with two weather- beaten roaches and a few skimpy flakes of pot. "Big deal" said Leary when his nemesis produced the evidence.

Leary was charged with possession of marijuana and released on bail. It was his second drug bust, he was already facing a thirty-year sentence for the snafu in Laredo, Texas, in 1965. Despite his precarious legal status Leary announced his intention to run for governor of California in 1969 against Ronald Reagan. The High Priest had suddenly become political! Midway through his upbeat campaign he got a call from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who were then conducting their "Bed-ins for Peace" in luxury hotels around the world. They wanted Leary to help them cut their antiwar song "Give Peace a Chance." Leary joined them at their bedside in Montreal while photographers flashed cameras for the international press. Lennon asked Leary what he could do to help his electoral efforts, and the candidate suggested that Lennon write a song. The Beatle began to improvise around Leary's campaign slogan, "Come together, join the party," and soon the song "Come Together" (on the Abbey Road album) was playing on California radio stations.

All the notoriety surrounding Leary's movements and pronouncements was something of a mixed blessing for the Brotherhood. They were happy to provide living expenses for the acid guru and finance his frequent travels up to Berkeley, where he rented another house, but Leary attracted a lot of attention -- which was exactly what a secret dope-smuggling outfit didn't need. Griggs and several of his cohorts decided to establish a second base of operations at a secluded ranch near Idylwild, California. They bought a three-hundred-acre plot at the arid base of the Santa Ana Mountains to provide a safe haven for their extralegal activities. The Brotherhood occupied a run-down farmhouse surrounded by a circle of seven teepees and grew their own vegetables, which their wives and girlfriends dutifully cooked. A wooden watchtower camouflaged by eucalyptus trees enabled the dealers to spot any unwanted intruders moving up the winding dirt road to their hideaway. They stayed high all the time, smoking as much as thirty joints per day per person and dropping acid whenever the spirit moved them.

The setup was ideal, and everything went smoothly. The Brotherhood even started to deal a new product -- hash oil, a gooey resin thirty times more potent than the bricks they were importing from Afghanistan at a rate of a thousand kilos a month. The Brothers were making a lot of money, but that wasn't their sole motivation. They believed they were carrying out a special mission. "It was the Dead End Kids who took acid and fell in love with beauty," stated Michael Hollingshead, who visited the Brotherhood commune in Idylwild. "They were totally committed. They had tremendous determination. They were all very tough; once they were moving dope, they were manic ... they did this nonstop thing."

There was just one hitch in the otherwise flawless operation: they lacked a sufficient quantity of LSD for wholesale marketing. Ever since Owsley's arrest in late 1967, a steady supply of high-quality street acid had been hard to come by. The king of the acid underground had been caught red-handed by federal agents at his tabbing factory in Orinda, California, with a large stash of LSD and STP that would have netted $10,000,000 on the black market. He was eventually sentenced to three years in prison and fined $3,000 for tax evasion.

While Owsley slugged it out in the courts, his former assistant, Tim Scully, vowed to carry on the chemical crusade. Flushed with the potential of consciousness expansion, Scully believed that LSD was the solution to man's inhumanity to man and all other problems caused by shortsightedness. His goal was to make as much acid as possible before the inevitable legal crackdown. But Owsley had kept him on a short string financially, and Scully lacked the necessary resources to set up an underground laboratory. His search for monetary support led him to Billy Hitchcock, who was then living in Sausalito, a scenic tourist town just north of San Francisco.

Hitchcock and Scully first became acquainted when the young chemist passed through the psychedelic menagerie at Millbrook in the spring of 1967. They hit it off immediately, and Hitchcock was pleased when Scully called on him again in Sausalito a few months later. They agreed to form a business partnership. Hitchcock would lend him money for supplies and equipment, and Scully would synthesize LSD and other psychedelics. At first Scully proposed that they give the acid away free of charge, but his financial mentor would hear nothing of it. People wouldn't appreciate what they didn't have to pay for, Hitchcock argued, and after all, he was the boss.

Hitchcock also bankrolled another chemist named Nick Sand, who began his illicit career by making DMT, a short-acting super-psychedelic, in his bathtub in Brooklyn. Sand got into the writings of Gurdjieff (a Russian mystic who had been a spy for the czar) and later wound up at Millbrook, where he served as alchemist to Arthur Kleps's Neo-American Boohoo Church. When the Millbrook scene unraveled, Sand followed Hitchcock out to the Bay Area and started making STP in an underground lab in San Francisco. He would have preferred to make acid, but he was hard-pressed, as was Scully, to find ergotamine tartrate (which they referred to as "ET"), one of the key ingredients of LSD-25. Hitchcock saw a way past the bottleneck. He contacted a European source with legitimate access, and Sand and Scully were off and running. The demand for street acid had skyrocketed ever since the Summer of Love, and these young men intended to fill the void created by Owsley's sudden demise.

Sand and Scully met at Hitchcock's house in Sausalito and agreed to work together at the instigation of their host. They were admittedly an odd couple -- Scully, the brilliant, sensitive soul with messianic visions, and Sand, the hard-nosed street tough eager for economic gain, who cultivated contacts among all manner of fringe types, including the Hell's Angels. Scully didn't want to have anything to do with the bikers, who had distributed STP for Sand, and a rift quickly developed between the two chemists.

Scully had already manufactured a sizable allotment of LSD when the police discovered his underground drug lab in Denver in June 1968. They seized and tagged all his equipment, which was returned to the young chemist after his lawyers got him off the hook. Shortly after the Denver bust a delegation of Brothers led by John Griggs first made contact with Sand and Scully. The powwow, which had been suggested by Leary, took place at Hitchcock's villa in Sausalito, with the ever-obliging Mr. Billy in attendance. The Brothers were looking for a good connection, and they couldn't have asked for a more righteous brew. A few weeks later Sand traveled south to Idylwild to finalize the arrangement.

With the Brotherhood ready to serve as their distribution arm, Sand and Scully embarked upon a full-fledged manufacturing spree. Hitchcock bought some property in Windsor, a small town sixty miles north of San Francisco. He helped Scully move to the premises, hauling large metal drums and wooden crates full of glass beakers, Bunsen burners, flasks, rubber tubing, chromatography columns, vacuum evaporators, and bundles of semiprecious compounds -- all the equipment necessary for a sophisticated drug lab. In January, 1969, Sand and Scully went to work, each on a modest $12,000 yearly retainer from Hitchcock. Scully was absolutely meticulous, keeping hour-by-hour logs whenever he made a new batch of acid so there'd be no chance of mistakes. His LSD was said to be purer than Sandoz. Sand, on the other hand, liked to take liberties. He cut his product with a pinch of this or that (usually Methedrine), and sometimes went on binges, working for thirty consecutive days with little sleep or rest. During these marathon sessions Sand inevitably got stoned to the gills from breathing dust particles of LSD and absorbing it through his fingers.

By the time the Windsor lab shut down in June 1969, Sand and Scully had turned out no less than ten million hits of the soon-to be-famous orange sunshine. The chemists protected themselves by keeping the drug off the streets until they liquidated the entire laboratory. They also experimented with new formulas, concocting a grab bag of psychedelics, some of them scarcely known to the scientific community, let alone narcotics officials. Hitchcock concurrently hired a prestigious New York law firm -- Rabinowitz, Boudin and Standard -- to research the legal status of obscure hallucinogenic drugs.

At a rock concert in Anaheim, the Brothers' hometown, it suddenly began to rain orange pills. A man in black leather trousers wearing a T-shirt that read "Orange Sunshine Express" was scattering LSD into the air, his long hair flowing behind him. The psychedelic sower was a member of the Brotherhood, and he was handing out as many as a hundred thousand doses in a single day. Leary, meanwhile, began to act as an unofficial publicist for the new product. During his frequent public lectures he made a. point of endorsing orange sunshine above all other brands. He even wrote an article for the East Village Other, "Deal for Real -- the Dealer as Robin Hood," in which he sang the praises of the Brotherhood. The High Priest suggested that as a moral exercise all psychedelic users ought to do a little dealing "to pay tribute to this most honorable profession, brotherhoods or groups of men."

Indeed, if a dealer wanted to impress his clientele, he'd often rap about the Brotherhood, but it wasn't always the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. There were many names: the Brotherhood of Light, or White Light, or whatnot. At one point nearly every hippie in Laguna Beach claimed to be a Brother, and who could dispute them? It was nearly impossible to separate the truth about this elusive organization from the romantic embellishments of stoned-out dopers. The tiny orange pills quickly acquired near-mythic status. "There have got to be cosmic influences connected with Sunshine," an acid buff effused. "There is a fantastic karma to this LSD. If you get on a dealing trip and do not abuse it -- trying to make outlandish profits -- you realize you have a lot of power on your hands with a tremendous responsibility for a lot of heads. You realize that you are not just selling drugs, but are selling to people a great and important part of their existence."

The magic caught on. In the late 1960s and early 1970s orange sunshine turned up in all fifty states and numerous foreign countries, including such far-flung outposts as Goa Beach in India, the mountains of Nepal, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, South Vietnam, Costa Rica, Israel, and the ancient Muslim shrine of Mecca. Sunshine was truly acid for the Global Village, and its worldwide popularity added to the growing mystique of the Brotherhood, who were already part of the underground mythology of California. If you smoked pot or dropped acid in the late 1960s or early 1970s, you probably heard legendary tales of this secretive group of dopers who were dedicated to making sure that primo stash was available at reasonable prices. "They were very good dealers on a spiritual trip," said a woman who lived on the Brotherhood commune in Idylwild. "They had a great reputation because they had the best dope."

But the image of the Brotherhood as saintly dealers did not tally with the seamier side of the fast-money crowd that gravitated around Billy Hitchcock, the sugar daddy of the LSD counterculture. Hitchcock, ostensibly acting as a broker for a small investment firm called Delafield and Delafield, managed his business affairs by phone from Sausalito. His specialty was setting up tax shelters for various business associates, and he knew exactly what to do with the proceeds from the Brotherhood's missionary work. The dirty cash would be laundered through Bahamian slush funds in the same way professional criminals hid their gains.

Hitchcock served as banker for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, although later he insisted he was nothing more than a financial adviser. In truth he had a lot to say about how things were done. According to Scully, he was involved in numerous planning sessions at his house in Sausalito. (Sometimes after these meetings they all got stoned and played Monopoly, Mr. Billy always won.) But Hitchcock never expected to make big money from LSD. He was in it more for the adventure. He enjoyed his status as the behind-the-scenes facilitator who brought people together and made connections. Most of all he liked to party, and he wanted to see more folks turn on to acid.

In the spring of 1968 Hitchcock and acid chemist Nick Sand journeyed to the Bahamas, where they stayed at the spacious mansion of Sam Clapp, chairman of the local Fiduciary Trust Company. Clapp was a college chum of Hitchcock's and they had been doing business together for years. They arranged for Sand to open an account under a false name at Clapp's bank. Hitchcock and Sand also looked into the feasibility of setting up an offshore LSD laboratory on one of Bahama's secluded cays -- which led some to wonder whether Mr. Billy was "on a Dr. No Trip."

Fiduciary's hermetic banking provisions also appealed to the likes of Bernie Cornfeld and Seymour ("The Head") Lazare, directors of the Swiss-based Investors Overseas Services (IOS), a fast-money laundry for organized crime, corrupt Third World dictators, wealthy expatriates, and freelance swindlers. Cornfeld and Lazare were both acid veterans. [1] Like everyone else, these hippie arbitrage experts needed a broker, and they found the boyish Mellon heir irresistible. Hitchcock took full advantage of his unlimited borrowing privileges at Fiduciary. At Clapp's urging he poured over $5,000,000 into unregistered "letter stocks" (the kind that aren't traded publicly but tend to show dramatic gains on paper) associated with the Mary Carter Paint Company, later known as Resorts International. It was the single largest chunk of money raised by Resorts, an organization suspected of having ties to organized crime. [2] Resorts International proceeded to build a casino on an exclusive piece of Bahamian real estate called Paradise Island. A star-studded cast was on hand for the grand opening of the gambling spa, complete with tennis courts, swimming pools, albino beaches, and the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. It was New Year's Eve 1968 and the guest of honor at this gala event was none other than Richard Nixon, who was about to launch a successful bid for the White House. James Crosby, president of Resorts International, contributed $100,000 to Nixon's campaign. Crosby and Bebe Rebozo, Nixon's best friend, mingled with a bevy of movie stars, jet setters, gangsters, and GOP faithful. Billy Hitchcock was also there, idling among the heavies with drink in hand.

In addition to his dealings with Resorts International, Hitchcock maintained a private account at Castle Bank and Trust, a funny-money repository in the Bahamas that catered to mobsters, entertainers, drug dealers, and Republican party fatcats -- the same crowd that boozed it up whenever Resorts threw a party on Paradise Isle. A certain Richard M. Nixon was among three hundred prominent Americans who used Castle to deposit their cash. The bank's clientele included actor Tony Curtis, the rock group Creedence Clearwater Revival, Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner, Bob Guccione's Penthouse, Chiang Kai-Shek's daughter and her husband, and billionaire eccentric Howard Hughes.

Castle Bank was no ordinary financial institution. Originally set up by the CIA as a funding conduit for a wide range of covert operations in the Caribbean, this sophisticated "money wash" was part of a vast worldwide financial network managed by American intelligence. Specifically the Agency used Castle Bank to facilitate the hidden transfer of huge sums to finance subversion, paramilitary operations, an occasional coup d'etat, bribery, and payments to foreign informants. Castle played a key role in funding the CIA's secret war against Cuba -- a campaign that drew upon the "patriotic" services of Mob hit teams assembled at the behest of the Agency to assassinate Fidel Castro. The Syndicate, seeking to return to the days when Havana was the brothel of the Caribbean, had a score to settle with the Cuban president. They also had much to gain from a cozy relationship with the CIA, whose clandestine financial network provided a perfect shield for criminal activities. In effect Castle Bank was an intelligence front that covered for the Mob. [3]

Billy Hitchcock wasn't the only figure in the Mellon clan who rubbed shoulders with the espionage community. A number of Mellons served in the OSS, notably David Bruce, the OSS station chief in London (whose father-in-law, Andrew Mellon, was treasury secretary during the Depression). After the war certain influential members of the Mellon family maintained close ties with the CIA. Mellon family foundations have been used repeatedly as conduits for Agency funds. Furthermore, Richard Helms was a frequent weekend guest of the Mellon patriarchs in Pittsburgh during his tenure as CIA director (1966- 1973).

But Billy Hitchcock was clearly the black sheep of the illustrious Mellon flock, and his high-powered family connections showed little sympathy when his luck began to falter. The first sign of trouble came when American authorities began to display an unhealthy interest in the financial affairs of Sam Clapp, the manager of Fiduciary Trust, which was headquartered on Jail Street, of all places. That was where Clapp feared he'd end up -- in jail -- unless he liquidated his bank. Hitchcock, who had been called to testify before the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding Fiduciary Trust, quickly shifted his assets -- which included the Brotherhood's drug profits -- into a series of new accounts (no names, just numbers) in Switzerland. A total of $67,000,000 illegally sloshed through Paravacini Bank in Berne.

Then something went amiss. Charles Rumsey, Hitchcock's bag-man, ran afoul of Customs as he reentered the US in the summer of 1969 with $100,000 in cash. Rumsey choked and fingered his boss, revealing that the money came from various Paravacini accounts in Switzerland. Customs officials alerted the IRS, which already had a thick file on Billy Hitchcock. Freddie Paravacini, owner of the bank, produced a letter stating that the money was a loan, but his credibility was suspect among federal agents. He and Hitchcock had garnered millions from fraudulent stock manipulations. The scam buckled later that year when they gambled on some chancy issues. Both men took a bath, and Paravacini was eventually forced to sell his bank. Most of the LSD booty was squandered in the process -- much to the chagrin of Nick Sand and the Brothers. A large chunk of Owsley's money, which Hitchcock had been managing, was also lost due to stock market chicanery.

Hitchcock's personal life was not faring any better. His wife, Aurora, had grown weary of LSD and other shenanigans. She filed for divorce in 1969, claiming in an affidavit that her husband hid profits from illicit drug deals in a Swiss bank. Hitchcock, heeding the advice of his lawyers and accountants, got out his checkbook and forked over $500,000 to the IRS for back taxes and potential fines, but it was too late to head off a full-scale investigation. With the feds breathing down his neck, Mr. Billy decided it was time to withdraw from the acid business. He moved back to the now tranquil Millbrook estate to gear up for a protracted legal battle with the government.

At the same time there were also problems at the Brotherhood commune in Idylwild. In July 1969 Charlene Almeida, a teenage friend of Leary's daughter, drowned in a pond at the ranch. An autopsy revealed traces of LSD in her blood, provoking a raid by the Riverside County sheriff. Leary was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and five Brothers were sent to jail on pot charges. But the greatest setback occurred in early August when Farmer John Griggs took an overdose of PCP. Griggs refused medical assistance as he lay dying in a teepee at Idylwild. "It's just between me and God," he muttered softly before passing away.

In the aftermath of Griggs's death there was a shakeup in the Brotherhood hierarchy. A different breed took over, and their approach to dealing was more competitive and cutthroat than before. Robert ("Fat Bobby") Andrist became the kingpin of the hashish operation. His counterparts in the LSD trade were Michael Boyd Randall and Nick Sand, who controlled a network that included over thirty regional distributors. They unloaded orange sunshine in parcels of eighty to two hundred fifty thousand, and the supply was quickly dwindling. Sand wanted to commence another manufacturing run, but he was stymied by a lack of raw materials. Hitchcock's source in Europe had dried up, leaving the Brothers in the lurch.

It was at this point that a mysterious figure named Ronald Hadley Stark appeared on the scene. The first time anyone heard of Stark was when one of his emissaries turned up in New York to see Hitchcock. The man claimed to represent a large French LSD operation. He was seeking to unload his product through covert channels. Hitchcock, who was then trying to distance himself from the drug trade, directed his visitor to the Brotherhood ranch. A few weeks later Stark and his assistant traveled to Idylwild.

The Brothers were hesitant initially, but after some verbal sparring Stark proved his sincerity by showing them a kilo of pure LSD. This was a rather impressive credential, to say the least. None of the Brothers had ever seen that much acid in one place before. Stark informed them that he had discovered a new quick process of making high-quality LSD. He laid out his plan to turn on the world -- not just the West, but the Soviet Union and the Communist countries as well. Stark had business contacts with the Japanese Mafia, and they could smuggle drugs into the Chinese mainland. He also knew a high-placed Tibetan close to the Dalai Lama. Why not offer him enough LSD to dose all the Chinese troops occupying Tibet? The CIA was then training Tibetan exiles for guerrilla actions in their former homeland, and the hallucinogen could come in handy. The Brothers dug his rap. "We were definitely very gullible in believing the stuff he told us," Scully said.

Stark's talent as a raconteur was enhanced by an insatiable appetite for intrigue and deception. He was adept at dropping names, dates, and places that would change depending upon the situation. At various times he passed himself off as a medical doctor, a gourmet cook, a professional chemist, a collector of fine art. Every story he told was slightly different, and no one knew for certain who he really was. His net worth in 1967 was a paltry $3,000, but a year later he was a millionaire. Stark claimed a relationship to the Whitneys, one of America's richest clans, and attributed his sudden wealth to the deft handling of a family trust fund.

Stark maintained an expensive apartment in Greenwich Village and liked to dine at the best restaurants in immaculate three-piece suits. Yet whenever he visited the Brotherhood ranch, he put on a smelly jellaba or a rumpled shirt and grease-stained tie. Five foot eight, with a bulging waistline, high forehead, and thick, brooding moustache, he could easily come off as a shlub, but his motley appearance belied a ruthless and cunning intelligence. Although only in his early thirties, Stark spoke ten languages fluently, including French, German, Italian, Arabic, and Chinese. He was, in short, a genius con artist who could talk circles around just about anybody.

Stark presented himself to the Brothers as the premier fixer, the man who could get anything done. He came across as someone who really knew his way around the world of international finance, claiming to sit on numerous boards of numerous corporations -- some legitimate, others illegitimate -- that he alone controlled. He promised to use his connections to help the Brothers. Stark warned them that buying real estate openly, as they had done, was much too risky -- but his lawyers could remedy the situation by hiding ownership in a maze of shell companies. Before long he assumed Hitchcock's role as banker and money manager for the Brothers' dirty cash.

But Stark got much more involved than Hitchcock, overseeing the production end of the LSD operation in addition to the finances. As eminence grise of the psychedelic movement, he had a lot going in his favor, principally a reliable source of raw materials from Czechoslovakia and an excellent manufacturing facility in Paris, which had already produced large quantities of LSD in crystalline form. The acid was dyed orange so as to continue the sunshine legacy, and the Brothers tabbed and distributed it.

Meanwhile the redoubtable Stark dashed to and fro, attending to various business scams in at least a dozen countries. Like a chameleon, he moved swiftly from underground drug factories and hippie communes to posh hotels and private clubs for the rich and famous. He maneuvered on four continents, leaving a trail of ambiguities at every turn. A master of innuendo and disinformation, he preferred to keep his range of contacts ignorant of each other's activities. Oftentimes he concealed the fact that he was an American. His European associates were not privy to his affairs in Africa, and those in Asia knew little about his work in the States. The Brothers, for example, had no idea that he was running a separate cocaine ring in the Bay Area.

Stark compartmentalized the different spheres of his life, managing everything on a "need to know" basis. His modus operandi was not unlike that of an intelligence operative. He often claimed to know exactly how things worked in the espionage community. He said he knew lots of spies, and to some of his friends he even boasted of working for the CIA. It was a tip from the Agency, he explained, that prompted him to shut down his French operation in 1971. A few months later he opened another sophisticated production center in Brussels, which masqueraded for two years as a reputable firm engaged in biomedical research. During this period Stark communicated on a regular basis with officials at the American embassy in London. He even elicited their assistance while setting up his Belgian drug lab. By the time it was all over, Stark had made twenty kilos of LSD -- enough for fifty million doses! It was by far the largest amount of acid ever to emanate from a single underground source, and most of it was sold in the United States.

Some of the Brothers began to have qualms about the way Stark operated. Scully, for one, decided to retire from the acid business not long after Stark entered the picture in the summer of 1969. There was something unnerving about this newcomer. His slick manner seemed worlds apart from the traditions of the psychedelic movement, and Scully distrusted him. A man with bisexual proclivities, Stark used drugs and sex to manipulate people. Occasionally he made overtures to one of the Brothers. This didn't bother Scully as much as the overall feeling that Stark was an unsavory character. His intuition proved correct, as Stark ended up with nearly all the money and property in his name after the feds broke up the Brotherhood network in the early 1970s.

"He must have pegged us as real softies," said Scully, who attributed much of his own naivete to an infatuation with LSD. "My friends and I thought that taking acid would necessarily make people very gentle, very honest, very open, and much more concerned about each other and the planet," he explained. "But, in fact, that was just a projection of our own trip. It had nothing to do with reality, and we were able to ignore what was actually happening for a number of years.... Many people had different reasons for what they were doing, and they were all coming from wildly different places. Because of the feeling you get when you're stoned on acid -- that you're one with others -- you think that the people you're with understand you and agree with you, even though that may not be the case at all. I'm sure that led a lot of people astray."

In retrospect Scully realized that the love-and-peace mythology associated with LSD made the scene especially attractive to hustlers and con men who claimed to have lofty motives. This in part explains how a complete stranger like Stark was able to insinuate himself with such ease into the core of the Brotherhood and assume a commanding position within the organization. His fateful appearance at the Idylwild ranch coincided with the unpleasant changes that began in the summer of 1969, when Griggs died and Hitchcock pulled away from the group. Ironically, things started to sour just when the acid generation was celebrating its greatest public triumph on a rain-soaked weekend in upstate New York.



1. At one point Cornfeld imagined a critical cash shortage at IOS when there really was none. This set the stage for one of the largest frauds in the history of money. In 1971 an estimated $224,000,000 was siphoned from IOS into the coffers of Robert Vesco, a heroin trafficker and financial contributor to Richard Nixon's 1972 presidential campaign. William Spector, a former OSS operative, claimed that Vesco's tangled web of corporations served as fronts for various CIA activities and provided cover for CIA agents.

2. Eddie Cellini, the brother of a longtime associate of Meyer Lansky, served as the casino manager for Resorts International. Louis Chesler, another Lansky crony, and Wallace Groves, who allegedly had CIA connections, were both partners in a gambling venture with Mary Carter/Resorts. In 1970 Resorts International formed a private intelligence corporation called Intertel, which was staffed largely by ex-CIA, NSA, BNDD, Interpol, and Justice Department officials. Intertel rented its services to a wide range of corporate clients, including ITT, McDonald's, and Howard Hughes's Summa Corporation.

3. Castle Bank was founded and controlled by Paul Helliwell, a Miami lawyer with longstanding ties to American intelligence. Helliwell's career as a spook dates back to World War II, when he served as chief of special intelligence in China with the OSS. He stayed in the Far East when the CIA was formed and bossed a bevy of spies, including E. Howard Hunt of Watergate fame. In the early 1950s Helliwell organized Sea Supply, a CIA proprietary company that furnished weapons and other material to anti-Communist guerrillas in the hills of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. Based in the Golden Triangle, this mercenary army cultivated fields of opium poppies, and the CIA was drawn immediately into the drug connection. Helliwell also served as paymaster for the ill-fated Bay of Pigs operation in 1961. A few years later he set up Castle Bank, serving in a dual capacity as CIA banker and legal counsel for the Cuban Mafia, which prospered by selling Southeast Asian heroin in the US. Helliwell's law firm also represented Louis Chesler and Wallace Groves, both partners in Resorts International.
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Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:42 pm

Bad Moon Rising

It was awesome to behold: a wide, sloping pasture paved with humanity, countless bodies nestled together in a swirl of dazzling colors. Close to a half million people had descended upon Max Yasgur's farm in August 1969 to attend the Woodstock music and arts fair. The three-day "Aquarian Exposition" was the greatest be-in of all, and a good many acid heavies came out of the woodwork to join the celebration. A full busload of Merry Pranksters, wildly attired in their Day-Glo costumes and American flags, drove all the way from Springfield, Oregon, where Kesey was sitting out three years' probation for marijuana possession on his brother's farm. The Yippies were also there, along with a rabble of Crazies, Motherfuckers, White Panthers, and Weathermen, who came to politicize the stoned masses. The activists set up booths and a printing press in a choice spot known as "Movement City," situated next to a psychedelic forest where headshops and dealers advertised their wares: "Acid, speed, mushrooms, mesc ..." As soon as they arrived, the Motherfuckers struck a blow against hip capitalism by tearing down a portion of the wire fence that surrounded the natural amphitheater, and Woodstock became a free festival by default.

But losing money was not the primary concern of the promoters at this point, for they had an enormous problem on their hands. By the second day food was running out, the wells weren't pumping, and trucks couldn't get in to service the overflowing portable toilets. After the first downpour the field turned into an oozing crater of mud, with collapsed tents, bottles, tin cans, and garbage galore giving off a horrible stench. Medical supplies were brought in by army helicopters, conjuring up images of a Vietnam delta under siege, and the press carried a very plausible report that the entire festival site was about to be declared a disaster area.

But there was no disaster -- no riots and no violence despite the abominable conditions. What kept the peace was no great secret. Nearly everybody was buzzed on something, and the unarmed policemen, clothed in bright red T-shirts with the words "love" and "peace" emblazoned across the chest, wisely followed a laissez-faire policy and let the dopers do their thing. Orange sunshine was plentiful and lumps of hash appeared like manna from heaven. Some badly manufactured LSD also circulated among the crowd, and the makeshift hospital staffed by the Hog Farm, a New Mexico-based commune, was crammed with hundreds of freaked-out trippers. For the most part, however, the drugs had a calming effect, and a spirit of goodwill prevailed throughout the weekend. Woodstock "was less a festival than a religious convocation," wrote Myra Friedman in her biography of Janis Joplin. "Its ceremonies were the assertions of lifestyle, and the lifestyle included a celebration of the mystical relationship between drugs and rock.... What ruled was the rock world's Realpolitik: you are only as good as the number of joints you smoke, only as blessed as you are high. It was as if Woodstock was the ultimate declaration of dope, not as an incidental euphoriant, but as some kind of necessary virtue."

If rock-dope had become a new American religion, then the musicians were akin to prophets. Thirty-one of the finest musical acts, including a number of San Francisco acid rock bands, performed that weekend. But the real stars of Woodstock were those who sat in the mud and listened to the assembled talent. Never had a hippie gathering been so successful, so impressive by any standard. Here, it seemed, was irrefutable proof of the moral superiority of the new order. The sheer power of the cultural mood was overwhelming. "One, Two, Many Woodstocks," Rolling Stone exulted in an article that told of plans to repeat the triumph. Not every segment of the youth culture, however, was wild about what went down at Yasgur's farm. "Fuck hippie capitalism," the Weather Underground declared. "Events like the Woodstock gentleness freakout ... indicate that as long as militancy isn't a threat, pig and ruling class approval is forthcoming." The Yippies agreed with their Weather brethren. "The revolution is more than digging rock or turning on," said Abbie Hoffman. "The revolution is about coming together in a struggle for change. It's about the destruction of a system based on bosses and competition and the building of a system based on people and cooperation."

Hoffman was high on acid when he ran on stage at Woodstock to deliver his political rap about the plight of John Sinclair, Pig Nation, and the whole shtick. Just as he started to talk, the microphone went dead, and Peter Townshend, leader of the Who, bonked Hoffman over the head with his electric guitar. So much for the grand alliance of cultural and political rebels that the Yippies were trying to forge under their banner. The two factions were at odds once again, reflecting the old split within the youth movement that became impossible to reconcile as the decade drew to a close.

The once fruitful dialogue between head culture and activist politics had degenerated into acrimonious word-slinging. Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone, the one national magazine that came out of the Haight-Ashbury subculture, dismissed the New Left as "a completely frustrating and pointless exercise of campus politics in a grown-up world." Wenner believed that rock and roll, in and of itself, would bring about the millennium. But the mystical aggrandizement of rock as "the magic that can set you free" concealed the fact that it was just another form of entertainment for most people. While Woodstock showed the vast size of the rock audience, it also symbolized the rapid growth of the music industry, which by 1969 had become a billion-dollar enterprise. Rock and roll was a victim of its own success, and the new music, despite its frequent anti-authoritarian overtones, was easily coopted by the corporate establishment. At one point Columbia Records actually ran an advertising campaign based on the moneymaking slogan, "The Man can't bust our music."

Economic factors had little to do with the original impetus of acid rock -- a vital, seething outburst that blew apart the established world of record company rules. The bizarre, twisting rhythms of the early psychedelic bands were too long and formless for AM radio airplay, so there was little national exposure for this type of music. It wasn't until after the major record companies swooped down upon the Haight and used their formidable financial clout to sign, record, and promote the most successful acid rock performers that the San Francisco sound was reduced to formula. Earsplitting volume and light shows became standard fare at concerts. "It's like television; loud, large television," Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead said of acid rock after it became institutionalized. "It was a sensitive trip, and it's been lost. ... [It] hasn't blown a new mind in years."

The capacity to absorb its critics is among the chief characteristics of American capitalism, and one of the keys to its enduring hegemony. Although they begin by posing a symbolic challenge to the status quo, rebellious styles invariably wind up creating new conventions and new options for industry. Even long hair -- the outstanding symbol of revolt in the 1960s (at least for men) -- proved to be a commercial bonanza for hairdressers: $20 a clip and everyone could look like their favorite rock star! By the turn of the decade the counterculture had millions of visible adherents. Rock and roll, drugs, and hip fashion were incorporated into the social mainstream like so many eggs being folded into batter.

The Yippies and their allies in the youth movement tried to resist this trend by promoting the myth of a unified counterculture. "We are a people ... a nation," said John Sinclair. This unique psycho-geographical entity had its own media, its own music and dance, its own youth ghettos and communes; moreover, its citizens were involved in a struggle for national liberation against the "fascist pigs" of the Mother Country. Abbie Hoffman called the budding youth colony "Woodstock Nation," and in his book of the same title he blasted the movie Woodstock for extolling hip capitalism while steering clear of politics. He and his cohorts felt it was high time for the hippies to grow thorns and defend themselves and their life style, which had come under increasing attack. There was even talk of forming the Woodstock People's party, which would serve as the militant vanguard of the psychedelic liberation front.

Such a notion was yet another example of the megalomania of the younger generation, which blithely "mistook its demographic proliferation for real political power," as Stanley Aronowitz put it. (We Are Everywhere was the title of Jerry Rubin's second book, which he dedicated to the Weather Underground.) In their stoned hubris the Yippies, the White Panthers, and the Weatherpeople misread the depth of the cultural revolution and its impact on the political situation in America. Their delusions about the omnipotence of the Movement derived in part from their experience with psychedelic drugs. They believed that LSD contained an intrinsic revolutionary message; such a notion, however, was essentially an amplified reflection of their own political inclinations. ("Woodstock was political because everyone was tripping," said Karl Crazy, a member of the YIP steering committee.) Like so many others, the turned-on activists succumbed to the perennial "LSD temptation" and assumed everyone else would have similar insights while buzzed on acid. "I didn't have a sense of how unique I was," John Sinclair later recalled. "I projected so much for so many years that it blinded me from seeing it.... LSD did that, you know what I mean -- 'Everyone is one, and da-da-da.' ... I just thought that this is how I got to where I was, and I figured everyone was in the same place.... I was so deep into it, I didn't see what was going on."

When Sinclair first turned on in the early 1960s, there was a prevailing sense among hip pioneers that acid should be used for initiation, in the way that Huxley implied when he spoke of opening the doors of perception and widening the area of consciousness. Sure, getting high could be loads of fun, but it was rarely a matter of just kicks, a pure recreational buzz; the era demanded more than that. "Drugs had a lot to do with placing people in a historical context -- of placing people in a radical position," wrote George Cavaletto for the Liberation News Service. "Using drugs was the revolutionary first step a lot of people took."

By the late 1960s, however, so many people were getting high that the identification of drug use with the sharper forms of cultural and political deviance weakened considerably. Instead of being weapons in a generational war, marijuana and LSD often served as pleasure props, accoutrements of the good life that included water beds, tape decks, golden roach clips, and a host of leisure items. High school kids were popping tabs of acid every weekend as if they were gumdrops. And much of the LSD was like candy -- full of additives and impurities. The physical contamination of street acid symbolized what was happening throughout the culture. "The pill was no longer a sacrament," said Michael Rossman, "but a commercial token, stripped of its essential husk of love, ritual and supportive searching community."

Many people who tried LSD for the first time during this period indulged their appetite for altered states in a confused, unfocused, and self-destructive manner. This was certainly the case when a horde of young people flocked to the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, California, in December 1969 for a free rock concert featuring the Rolling Stones. With the crowd came the dealers, selling every type of drug, including large quantities of LSD. Mick Jagger floated over the stoned throng in a helicopter with the High Priest himself, Timothy Leary, who was then awaiting trial for his marijuana bust in Laguna Beach the previous year. Even with the long arm of the law preparing a stranglehold for him, Leary still flashed that giant lighthouse of a smile wherever he went. His effusive demeanor gave no hint of a man destined for prison as he and Jagger landed at Altamont. They emerged together, with Leary grinning and waving the peace sign.

Security for the festival was entrusted to the Hell's Angels, who busied themselves guzzling their allotment of beer and eating acid by the handful. Fights broke out near the stage while the Angels faced down a crowd of a quarter to half a million. To make matters worse, there was some contaminated LSD circulating among the audience, but the scene was so violent that people were freaking out regardless of what type of acid they took. The paramedics and physicians from the Haight-Ashbury and Berkeley free clinics treated so many bummers that they ran out of Thorazine in half an hour. Thousands of others suffered cut feet, broken bones, head wounds, and worse as the Angels went on a rampage.

Into this maelstrom walked the Rolling Stones. Leary sat at the side of the stage brooding over a vast sea of bad trippers as they launched into their set. The violence reached its inevitable climax while the Stones did "Sympathy for the Devil," their song about everyone being implicated in life's evils, the sinner and the saint as two sides of the same coin. An eighteen-year-old black named Meredith Hunter was knifed and stomped to death by a gang of Hell's Angels. He was one of four people who died at Altamont. But Jagger couldn't see anything more than swirling shapes and shadows, and the Stones continued to play, at times with amazing beauty and urgency, even as fights erupted in front of them.

Things went from bad to worse as the decade drew to a close. The week of the Altamont fiasco, Charles Manson and his "hippie" followers were arrested and charged with the murder of Sharon Tate and four of her friends. The glamorous young film actress, wife of director Roman Polanski, was eight months pregnant with her first child. She was stabbed forty-nine times with a butcher knife in July 1969, and the walls of her mansion in Bel Air, California, were smeared with slogans written in the blood of the victims. Sensational tales of black magic, hypnotism, and intimidation by spell-casting were played up in the national media, which fastened on the Manson case as if the entire youth culture were on trial.

The newspapers made much of the fact that Manson had once been a familiar figure in Haight-Ashbury and that he and his family used acid and chattered about revolution. The lawyers for the defense tried to blame the slayings on the deleterious effects of hallucinogenic drugs -- an argument that had about as much credence as the notion that LSD was responsible for generating the good vibes at Woodstock. If the Tate killings showed anything, it was that acid has no implicit moral direction. The Manson affair was a vivid refutation of the sixties myth that anyone who took LSD would automatically become holy or reverential or politically conscious or anything else except stoned.

The canonization of Manson by certain segments of the counterculture was a measure of how desperate and bitter people had become in the final days of the 1960s. Jerry Rubin confessed that he fell in love with Manson's "cherub face and sparkling eyes" when the accused murderer appeared on television. Tuesday's Child, an underground paper in Los Angeles, named him Man of the Year and ran his picture with the word "hippie" as the caption. The Weathermen went a step further by lauding Manson as a heroic, acid-ripped street fighter who offed some "rich honky pigs." "Dig it!" exclaimed Bernardine Dohrn. "First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!" The Weatherpeople proclaimed 1970 "the Year of the Fork" in Manson's honor.

Dohrn's remarks, which she later came to regret, were made at the drug-crazed Wargasm conference, otherwise known as the National War Council. Held in Flint, Michigan, over the Christmas holidays in 1969, this meeting was the Weathermen's last public fling before dropping out of sight, a farewell to the shattered remains of SDS and the old Movement, and a final appeal for comrades to join their underground crusade. There was general agreement that armed struggle was necessary to smash the "imperialist motherfucker," and much of the discussion focused on possible terrorist actions. Someone proposed attacking the Strategic Air Command base outside of Dayton, Ohio, to knock out an H-bomb. "It's time to get down," the Weather Bureau declared. "Any kind of action that fucks up the pig's war and helps the people win is a good kind of action."

At the close of the four-day conference the Weatherpeople dropped acid and danced all night long while Sly Stone sang "Thank you for letting me be myself" over and over again on the phonograph. A terpsichorean frenzy filled the room as everyone burst into Indian war whoops and spirited chants: "Women Power!" "Struggling Power!" "Red Army Power!" "Sirhan Sirhan Power!" "Charlie Manson Power!" Some had dressed in hippie garb, with headbands, beads, and capes, while others wore leather jackets and chains for the wargasm climax. "It was like a collective puberty rite," one participant recalled. There was heavy laughing and heavy fucking until the wee hours of the morning, and then they all dispersed. Before long approximately one hundred of the Weather cadre were living clandestinely with the avowed objective of making war on the state.
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Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:43 pm

Chapter 10: What A Field Day For The Heat


Timothy Leary was brimming with confidence as he strolled into an Orange County courtroom in February 1970. He predicted he would be acquitted of all charges stemming from his drug bust in Laguna Beach the previous winter. The trial lasted ten days. On the morning the case went to the jury, newspaper headlines in Orange County read, "DRUG CRAZED HIPPIES SLAY MOTHER AND CHILDREN." An army medical officer named McDonald reported that a gang of longhairs descended upon his home and murdered his family, leaving the words "Acid is Groovy, Kill the Pigs" scrawled in blood on the wall. Several years later McDonald himself was convicted of the crime. Initially, however, it seemed like a replay of the Manson affair, and LSD got a lot of negative publicity once again.

It was a bad omen for Timothy Leary. The jury returned a guilty verdict, and Judge Byron K. McMillan sent him to jail immediately without appeal bond. Leary spent five weeks in solitary confinement awaiting sentence. During the interim a US district court in Houston gave him ten years for the Laredo bust in 1965. And then Judge McMillan, calling Leary a "nuisance to society," added another ten to run consecutively with the federal penalty, which meant that Leary, at forty-nine years of age, faced a virtual life sentence.

Leary's friends were outraged. It wasn't just drugs, they charged, but Leary's role as cynosure of the youth movement that incurred the wrath of two vindictive judges. In the activist spirit of the day legal defense committees sprang up on several campuses. Stoned-out hippies shook their heads in sympathy for Leary's plight while Movement politicos decried yet another example of the establishment's assault against the values of the younger generation. But the LSD doctor wasn't about to rock the boat. He gave no press conferences and refrained from making public declarations that might in any way be construed as inflammatory. At one point Leary was asked to take a commonly used prison personality test that he had helped to develop many years earlier while serving as a research psychologist at the Kaiser Foundation in Oakland. His answers were purposely calculated to make him appear normal, docile, and conforming.

After a few months Leary was transferred to a minimum security prison in San Luis Obispo. He passed the time writing, doing yoga, working out in the yard, and generally keeping a low profile while his lawyers prepared to appeal his case before the Supreme Court. On one occasion Leary tried to prevent an altercation between a guard and an inmate; for this he was chastised in his cell by an SDS militant who claimed that confrontations between "the people" and "the pigs" were inevitable and that by stopping them Leary was only delaying the revolution. The High Priest (who stayed high thanks to a stash of LSD smuggled into prison) contended that a revolution in consciousness had already occurred. He was disturbed that acidheads were now "using violent tactics which were light-years removed from the accelerating and rapidly evolving realities of our space and time."

But the acid militants had a long way to go before they posed a real threat to the governing class. This became apparent when a dynamite blast destroyed a Greenwich Village townhouse in March 1970, killing three Weatherpeople who misconnected a wire while constructing an antipersonnel bomb. It was an ominous curtain raiser for a group of tripped-out urban guerrillas. Shortly thereafter the Weather Underground initiated a wave of dramatic bombings against corporate headquarters, government buildings, and military installations. They always chose symbolic targets that would attract a lot of attention, and nearly every incident was accompanied by an advance warning and an explanation so as to minimize the loss of life and raise the public consciousness. These attacks set the tone for similar actions by small bands of quasi-Weathermen operating in different parts of the country -- the New Year's Gang, the Proud Eagle Tribe, the Quartermoon Tribe, the Armed-Love Conspiracy. After a series of explosions on the West Coast a secret guerrilla unit issued a communique that stated, "As the beast falls, a new culture of life arises: our families and gardens, our music and acid and weed, their Bank of America burning to the ground."

The Senate Subcommittee on Investigations cited 4,330 bombings in the US from January 1969 to April 1970 -- an average of more than nine a day. These attacks managed to annoy and embarrass the American government, but violence ultimately was not a winning strategy. Such incidents tarnished the image of the antiwar movement and alienated many mainstream Americans who might otherwise have supported the radical opposition. That was exactly what the Nixon White House wanted; hence the extensive use of provocateurs, who provided weapons and drugs to revolutionary cliques in an effort to discredit the New Left as a whole.

The invasion of Cambodia in the spring of 1970 and the subsequent killing of four students by the National Guard at Kent State sparked another round of demonstrations throughout the US. Over five hundred colleges canceled classes and some shut down for the rest of the semester while four million people vented their rage and frustration by spilling into the streets. But the mass uproar quickly dissipated, for there was no organization to coordinate and sustain the protests. SDS had disintegrated and nothing emerged to replace it. Most activists found themselves suspended in a dizzy political space: between the dogmatic Marxist crazies and the militant acid crazies there was nowhere "left" to turn.

Time and time again the young radicals had put their bodies on the line, but the war kept grinding on. For all their efforts, it seemed like they were getting nowhere. (No one knew that President Nixon secretly kept American B-52s on full nuclear alert in the summer of 1969, but decided not to drop the big one on Hanoi because of what Kissinger described as "the hammer of antiwar pressure.") After years of frenetic struggle, Movement veterans were exhausted and demoralized. "Somewhere in the nightmare of failure and despair that gripped America in the late 1960s," recalls Hunter Thompson, "the emphasis on beating the system by challenging it, by fighting it, gave way to a sort of numb conviction that it made more sense in the long run to flee, or to simply hide, than to fight the bastards on anything even vaguely resembling their own terms."

In their wistful swan song, "Hey Jude," the Beatles offered a musical palliative to a generation of sixties burnouts: "Take a sad song and make it better." The breakup of the Beatles symbolized culturally what Kent State symbolized politically -- the end of an era. What followed, according to rock critic Albert Goldman, was "the new depression." Instead of rebellious lyrics there were brooding melodies for those who needed a bridge over troubled waters. A number of rock festivals during the summer of 1970 sought to rekindle the Woodstock feeling, but they were little more than occasions for aimless milling and random violence, with most people turning on simply to turn off.

The shift in orientation was reflected in the new drug lingo: "getting wasted" (a term used by GIs in Vietnam to mean death) became a dominant idiom for chemical experimentation. Nineteen seventy turned into "the year of the middle-class junkie" as large quantities of heroin appeared for the first time in youth culture enclaves. Movement leaders were careful to distinguish between "death drugs" (smack, downers, speed, alcohol) and "people drugs" (marijuana, LSD), but the number of victims from accidental overdose kept increasing. Rock stars were falling like dominos: Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison.... Some suspected that the heroin scourge was part of a government plot to pacify the masses of young people. The conspiracy was allegedly set in motion in the fall of 1969, when Nixon initiated Operation Intercept to cut off the supply of marijuana from Mexico. A temporary grass shortage resulted, and then came the influx of heroin -- the ultimate pharmacological copout. Subsequent revelations, however, topped any conspiracy theory: the CIA was in cahoots with organized crime; Agency personnel based in Southeast Asia were involved in the heroin trade; [1] for eight years the drug was smuggled inside returning corpses of American servicemen who had died in Vietnam; and corrupt police pushed junk in New York, Detroit, and other major urban ghettos.

When the social fabric starts to unravel, as it did in the late 1960s, the fabric of the psyche also unravels. People needed to put their lives back together and regain their sanity after the turmoil of those years. For some this meant going off to live in a commune or a farm in the country where they could wage a revolution of purely private expectations. Others took solace in Jesus Freakery or any number of Eastern swamis who promised blissful panaceas for acid casualties on the rebound.

Of all the New Age dream-spinners, none made as big a splash as Richard Alpert, whose spiritual odyssey had begun at Harvard when he met Timothy Leary and sampled the magic mushroom. The two professors set out to publicize the virtues of psychedelic drugs, hoping to alter the consciousness of America. But playing second fiddle to Leary was never quite enough for Alpert. Eventually they went their separate ways -- Leary to jail, and Alpert to India on a religious quest. A series of cosmic connections brought him to the Himalayas, where he found a guru with the right stuff. What made Alpert so sure? He gave the old man a few thousand mikes of LSD, and it hardly fazed him -- which could only mean one thing: he was high all the time! Alpert changed his name to Baba Ram Dass and returned home to spread the word.

Ram Dass wrote an autobiographical treatise, Be Here Now, which described his conversion to meditation. (Actually it was only a partial conversion; he still took an occasional LSD trip when he yearned for a jolt of expanded consciousness.) The book became a cult bestseller, winning effusive praise from Jerry Rubin and other counterculture mavens. Ram Dass never intended to build a church or a new religion; his metaphysical meanderings were eclectic, and the gist of his message seemed to be, "Work on yourself." Nothing new, of course, but soothing for an audience of weary radicals who needed some spiritual first aid after years of thankless struggle on the political front.

Ram Dass talked a lot about changing the reality of private consciousness, but he didn't have much to say about changing social reality. "Better to be good than to do good," he pontificated. "Trust your intuitive heart-mind, and see where the wind takes you." It was nifty advice -- assuming you were willing to believe that someone or something was tending the proverbial Light at the end of the tunnel. Apparently it was what a lot of people wanted to hear; Ram Dass became a hot ticket on the lecture circuit as the new High Priest. Oftentimes he began with a self-effacing comment: "You may remember me as Mr. LSD, Jr." For years he had lived in Leary's shadow, but now Ram Dass had a chance to do his own thing while Mr. LSD, Sr., languished in prison. He showed little sympathy for his former tripping partner. "If he's there, that's where he should be," Ram Dass asserted. "Tim's in jail because that's his karma. Trust and obey your karma, grow with it."

Such enlightened sophistry did not sit well with Leary. He had spent seven long months behind bars, and there was little prospect of an early release. Karma or no karma, he wanted out. If legal methods didn't work, then he would opt for an immediate solution: escape. An intricate plan was developed with Leary's wife, Rosemary, ferrying messages back and forth among the principals. She was in touch with a radical attorney who arranged for a getaway car to pick Leary up on the highway near the prison. Members of the Brotherhood put up $25,000 to fund the operation, and a group of trained professionals was hired to spirit him out of the country.

On September 12, 1970, Leary slipped across the prison yard while most of the inmates were eating dinner. To scale the wall he had to climb a tree without being noticed. That was relatively easy. He removed his sneakers and padded barefoot along the roof, his silhouette exposed against an overcast sky. Extending from the other side of the roof was a thin steel wire -- his path to freedom. Quickly he donned a pair of handball gloves and grabbed the cable, kicking his legs up like a monkey. He could see the car lights on the highway as he pulled himself hand over hand, bouncing and wrenching with each heave, until exhaustion set in. Leary's body ached and perspired as he dangled precariously halfway across the highwire, unsure if he had the strength to continue. After pausing to catch his breath, he mustered every ounce of inner reserve and made it to a utility pole on the other side of the fence. Leary slid down the splintery wood, scrambled toward the road, and waited anxiously at a pre-designated spot.

A few minutes later a pickup truck signaled and pulled over. A woman called out the password, "Nino." Leary answered "Kelly" and jumped into the car, overjoyed to be in the company of two young strangers who had come to rescue him. As the vehicle sped away, they handed Leary ID papers for a "Mr. William McNellis." The acid fugitive changed into another set of clothes. His old gear was dumped at a gas station to mislead the police while he switched cars and traveled north to San Francisco. Only then did Leary learn that he'd been rescued by members of the Weather Underground.

Leary was taken to a safehouse in the Bay Area where he met with Bernardine Dohrn, Jeff Jones, and other Weather leaders. In a communique mailed to newspapers across the country, the Weather Underground claimed credit for the jailbreak. It was a tremendous propaganda coup for the acid militants. They described Leary as a political prisoner who was "captured for the work he did in helping all of us begin the task of creating a new culture on the barren wasteland that has been imposed on us by Democrats, Republicans, Capitalists and creeps." LSD and marijuana, the Weather cadre asserted, would help make a better world in the future, but for the time being, "we are at war....we know that peace is only possible in the destruction of U.S. imperialism. We are outlaws. We are free."

Leary was grateful to the Weathermen and enjoyed their company. They got stoned together and planned their next move. Leary needed an effective disguise. He shaved the top of his head, grew a moustache, and dyed his hair. But more than just his physical appearance changed during the time he spent with the Weatherpeople. Leary now thought of himself as a psychedelic revolutionary. He expressed his new political perspective in a manifesto called "Shoot to Live." Disavowing his earlier pacifism, he called for sabotage and other acts of resistance. "To shoot a genocidal robot policeman in defense of life is a sacred act," Leary proclaimed. "World War III is now being waged by short-haired robots whose deliberate aim is to destroy the complex web of free wild life by the imposition of mechanical order.... Blow the mechanical mind with Holy Acid ... dose them ... dose them." He urged everyone to "stay high and wage the revolutionary war." In a postscript he warned, "I am armed and should be considered dangerous to anyone who threatens my life and freedom."

Many friends were shocked and dismayed by the turn Leary's mind had taken. Ken Kesey, who was then living on a farm in Oregon, voiced his concern in a letter to Leary. It was an eloquent plea, written on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, after Kesey dropped some orange sunshine.

Dear Good Doctor Timothy:

Congratulations! The only positive memories I have from all my legal experiences was getting away. A good escape almost makes up for the fucking bust.

But listen to me, please, with a stillness. Listen to me as you would to any felon and fugitive and mainly, friend. With stillness, old timer, and patience, because I must say this carefully and with respect for your ears and not the media.... I've been doing a media fast, vowing this last summer solstice to try for six months to neither heed nor feed a beast which I am convinced is nourished by the blood and anguish of confrontations which the beast itself promotes. So all magazines, newspapers, TV or radio have been refreshingly absent the last few months. Lots of farming and community and trying to hear the earth and the people without the message filtered through Madison Avenue's dollar. The true news always penetrates anyway.

"Did you hear! Leary flew the coop!"

"Far fucking out!"

Speculations were rampant and joyous. "I hope he gets his ass to India or someplace. Old Leary deserves some good R and R because, shit, man, how long's it been! Ten, twelve years now and right in there all the time taking on all comers and never a whimper and you can tell, man, working where it counts inside and out all the time. .."

Then that letter came out. "You read that letter of Leary's in the Free Press! Saying it's sacred to shoot cops and that he's armed and dangerous? That doesn't sound like something he'd put out. It sounds like some of them militants trying to jack a bunch a people up ..."

I read the letter. Halfway through I was sure it was you talking. And it grieved me because I perceived that you hadn't escaped after all.

Don't misunderstand me, doctor, I wish in no way to cool your fervor. We all know what is at stake. Unless the material virus that has been burrowing for decades into the spirit of the country is somehow branded and checked, unless our I/It lustings are outgrown and our rapings of the earth and each other stopped, in short unless we become the gentle and enlightened people we all know ourselves capable of becoming, we shall surely lose not only our life and land but, like Esau, our birthright. And worst of all, the birthrights of our children.

In this battle, Timothy, we need every mind and every soul, but oh my doctor we don't need one more nut with a gun. I know what jail makes you feel but don't let them get your head in their cowboys-and-Indians script. If they can plant a deep enough rage in you they make of you an ally. Rage is mainly a media brew anyway, concocted of frustrations and self-pity over a smokey fire of righteousness, for the purpose of making headline ink. What we need, doctor, is inspiration, enlightenment, creation, not more headlines. Put down that gun, clear that understandable ire from your Irish heart and pray for the vision wherein lies our only true hope. If it still comes up guns then God be with you in your part of the battle, but if it doesn't come up guns then I beg you to print a reconsideration. I do not mean to scold someone so much my senior in so many ways, I just don't want to lose you. What I really mean is stay cool and alive and high and out of cages.

And keep in mind what somebody, some Harvard holy man I think it was, used to tell us years ago: "The revolution is over and we have won." The poor country still may not survive and even if it does survive and comes again to its feet, there's still years of work and suffering and atonement before we can expect it to walk straight and healthy once more, but the Truth is already in the records: the revolution is over and we have won.

With all my respect and prayers,

Ken Kesey

Leary was in no position to heed Kesey's words. He was in motion, transported from one underground site to another by the Weathermen, preparing to leave the country on a fake passport. His brazen plan was to walk right through Customs disguised as a bland-looking, middle-aged businessman. Leary tested his disguise for the first time with a trip to the movies accompanied by some of the Weatherpeople. They went to Woodstock, a film Leary had wanted to see while he stewed in prison. No one recognized the LSD doctor with horn-rimmed glasses and a shiny bald pate.

A few days later the new Leary passed through a metal detector and boarded a TWA flight to Paris. Rosemary joined him on the same plane, she also had a disguise and phony ID. At first they thought of going into seclusion in Europe, but that was no life for a perennial media star like Leary. The Weathermen suggested a quick trip to Algeria, where Eldridge Cleaver and the Black Panthers had set up a government-in-exile. Perhaps Cleaver could help him obtain political asylum in Algiers. It was a romantic script that intrigued Leary -- a new society of American exiles in a Third World country, working to unify the revolution.



1. New York Times foreign affairs columnist C. L. Sulzberger was indignant when Allen Ginsberg accused the CIA of trafficking in heroin. But Sulzberger later acknowledged his mistake in a letter to Ginsberg dated April 11, 1978. "I fear I owe you an apology," he told Ginsberg. "I have been reading a succession of pieces about CIA involvement in the dope trade in Southeast Asia and I remember when you first suggested I look into this I thought you were full of beans. Indeed you were right."
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Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:43 pm

A Bitter Pill

Tim and Rosemary arrived in Algiers with great expectations. "Panthers are the hope of the world," he wrote to Allen Ginsberg. "How perfect that we were received here and protected by young Blacks. Algeria is perfect. Great political satori! Socialism works here.... Eldridge is a genial genius. Brilliant! Turned on too!" The Panthers were also enthusiastic. At a "solidarity" press conference, they announced that "Dr. Leary is part of our movement," having previously been active "among the sons and daughters of those imperialist bandit pigs."

The alliance between Cleaver and Leary was hot news, and Algiers was suddenly crawling with media. But the much-publicized meeting of the minds quickly degenerated into a battle of egos. Leary didn't like Cleaver's heavy-handed security measures. All visitors were frisked -- even Leary's friends -- and drugs were banned from Panther headquarters except on rare occasions when Cleaver said it was okay to get high. In his discussions with Cleaver, Leary emphasized that "you've got to free yourself internally before you attempt to free yourself behaviorally." The Panthers, however, were not receptive to Leary's "spiritual" politics. Nor were they keen on his idea of inviting draft resisters, antiwar activists, hippies, rock stars, Weatherpeople, and other dissident groups to broadcast a "Radio Free America" program throughout Europe. Cleaver had no intention of providing a forum for a multitude of voices on the left. He was quick to brand nearly everyone else "revisionist," heaping ridicule on Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, LeRoi Jones, and white radicals such as Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Soon would come the split with Panther leader Huey Newton, fomented in part by FBI subterfuge.

The FBI was also responsible for stirring up tensions between Leary and his hosts. An undercover operative who had infiltrated the New York chapter of the Black Panther party sent a poison pen letter to Cleaver urging him to discipline Leary for his cavalier, individualistic behavior. Tim and Rosemary were busted at gunpoint at Panther headquarters while black CIA agents who had penetrated Cleaver's entourage monitored the situation. A CIA document dated February 12, 1971, reported that "Panther activities have recently taken some interesting turns. Eldridge Cleaver and his Algiers contingent have apparently become disenchanted with the antics of Tim Leary.... Electing to call their action protective custody, Cleaver and company, on their own authority, have put Tim and Rosemary under house arrest due most probably to Leary's continued use of hallucinogenic drugs."

Leary had smuggled twenty thousand hits of LSD into Algiers and was planning to turn on all of Africa. This scheme didn't impress Cleaver, who was fed up with Leary's stoned gasconades. "Something's wrong with Leary's brain," the Panther chief declared in a communique to the underground press. "We want people to gather their wits, sober up and get down to the serious business of destroying the Babylonian empire." As far as Cleaver was concerned, the psychedelic counterculture would henceforth be considered quasi-political, if not downright dangerous. When he spoke of LSD, he invoked the specter of drug-induced totalitarianism. "To all those of you who look to Dr. Leary for inspiration and leadership," Cleaver concluded, "we want to say to you that your god is dead because his mind has been blown by acid."

Leary, for his part, felt he had come up against a new kind of chauvinism -- revolutionary chauvinism -- and he wanted out. But not so fast. He could leave -- at a price. Once again the Brotherhood of Eternal Love came to the rescue, chipping in $25,000 to facilitate Leary's release. As they scrambled to get out of Algiers in early 1971, Tim and Rosemary were aware of the gravity of their predicament. They had no legitimate travel papers and additional advance money for Leary's book on his prison escape (Diaries of a Hope Fiend) was not forthcoming. Whoever could help them at this point became an instant ally. A British woman employed as a stringer for Newsweek introduced the Learys to a well-educated Algerian bureaucrat named Ali, who made no bones about his association with the CIA. Ali promised to arrange exit visas for them. Rosemary wondered if they could trust such a man. "He's liberal CIA," Tim assured her, "and that's the best mafia you can deal with in the twentieth century."

The fugitive couple fled to Switzerland, hoping to obtain political asylum. Leary spent the first six weeks in jail while Swiss officials reviewed his case. Life behind bars was relatively pleasant thanks to a mysterious benefactor named Michel-Gustave Hauchard, who provided Leary with fine wine and assorted delicacies during his incarceration. Described by Leary as a tall, silver-haired gunrunner, Hauchard had strong enough lines into the Swiss council to secure Leary's release from prison. He also had the funds to bankroll Leary in the high style to which he had become accustomed. Leary nicknamed him "Goldfinger" and accepted an invitation to stay in Lausanne at his luxury penthouse with an exquisite view of the lake. In return Tim merely had to sign away half the money from his forthcoming book to Hauchard.

While in Switzerland, Leary was treated to gourmet lunches, dinners at expensive restaurants, and weekend parties with wealthy foreigners. Old friends such as Billy Hitchcock dropped by to visit. Leary also contacted Dr. Albert Hofmann, the Sandoz chemist who had discovered LSD nearly thirty years earlier. They met for the first time at a cafe in Lausanne. Hofmann told Leary about his informal "wisdom school" centered around psychedelic sessions with leading European intellectuals, including Ernst Junger, the German novelist and mystic. Leary asked Hofmann about the dangers of LSD, and the elderly scientist insisted there was no evidence of brain damage caused by the drug. The only dangers, he maintained, were psycho- logical and could be avoided by supportive conditions. In the final analysis Dr. Hofmann affirmed the importance of LSD as an "aid to meditation aimed at the mystical experience of a deeper, comprehensive reality."

Leary's legal status remained ambiguous during his eighteen-month sojourn in Switzerland. He was without a valid passport, but he had money, which is tantamount to a passport for a man on the run. When Bantam Books came through with his $250,000 advance (half of which went to Hauchard), Leary bought a spiffy yellow Porsche and a state-of-the-art stereo system. He traveled from one Swiss canton to the next, each allowing him to stay for just so long. His insecure and terminally jangled lifestyle was wearing on Rosemary's nerves. For seven years they had been together through high times and the all too frequent cycle of arrests, trials, convictions, jail, escape, and flight. While Tim was convalescing in a hospital after a minor operation, Rosemary had a love affair with an old friend. Leary was high on acid when he found out what had happened, and he told his wife to pack her bags and leave. It was a final break; he would almost never mention her name again.

With Rosemary gone, Leary was no longer moored to any kind of personal stability. He was floating in his own version of a Fellini film, accompanied by a half-desperate circus of wired, burned-out dopers, self-styled revolutionaries, informers, journalists, and starfuckers. Besides the mysterious Hauchard, various smugglers and power peddlers offered him deals that only further confused the issue of who his friends really were. Weary of a life in constant flux, perhaps a little bored at age 50, Leary was ready for a change of scene. Soon a woman would enter his life who could have walked off a page of a Thomas Pynchon novel.

It's not clear why Joanna Harcourt-Smith was so intent on tracking Leary down. Born in Saint Moritz, she was a young globe-trotting adventuress who'd been married twice before she met Leary. Her father was a British aristocrat and her stepfather one of the wealthiest men in Europe; she was also the niece of Simon Harcourt-Smith, a London publisher.

In the fall of 1972, Joanna met Michel Hauchard for drinks in New York. Hauchard, her ex-lover, bragged that he "owned" Timothy Leary, openly waving the check from his book advance. Joanna boarded the next plane to Geneva, and arranged to meet Leary at a nearby cafe. Tim was immediately attracted by her wit and sexy smile. As they drove back to Leary's pad, Joanna reached into her pocket, pulled out two hits of windowpane acid, swallowed one, and said of the other, "Whoever eats this will follow me." Leary gobbled the psychedelic, precipitating an all-night session of lovemaking, speaking in French, and overall grokking. The next morning, Tim told his housemates that he had found his perfect love.

Joanna filled a void in Leary's life created by the chaotic events and uncertainties of two years on the lam. She and Tim became almost a single entity. They tripped together, took long baths in a big tub, living only for the moment. But there were still problems with the Swiss authorities. Leary had been denied asylum three times, and he was tired of pleading his case from one canton to the next. Hauchard told him that it wouldn't be safe to stay in Switzerland much longer.

With some prodding from Joanna they decided to drive off in his yellow Porsche for a "honeymoon," even though they were not officially married. In Austria, they were joined by Dennis Martino, whom Leary had met a few years earlier in Laguna Beach through the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. (Martino's twin brother, David, was married to Leary's daughter, Susan.) Martino had participated in numerous drug smuggling operations for the Brotherhood until he was busted for selling marijuana. After serving six months in prison, he jumped probation and fled to Europe.

By this time a federal task force composed of thirteen agencies -- including the FBI, CIA, BNDD, IRS, Customs, and the State Department -- was gearing up for a major crackdown on the Brotherhood. Operation BEL, as the Brotherhood sting was called, scored its first major victory in August 1972, when narcotics agents arrested forty people in three different states. The predawn raids were ordered on the basis of twenty-nine secret indictments handed down by an Orange County grand jury. They marked the culmination of a year-long investigation that netted a million and a half LSD tablets, two and a half tons of hashish, thirty gallons of hash oil, and $20,000 in cash. Cecil Hicks, the district attorney of Orange County, fingered Leary as "the Godfather" of the largest drug smuggling network in the world and vowed to press for his extradition from Switzerland. "Leary is responsible for destroying more lives than any other human being," Hicks declared.

Leary felt the heat from Operation BEL as he pondered his next move in Europe. Further complications arose when Joanna grew weak and yellow with hepatitis. She refused hospitalization, telling Leary that unless they kept traveling, American agents would catch up with them. The wandering fugitives were short on cash, but Joanna suggested they head east, perhaps to Ceylon, where they could rendezvous with some of her friends and charter a yacht. An idyllic life in the South Seas was envisioned. But first, at Joanna's insistence, they would stop in Afghanistan, a country that had no extradition treaty with the US. Martino was in contact with some hash smugglers there, and Joanna said she knew the royal prince. Certainly he'd help them get to Ceylon.

The decision to fly to Afghanistan proved to be a fatal mistake. Kabul, the capital city, was swarming with American narcotics police who were investigating the hashish smuggling ring associated with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. The three were taken into custody while Terrence Burke, a former CIA agent assigned by the BNDD to work on the Brotherhood conspiracy case, convinced the Afghan authorities to deport Leary.

In an unusual display of largesse Joanna was permitted by US officials to accompany Leary on a flight to Los Angeles at a cost to taxpayers of $1,086 for her one-way first-class ticket. Why this was done, neither the State Department nor the BNDD was willing to say. Perhaps it was Joanna's reward for leading Leary into a trap. Although she had known him for only a month, it was Joanna who persuaded Leary to leave Switzerland and embark on a whirlwind tour that ended with the debacle in Kabul. Tim never suspected that she might have had anything but the purest of motives for seeking him out. A few hours before they landed in the States, he took out pen and paper and scribbled a note that would serve as Joanna's introduction to radical circles in America: "The right to speak for me I hereby lovingly give to Joanna Harcourt-Smith, who is my love, my voice, my wisdom, my words, my output to the world. "

On January 17, 1973, four days after being nabbed in Afghanistan, Timothy Leary stepped off a plane in Los Angeles and looked out at fifty helmeted policemen with riot guns lining the path to the Volkswagen bus that would take him away. When BNDD agent Burke formally placed him under arrest, Leary responded by flashing his trademark ear-to-ear smile to the camera crews. But it was little more than a mask, for the High Priest was actually in quite a fix. In addition to the grand jury indictment alleging his involvement with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, he now had to answer for his prison escape. Leary was in no position to scoff at these charges. With bail set at $5,000,000 (the highest ever for an American citizen), the Justice Department looked forward to Leary's escape trial as a means of getting at one of their prime targets: the Weathermen, whose members topped the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

The escape trial began in March, 1973. The jury took less than two hours to return a guilty verdict, and Leary was sentenced to five years in addition to the twenty he was serving when he escaped. This time it would be hard time at Folsom. Undaunted, Joanna predicted that Leary would be out of prison in a few weeks. "We'll simply leave our bodies.... We believe in miracles," she told a reporter. "Timothy Leary is a free man.... He's stronger than ever. He's happy."

Joanna rented an apartment on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco and proceeded to organize a Leary Defense Committee. Fundraising benefits were held in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, but she squandered all the money on cocaine, jewelry from Cartier's, and long-distance calls to her mother in Spain. Joanna's erratic antics and high-rolling lifestyle alienated many of Leary's friends. When Allen Ginsberg, accompanied by Joanna and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, visited Tim in Folsom, he warned that she might be some kind of "double agent." Joanna looked at Tim and sloughed it off. "Oh, you know, he just hates women," she said, apparently in reference to Ginsberg's homosexuality. Leary asked Ginsberg if he would take over the defense committee, but Ginsberg was unable to assume such a heavy responsibility. In exasperation Leary threw up his hands as if to say, "Even if she is an agent, she's all I've got."

In November, 1973, Leary was transferred from Folsom to Vacaville Prison, previously the site of an extensive CIA drug testing program. While in Vacaville, he learned that Dennis Martino had been working as a government informer and that he and Joanna were having a relationship. Martino had struck a deal with the BNDD after they were busted in Kabul. As an undercover narc he was instrumental in arranging the arrests of at least two dozen people, some of whom were old associates from his dope-dealing days with the Brotherhood. His diligent service earned him some brownie points, but Martino's controllers refused to let him off the hook until he persuaded Leary to cooperate with the feds.

For Leary the confirmation that the people closest to him were working with his captors had to be a terrible blow. Joanna privately maintained that she was really a double or triple agent. According to Martino she routinely met US marshals at the door of her Telegraph Hill apartment in the nude, hoping to catch them in compromising situations; Martino hid in an adjacent room and taped the conversations. Joanna later told Ginsberg that she was monitoring the feds so she could blackmail them by threatening to make public the various "deals" they had proposed for Tim's release.

Leary, meanwhile, had begun to wither under the systematic pressure exerted by his most intimate contacts. Little by little Joanna and Martino brought him closer to the break desired by his jailers. The turning point came in April 1974. Leary indicated he was ready to talk. The FBI made it official when they pegged him with the code name of the songbird, "Charlie Thrush."

Leary defended his decision to collaborate with the feds by invoking the spectacle of Watergate. He compared his own situation with that of President Nixon, who would soon face impeachment for obstruction of justice and conduct unbefitting a chief of state. "You've got to tell the truth," said Leary.

I can't condemn Richard Nixon for shutting his mouth because I'm shutting my mouth. I'm not getting paroled until I'm rehabilitated. I'm not getting out behind the lawyers. I've had a chance to analyze, as a psychologist, Nixon's downfall. I've had a chance to see that I'm locked up because of the way I played secrets. I know some people might get hurt. But if I can tell my story and get it all out, karmically, I think I'm free within. And if I'm free within, it will reflect without.... When I look at Socrates, I see that all they wanted him to do was just say he was sorry. He didn't have to drink the hemlock. Maybe if the offer was poison, I'd take that, I don't know. But it is prison. I'm a rat in a maze, staring at the door, looking for another door and there isn't one. Like it or not, when you're in the prison system, you come out through the system, unless you escape, and that didn't work."

Leary was grilled by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), but most of the information he gave was already common knowledge among law enforcement experts. But the feds had other uses for Leary. They wanted his assistance in setting up the arrest of George Chula, an attorney who had previously defended both Leary and the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. Leary told a grand jury that Chula had given him a small chunk of hash when they met at the Orange County courthouse the previous year. Joanna also gave damaging testimony, describing an encounter with Chula wherein he allegedly offered her marijuana and cocaine. When asked why she was testifying, Joanna told the grand jury that she found 99% of the drug culture "to be dishonest, lying people [who didn't know] where they were coming from and where they were going." Chula was subsequently convicted of a minor marijuana violation and served forty-five days in jail.

"LEARY WILL SING," declared a Chicago Tribune headline. Soon there were rumors of a massive grand jury circus, with Leary fingering many of his former associates. After all, one of the main reasons the authorities went to such trouble to have Leary inform was to let everyone know about it in order to create fear and distrust among political and cultural activists. Also, it would be a way of trashing their values -- the High Priest would turn out to be a fighter for his own skin just like everybody else. The media had always latched onto Leary as the one figure who personified the psychedelic movement, and by exposing him as a fink the entire subculture was implicitly discredited.

Although he insisted he was innocent on the "karmic" level, those who felt threatened by his actions took a different view. "I'm digesting news of Herr Doktor Leary, the swine," wrote Abbie Hoffman, who went underground after being busted for cocaine possession (which he claimed was a police setup). "It's obvious to me he's talked his fucking demented head off to the Gestapo.... God, Leary is disgusting. It's not just a question of being a squealer but a question of squealing on people who helped you.... The curses crowd my mouth. ... Timothy Leary is a name worse than Benedict Arnold."

Out of anxiety as much as a desire to get the facts, a unique press conference was called at the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco on September 18, 1974. It was sponsored by a group calling itself People Investigating Leary's Lies, or PILL. A panel of counterculture heroes organized and moderated by journalist Ken Kelley addressed an audience of nearly two hundred. Jerry Rubin spoke first, reciting the facts as he knew them. It was a loose chronology and not much was certain. Rubin wondered what had really happened to Leary. Was he brainwashed in Vacaville -- a prison with a reputation for behavior modification abuse of its inmates? Had only a phantom Leary survived? Or did his finking demonstrate that he never really took his politics seriously? "He may have gotten frightened -- experienced an ego break," Ram Dass suggested, "or he may have lost control under the pressures of prison and developed a direct paranoid state where the ends justify the means."

When it was Allen Ginsberg's turn to speak, he began by chanting OM for a few minutes. He had written something for the conference called "Om Ah Hum: 44 Temporary Questions on Dr. Leary." These questions, ranging from witty to paranoid, brought out all the contradictions Leary's informing posed for the New Left. Ginsberg's open-ended tirade went in all directions, and that was its purpose -- not to defend the informer, but to illustrate that the left versus right conflicts of the 1960s were no longer black and white, if they ever had been, and that the gaps in Leary's recent history made it imperative not to simply denounce him.

"Should we stop trusting our friends like in a Hotel room in Moscow?" Ginsberg asked.

Is he a Russian-model prisoner brought into courtroom news conferences blinking in daylight after years in jails and months incommunicado in solitary cells with nobody to talk to but thought-control police interrogators? ... Is he like Zabbathi Zvi, the False Messiah, accepted by millions of Jews centuries ago, who left Europe for the Holy Land, was captured by Turks on his way, told he'd have his head cut off unless he converted to Islam, and so accepted Allah? Didn't his followers split into sects, some claiming it was a wise decision? ...

Is Leary exaggerating and lying to build such confused cases and conspiracies that the authorities will lose all the trials he witnesses, and he'll be let go in the confusion? ... Is he trying to clean the karmic blackboard by creating a hippie Watergate? ... Is Joanna Harcourt-Smith, his one contact spokes-agent, a sex spy, agent provocateuse, double agent, CIA hysteric, jealous tigress, or what? ... Will citizens be arrested, indicted, taken to jail for Leary's freedom? ... Doesn't the old cry "Free Tim Leary!" apply now urgent as ever?

A can of worms had been opened. Paranoia was rampant among radicals who feared that Leary might be talking about any number of people he'd been in contact with over the years. Some blamed Leary for being a turncoat, others directed their anger at the government and the criminal justice system. The discussion grew increasingly acrimonious as the afternoon wore on. There for all to see were the signs of disintegration -- fear, backstabbing, confusion, resentment, animosity. "The 1960s are finally dead," said Ken Kelley after the conference adjourned. "That was just the funeral."
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Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:44 pm

The Great LSD Conspiracy

While Leary was in the slammer, his erstwhile patron Billy Hitchcock got tangled in a legal mess of his own making. It had taken almost four years for the government to gather enough evidence to indict the young Mellon heir for income tax evasion. He also faced charges stemming from stock market malpractice. A lengthy jail term seemed almost certain unless he struck a bargain with the authorities. He called Tim Scully, who had dropped out of the acid business a few years ago, and explained the situation. Would Scully also be willing to make a deal and possibly save his own skin? Certainly not. Hitchcock was on his own. In March 1973 he surrendered at a federal attorney's office in New York and offered to talk about the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in exchange for leniency.

The following month Hitchcock was in San Francisco testifying before a grand jury on the Brotherhood LSD conspiracy. He told everything he knew, naming all the key figures he had associated with in the drug trade over the years. He also identified the Swiss and Bahamian banks that had been used to launder drug profits. This information was just what the jury needed to indict Scully and his onetime partner, Nick Sand, who'd been apprehended earlier that year at an underground drug lab in Saint Louis. In the coming months both would stand trial for manufacturing and distributing LSD.

While the prosecution was preparing its case against Sand and Scully, DEA officials appeared before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee and outlined the dimensions of the Brotherhood conspiracy. "In many ways," said DEA director John Bartels, "the evolution of the drug trafficking activities of the members of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love is a tragic illustration of the cynicism into which the youthful drug revolution of the mid-1960's has fallen."

At its peak the organization had approximately three thousand members, according to the DEA, and it operated "in a virtually untouchable manner" until 1971, when federal and state officials began their investigation. Since then, the senators were told, the Brotherhood inquiry had resulted in the arrest of over a hundred individuals, including Timothy Leary, who was inaccurately described as the group's founder. Four LSD factories had been seized, along with thirty-five hundred grams of acid in powdered form (equivalent to fourteen million dosages), a pill press, six hashish oil facilities, 546 acres of property in Southern California, and sizable quantities of marijuana, cocaine, peyote and amphetamine. In addition, $1,800,000 in cash had either been seized or located in foreign banks. DEA officials concluded with a pitch for a budget increase, and Congress dutifully obliged.

The case against the Brotherhood acid chemists came to trial in San Francisco in November 1973 and lasted thirty-nine days. The trial pitted Billy Hitchcock against his former colleagues, Sand and Scully, who were accused of being the largest suppliers of LSD in the US during the late 1960s. Since Hitchcock had already been granted immunity, the defense strategy was to pin all the blame on him, portraying him as the "Mr. Big" who single-handedly directed the entire acid operation. Hitchcock, for his part, tried to walk a fine line, giving just enough information to satisfy the prosecution, but not enough to convict the defendants. (He even put up money for Scully's legal fees.) The publicity generated by the trial crystallized in a sensational Village Voice article by Mary Jo Worth, "The Acid Profiteers." The article depicted Leary as a Madison Avenue huckster who was a front for Hitchcock's money. The whole psychedelic movement, according to Worth, was nothing more than a scam perpetrated by a profit-hungry clique.

But this was not the impression given by Sand and Scully during the trial. Both of them came off as remarkably idealistic fellows who got involved in the drug trade from altruistic motives. When Sand was arrested, the police discovered papers containing formulas for over a hundred psychedelic compounds unknown to the general public. He and Scully claimed the drug they produced was not LSD-25 but a related compound known as ALD-52, which was not illegal simply because the narcs had never heard of it. Ingenuity, however, was not a plausible defense, and it failed to sway the jury.

Hitchcock was not a particularly strong witness at the San Francisco trial. He acknowledged that his own drug usage had been extensive, and he listed all the substances he had experimented with over the years, including LSD and heroin. Mr. Billy had already pleaded guilty to income tax evasion and violation of SEC regulations, but he had not yet been sentenced for these charges. The defense contended that Hitchcock had been promised leniency in his other cases if he lied in this one. Although he admitted that he had perjured himself four times during Internal Revenue and SEC investigations and before a federal grand jury, his testimony was deemed reliable enough to send both of the defendants to the pen. Scully got twenty years, Sand got fifteen, while Hitchcock received a five-year suspended sentence, a $20,000 fine, and a ceremonial slap on the wrist.

Sand jumped bail and disappeared while out on appeal, leaving Scully to fend for himself. Scully's lawyers argued for a mistrial but lost. While in federal prison on McNeil Island, Washington State, he became a model inmate, designing a computer system for the staff and biofeedback equipment to help drug addicts and the handicapped. This helped him win an early parole in 1979. Shortly before his release from prison Scully was named Man of the Year by the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Washington for his scientific innovations.

As it turned out, Scully served a longer jail term than any other person associated with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. At least twenty members of the Brotherhood chose the fugitive route while drug charges were pending against them. One of those who vanished was Ronald Stark, the mysterious entrepreneur who had assumed a commanding role in the illicit acid trade. In November 1972 a team of IRS and BNDD agents visited his drug lab in Brussels, but Stark was nowhere to be found. He was later indicted -- but never prosecuted -- as a co-conspirator in the Sand-Scully case.

The fact that Stark was wanted on a drug rap in the US hardly put a damper on his international escapades. He spent much of his time in Italy during the 1970s, cavorting with Sicilian Mafiosi, secret service officials, and political extremists of the far left and far right. Stark's antics took him far afield. Occasionally he traveled to the Baalbek region of Lebanon, where he negotiated with a Shiite Muslim sect for shiploads of hashish. Stark claimed to be a business representative of Imam Moussa Sadr, a powerful Shiite warlord who controlled vast hashish plantations and a private army of 6,000 men. The area under his dominion was said to include training camps used by the Palestine Liberation Organization and other terrorist groups.

Back in Italy, Stark rented a small apartment in Florence. But he rarely stayed there, preferring the posh hotels of Rome, Milan, Bologna and other cities. By day he carried on as a smooth and successful businessman. At night he donned a pair of faded blue jeans and a work shirt and mingled with student radicals and other extremists. Moving in left-wing circles was nothing new for Ronald Stark. He had a knack for popping up wherever trouble was brewing. An American expatriate bumped into him on the streets of Paris during the peak of the Sorbonne uprising in 1968. In London he frequented the clubs and bars that were hangouts for dissident elements, and he made his first appearance in Milan during the "hot autumn" of 1969, when massive student demonstrations and labor strikes nearly paralyzed Italy. Furthermore, Stark was tight with the Brotherhood leaders who contributed money to the Weather Underground for Timothy Leary's prison escape.

Whatever game Stark was playing took an abrupt turn in February 1975 when Italian police received an anonymous phone call about a man selling drugs in a hotel in Bologna. A few days later at the Grand Hotel Baglioni they arrested a suspect in possession of 4,600 kilos of marijuana, morphine, and cocaine. The suspect carried a British passport bearing the name Mr. Terrence W. Abbott. Italian investigators soon discovered that "Mr. Abbott" was actually Ronald Stark. Among his belongings was the key to a safe deposit box in Rome that contained documents on the manufacture of LSD and a synthetic version of cocaine. There was also a vial of liquid that scientists could not precisely identify (they figured it was something like LSD). Other items seized by police included letters from a certain Charles C. Adams written on stationery with the letterhead of the American embassy in London. The messages from Adams, a foreign service officer, began with a confidential "Dear Ron," and were addressed to Stark's drug laboratory in Brussels, which had been raided in the fall of 1972 by a team of American agents.

If Stark's contacts with American embassy personnel were difficult to fathom, then his association with some of Italy's most notorious terrorists was equally curious. In the spring of 1976, while he was being held in Don Bosco prison in Pisa, Stark befriended Renato Curcio, a top leader of the Red Brigades that had stalked Italy since the early 1970s. Curcio and his radical cohorts apparently had no idea that Stark was an American when they took him into their confidence. As soon as he succeeded in penetrating the underground terrorist network, Stark asked prison officials to arrange a meeting with the chief prosecutor of Pisa. He said that Curcio had told him of a plot to assassinate Judge Francesco Coco of Genoa, who was scheduled to preside over a trial of fifty Red Brigadesmen. There was also talk of abducting a prominent Italian politician who lived in Rome. In June 1976 Judge Coco was murdered, just as Stark predicted. (Aldo Moro, five times Italy's premier, may have been the other victim. Stark's name would later surface in connection with the Moro kidnapping and execution.)

Transferred to a jail in Bologna, Stark continued to expand his terrorist contacts. During this period he received a steady flow of visitors from the British and American consulates. (Curiously, the US government never pressed for his extradition, even though he was wanted on drug charges related to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.) Stark also communicated on a regular basis with representatives of the Libyan diplomatic corps and had a series of meetings with Italian secret service personnel. Documents show that he was in direct contact with General Vito Miceli, who received $800,000 from the CIA during the early 1970s while serving as chief of Italian military intelligence. Miceli was later implicated in a series of neo-fascist coup attempts in Italy.

It was quite a juggling act, to be sure, and a judge in Bologna eventually sentenced Stark to fourteen years' imprisonment and a $60,000 fine for drug trafficking. At his appeals trial Stark changed identities once again, this time passing himself off as "Khouri Ali," a radical Palestinian. In fluent Arabic he spelled out the details of his autobiography, explaining that he was part of an international terrorist organization headquartered in Lebanon, called "Group 14." Stark's appeal failed, and he was sent back to jail. But Italian police took a renewed interest in his case after they captured Enrique Pagho era, another terrorist leader who knew Stark. At the time of his arrest Paghera was holding a hand-drawn map of a PLO camp in Lebanon. The map, Paghera confessed, had come from Stark, who also provided a coded letter of introduction. The objective, according to Paghera, was to forge a link with a terrorist organization that was planning to attack embassies.

In June 1978 Graziano Gori, a magistrate in Bologna, was assigned to investigate and clarify Stark's ties to the US, the Arabs, Italian terrorists, and other mysteries. A few weeks later Gori was killed in a car accident. The Italian government subsequently charged Stark with "armed banditry" for his role in aiding and abetting terrorist activities. But he never stood trial on these charges. True to form, Stark dropped out of sight shortly after he was released from prison in April 1979 on orders from Judge Giorgio Floridia in Bologna. The judge's decision was extraordinary: he released Stark because of "an impressive series of scrupulously enumerated proofs" that Stark was actually a CIA agent. "Many circumstances suggest that from 1960 onwards Stark belonged to the American secret services," Floridia stated.

The facts about Ronald Stark raise more questions than they answer. Was he a CIA operative throughout his drug dealing days? Or was the espionage link merely the work of a brilliant con artist who played both ends off the middle to his own advantage! An Italian parliamentary commission recently issued a lengthy report on domestic terrorism that included a section called "The Case of Ronald Stark." The commission asserted that Stark was an adventurer who was used by the CIA. But proof as to exactly when his espionage exploits began is hard to pin down. If Stark was connected to the CIA from 1960 on, as Judge Floridia suggested, then the entire Brotherhood operation, with its far-flung smuggling and financial net works, must be reinterpreted. "It could have been that he was employed by an American intelligence agency that wanted to see more psychedelic drugs on the street," Scully acknowledged. "Then again, he might have tricked the CIA, just like he fooled everyone else."

Reflecting upon the sixties, a surprising number of counterculture veterans endorsed the notion that the CIA disseminated street acid en masse so as to deflate the political potency of the youth rebellion. "LSD makes people less competent," contends William Burroughs. "You can see their motivation for turning people on. Very often it's not necessary to give it more than just a little push. Make it available and the news media takes it up, and there it is. They don't have to stick their necks out very much."

Burroughs was one of the first to suspect that the acid craze of the 1960s might have been a manipulated phenomenon -- an opinion shared by John Sinclair, the former White Panther leader who once sang the praises of LSD as a revolutionary drug. "It makes perfect sense to me," Sinclair stated. "We thought at the time that as a result of our LSD-inspired activities great things would happen. And, of course, it didn't.... They were up there moving that shit around. Down on the street, nobody knew what was going on."

Even Ken Kesey, who still views LSD in a positive light, would not dismiss the possibility that the CIA might have meddled in the drug scene. "Could have been," Kesey admitted. "But, then again, they were giving us the cream, and once you've seen the cream, you know how good it is. And once you know how good it is, you know they can never take it away from you. They can never take that strength away."

Nearly a decade before Kesey was introduced to psychedelics as part of a government-funded drug study in Palo Alto, the CIA embarked upon a major effort to develop LSD into an effective mind control weapon. The CIA's behavior modification programs were geared toward domestic as well as foreign populations; targets included selected individuals and large groups of people. But in what way could LSD be utilized to manipulate an individual, let alone a subculture or a social movement? LSD is not a habit-forming substance like heroin, which transforms whole communities and turns urban slums into terrains of human bondage. Whereas opiates elicit a predictable response, both pharmacologically and socially, this is not necessarily the case with psychedelics. The efficacy of acid as an instrument of social control is therefore a rather tenuous proposition.

The CIA came to terms with this fundamental truth about LSD only after years of intense experimentation. At first CIA researchers viewed LSD as a substance that produced a specific reaction (anxiety), but subsequent studies revealed that "set and setting" were important factors in determining its effects. This finding made the drug less reliable as a cloak-and-dagger weapon, and the CIA utilized LSD in actual operations -- as an aid to interrogation and a discrediting agent -- only on a limited basis during the Cold War. By the mid-1960s the Agency had virtually phased out its in-house acid tests in favor of more powerful chemicals such as BZ and related derivatives, which were shown to be more effective as incapacitants. But that did not mean the CIA had lost all interest in LSD. Instead the emphasis shifted to broader questions related to the social and political impact of the drug. A number of CIA-connected think tanks began to examine the relationship between the grassroots psychedelic scene and the New Left.

An accurate investigation would have shown that sizable amounts of street acid first appeared around college campuses and bohemian enclaves in 1965. This was an exceptionally creative period marked by a new assertiveness among young people. LSD accentuated a spirit of rebellion and helped to catalyze the expectations of many onto greatly expanded vistas. The social environment in which drugs were taken fostered an outlaw consciousness that was intrinsic to the development of the entire youth culture, while the use of drugs encouraged a generalizing of discontent that had significant political ramifications. The very expression of youth revolt was influenced and enhanced by the chemical mind-changers. LSD and marijuana formed the armature of a many-sided rebellion whose tentacles reached to the heights of ego-dissolving delirium, a rebellion as much concerned with the sexual and spiritual as with anything tradition ally political. It was a moment of great anticipation, and those who marched in that great Dionysian rap dance were confident that if they put their feet down on history, then history would surely budge.

But the mood had changed dramatically by the end of the decade, and the political fortunes of the New Left quickly plummeted. There were many reasons for this, not the least of which involved covert intervention by the CIA, FBI, and other spy agencies. The internecine conflicts that tore the Movement apart were fomented in part by government subversion. But such interference would have been far less effective if not for the innate vulnerability of the New Left, which emphasized both individual and social transformation as if they were two faces of an integral cultural transition, a rite of passage between a death and a difficult birth. "We had come to a curious place together, all of us," recalls Michael Rossman.

As politics grew cultural, we realized that deeper forces were involved than had yet been named, or attended to deliberately. We were adrift in questions and potentials. The organizational disintegration of the Movement as a political body was an outer emblem of conceptual incoherence, the inability to synthesize an adequate frame of understanding (and program) to embody all that we had come to realize was essential for the transformation we sought.

An autopsy of the youth movement would show that death resulted from a variety of ills, some self-inflicted, others induced from without. There was the paramilitary bug that came in like the plague after Chicago, a bug transmitted by provocateurs and other government geeks who were welcomed by the Movement's own incendiaries. A vicious crackdown on all forms of dissent ensued, while domestic violence played on the TV news as a nightly counterpoint to the appalling horror of Vietnam. It was the war, more than anything else, that drove activists to the brink of desperation. If not for the war, the legions of antiauthoritarian youth would never have endured the totalitarian style of the dogmatic crazies and the militant crazies who combined to blow the whole thing apart.

"What subverted the sixties decade," according to Murray Book. chin, "was precisely the percolation of traditional radical myths, political styles, a sense of urgency, and above all, a heightened metabolism so destructive in its effects that it loosened the very roots of 'the movement' even as it fostered its rank growth." In this respect the widespread use of LSD contributed significantly to the demise of the New Left, for it heightened the metabolism of the body politic and accelerated all the changes going on -- positive and negative, in all their contradictions. In its hyped-up condition the New Left managed to dethrone one president and prevent another from unleashing a nuclear attack on North Vietnam. These were mighty accomplishments, to be sure, but the Movement burnt itself out in the process. It never mastered its own intensity; nor could it stay the course and keep on a sensible political track.

During the intoxicating moments of the late 1960s, many radicals felt they were on the verge of a cataclysmic upheaval, an imminent break, a total revolution. In their dream world apocalypse was never far away. The delusions of grandeur they entertained were amplified by psychedelic drugs to the point that some felt themselves invested with magical powers. They wanted to change the world immediately -- or at least as fast as LSD could change a person's consciousness. By magnifying the impulse toward revolutionism out of context, acid sped up the process by which the Movement became unglued. Even activists who never took an LSD trip were affected by this process.

The use of LSD among young people in the US reached a peak in the late 1960s, shortly after the CIA initiated a series of covert operations designed to disrupt, discredit, and neutralize the New Left. Was this merely a historical coincidence, or did the Agency actually take steps to promote the illicit acid trade? Not surprisingly, CIA spokesmen dismiss such a notion out of hand. "We do not target American citizens," former CIA director Richard Helms told the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1971. "The nation must to a degree take it on faith that we who lead the CIA are honorable men, devoted to the nation's service."

Helms' reassurances are hardly comforting in light of his own role as the prime instigator of Operation MK-ULTRA, which utilized unwitting Americans as guinea pigs for testing LSD and other mind-altering substances. During Helms's tenure as CIA director, the Agency conducted a massive illegal domestic campaign against the antiwar movement and other dissident elements in the US. The New Left was in a shambles when Helms retired from the Agency in 1973. Most of the official records pertaining to the CIA's drug and mind control projects were summarily destroyed on orders from Helms shortly before his departure. The files were shredded, according to Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, chief of the CIA's Technical Services Staff, because of "a burgeoning paper problem." Lost in the process were numerous documents concerning the operational employment of hallucinogenic drugs, including all existing copies of a classified CIA manual titled "LSD: Some Unpsychedelic Implications."

What was Helms trying to hide? The wholesale destruction of these memoranda suggests there may have been a lot more to the CIA's LSD program than the revelations that came to light during the post Watergate housecleaning of the mid 1970s. Of course, it's highly improbable that the CIA would ever have drawn up a "smoking gun" document describing the details of a plot to dump millions of hits of acid on the black market. Nor is it likely that the Agency anticipated the catalytic impact of LSD and its disruptive effect on the youth movement. The CIA is not an omniscient, monolithic organization, and there's no hard evidence that it engineered a great LSD conspiracy. (As in most conspiracy theories, such a scenario vastly overestimates the sophistication of the alleged perpetrator.) If anything, it seems that a social phenomenon as complex and multifaceted as the psychedelic subculture was beyond the control of any single person or entity.

But there's still the puzzling saga of Ronald Stark, which begs for some kind of explanation. How does one distinguish between an international confidence trickster and a deep-cover spy when both professions are based on pretense and deception! Stark was a man who thrived in a clandestine netherworld where "facts are wiped out by artifacts," as Norman Mailer wrote of the espionage metaphysic, and "every truth is obliged to live in its denial." He appeared on the psychedelic scene like a meteor and produced more acid than any other underground source from 1969 through 1972. While pursuing his exploits as an LSD chemist, he communicated on a regular basis with American embassy personnel, and on numerous occasions he hinted of ties with the intelligence community. At one point he told an associate that he shut down his LSD laboratory in France on a tip from the CIA. He also haunted the radical fringes of Paris, London, and Milan during the heyday of the youth rebellion.

What does it all mean? Was Stark a hired provocateur or a fanatical guerrilla capable of reconciling bombs and LSD? When did the CIA learn of his role as a drug dealer, and was his activity tolerated because he passed information on the counterculture and the radical left to the Agency? [1] Although it is highly improbable that the CIA would have gotten involved in trafficking street acid as a matter of policy, it's not at all certain that stopping the flow of black market LSD was a particular priority either. Perhaps the best explanation is that certain CIA officials were willing to condone Stark's exploits in the drug trade as long as he functioned as an informant.

Stark's name surfaced once again in 1982 when he was arrested in Holland on charges of trafficking hashish, cocaine, and heroin. The following year he was deported without fanfare to the United States, where he was still wanted on drug charges stemming from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love conspiracy case. The entire matter was handled so discreetly that the press never learned of his return. Stark spent a few months in a San Francisco jail until charges were dropped by the US Justice Department, which claimed that too many years had passed to prosecute the case. In December 1984 he died of a heart attack, leaving others to ponder his ambiguous legacy.

Above all Ronald Stark remains an extraordinary international enigma. "A genius, but a tortured soul" -- that was how an Italian magistrate described him. Even if he was never anything more than a brilliant private operator, his remarkable career illustrates the tangled web of espionage, crime, and extremist politics that is so much a part of the secret history of LSD a story as wild and perplexing as the drug itself. Indeed, as Hunter Thompson wrote, "History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of 'history' it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time -- and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened."



1. The CIA's continuing interest in the illicit drug trade is indicated in a once classified document dated March 24, 1969 -- a few months before Stark joined the Brotherhood. The document refers to the CIA's liaison with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs: "It appears that the activities of the BNDD, ongoing and planned, could under the appropriate arrangements provide valuable information to the Agency in new drug effects, drug abuse and drug traffic areas. For this reason they will be followed very closely."
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Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:44 pm


Acid and After

Ronald Stark liked to brag to members of the Brotherhood that he had developed a new process for synthesizing LSD-25 of exceptional quality. But as was often the case with Stark, this was only a partial truth. Actually it was Stark's assistant in France, a young British chemist named Richard Kemp, who in 1970 discovered the cheap and easy method Stark took credit for. Kemp had been working for Stark in his French laboratories. Eventually they had a falling out, and Kemp left with his payoff -- 200 grams of pure LSD -- and returned to England.

A self-described political revolutionary, Kemp viewed LSD as a tool for furthering the radical cause. While living in a cottage in Wales, he gathered around him a core of like-minded individuals and set up an elaborate network for disseminating his product. During the mid-1970s Kemp's group succeeded the Brotherhood of Eternal Love as the main psychedelic distribution operation in the world. Kemp's high-quality acid flowed from the United Kingdom to France, Israel, the Netherlands, Australia, West Germany, and the US. The British smuggling ring, however, had none of the mythos attached to the Brotherhood. Their notoriety would only come after they were busted. For even as Kemp was completing a manufacturing run of a kilo and a half of crystalline LSD, the police were watching him closely.

Scotland Yard assigned twenty-eight detectives to nail Kemp's operation. The thirteen-month investigation became known as Operation Julie, so named after the key undercover agent, Sergeant Julie Taylor, who penetrated Kemp's network. (She was immortalized in the song by the British rock group the Clash: "Julie's been working for the drug squad ...") The police arrested a hundred and twenty people, including Kemp, in the spring of 1977. Six million doses of LSD were seized in the raid. (Curiously, all of the acid later disappeared, prompting speculation that the police may have sold the drug.) During the trial the prosecution claimed that Kemp's group produced half the world's supply of LSD in the mid-1970s. Kemp, unrepentant to the end, was convicted and sentenced to thirteen years in prison. Sixteen others also received jail terms.

But this wasn't the end of the Julie story. By quirk of legal necessity, Kemp had to reveal the formula he used for making LSD. Once this new information entered into the public record, it quickly moved along the underground grapevine, sparking a major acid renaissance that continues to this day. A United Nations survey in the early 1980s noted that LSD was reappearing in considerable amounts in many countries. During this period tens of millions of doses were seized in a few busts in California. As any special agent for drug enforcement knows, supply like that means demand. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 8% of today's high school seniors are using LSD, and 25% of people from eighteen to twenty-six years of age have experimented with hallucinogens.

Acid has indeed outlived the 1960s, but the psychedelic underground has changed in many ways. The recent recrudescence of LSD use has occurred without the press fanfare of years past. As John Lennon noted shortly before his death in 1980, "You don't hear about it any more, but people are still visiting the cosmos. We must always remember to thank the CIA and the army for LSD. That's what people forget. ... They invented LSD to control people and what they did was give us freedom. Sometimes it works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform."

The most prevalent form of LSD currently available on the black market is blotter paper soaked with the drug. The "blotters" are cut into small squares and adorned with various emblems: R. Crumb's Mr. Natural, rocket ships, the atomic rings, or Walt Disney characters such as Goofy and Mickey Mouse. The dosage level of street acid usually falls between 100 and 125 micrograms, which is half the average dose found on the black market during the 1960s. As one San Francisco-based dealer put it, "It's just another high now. Doses are lower, just enough to put a smile on your face, give you a buzz, not like the heavy colors and trips of the sixties."

The return of acid in the 1980s has spawned a new wave of psychedelic rock bands. These acts frequently dress in granny glasses, sport pudding-bowl haircuts, and play hits from the 1960s. In London the psychedelic bands constitute a movement of sorts on the club circuit, where they are known as the "Paisley Underground." But the bands openly proclaiming themselves psychedelic do not represent a unique genre of music; rather, they blend in with the contemporary pop music scene, where the parameters of personal and group identity have been pushed to the outer limits.

A few of the original psychedelic bands from San Francisco still tour -- most notably, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. The Dead made a mystical pact with their fans, vowing to carry the psychedelic torch as long as they can play their music. They still attract the old sixties Deadheads, as well as younger people who feel they are connecting with that era through the music. Cults have formed around legendary rock figures such as Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. (Morrison's gravesite in Paris is a magnet for young people who regularly come to pay their respects to the Lizard King.) Dr. David Smith of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic reports that teenagers today are taking LSD and listening to Beatles records as a rite of passage. "They seek a nostalgic cultural experience, to individually experience what happened in the sixties," Smith said.

In the same spirit people still visit the Haight as a kind of pilgrimage. They come to the famous corner of Haight and Ashbury as if it were a shrine or a power place. Some take the ritual walk up the street to Golden Gate Park and sit atop "Hippie Hill" near the Polo Fields, where the first be-in was held. A few familiar places remain from the old days, such as the Free Clinic, and scattered street freaks still haunt the neighborhood. But these are ghosts from the past now that the area has been gentrified after ten years as a slum.

Many turned-on youth continue to view LSD as a sacrament and approach the drug experience with due respect and caution. But for others, acid is primarily a recreational buzz. Psychedelics are used by more people than ever before, appealing to a larger cross-section of American society -- from young debutantes tripping at the disco to high school joyriders downing acid with their six-packs. LSD has made inroads among blacks, Latins, and gays in addition to middle-class whites. The drug is prevalent on the club scene in big cities, as well as on the college campus. Today's students, whether buttoned-down or punked-out, seek a strong dose of intense fun, and that's what acid gives them. LSD parties are common on weekends with psychedelic clans hitting the drugs as heavily as they hit the books. It's for getting guiltlessly -- if not righteously -- high. LSD is one among many popular drugs on the campus scene: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, nitrous oxide, Quaaludes, and new compounds such as "ecstasy" (an MDA-related substance) and ketamine (a "psychedelic anesthetic").

While more people are using psychedelics than ever before, bad trips are much less frequent, largely because the psychosocial matrix surrounding LSD has evolved. When the social and political movements symbolically entangled with LSD collapsed in the early 1970s, the climate informing expectations about the drug lost much of its emotional charge. The new generation of acid trippers has not been weaned on the psychedelic controversies of yesteryear, when taking LSD was tantamount to an act of social defiance. Without the shrill warnings about psychosis or chromosome damage, or all the hubbub about the glories of expanded consciousness, there are fewer freakouts and untoward incidents.

The recreational use of LSD as a "technology of the self" has its corollaries in the proliferating hi-tech leisure industry that includes computer video games, cable television, home video, and films whose multimillion-dollar special effects threaten to outstrip the theater of the mind. Ways of playing with reality are big business indeed. Many of today's TV commercials are more "psychedelic" than the most far-out acid poster of the 1960s. (Psychedelic poster art was recently shown in a special exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.) The corporate cooptation of psychedelia is evident in the army's television ads, which feature flashing images, strobe effects, hard rock, and the slogan "Be all that you can be ... you can do it in the army."

The resurgence of LSD in the 1980s is part of a boom in recreational drug usage throughout the US and Western Europe (where a highly politicized counterculture continues to thrive in various cities, most notably Amsterdam and West Berlin). Marijuana is now a $15-to-$20-billion-a-year industry (making it the third-largest American business, behind Exxon and GM), even though federal allocations for drug law enforcement have grown more than 75%, to $1.2 billion, during the last five years. Although marijuana possession is currently a parking ticket fine in some places, the laws governing LSD are as stringent as ever. LSD remains classified as a Schedule I drug, a category reserved for substances deemed to have no medical value whatsoever. Scientific investigations into LSD are at a complete standstill, and psychiatrists who once used the drug for therapeutic purposes are pessimistic about future prospects. Despite -- or perhaps because of -- these restrictions, an underground network of LSD therapists quietly persists in the United States.

Meanwhile the CIA, which has always been at the cutting edge of developments in psychopharmacology, continues to conduct secret research aimed at creating more sophisticated forms of chemical control. There are new superpowerful mind drugs that affect sensory modalities in highly specific ways. (One substance, for example, only alters auditory perception; under its influence all sounds become atonal, while other human faculties remain unaffected.) Scientists have developed other compounds with recreational applications, including aphrodisiacs and a "two-martini pill" that produces a euphoric state without the subsequent hangover. Some of these drugs -- such as "designer heroin" and "designer cocaine" -- have already moved from the laboratory to the street, and the consequences have been fatal.

The use of acid in a recreational context is a far cry from how the LSD pioneers of the 1950s -- both the spies and the doctors -- originally envisioned its future. It was Timothy Leary who first spoke of LSD in terms of "hedonic engineering." He promoted acid as a sacrament of play, the drug of homo ludens. "The American people today are quantum jumps more sophisticated," Leary said recently -- "About consciousness, about the nervous system ... about self-actualization and self-indulgence, about pleasure being itself a reward. Pleasure is now the number one industry in this country. Recreational travel, entertainment, sensory indulgence. There's no question about that being Number One. Now that was my goal."

Leary was granted an early parole for good behavior in 1976, shortly after sensational reports of secret CIA acid tests began to surface in the press. Publicity surrounding the sordid details of the CIA's drug programs only added to the negative mystique of LSD, giving it an even worse name. For Leary, however, these revelations were something of a pardon -- the same government that had put him behind bars for abusing drugs was guilty of far more heinous crimes.

Tim and Joanna split up as soon as he was released from jail. She left for the island of Grenada and points beyond. Her confidant, Dennis Martino, died of an apparent drug overdose in Spain in 1975. It wasn't long before Leary turned up on the college lecture circuit, hyping space migration and life extension with the same zeal he once displayed for psychedelics. His next venue was nightclubs, where he performed as a "stand-up philosopher," a self-described "cheerleader for change." It was soft stuff by sixties standards, but Leary still managed to stir up controversy in his public and private life. When he appeared as a guest on a TV talk show, Art Linkletter called the station. Linkletter, whose twenty-year-old daughter committed suicide in the mid-1960s, blames Leary and LSD for her death.

In February 1979 Leary showed up at an "LSD Reunion" in Los Angeles, hosted by Dr. Oscar Janiger. An animated discussion ensued among the thirty psychedelic pioneers who attended this private gathering. Dr. Humphry Osmond and Laura Huxley were there, along with Sidney Cohen, John Lilly, Willis Harmon, and Nick Bercel. The legendary Captain Al Hubbard, then seventy-seven years of age, swaggered into Janiger's home wearing his security uniform, with a pistol and a bandolier around his hip. "Oh, Al, I owe everything to you," Leary greeted the Captain. "The galactic center sent you down just at the right moment." To which Hubbard responded, "You sure as heck played your part." It was the last time most of them would see the Captain, for he died a few years later, not long after receiving a card from President Reagan wishing him a happy birthday.

Leary popped up in the news again when he was busted at his home in Beverly Hills in the spring of 1979. But the only drugs found were new brain-changers that were not yet illegal and virtually unknown to the general public. A few years later he went on tour with his old nemesis, G. Gordon Liddy. Both men had come a long way since the Millbrook days, when Liddy first made a name for himself by arresting the High Priest of LSD. Liddy went on to work for CREEP (Committee to Re-elect the President) in Washington, serving as a "plumber" and hatchet man for Nixon. In this capacity he proposed dosing columnist Jack Anderson and other "enemies" of the Nixon administration with an LSD-like substance. After doing time for his involvement in the Watergate break-in, he gladly teamed up with Leary for a tongue-in-cheek debate that caricatured their former roles.

The Liddy-Leary spectacle provided additional fodder for a floodtide of anti-sixties propaganda that has reduced the memory of that era to a battered corpse. Nevertheless, the shockwaves of those tumultuous years continue to reverberate throughout society. The 1960s remain the watershed of our recent history, and the decade's warring impulses are still being played out on the cultural and political landscape. Ronald Reagan began his ascent to the White House by riding a crest of backlash sentiment against hippies, blacks, and student radicals in California. When Reagan became president, he "unleashed" the CIA, which continues to function as an international Pinkerton organization -- company cops running amok in the Third World and spying on domestic dissidents. Indeed, the concerns of the 1960s have hardly withered away. Racism, sexism, militarism, and economic injustice are still the burning issues of the day. Opposition movements arising in response to Reagan will champion these same causes. And the new wave of political activists will also inherit the complex and unresolved legacy of the 1960s.

The tremendous outburst of energy in the sixties did not succeed in revamping the American power structure, but it had a profound effect in other ways. Avenues of choice were irrevocably opened, and a new set of options became available to everyone. Experimenting with psychedelic drugs was one of these options. This practice, now firmly rooted in the culture for good or ill, will endure no matter what the legal restrictions may be. People are still starving with the same hungers, and they will take LSD to satisfy a deep-rooted need for wholeness and meaning. In all likelihood acid will continue to ravage as many people as it liberates and deceive as many as it enlightens. Whether it will play a more significant role in the future remains a matter of conjecture, for the psychedelic experience carries the impress of a constellation of social forces that are always shifting and up for grabs.

It's not over yet.
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Re: Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:44 pm


Since Acid Dreams was first published, six years ago, we have been treated to a series of congressional and news media revelations about CIA involvement with international drug traffickers. Massive amounts of still-unaccounted-for U.S. aid to Pakistani military officers and Afghan guerrilla leaders helped grease a major arms-for-heroin pipeline in Southwest Asia during the Reagan-Bush era. Much of the dirty cash was laundered through institutions such as the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which functioned, not coincidentally, as a conduit for CIA operations in the region.

At the same time in Central America, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and high-level CIA personnel aided and abetted big-time cocaine smugglers who were ferrying weapons to the Nicaraguan contras. North and three other Iran-contra conspirators were banned for life from Costa Rica after that country's government came up with evidence of the Reagan administration's role in secretly facilitating the flow of narcotics -- all this while U.S. officials were preaching about the war on drugs.

Then came the December 1989 Panama invasion, which the U.S. military undertook for the stated purpose of nabbing a drug pusher, General Manuel Noriega, who had been on the CIA's payroll for years. Noriega is now standing trial in Miami on charges of cocaine trafficking, while his U.S.-installed successors in Panama revel in narco-dollars.

If the Noriega case tells us anything, it's that U.S. intelligence officials will dutifully ignore evidence of dope smuggling when they deem it expeditious to do so. That appears to be what happened with acid kingpin Ronald Stark, who, like Noriega, was adept at playing many sides off of one another.

"Drugs and covert operations go together like fleas on a dog," said former CIA analyst David MacMichael. When congressional probers scratched the surface of the drug trade, it became clear that certain cocaine and heroin dealers were okay by the CIA as long as they snorted the anticommunist line. Anything goes in the fight against communism -- that could also have been the motto of MK-ULTRA and related CIA mind control projects hatched during the Cold War. A number of victims of CIA drug tests have since come forward, seeking compensation for the injuries they sustained and the hardships their loved ones endured. In 1988 nine former psychiatric patients at Allain Memorial Hospital in Montreal reluctantly agreed to a meager out-of-court settlement after suing the CIA and the Canadian government. Adding insult to injury, during the legal proceedings a CIA attorney compared the plaintiffs to mice in a scientific laboratory, but the Agency steadfastly denied any responsibility for the cruelty they had underwritten. No apologies were forthcoming from the CIA or the Canadian government, which also sanctioned the controversial research program at Allain.

A Federal judge in Manhattan awarded $700,000 to the family of Harold Blauer, the tennis professional who died nearly four decades ago during an army chemical warfare experiment. Jim Stanley, another unwitting guinea pig in an army drug test, took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1987 ruled that enlisted personnel can't sue for injuries related to their service. After this judicial rebuff, Stanley testified before Congress that in 1958 he volunteered to test protective clothing for the army but instead was given a clear liquid to drink at Edgewood Arsenal, headquarters of the Army Chemical Corps. Stanley subsequently experienced severe behavioral changes that ruined his marriage and adversely affected his job.

As a result of congressional pressure, the Defense Department eventually consented to pay Stanley $625,000 in damages. But Congress assiduously sidestepped one of the thornier issues raised by the Stanley affair. For nearly twenty years the staff at Edgewood included Nazi scientists who were brought to the United States after World War II under the auspices of Project Paperclip, a program designed to harness the skills of German researchers and technicians. At least eight Nazi scientists were employed by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, where they tinkered with deadly nerve gas and super hallucinogenic drugs. Some of these men were involved in administering psychochemicals to soldiers like Stanley.

Meanwhile, CIA drug research plows ahead. Agency spokespersons are tight-lipped about this activity, but a former CIA contract employee indicates that much of the work is being conducted at universities in foreign countries.

Even as the ghosts of the Cold War continue to haunt us, the psychedelic underground marches on. According to U.S. drug authorities, a recent study showed that more high school students have tried LSD than cocaine. It's not uncommon for today's chemical astronauts to blast off by swallowing LSD-laced pictures of cartoon characters like the Simpsons. One way or another, the Promethean fire still burns in the local soul.

December 17, 1991
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