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

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by Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain
Copyright © 1985 by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain
Introduction copyright © 1992 by Andrei Codrescu
Afterword copyright © 1992 by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain




Cover Pages
Photo Gallery
Introduction: Whose Worlds Are These?, by Andrei Codrescu
• The Truth Seekers
• Enter LSD
• Laboratories of the State
• Midnight Climax
• The Hallucination Battlefield
• The Original Captain Trips
• Healing Acid
• Psychosis or Gnosis?
• Manna From Harvard
• Chemical Crusaders
• The Crackdown
• High Surrealism
• The Psychedelic Manual
• The Hard Sell
• The Great Freak Forward
• Acid and The New Left
• Before the Deluge
• Politics of the Bummer
• The First Human Be-In
• Stone Free
• The Great Summer Dropout
• A Gathering Storm
• Magical Politics
• Gotta Revolution
• Armed Love
• The Acid Brotherhood
• Bad Moon Rising
• Prisoner of LSD
• A Bitter Pill
• The Great LSD Conspiracy
Postscript: Acid and After

"History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit."

-- Hunter S. Thompson [Re: "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.)"]

Burroughs was acutely aware of the darker side of American politics, and he had some ominous premonitions about the impending psychedelic revolution. Despite rampant enthusiasm for hallucinogens among his peers, he suspected that sinister forces were also interested in these drugs and that Leary and his sidekicks might be playing right into their hands. Burroughs feared that psychedelics could be used to control rather than liberate the vision-starved masses. He understood that the seeker of enlightenment was especially vulnerable to manipulation from without, and he sounded an urgent warning to this effect in the opening passages of Nova Express, published in 1964.

At the immediate risk of finding myself the most unpopular character of all fiction -- and history is fiction -- I must say this.

Bring together state of news -- Inquire onward from state to doer -- Who monopolized Immortality! Who monopolized Cosmic Consciousness! Who monopolized Love Sex and Dream! Who monopolized Time Life and Fortune! Who took from you what is yours! ... Listen: Their Garden of Delights is a terminal sewer.... Their Immortality Cosmic Consciousness and Love is second-run grade-B shit.... Stay out of the Garden of Delights.... Throw back their ersatz Immortality.... Flush their drug kicks down the drain -- They are poisoning and monopolizing the hallucinogenic drugs -- learn to make it without any chemical corn.


Despite all the changes they had undergone, Leary and his associates were still basically psychologists who felt compelled to figure it all out. But acid had overturned their dogmas and left them dangling precariously in an intellectual limbo that was reinforced by the hermetic environment of the Millbrook estate. As far as they were concerned, nothing less than the entire history of human thought had to be reconsidered in light of the psychedelic experience. Kleps parodied their dilemma in his chronicle of the Millbrook years, describing the arrival of LSD as "The Big Crash" in whose wake the intellectual history of mankind fluctuated madly on the cosmic exchange.

Zen and Buddhist stock rose sharply while Yoga, Brahmanist and Vedantist issues plummeted.... In London, Blake enjoyed a mild rise, Hume skyrocketed, Aldous Huxley weakened, then held, and penny-a-share issues such as Aleister Crowley and Yeats disappeared entirely from view ... In Paris, former glamor stocks like Sartre and Camus began to look a little green around the gills.... such superficially disparate stocks as Thoreau, Nabokov, Borges, and Norman O. Brown were driven to undreamed of levels.... All the Zen masters spiralled into the blue.... Freud and Jung went through wild gyrations resembling an aerial dogfight, before both sank gradually to earth.... the I Ching went through the roof. The Gita crashed.... Shakespeare, unlike almost every other stock being traded, remained absolutely stable.

The sense of psychic displacement was felt most acutely by Timothy Leary. Even though years had passed since his first acid trip, he could still say, "I have never recovered from that shattering ontological confrontation. I have never been able to take myself, my mind, and the social world around me seriously." Now that he was aware of "countless realities," routine existence had been revealed to him as "illusory"; but that did not make it any less problematic. He confided to Kleps that at times he had the uncanny sensation that his head was running down his shoulders, and that he had even considered having himself committed. Whenever Leary took LSD, he relived a "recurring science fiction paranoia. Suddenly I am on camera in an ancient television show.... All my life routines a pathetic clown act."

-- Acid Dreams. History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond, by Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain

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

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The mescaline experiments at Dachau were described in a lengthy report by the US Naval Technical Mission, which swept across Europe in search of every scrap of industrial material and scientific data that could be garnered from the fallen Reich. This mission set the stage for the wholesale importation of more than six hundred top Nazi scientists under the auspices of Project Paperclip, which the CIA supervised during the early years of the Cold War. Among those who emigrated to the US in such a fashion was Dr. Hubertus Strughold, the German scientist whose chief subordinates (Dr. Sigmund Ruff and Dr. Sigmund Rascher) were directly involved in "aviation medicine" experiments at Dachau, which included the mescaline studies. [2] Despite recurring allegations that he sanctioned medical atrocities during the war, Strughold settled in Texas and became an important figure in America's space program. After Wernher von Braun, he was the top Nazi scientist employed by the American government, and he was subsequently hailed by NASA as the "father of space medicine."


2. Strughold's subordinates injected Dachau inmates with gasoline, crushed them to death in high-altitude pressure chambers, shot them so that potential blood coagulants could be tested on their wounds, forced them to stand naked in subfreezing temperatures or immersed them in tubs of ice water to see how long it would take before they died. As Charles R. Allen, Jr., author of From Hitler to Uncle Sam: How American Intelligence Used Nazi War Criminals, stated in an article on Strughold, "There was a clear pattern to the various experiments with poison, gas, deliberate infestation of victims with malaria, typhus and other virulencies causing instant or prolonged anguishing to death. Whether the tests concerned high-altitude, freezing or the potability of sea water; or the shooting of 'volunteers' with gas bullets -- the patent purpose of the entire body of tests conducted at Dachau was to enhance the effectiveness of Hitler's criminal warfare against humanity."

After the war an Allied tribunal convened at Nuremberg sentenced a number of Nazi doctors to death for their role in medical atrocities at Dachau and other concentration camps. The judges at Nuremberg subsequently put forward a code of ethics for scientific research, which stipulated that full voluntary consent must be obtained from all research subjects and experiments should yield positive results for the benefit of society that could not be obtained in any other way.

Although Dr. Strughold escaped prosecution, his name later appeared on a master list of "Reported Nazi War Criminals Residing in the United States" compiled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.

-- Acid Dreams, The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties, and Beyond

"Marvelously detailed ... loaded with startling revelations." -- LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS

"An engrossing account of a period ... when a tiny psychoactive molecule affected almost every aspect of Western life." --WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

Acid Dreams is the complete social history of LSD and the counterculture it helped to define in the sixties. Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain's exhaustively researched and astonishing account -- part of it gleaned from secret government files -- tells how the CIA became obsessed with LSD as an espionage weapon during the early 1950s and launched a massive covert research program, in which countless unwitting citizens were used as guinea pigs. Though the CIA was intent on keeping the drug to itself, it ultimately couldn't prevent it from spreading into the popular culture; here LSD had a profound impact and helped spawn a political and social upheaval that changed the face of America. From the clandestine operations of the government to the escapades of Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, Allen Ginsberg, and many others, Acid Dreams provides an important and entertaining account that goes to the heart of a turbulent period in our history.

MARTIN A. LEE is the cofounder of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) and the author of The Beast Reawakens. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsday, Spin, The Village Voice, and Le Monde Diplomatique.

BRUCE SHLAIN is the author of Oddballs and Baseball Inside Out. He has written for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and other publications.

"An important historical synthesis of the spread and effects of a drug that served as a central metaphor for an era." -- JOHN SAYLES

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

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The molecular structure of d-lysergic diethylamide.

Dr. Albert Hoffman, the grandfather of the acid generation in his laboratory at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland. (Sandoz, AG, Basel)

Cover page of a once-classified CIA memorandum on LSD-25.

Richard Helms, CIA Director from 1967-1973, described LSD as "dynamite." (AP/Wide World Photos)

Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, chief of the CIA's Technical Service Staff, who ran the super-secret MK-ULTRA program. (George Tames/The New York Times)

George Hunter White, high-ranking narcotics official, shown in December 1952, when he began administering LSD to unwitting American citizens at the behest of the CIA. "It was fun, fun, fun," White said. "Where else could a red-blooded American lie, kill, cheat, and rape, with the sanction of the all-highest?" (New York Daily News Photo)

Major General William Creasy, chief officer of the US Army's Chemical Corps in the 1950's, preached a new military gospel of "war without death." During Congressional testimony Creasy called for the testing of hallucinogenic gases on subways in American cities. (The New York Times)

Captain Alfred M. Hubbard, the spy who became the first Johnny Appleseed of LSD. "If you don't think it's amazing," said Hubbard, "just go ahead and try it." (Courtesy of Bill Darling)

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Aldous Huxley, author of Doors of Perception, the seminal psychedelic manifesto, and his wife, Laura. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Ralph Metzner (left) and Timothy Leary (right) in front of the palatial Millbrook estate. (New York Daily News Photo)

William Mellon Hitchcock (right), millionaire owner of Millbrook, taking part in a Tai Chi session with Leary (left) at the mansion. (Eugene Anthony)

The Merry Pranksters traveled across the US in a psychedelic bus in the summer of 1964. (Eugene Anthony)

Ken Kesey first turned on to LSD through a government-funded drug program at Stanford. (UPI/Bettmann Newsphotos)

Kesey and the Pranksters hosted a series of acid tests on the West Coast.

Thousands "freaked freely" at the three-day Trips Festival in Francisco, January 1966. (Eugene Anthony)

Allen Ginsberg, poet laureate of the acid subculture, shown testifying at Senate hearings on drug abuse. Ginsberg stated that there had been a "journalistic exaggeration" of the dangers of LSD. (AP/Wide World Photos)

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

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Poster announcing the first human be-in.

25,000 gathered in Golden Gate Park for the first human be-in, January 1967. (Eugene Anthony)

Digger street theater in Haight-Ashbury. (Eugene Anthony)

Slogan adopted by the flower children.

Anti-war demonstrators at the Pentagon, October 1967. (Paul Conklin, Time)

Yippies Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin burning money at the New York Stock Exchange. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Undercover police agent posing as a hippie radical. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Woodstock rock festival, August 1969. (New York Daily News Photo)

Ronald Stark manufactured 50 million hits of black market LSD in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He was later exposed as a CIA informant by Italian authorities. (Ansa)

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

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Many people helped to make this book possible. Above all, we wish to express our gratitude to Allen Ginsberg and Dr. Oscar Janiger for their counsel and generosity of spirit. And for their enduring friendship: Bret Eynon, oral historian and New Left scholar, and Jeff Cohen, who nurtured the manuscript in countless ways from start to finish.

We'd also like to thank James Grauerholz for encouraging us in the early going; Carl Oglesby, for his ever-articulate insight, and the other members of the Assassination Information Bureau; Peter Berg and Judy Goldhaft, for sharing their perspective on Haight-Ashhury and the Digger experience; Robert Ranftel, Paul Krassner, and Steven Ben Israel, for their comedic genius; Beverly Isis and Liz Iler, for their unwavering support; and Michael Aldridge, the curator of the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library, an invaluable resource for sixties and counterculture historians. Very special appreciation to Michael Rossman, William Burroughs, Peter Stafford, Tim Leary, Bill Adler, Ed Sanders, Mark Dowie, Tim Scully, Jonathan Marshall, Bernard Ohanian, Dorianna Fallo, and the late Julian Beck.

In addition, we'd like to thank Charles Allen, Eugene Anthony, Michael Bowen, Ann Charters, Allen Cohen, Ira Cohen, Jim Fouratt, Todd Gitlin, Abbie Hoffman, Michael Horowitz, Ken Kelley, John Marks, Eric Noble, Dr. Humphry Osmond, John Sinclair, David Solomon, Bill Zirinsky, Miles, and Ken Kesey. And a silent nod to those who preferred that their names not be mentioned.

Our heartfelt appreciation to Alana Lee, for coming through time and again. To Goodwin and Silva Lee, Marvin and Hilda Shlain, and Joe and Emily Krinsky, for providing the kind of support that only family can give.

And to Gayle, for her love and faith.

And finally, we'd like to thank Geri Thoma of the Elaine Markson Literary Agency; Joy Johannessen, for her excellent copy editing; Fred Jordan, our editor; Laura Lindgren, Laura Kane, and the staff at Grove Press.

Martin A. Lee
Bruce Shlain

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Introduction: Whose Worlds Are These?

In June 1967 the Candyman burst through the door of my pad on Avenue C on New York's Lower East Side. He always burst through the door because that was his style. He could barely contain himself. He dropped his mirrored Peruvian bag on the kitchen table and exclaimed: "Just for you! Czech acid!" The Candyman always had some new kind of acid. That month I had already sampled Window Pane and Sunshine. I didn't know if my system could handle another extended flight to the far reaches. But this Czech acid was different. For one thing, it revealed to me that the entire molecular and submolecular structure of the universe was in fact composed of tiny sickles and hammers. Billions and billions of tiny sickles and hammers shimmered in the beauteous symmetry of the material world. I always thought of this particular "commie trip" as a rather private experience brought about by my having been born and raised in Communist Romania, where sickles and hammers were ubiquitous and unavoidable.

I did not doubt what I had seen, but I did doubt whether there was such a thing as Czech acid for the simple reason that Czechoslovakia, like Romania, was a monochromatic world. It seemed clear that if acid had existed in Eastern Europe it would have brought about the collapse of communism there, just as it was bringing about the downfall of a certain kind of dour-faced, simple-minded America. And at that time it didn't look like communism was anywhere near collapse. Well, I was wrong. Reading this extraordinary, superbly researched, suspenseful history of LSD, I find, on page 115, that: "In September 1965 Michael Hollingshead returned to his native London armed with hundreds of copies of the updated Book of the Dead and five thousand doses of LSD (which he procured from Czech government laboratories in Prague)." And communism did collapse, though not right then, and acid did have quite a bit to do with it. Charter 77, the Czech human rights organization, was founded by Vaclav Havel in defense of the Plastic People of the Universe, a psychedelic band inspired by the Velvet Underground. Havel himself was in New York in 1968, listening to the Velvets and dreaming, no doubt, of a way out of Cold War ideology.

This tiny revelation is but a parenthetical remark in a story full of surprises, many of which are profoundly unsettling. The drug that connected so many of us to the organic mystery of a vastly alive universe turns out to have been, at least in the beginning, a secret CIA project to find a truth serum. It's frightening to think that CIA spooks have used LSD with electroshock and torture to get information out of prisoners. It's even more frightening that they have used it themselves to little positive effect. Or perhaps not. It's ironic and still scary to think that the CIA tried to control the LSD experiment even though hundreds of thousands were turning on in the heyday of the sixties. Neither the ironies nor the chilling implications stop here. The authors have plowed through thousands of pages of declassified intelligence material to reveal a complex tissue of connections between secret government agencies and the academic world on the one hand, and between the utopian hopes of a generation and the machinations of those same agencies on the other. It's a riveting story that makes the most paranoid and outlandish theories of the sixties seem insufficiently paranoid.

At the same time, in a most persuasive and closely argued way, this sharply documented chronicle tells the story of the fantastic characters of acid: Captain Al Hubbard, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, Owsley, Art Kleps, Ken Kesey, and many, many more. One is quickly immersed in the vibrant collective aura of the times, which, in spite of the CIA and army intelligence, managed to change America forever. The undeniably metaphysical window that LSD opened for so many of us may have unwittingly been opened by those whose interests lay in keeping it shut. It may well be that, seeing their mistake, they have been endeavoring to close it ever since. But the fact is that the brilliant glimpse of a living cosmos did pour through for a while, and it resulted in an unprecedented vision of a different world. One could debate forever the question of how much of what the drug did for us was contingent on the peculiar conditions of that time. The opening, however, was real.

The usefulness of Acid Dreams goes beyond nostalgia. In researching the effect of LSD on the psychology, sociology, and politics of the sixties, the authors have given a context to the mythos and poetry that now permeate almost every aspect of high and low American culture. For believers in capital C Conspiracy, this book should prove a rich mine for reflection. For those, like myself, who believe that conspiracy and control are games that vanish once one ceases to believe in them, this book stands as a much-needed corrective. To history buffs, this is fascinating history. Best of all, this is a thriller about the great mystery of how we of a certain generation got to be who we are.

December 4, 1991

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October 1977.

Thousands of people jammed the auditorium at the University of California in Santa Cruz. Those who were unable to gain admittance stood outside and pressed their faces against the windows, hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the visiting dignitaries. An all-star lineup of poets, scientists, journalists, and media celebrities had convened for the opening of a weekend conference entitled "LSD: A Generation Later." Topping the bill was the man they call the "Father of the Psychedelic Age."

At seventy-one years of age Dr. Albert Hofmann seemed miscast in his role as hero of such a gathering. His white, closely cropped hair and conservative attire contrasted sharply with the motley appearance of his youthful admirers, who could just as easily have turned out for a rock and roll concert or an antinuke rally. But as he strode to the podium to deliver the evening's keynote address, Dr. Hofmann was greeted by a long and thunderous standing ovation.

"You may be disappointed," he warned the audience. "You may have expected a guru, but instead you meet just a chemist." whereupon Hofmann launched into a serious scientific discussion of the step-by-step process that led to the discovery of LSD-25, the most potent mind drug known to science at the time. Occasionally he flashed a diagram on the screen and expatiated on the molecular subtleties of hallucinogenic drugs. While much of the technical data soared way above the heads of his listeners, they seemed to love every minute of it.

Dr. Hofmann first synthesized LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) in 1938 while investigating the chemical and pharmacological properties of ergot, a rye fungus rich in medicinal alkaloids, for Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland. At the time he was searching for an analeptic compound (a circulatory stimulant), and LSD was the twenty-fifth in a series of ergot derivatives he concocted; hence the designation LSD-25. Preliminary studies on laboratory animals did not prove significant, and scientists at Sandoz quickly lost interest in the drug. For the next five years the vial of LSD gathered dust on the shelf, until the afternoon of April 16, 1943.

"I had a strange feeling," Hofmann told the assembled masses, "that it would be worthwhile to carry out more profound studies with this compound." In the course of preparing a fresh batch of LSD he accidentally absorbed a small dose through his fingertips, and soon he was overcome by "a remarkable but not unpleasant state of intoxication ... characterized by an intense stimulation of the imagination and an altered state of awareness of the world." A knowing chorus of laughter emanated from the audience as Hofmann continued to read from his diary notes. "As I lay in a dazed condition with eyes closed there surged up from me a succession of fantastic, rapidly changing imagery of a striking reality and depth, alternating with a vivid, kaleidoscopic play of colors. This condition gradually passed off after about three hours."

Dr. Hofmann was baffled by his first unplanned excursion into the strange world of LSD. He could not comprehend how this substance could have found its way into his body in sufficient quantity to produce such extraordinary symptoms. In the interest of science, he assured his audience, he decided to experiment on himself. Another boisterous round of applause filled the auditorium.

On April 19, three days after his initial psychedelic voyage, Dr. Hofmann swallowed a mere 250 micrograms (a millionth of an ounce), thinking that such a minuscule amount would have negligible results. But he was in for a surprise. As he bicycled home accompanied by his laboratory assistant, he realized the symptoms were much stronger than before. "I had great difficulty in speaking coherently," he recounted. "My field of vision swayed before me, and objects appeared distorted like images in curved mirrors. I had the impression of being unable to move from the spot, although my assistant told me afterwards that we had cycled at a good pace."

When Hofmann arrived home, he consulted a physician, who was ill equipped to deal with what would later be called a "bad trip." Hofmann did not know if he'd taken a fatal dose or if he'd be lost forever in the twisted corridors of inner space. For a while he feared he was losing his mind: "Occasionally I felt as if I were out of my body ... I thought I had died. My 'ego' was suspended somewhere in space and I saw my body lying dead on the sofa."

Somehow Hofmann summoned the courage to endure this mind-wrenching ordeal. As the trip wore on, his psychic condition began to improve, and eventually he was able to explore the hallucinogenic terrain with a modicum of composure. He spent the remaining hours absorbed in a synesthetic swoon, bearing witness as each sound triggered a corresponding optical effect, and vice versa, until he fell into a fitful sleep. The next morning he awoke feeling perfectly fine.

And so it was that Dr. Albert Hofmann made his fateful discovery. Right from the start he sensed that LSD could be an important tool for studying how the mind works, and he was pleased when the scientific community began to use the drug for this purpose. But he did not anticipate that his "problem child," as he later referred to LSD, would have such enormous social and cultural impact in the years to come. Nor could he have foreseen that one day he would be revered as a near-mythic figure by a generation of acid enthusiasts.

"Dr. Hofmann," said Stephen Gaskin, leader of the largest counterculture commune in America, "there are thousands of people on the Farm who feel they owe their lives to you." Gaskin was among the guests invited to participate in a panel discussion on the second day of the colloquium. Its purpose was to provide a forum for counterculture veterans to reflect back upon the halcyon days of the psychedelic movement, which had reached a peak a decade earlier during the infamous Summer of Love, and assess what had since come to pass. Poet Allen Ginsberg likened the event to a "class reunion." He decided to do some homework before joining his fellow acid valedictorians, so he took some LSD on the plane flight to the West Coast. While under the influence of the psychedelic, he began to ponder the disclosures that had recently surfaced in the news media concerning the CIA's use of LSD as a mind control weapon. The possibility that an espionage organization might have promoted the widespread use of LSD was disturbing to Ginsberg, who had been an outspoken advocate of psychedelics during the 1960s. He grabbed a pen and started jotting down some high-altitude thoughts. "Am I, Allen Ginsberg, the product of one of the CIA's lamentable, ill-advised, or triumphantly successful experiments in mind control?" Had the CIA, "by conscious plan or inadvertent Pandora's Box, let loose the whole LSD Fad on the U.S. & the World?"

Ginsberg raised the CIA issue during the conference, but few seemed to take the matter seriously. "The LSD movement was started by the CIA," quipped Timothy Leary with a wide grin on his face. "I wouldn't be here now without the foresight of the CIA scientists." The one-time Pied Piper of the flower children was in top form, laughing and joking with reporters, as though he hadn't been chased halfway around the world by US narcotics police and spent the last few years in prison. "It was no accident," Leary mused. "It was all planned and scripted by the Central Intelligence, and I'm all in favor of Central Intelligence."

A jovial mood prevailed throughout much of the panel discussion. Old comrades who had not seen each other for a long time swapped tales of acid glory and reminisced about the wild and unforgettable escapades of yesteryear. "As I look at my colleagues and myself," said Richard Alpert, one of Leary's original cohorts at Harvard University in the early 1960s, "I see we have proceeded just as we wished to, despite all conditions. I feel that what we are doing today is partly demonstrating that we are not psychotic!" Alpert went on to declare that he didn't care if he ever took LSD again but that he appreciated what his hundreds of trips had taught him and hoped there would be a more favorable climate for serious LSD research in the near future.

Alpert's sentiments were echoed by many of the panelists, who called on the government to reconsider its restrictive policies so that scientists and psychologists could resume studying the drug. There were frequent testimonials to the contributions LSD made to science and society. Acid was praised as a boon to psychotherapy, an enhancer of creativity, a religious sacrament, and a liberator of the human spirit. Dr. Ralph Metzner, the third member of the Harvard triumvirate, suggested that the appearance of LSD constituted nothing less than a turning point in human evolution. It was no coincidence, he maintained, that Dr. Hofmann discovered the effects of LSD shortly after the first nuclear chain reaction was achieved by the Manhattan Project. His remarks seemed to imply that LSD was some sort of divine antidote to the nuclear curse and that humanity must pay heed to the psychedelic revelation if it was to alter its self-destructive course and avert a major catastrophe.

Author Richard Ashley elaborated on the theme of acid as a chemical messiah. As far as he was concerned, LSD provided the most effective means of short-circuiting the mental straitjacket that society imposes on its members. A worldwide police state was a virtual certainty, Ashley predicted, unless more people used psychedelics to raise their consciousness and resist the ominous specter of thought control.

Others were somewhat more cautious in speculating upon the role of hallucinogenic drugs in advanced industrial society. "LSD came along before our culture was ready for it," asserted Dr. Stanley Krippner, a leading parapsychologist who once directed the Maimonides Dream Laboratory in New York. "I think we're still not ready for it. We haven't used it for its greatest potential. Psychedelic substances have been used very wisely in primitive cultures for spiritual and healing purposes. Our culture does not have this framework. We don't have the closeness to God, the closeness to nature, the shamanistic outlook. We've lost all that."

By the time the conference drew to a close, over thirty speakers had rendered their verdicts about LSD and the so-called psychedelic revolution. While it was clear that everyone had been deeply affected by the drug experience and the social movement it inspired, there was no overall consensus as to what it all meant. Each person had his or her ideas about why things happened the way they did and what the future might portend. Some felt that LSD arrived on the scene just in the nick of time, others saw it as a premature discovery, and there were a few who thought it might already be too late. If that wasn't enough to thoroughly confuse the audience, John Lilly, the dolphin scientist, urged his listeners to ignore everything they heard from their elders and make their own discoveries. Ginsberg seconded the motion in his concluding remarks. "We must disentangle ourselves from past suppositions," he counseled. "The words 'psychedelic revolution' are part of a past created largely by media images. We need to throw out the past images."

Less than a month before the Santa Cruz convention, LSD was the main topic at another well-attended gathering. The setting on this occasion was an ornate Senate hearing room on Capitol Hill. The television cameras were ready to roll as Ted Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, strolled toward the lectern flanked by a few of his aides. During the next two days he would attempt to nail down the elusive details of Operation MK-ULTRA, the principal CIA program involving the development of chemical and biological agents during the Cold War.

In his opening statement Kennedy told a large audience that he hoped these hearings would "close the book on this chapter of the CIA's life." He then proceeded to question a group of former CIA employees about the Agency's testing of LSD and other drugs on unwitting American citizens. These activities were considered so sensitive that only a handful of people within the CIA even knew about them. A previously classified document explained why the program was shrouded in secrecy: "The knowledge that the Agency is engaging in unethical and illicit activities would have serious repercussions in political and diplomatic circles and would be detrimental to the accomplishment of its mission."

Although most of the testimony had been rehearsed earlier when witnesses met with a Kennedy staff member, the senator from Massachusetts still managed to feign a sense of astonishment when David Rhodes, formerly a CIA psychologist, recounted an ill-fated LSD experiment at a CIA safehouse in the San Francisco Bay area. He described how unsuspecting individuals were recruited from local bars and lured to a party where CIA operatives intended to release LSD in the form of an aerosol spray. But as Rhodes explained, the air currents in the room were unsuitable for dosing the partygoers, so one of his cohorts snuck into the bathroom and tried the spray on himself. The audience chuckled at the thought of grown men spritzing themselves with government acid, while news reporters scribbled their renditions of the headline-making tale.

Throughout the hearings the senators listened to one account after another of bumbling and clumsiness on the part of Agency personnel. Phillip Goldman, a CIA chemical warfare specialist, could have been describing a Three Stooges routine when he told of an attempt to test a launching device for a stink bomb. The projectile hit the window ledge, and the spooks held their noses. There were more laughs when he mentioned a drug-coated swizzle stick that dissolved in a cocktail but left a taste so bitter that no one would drink it. And so forth and so on. This kind of buffoonery proved to be an effective public relations ploy for the CIA, deflecting serious scrutiny from drug-related misdeeds. By stressing ineptitude the Agency conveyed an all too human air. After all, why prosecute a bunch of regular Joes for fooling around with chemicals they could never hope to understand?

The star witness on the second day of the hearings was the CIA's chief sorcerer-scientist, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, who ran the MK-ULTRA program. Gottlieb, a slight man with short gray hair and a clubfoot, agreed to testify only after receiving a grant of immunity from criminal prosecution. His testimony before the Senate subcommittee marked the first public appearance of this shadowy figure since he left the Agency in 1973. Actually his appearance was "semi-public." Because he suffered from a heart condition, Gottlieb was allowed to speak with the senators in a small antechamber while everyone else listened to the proceedings over a public address system.

The purpose of Operation MK-ULTRA and related programs, Gottlieb explained, was "to investigate whether and how it was possible to modify an individual's behavior by covert means." When asked to elaborate on what the CIA learned from this research, Gottlieb was afflicted by a sudden loss of memory, as if he were under the influence of one of his own amnesia drugs. However, he did confirm earlier reports that prostitutes were used in the safehouse experiments to spike the drinks of unlucky customers while CIA operatives observed, photographed, and recorded the action.

When asked to justify this activity, Gottlieb resorted to the familiar Cold War refrain that had been invoked repeatedly throughout the hearings by other witnesses. The original impetus for the CIA's drug programs, he maintained, stemmed from concern about the aggressive use of behavior-altering techniques against the U.S. by its enemies. Gottlieb claimed there was evidence (which he never shared with the senators) that the Soviets and the Red Chinese might have been mucking about with LSD in the early 1950s. This, he explained, had grave implications for our national security.

At the close of the hearings Kennedy summed up the surreptitious LSD tests by declaring, "These activities are part of history, not the current practice of the CIA." And that was as far as it went. The senators seemed eager to get the whole show over with, even though many issues were far from resolved. Later it was revealed that some of the witnesses conferred among themselves, agreeing to limit their testimony to the minimum degree necessary to satisfy the committee. As Dr. Gottlieb admitted, "The bottom line on this whole business has not yet been written."

Shortly after the Senate forum, a Washington attorney gave us a tip about how to gain access to a special reading room that housed documents pertaining to Operation MK-ULTRA and other CIA mind control projects. The documents had recently been declassified as a result of a Freedom of Information request by researcher John Marks. Located on the bottom floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosslyn, Virginia, the reading room was smoke-filled and crowded with journalists working on deadlines, scouring through a heap of papers as fast as their fingers could turn the pages. We were not bound by such constraints, and we decided to examine the files at an unhurried pace.

Reading through the intelligence records was both exciting and frustrating. Each stack of heavily censored reports contained a hodge-podge of data, much of which seemed trivial. There was no rhyme or reason to their arrangement: financial records, inventory lists, in-house gossip, and letters of recommendation were randomly interspersed with minutes of top-secret meetings and other tantalizing morsels.

We dug in for the long haul, intent on examining every scrap of information related to the CIA's behavior modification programs. Our visits to the reading room became a weekly ritual, and soon we expanded our investigation to include army, navy, and air force documents as well. During the next six months we reviewed approximately twenty thousand pages of previously classified memoranda. We began to think of ourselves as archeologists rather than muck-rakers, trying to unearth remnants of a lost history buried underneath layers of secrecy.

In the course of our inquiry we uncovered CIA documents describing experiments in sensory deprivation, sleep teaching, ESP, subliminal projection, electronic brain stimulation, and many other methods that might have applications for behavior modification. One project was designed to turn people into programmed assassins who would kill on automatic command. Another document mentioned "hypnotically-induced anxieties" and "induced pain as a form of physical and psychological control." There were repeated references to exotic drugs and biological agents that caused "headache clusters," uncontrollable twitching or drooling, or a lobotomy like stupor. Deadly chemicals were concocted for the sole purpose of inducing a heart attack or cancer without leaving a clue as to the actual source of the disease. CIA specialists also studied the effects of magnetic fields, ultrasonic vibrations, and other forms of radiant energy on the brain. As one CIA doctor put it, "We lived in a never-never land of 'eyes only' memos and unceasing experimentation."

As it turns out, nearly every drug that appeared on the black market during the 1960s -- marijuana, cocaine, heroin, PCP, amyl nitrate, mushrooms, DMT, barbiturates, laughing gas, speed, and many others -- had previously been scrutinized, tested, and in some cases refined by CIA and army scientists. But of all the techniques explored by the Agency in its multimillion-dollar twenty-five-year quest to conquer the human mind, none received as much attention or was embraced with such enthusiasm as LSD-25. For a time CIA personnel were completely infatuated with the hallucinogen. Those who first tested LSD in the early 1950s were convinced that it would revolutionize the cloak-and-dagger trade.

As we studied the documents more closely, certain shapes and patterns came alive to us. We began to get a sense of the internal dynamics of the CIA's secret LSD program and how it evolved over the years. The story that emerged was far more complex and rich in detail than the disconnected smattering of information that had surfaced in various press reports and government probes. We were able to understand what the spies were looking for when they first got into LSD, what happened during the initial phase of experimentation, how their attitude changed as they tested the drug on themselves and their associates, and how it was ultimately used in covert operations.

The central irony of LSD is that it has been used both as a weapon and a sacrament, a mind control drug and a mind-expanding chemical. Each of these possibilities generated a unique history: a covert history, on the one hand, rooted in CIA and military experimentation with hallucinogens, and a grassroots history of the drug counterculture that exploded into prominence in the 1960s. At key points the two histories converge and overlap, forming an interface between the CIA's secret drug programs and the rise and fall of the psychedelic movement.

The LSD story is inseparable from the cherished hopes and shattered illusions of the sixties generation. In many ways it provides a key for understanding what happened during that turbulent era, when political and cultural revolution erupted with full fury. And yet, as the decade drew to a close, the youth movement suddenly collapsed and bottomed out, leaving a trail of unanswered questions in its wake. Only by examining both sides of the psychedelic saga -- the CIA's mind control program and the drug subculture -- can we grasp the true nature of LSD-25 and discern what effect this powerful chemical agent had on the social upheavals of the 1960s.

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

PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:21 pm
by admin
In The Beginning There Was Madness

The Truth Seekers

In the spring of 1942 General William "Wild Bill" Donovan, chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the CIA's wartime predecessor, assembled a half-dozen prestigious American scientists and asked them to undertake a top-secret research program. Their mission, Donovan explained, was to develop a speech-inducing drug for use in intelligence interrogations. He insisted that the need for such a weapon was so acute as to warrant any and every attempt to find it.

The use of drugs by secret agents had long been a part of cloak-and-dagger folklore, but this would be the first concerted attempt on the part of an American espionage organization to modify human behavior through chemical means. "We were not afraid to try things that had never been done before," asserted Donovan, who was known for his freewheeling and unconventional approach to the spy trade. The OSS chief pressed his associates to come up with a substance that could break down the psychological defenses of enemy spies and POWs, thereby causing an uninhibited disclosure of classified information. Such a drug would also be useful for screening OSS personnel in order to identify German sympathizers, double agents, and potential misfits.

Dr. Windfred Overhulser, superintendent of Saint Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, DC, was appointed chairman of the research committee. Other members included Dr. Edward Strecker, then president of the American Psychiatric Association, and Harry J. Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. The committee surveyed and rejected numerous drugs, including alcohol, barbiturates, and caffeine. Peyote and scopolamine were also tested, but the visions produced by these substances interfered with the interrogation process. Eventually marijuana was chosen as the most likely candidate for a speech-inducing agent.

OSS scientists created a highly potent extract of cannabis, and through a process known as esterification a clear and viscous liquid was obtained. The final product had no color, odor, or taste. It would be nearly impossible to detect when administered surreptitiously, which is exactly what the spies intended to do. "There is no reason to believe that any other nation or group is familiar with the preparation of this particular drug," stated a once classified OSS document. Henceforth the OSS referred to the marijuana extract as "TD" -- a rather transparent cover for "Truth Drug."

Various ways of administering TD were tried on witting and unwitting subjects. OSS operatives found that the medicated goo could "be injected into any type of food, such as mashed potatoes, butter, salad dressing, or in such things as candy." Another scheme relied on using facial tissues impregnated with the drug. But these methods had their drawbacks. What if someone had a particularly ravenous appetite? Too much TD could knock a subject out and render him useless for interrogation. The OSS eventually determined that the best approach involved the use of a hypodermic syringe to inject a diluted TD solution into a cigarette or cigar. After smoking such an item, the subject would get suitably stoned, at which point a skillful interrogator would move in and try to get him to spill the beans.

The effects of TD were described in an OSS report: "TD appears to relax all inhibitions and to deaden the areas of the brain which govern an individual's discretion and caution. It accentuates the senses and makes manifest any strong characteristics of the individual. Sexual inhibitions are lowered, and the sense of humor is accentuated to the point where any statement or situation can become extremely funny to the subject. On the other hand, a person's unpleasant characteristics may also be heightened. It may be stated that, generally speaking, the reaction will be one of great loquacity and hilarity." [1]

After testing TD on themselves, their associates, and US military personnel, OSS agents utilized the drug operationally, although on a limited basis. The results were mixed. In certain instances TD subjects felt a driving necessity "to discuss psychologically charged topics. Whatever the individual is trying to withhold will be forced to the top of his subconscious mind." But there were also those who experienced "toxic reactions" -- better known in latter-day lingo as "bummers." One unwitting doper became irritable and threatening and complained of feeling like he was "two different people." The peculiar nature of his symptoms precluded any attempt to question him.

That was how it went, from one extreme to the other. At times TD seemed to stimulate "a rush of talk," on other occasions people got paranoid and didn't say a word. The lack of consistency proved to be a major stumbling block, and "Donovan's dreamers," as his enthusiastic OSS staffers have been called, reluctantly weaned themselves from their reefer madness. A handwritten comment in the margins of an OSS document summed up their stoned escapades: "The drug defies all but the most expert and searching analysis, and for all practical purposes can be considered beyond analysis."

After the war, the CIA and the military picked up where the OSS had left off in the secret search for a truth serum. The navy took the lead when it initiated Project CHATTER in 1947, the same year the CIA was formed. Described as an "offensive" program, CHATTER was supposed to devise means of obtaining information from people independent of their volition but without physical duress. Toward this end, Dr. Charles Savage conducted experiments with mescaline (a semi-synthetic extract of the peyote cactus that produces hallucinations similar to those caused by LSD) at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. But these studies, which involved animal as well as human subjects, did not yield an effective truth serum, and CHATTER was terminated in 1953.

The navy became interested in mescaline as an interrogation agent when American investigators learned of mind control experiments carried out by Nazi doctors at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II. After administering the hallucinogen to thirty prisoners, the Nazis concluded that it was "impossible to impose one's will on another person as in hypnosis even when the strongest dose of mescaline had been given." But the drug still afforded certain advantages to SS interrogators, who were consistently able to draw "even the most intimate secrets from the [subject] when questions were cleverly put." Not surprisingly, "sentiments of hatred and revenge were exposed in every case."

The mescaline experiments at Dachau were described in a lengthy report by the US Naval Technical Mission, which swept across Europe in search of every scrap of industrial material and scientific data that could be garnered from the fallen Reich. This mission set the stage for the wholesale importation of more than six hundred top Nazi scientists under the auspices of Project Paperclip, which the CIA supervised during the early years of the Cold War. Among those who emigrated to the US in such a fashion was Dr. Hubertus Strughold, the German scientist whose chief subordinates (Dr. Sigmund Ruff and Dr. Sigmund Rascher) were directly involved in "aviation medicine" experiments at Dachau, which included the mescaline studies. [2] Despite recurring allegations that he sanctioned medical atrocities during the war, Strughold settled in Texas and became an important figure in America's space program. After Wernher von Braun, he was the top Nazi scientist employed by the American government, and he was subsequently hailed by NASA as the "father of space medicine."

The CIA, meanwhile, had launched an intensive research effort geared toward developing "special" interrogation techniques. Two methods showed promise in the late 1940s. The first involved narcohypnosis, in which a CIA psychiatrist attempted to induce a trance state after administering a mild sedative. A second technique involved a combination of two different drugs with contradictory effects. A heavy dose of barbiturates was given to knock the subject out, and then he received an injection of a stimulant, usually some type of amphetamine. As he started to come out of a somnambulant state, he would reach a certain ineffable point prior to becoming fully conscious. Described in CIA documents as "the twilight zone," this groggy condition was considered optimal for interrogation.

CIA doctors attempted to extend the stuporous limbo as long as possible. In order to maintain the delicate balance between consciousness and unconsciousness, an intravenous hookup was inserted in both the subject's arms. One set of works contained a downer, the other an upper (the classic "goofball effect"); with a mere flick of the finger an interrogator could regulate the flow of chemicals. The idea was to produce a "push" -- a sudden outpouring of thoughts, emotions, confidences, and whatnot. Along this line various combinations were tested: Seconal and Dexedrine, Pentothal and Desoxyn, and depending on the whim of the spy in charge, some marijuana (the old OSS stand-by, which the CIA referred to as "sugar") might be thrown in for good measure.

The goofball approach was not a precision science. There were no strictly prescribed rules or operating procedures regarding what drugs should be employed in a given situation. The CIA interrogators were left to their own devices, and a certain degree of recklessness was perhaps inevitable. In one case, a group of CIA experts hastily drafted a memo after reviewing a report prepared by one of the Agency's special interrogation teams. The medical consultants pointed out that "the amounts of scopolamine administered were extremely heavy." They also noted that the best results were obtained when two or at most three different chemicals were used in a session. In this case, however, heavy dosages of scopolamine were administered along with thiamine, sodium luminal, atropine sulfate, sodium pentothal and caffeine sulfate. One of the CIA's professional consultants in "H" techniques also questioned why hypnosis was attempted "after a long and continuous use of chemicals, after the subject had vomited, and after apparently a maximum tolerance point had been reached with the chemicals." Everyone who read the interrogation report agreed that hypnosis was useless, if not impossible, under such conditions. Nevertheless, the memo concluded by reaffirming that "no criticism is intended whatsoever" and that "the choice of operating weapons" must be left to the agents in the field.

Despite the potential hazards and tenuousness of the procedure as a whole, special interrogations were strongly endorsed by Agency officials. A CIA document dated November 26, 1951, announced, "We're now convinced that we can maintain a subject in a controlled state for a much longer period of time than we heretofore had believed possible. Furthermore, we feel that by use of certain chemicals or combinations, we can, in a very high percentage of cases, produce relevant information." Although these techniques were still considered experimental, the prevailing opinion among members of the special interrogation teams was that there had been enough experiments "to justify giving the green light to operational use of the techniques." "There will be many a failure," a CIA scientist acknowledged, but he was quick to stress that "every success with this method will be pure gravy." [3]

In an effort to expand its research program the CIA contacted academics and other outside experts who specialized in areas of mutual interest. Liaison was established with the research sections of police departments and criminology laboratories; medical practitioners, professional hypnotists, and psychiatrists were brought on as paid consultants; and various branches of the military provided assistance. Oftentimes these arrangements involved a cover to conceal the CIA's interest in behavior modification. With the bureaucratic apparatus already in place, the CIA's mind control efforts were integrated into a single project under the code name BLUEBIRD. Due to the extreme sensitivity of the project, the usual channels of authorization were bypassed; instead of going through the Projects Review Committee, the proposal for BLUEBIRD was submitted directly to CIA director Roscoe Hillenkoetter, who authorized the use of unvouchered funds to finance the hush-hush undertaking. With this seal of approval, the CIA's first major drug testing program was officially hatched. BLUEBIRD was to remain a carefully guarded secret, for if word of the program leaked out it would have been a great embarrassment and a detriment to American intelligence. As one CIA document put it, BLUEBIRD material was "not fit for public consumption."

From the outset the CIA's mind control program had an explicit domestic angle. A memo dated July 13, 1951, described the Agency's mind-bending efforts as "broad and comprehensive, involving both domestic and overseas activities, and taking into consideration the programs and objectives of other departments, principally the military services." BLUEBIRD activities were designed to create an "exploitable alteration of personality" in selected individuals; specific targets included "potential agents, defectors, refugees, POWs," and a vague category of "others." A number of units within the CIA participated in this endeavor, including the Inspection and Security Staff (the forerunner of the Office of Security), which assumed overall responsibility for running the program and dispatching the special interrogation teams. Colonel Sheffield Edwards, the chairman of the BLUEBIRD steering committee, consistently pushed for a more reliable speech-inducing substance. By the time BLUEBIRD evolved into Operation ARTICHOKE (the formal change in code names occurred in August 1951), Security officials were still searching for the magic technique -- the deus ex machina -- that would guarantee surefire results.

The whole concept of a truth drug was a bit farfetched to begin with. It presupposed that there was a way to chemically bypass the mind's censor and turn the psyche inside out, unleashing a profusion of buried secrets, and that surely some approximation of "truth" would emerge amidst all the personal debris. In this respect the CIA's quest resembled a skewed version of a familiar mythological theme from which such images as the Philosopher's Stone and the Fountain of Youth derive -- that through touching or ingesting something one can acquire wisdom, immortality, or eternal peace. It is more than a bit ironic that the biblical inscription on the marble wall of the main lobby at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, reads, "And ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free."

The freewheeling atmosphere that prevailed during the CIA's early years encouraged an "anything goes" attitude among researchers associated with the mind control program. This was before the Agency's bureaucratic arteries began to harden, and those who participated in Operation ARTICHOKE were intent on leaving no stone unturned in an effort to deliver the ultimate truth drug. A number of agents were sent on fact-finding missions to all corners of the globe to procure samples of rare herbs and botanicals. The results of one such trip were recorded in a heavily deleted document entitled "Exploration of Potential Plant Resources in the Caribbean Region." Among the numerous items mentioned in this report, a few were particularly intriguing. A plant called a "stupid bush," characterized by the CIA as a psychogenic agent and a pernicious weed, was said to proliferate in Puerto Rico and Saint Thomas. Its effects were shrouded in mystery. An "information bush" was also discovered. This shrub stumped CIA experts, who were at a loss to pin down its properties. The "information bush" was listed as a psychogenic agent followed by a lingering question mark. What type of information -- prophetic or mundane -- might be evoked by this unusual herb was unclear. Nor was it known whether the "information bush" could be used as an antidote to the "stupid bush" or vice versa.

The CIA studied a veritable pharmacopoeia of drugs with the hope of achieving a breakthrough. At one point during the early 1950s Uncle Sam's secret agents viewed cocaine as a potential truth serum. "Cocaine's general effects have been somewhat neglected," noted an astute researcher. Whereupon tests were conducted that enabled the CIA to determine that the precious powder "will produce elation, talkativeness, etc." when administered by injection. "Larger doses," according to a previously classified document, "may cause fearfulness and alarming hallucinations." The document goes on to report that cocaine "counteracts ... the catatonia of catatonic schizophrenics" and concludes with the recommendation that the drug be studied further.

A number of cocaine derivatives were also investigated from an interrogation standpoint. Procaine, a synthetic analogue, was tested on mental patients and the results were intriguing. When injected into the frontal lobes of the brain through trephine holes in the skull, the drug "produced free and spontaneous speech within two days in mute schizophrenics." This procedure was rejected as "too surgical for our use." Nevertheless, according to a CIA pharmacologist, "it is possible that such a drug could be gotten into the general circulation of subject without surgery, hypodermic or feeding." He suggested a method known as iontophoresis, which involves using an electric current to transfer the ions of a chosen medicament into the tissues of the body.

The CIA's infatuation with cocaine was short-lived. It may have titillated the nostrils of more than a few spies and produced some heady speculation, but after the initial inspiration it was back to square one. Perhaps their expectations were too high for any drug to accommodate. Or maybe a new approach to the problem was required.

The search for an effective interrogation technique eventually led to heroin. Not the heroin that ex-nazi pilots under CIA contract smuggled out of the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia on CIA proprietary airlines during the late 1940s and early 1950s, nor the heroin that was pumped into America's black and brown ghettos after passing through contraband networks controlled by mobsters who moonlighted as CIA hitmen. The Agency's involvement in worldwide heroin traffic, which has been well documented in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred McCoy, went far beyond the scope of Operation ARTICHOKE, which was primarily concerned with eliciting information from recalcitrant subjects. However, ARTICHOKE scientists did see possible advantages in heroin as a mind control drug. According to a CIA document dated April 26, 1952, heroin was "frequently used by police and intelligence officers on a routine basis [emphasis added]." The cold turkey theory of interrogation: CIA operatives determined that heroin and other habit-forming substances "can be useful in reverse because of the stresses produced when they are withdrawn from those who are addicted to their use."



1. This was a rather mild and playful assessment of the effects of marijuana compared to the public rantings of Harry Anslinger, the narcotics chief who orchestrated an unrelenting media campaign against "the killer weed."

2. Strughold's subordinates injected Dachau inmates with gasoline, crushed them to death in high-altitude pressure chambers, shot them so that potential blood coagulants could be tested on their wounds, forced them to stand naked in subfreezing temperatures or immersed them in tubs of ice water to see how long it would take before they died. As Charles R. Allen, Jr., author of From Hitler to Uncle Sam: How American Intelligence Used Nazi War Criminals, stated in an article on Strughold, "There was a clear pattern to the various experiments with poison, gas, deliberate infestation of victims with malaria, typhus and other virulencies causing instant or prolonged anguishing to death. Whether the tests concerned high-altitude, freezing or the potability of sea water; or the shooting of 'volunteers' with gas bullets -- the patent purpose of the entire body of tests conducted at Dachau was to enhance the effectiveness of Hitler's criminal warfare against humanity."

After the war an Allied tribunal convened at Nuremberg sentenced a number of Nazi doctors to death for their role in medical atrocities at Dachau and other concentration camps. The judges at Nuremberg subsequently put forward a code of ethics for scientific research, which stipulated that full voluntary consent must be obtained from all research subjects and experiments should yield positive results for the benefit of society that could not be obtained in any other way.

Although Dr. Strughold escaped prosecution, his name later appeared on a master list of "Reported Nazi War Criminals Residing in the United States" compiled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.

3. Obtaining information was only one aspect of the interrogation process. Even when CIA officers were able to loosen a subject's tongue, other problems remained, such as how to insure that he would not remember the events that transpired during his stint in the twilight zone. "If by some means we could create a perfect and thoroughly controlled amnesia," a CIA agent declared, "the matter would be simplified, but amnesia is not certain and cannot be guaranteed."

Certain drugs were known to produce amnesia for a matter of hours or days, but this was not sufficient. The CIA also had access to chemicals capable of causing permanent brain damage, but long-term amnesia drugs that would be completely reversible over a twelve-to-eighteen month period were not available.

This was quite an inconvenience as far as the national security experts were concerned. The question of what to do with subjects of special interrogation sessions -- the "disposal problem" -- provoked a heated debate inside the Company. The immediate objective was to find a way of holding them "in maximum custody until either operations have progressed to the point where their knowledge is no longer highly sensitive, or the knowledge they possess in general will be of no use to the enemy."

One possibility suggested in CIA documents was to render a person incoherent through psychological and/or pharmacological attack and then have him placed in a mental institution. An unspecified number of subjects were committed involuntarily to insane asylums, including some who were described in CIA memoranda as mentally sound. (This practice, which began in the early 1950s and continued at least until the mid-1960s, invited obvious comparisons to the incarceration of Russian dissidents in psychiatric hospitals because of their political views.) Another option involved "termination with extreme prejudice" (CIA lingo for assassination), but this was hardly an ideal solution in all situations.

In one CIA document the question of disposal was discussed under the heading "LOBOTOMY and Related Operations." A number of individuals who were fully cognizant of the disposal problem suggested that lobotomy "might be the answer or at least a partial solution." They argued that "lobotomy would create a person 'who no longer cared,' who had lost all initiative and drive, whose allegiance to ideal or motivating factors no longer existed, and who would probably have, if not complete amnesia, at least a fuzzy or spotty memory for recent and past events." They also pointed out "that certain lobotomy types of operations were simple, quickly performed and not too dangerous."

Along this line a group of CIA scientists entertained the possibility of using an "icepick" lobotomy to render an individual harmless "from a security point of view." A memo dated February 7, 1952, notes that on numerous occasions after using electroshock to produce anesthesia, an unidentified surgeon in the Washington, DC, area performed an operation that involved destroying brain tissue by piercing the skull just above the eye with a fine surgical icepick. This type of psychosurgery had certain advantages, in that it resulted in "nervous confusional and amnesia effects" without leaving a "tell-tale scar." The CIA also experimented with brain surgery via UHF sound waves and at one point during the early 1950s attempted to create a microwave "amnesia beam" that would destroy memory neurons.

Not all CIA officials, however, favored using lobotomy as a disposal technique. Potential drawbacks were cited: surgical risk was great, brain damage could be extensive, and such an operation, if faulty, could produce a "vegetable." Moreover, if the enemy discovered that the CIA was mutilating people's brains for the sake of national security, this information could be exploited as a propaganda weapon.

Other CIA officials opposed lobotomy because it was blatantly inhumane and violated "all concepts of 'fair-play' and the American way of life and [thus] it could never be officially [emphasis added] sanctioned or supported." A CIA document dated March 3, 1952, states that while "the USSR and its satellites are capable of any conceivable atrocity against human beings to attain what they think are their ends, we should not -- with our high regard for human life -- use these techniques unless by using them we save the lives of our own people and the situation is highly critical to the nation's safety."

In the early 1950s, at least $100,000 was designated for a proposed research project geared toward developing "neuro-surgical techniques for Agency interest." It is not known whether this research was ever carried out.

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

PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:22 pm
by admin
Enter LSD

It was with the hope of finding the long-sought miracle drug that CIA investigators first began to dabble with LSD-25 in the early 1950s. At the time very little was known about the hallucinogen, even in scientific circles. Dr. Werner Stoll, the son of Sandoz president Arthur Stoll and a colleague of Albert Hofmann's, was the first person to investigate the psychological properties of LSD. The results of his study were presented in the Swiss Archives of Neurology in 1947. Stoll reported that LSD produced disturbances in perception, hallucinations, and acceleration in thinking; moreover, the drug was found to blunt the usual suspiciousness of schizophrenic patients. No unfavorable aftereffects were described. Two years later in the same journal Stoll contributed a second report entitled "A New Hallucinatory Agent, Active in Very Small Amounts."

The fact that LSD caused hallucinations should not have been a total surprise to the scientific community. Sandoz first became interested in ergot, the natural source of lysergic acid, because of numerous stories passed down through the ages. The rye fungus had a mysterious and contradictory reputation. In China and parts of the Mideast it was thought to possess medicinal qualities, and certain scholars believe that it may have been used in sacred rites in ancient Greece. In other parts of Europe, however, the same fungus was associated with the horrible malady known as St. Anthony's Fire, which struck periodically like the plague. Medieval chronicles tell of villages and towns where nearly everyone went mad for a few days after ergot-diseased rye was unknowingly milled into flour and baked as bread. Men were afflicted with gangrenous limbs that looked like blackened stumps, and pregnant women miscarried. Even in modern times there have been reports of ergot-related epidemics. [1]

The CIA inherited this ambiguous legacy when it embraced LSD as a mind control drug. An ARTICHOKE document dated October 21, 1951, indicates that acid was tested initially as part of a pilot study of the effects of various chemicals "on the conscious suppression of experimental or non-threat secrets." In addition to lysergic acid this particular survey covered a wide range of substances, including morphine, ether, Benzedrine, ethyl alcohol, and mescaline. "There is no question," noted the author of this report, "that drugs are already on hand (and new ones are being produced) that can destroy integrity and make indiscreet the most dependable individual." The report concluded by recommending that LSD be critically tested "under threat conditions beyond the scope of civilian experimentation." POWs, federal prisoners, and Security officers were mentioned as possible candidates for these field experiments.

In another study designed to ascertain optimal dosage levels for interrogation sessions, a CIA psychiatrist administered LSD to "at least twelve human subjects of not too high mentality." At the outset the subjects were "told only that a new drug was being tested and promised that nothing serious or dangerous would happen to them ... During the intoxication they realized something was happening, but were never told exactly what." A dosage range of 100 to 150 micrograms was finally selected, and the Agency proceeded to test the drug in mock interrogation trials.

Initial reports seemed promising. In one instance LSD was given to an officer who had been instructed not to reveal "a significant military secret." When questioned, however, "he gave all the details of the secret, and after the effects of the LSD had worn off, the officer had no knowledge of revealing the information (complete amnesia)." Favorable reports kept coming in, and when this phase of experimentation was completed, the CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) prepared a lengthy memorandum entitled "Potential New Agent for Unconventional Warfare." LSD was said to be useful "for eliciting true and accurate statements from subjects under its influence during interrogation." Moreover, the data on hand suggested that LSD might help in reviving memories of past experiences.

It almost seemed too good to be true -- a drug that unearthed secrets buried deep in the unconscious mind but also caused amnesia during the effective period. The implications were downright astounding. Soon the entire CIA hierarchy was head over heels as news of what appeared to be a major breakthrough sent shock waves rippling through headquarters. (C. P. Snow once said, "The euphoria of secrecy goes to the head.") For years they had searched, and now they were on the verge of finding the Holy Grail of the cloak-and-dagger trade. As one CIA officer recalled, "We had thought at first that this was the secret that was going to unlock the universe."

But the sense of elation did not last long. As the secret research progressed, the CIA ran into problems. Eventually they came to recognize that LSD was not really a truth serum in the classical sense. Accurate information could not always be obtained from people under the influence of LSD because it induced a "marked anxiety and loss of reality contact." Those who received unwitting doses experienced an intense distortion of time, place, and body image, frequently culminating in full-blown paranoid reactions. The bizarre hallucinations caused by the drug often proved more of a hindrance than an aid to the interrogation process. There was always the risk, for example, that an enemy spy who started to trip out would realize he'd been drugged. This could make him overly suspicious and taciturn to the point of clamming up entirely.

There were other pitfalls that made the situation even more precarious from an interrogation standpoint. While anxiety was the predominant characteristic displayed during LSD sessions, some people experienced delusions of grandeur and omnipotence. An entire operation might backfire if someone had an ecstatic or transcendental experience and became convinced that he could defy his interrogators indefinitely. And then there was the question of amnesia, which was not as cut-and-dried as first supposed. Everyone agreed that a person would probably have a difficult time recalling exactly what happened while he was high on LSD, but that didn't mean his mind would be completely blank. While the drug might distort memory to some degree, it did not destroy it.

When CIA scientists tested a drug for speech-inducing purposes and found that it didn't work, they usually put it aside and tried something else. But such was not the case with LSD. Although early reports proved overoptimistic, the Agency was not about to discard such a powerful and unusual substance simply because it did not live up to its original expectations. They had to shift gears. A reassessment of the strategic implications of LSD was necessary. If, strictly speaking, LSD was not a reliable truth drug, then how else could it be used?

CIA researchers were intrigued by this new chemical, but they didn't quite know what to make of it. LSD was significantly different from anything else they knew about. "The most fascinating thing about it," a CIA psychologist recalled, "was that such minute quantities had such a terrific effect." Mere micrograms could create "serious mental confusion ... and render the mind temporarily susceptible to suggestion." Moreover, the drug was colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and therefore easily concealed in food and beverage. But it was hard to predict the response to LSD. On certain occasions acid seemed to cause an uninhibited disclosure of information, but oftentimes the overwhelming anxiety experienced by the subject obstructed the interrogation process. And there were unexplainable mood swings -- from total panic to boundless bliss-out. How could one drug produce such extreme and contradictory reactions? It didn't make sense.

As research continued, the situation became even more perplexing. At one point a group of Security officers did an about-face and suggested that acid might best be employed as an anti-interrogation substance: "Since information obtained from a person in a psychotic state would be unrealistic, bizarre, and extremely difficult to assess, the self-administration of LSD-25, which is effective in minute doses, might in special circumstances offer an operative temporary protection against interrogation [emphasis added]."

This proposal was somewhat akin to a suicide pill scenario. Secret agents would be equipped with micro-pellets of LSD to take on dangerous assignments. If they fell into enemy hands and were about to be interrogated, they could pop a tab of acid as a preventive measure and babble gibberish. Obviously this idea was impractical, but it showed just how confused the CIA's top scientists were about LSD. First they thought it was a truth serum, then a lie serum, and for a while they didn't know what to think.

To make matters worse, there was a great deal of concern within the Agency that the Soviets and the Red Chinese might also have designs on LSD as an espionage weapon. A survey conducted by the Office of Scientific Intelligence noted that ergot was a commercial product in numerous Eastern Bloc countries. The enigmatic fungus also flourished in the Soviet Union, but Russian ergot had not yet appeared in foreign markets. Could this mean the Soviets were hoarding their supplies? Since information on the chemical structure of LSD was available in scientific journals as early as 1947, the Russians might have been stockpiling raw ergot in order to convert it into a mind control weapon. "Although no Soviet data are available on LSD-25," the OSI study concluded, "it must be assumed that the scientists of the USSR are thoroughly cognizant of the strategic importance of this powerful new drug and are capable of producing it at any time."

Were the Russians really into acid? "I'm sure they were," asserted John Gittlinger, one of the CIA's leading psychologists during the Cold War, "but if you ask me to prove it, I've never seen any direct proof of it." [2] While hard evidence of a Soviet LSD connection was lacking, the CIA wasn't about to take any chances. What would happen, for example, if an American spy was caught and dosed by the Commies? The CIA realized that an adversary intelligence service could employ LSD "to produce anxiety or terror in medically unsophisticated subjects unable to distinguish drug-induced psychosis from actual insanity." The only way to be sure that an operative would not freak out under such circumstances would be to give him a taste of LSD (a mind control vaccine?) before he was sent on a sensitive overseas mission. Such a person would know that the effects of the drug were transitory and would therefore be in a better position to handle the experience. CIA documents actually refer to agents who were familiar with LSD as "enlightened operatives."

Along this line, Security officials proposed that LSD be administered to CIA trainee volunteers. Such a procedure would clearly demonstrate to select individuals the effects of hallucinogenic substances upon themselves and their associates. Furthermore, it would provide an opportunity to screen Agency personnel for "anxiety proneness"; those who couldn't pass the acid test would be excluded from certain critical assignments. This suggestion was well received by the ARTICHOKE steering committee, although the representative from the CIA's Medical Office felt that the test should not be "confined merely to male volunteer trainee personnel, but that it should be broadened to include all components of the Agency." According to a CIA document dated November 19, 1953, the Project Committee "verbally concurred in this recommendation."

During the next few years numerous CIA agents tried LSD. Some used the drug on repeated occasions. How did their firsthand experience with acid affect their personalities? How did it affect their attitude toward their work -- particularly those who were directly involved in mind control research? What impact did it have on the program as a whole? [3]

At the outset of the CIA's behavior control endeavors the main emphasis was on speech-inducing drugs. But when acid entered the scene, the entire program assumed a more aggressive posture. The CIA's turned-on strategists came to believe that mind control techniques could be applied to a wide range of operations above and beyond the strict category of "special interrogation." It was almost as if LSD blew the Agency's collective mind-set -- or was it mind-rut? With acid acting as a catalyst, the whole idea of what could be done with a drug, or drugs in general, was suddenly transformed. Soon a perfect compound was envisioned for every conceivable circumstance: there would be smart shots, memory erasers, "antivitamins," knock-out drops, "aphrodisiacs for operational use," drugs that caused "headache clusters" or uncontrollable twitching, drugs that could induce cancer, a stroke or a heart attack without leaving a trace as to the source of the ailment. There were chemicals to make a drunk man sober and a sober man as drunk as a fish. Even a "recruitment pill" was contemplated. What's more, according to a document dated May 5, 1955, the CIA placed a high priority on the development of a drug "which will produce 'pure euphoria' with no subsequent letdown."

This is not to suggest that the CIA had given up on LSD. On the contrary, after grappling with the drug for a number of years, the Agency devised new methods of interrogation based on the "far-out" possibilities of this mind-altering substance. When employed as a third-degree tactic, acid enabled the CIA to approach a hostile subject with a great deal of leverage. CIA operatives realized that intense mental confusion could be produced by deliberately attacking a person along psychological lines. Of all the chemicals that caused mental derangement, none was as powerful as LSD. Acid not only made people extremely anxious, it also broke down the character defenses for handling anxiety. A skillful interrogator could exploit this vulnerability by threatening to keep an unwitting subject in a tripped-out state indefinitely unless he spilled the beans. This tactic often proved successful where others had failed. CIA documents indicate that LSD was employed as an aid to interrogation on an operational basis from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s.



1. In 1951 hundreds of respectable citizens in Pont-Saint-Esprit, a small French village, went completely berserk one evening. Some of the town's leading citizens jumped from windows into the Rhone. Others ran through the streets screaming about being chased by lions, tigers, and "bandits with donkey ears." Many died, and those who survived suffered strange aftereffects for weeks. In his book The Day of St. Anthony's Fire, John C. Fuller attributes this bizarre outbreak to rye flour contaminated with ergot.

2. Internal CIA memoranda dispute the oft-repeated allegation that the Soviet Union and her satellites, including Red China, were engaged in unorthodox methods of altering human behavior. According to a CIA document dated January 14, 1953, "Apparently their major emphasis is on the development of specially-trained teams for obtaining information without the use of narcotics, hypnosis, or special mechanical devices [emphasis added]" A memo issued the next day by the Ad Hoc Medical Study Group admitted that "the present state of knowledge indicates little, if any, threat to National Security through 'special interrogation' techniques or agents."

3. At the very least, one suspects that a firsthand encounter with LSD would have made the clandestine mentality more receptive to the possibility of ESP, subliminal perception, and other phenomena associated with altered states. The CIA's interest in parapsychology dates back to the late 1940s. A handwritten memo of the period suggests that "hypnotists and telepathists" be contacted as professional consultants on an exploratory basis, but this proposal was initially rejected. It was not until 1952, after the CIA got heavily involved with LSD, that the Agency began funding ESP research.

While parapsychology has long been ridiculed by the scientific establishment, the CIA seriously entertained the notion that such phenomena might be highly significant for the spy trade. The Agency hypothesized that if a number of people in the US were found to have a high ESP capacity, their talent could be assigned to specific intelligence problems. In 1952 the CIA initiated an extensive program involving "the search for and development of exceptionally gifted individuals who can approximate perfect success in ESP performance." The Office of Security, which ran the ARTICHOCKE project, was urged to follow "all leads on individuals reported to have true clairvoyant powers" so as to be able to subject their claims to "rigorous scientific investigation."

Along this line the CIA began infiltrating seances and occult gatherings. A memo dated April 9, 1953, refers to a domestic -- and therefore illegal -- operation that required the "planting of a very specialized observer" at a seance in order to obtain "a broad surveillance of all individuals attending the meetings."

The CIA also sought to develop techniques whereby the ESP powers of a group of psychics could be used "to produce factual information that could not be obtained in any other way." If it were possible "to identify the thought of another person several hundred miles away," a CIA scientist explained, "the adaptation to the practical requirements for obtaining secret information should not give serious difficulty." Moreover, "everything that adds anything to our understand of what is taking place in ESP is likely to give us advantage in the problem of use and control."

In a rather bizarre twist, during the late 1960s the CIA experimented with mediums in an effort to contact (and debrief?) dead agents. These attempts, according to Victor Marchetti, a former high-ranking CIA official, were part of a larger effort to harness psychic powers for various intelligence-related missions that included utilizing clairvoyants to divine the intentions of the Kremlin leadership. Secret ESP research is still being conducted, although CIA spokesmen refuse to comment on the nature of these experiments.