The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and Mind

"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.

The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and Mind

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:13 am

The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and Mind Control
by John Marks
© 1979 by John Marks
Introduction copyright © 1988 by Thomas Powers



Table of Contents:

Back Cover
Author's Note
Part 1: Origins of Mind-Control Research
o 1. World War II
o 2. Cold War on the Mind
o 3. The Professor and the "A" Treatment
Part 2: Intelligence or "Witches' Potions"
o 4. LSD
o 5. Concerning the Case of Dr. Frank Olson
o 6. Them Unwitting: The Safehouses
o 7. Mushrooms to Counterculture
Part 3: Spells -- Electrodes and Hypnosis
o 8. Brainwashing
o 9. Human Ecology
o 10. The Gittinger Assessment System
o 11. Hypnosis
Part 4: Conclusions
o 12. The Search for the Truth
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and M

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:14 am


"The CIA expose to end all CIA exposes." -- New York Magazine

A "Manchurian Candidate" is an unwitting assassin brainwashed and programmed to kill. In this book, former State Department officer John Marks tells the explosive story of the CIA's highly secret program of experiments in mind control. His curiosity first aroused by information on a puzzling suicide, Marks worked from thousands of pages of newly released documents as well as interviews and behavioral science studies, producing a book that "accomplished what two Senate committees could not" (Senator Edward Kennedy).

"A comprehensive, detailed and thoroughly readable account of the CIA safehouses, the brainwashing experiments, the involvement of the universities." -- Washington Monthly

"Perhaps the most compelling, well-researched, organized and well-written account of CIA operations ever." -- Progressive

"A serious effort to reconstruct carefully the details of intelligence agency experiments with 'mind control.'" -- American Political Science Review

"One of the most important books of the year....We see the CIA on the cutting edge of inquiry into hypnosis, drugs, brainwashing, personality assessment, psychosurgery, electric and radio stimulations of the brain, the creation of involuntary amnesia, terminal shock therapy." -- Playboy

"Fascinating reading." -- Washington Post

"A wonderful piece of investigative reporting. The best account we'll ever get of one of the seamiest episodes of American intelligence." -- Seymour Hersh

Winner of the Best Book of the Year Award for Investigative Reporters and Editors

John Marks is co-editor, with Igor Beliaev, of Common Ground on terrorism: Soviet-American Cooperation Against the Politics of Terror (Norton).

Cover design by Terrence Fehr
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and M

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:14 am


"Our guiding light is not the Hippocratic oath," a doctor working for the Central Intelligence Agency told a classroomful of recruits back in the mid-1960s, "but the victory of freedom." One of the trainees, at least, was taken aback by the pugnacious zeal of this fanatical doctor and wondered what he was talking about. But silence was the answer to that question for a dozen years, until The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate" was published in 1977. Now re-issued, this book is a classic in its field, still unsurpassed for its thorough, lucid, and temperate account of the CIA's flirtation with mad science -- frightening "medical" experiments that the Agency hoped would give it absolute mastery over secret agents.

The history of this distressing episode proves two things: that secrecy invites dangerous temptations, and that any ideal -- even "the victory of freedom" -- may be corrupted by ill-chosen means. As much as the book itself, the story of how The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate" came to be written proves that Americans are of two minds about the practice of secret intelligence -- ready enough to admit we've got to do it, but unhappy with the way it's so often done.

Like all great embarrassments, the CIA's secret drug-testing program began prosaically -- with the bright idea that "science" might be used to solve certain nagging difficulties of the intelligence business. The principal secret of secret intelligence is how to get someone to do your bidding. Money, sex, fear, and the desire for revenge all work, but none perfectly or dependably. Ideological conviction is probably the best of all, but it's also the rarest. Holding on to spies once they've been recruited is just as difficult. They get cold feet, get greedy, get hurt feelings, or get ideas of their own. One way or another, they slip away. When old hands in the game talk about intelligence tradecraft, a favorite subject, they talk about two things -- how to conduct operations without attracting notice, and how to recruit and manage agents.

Spy-running is an ancient art. Sun Tzu, the Chinese military writer of the fifth century B.C., devoted a chapter of his great work, The Art of War, to secret agents -- a subject one of his ancient commentators called "mouth-to-ear matters." Sun Tzu fully understood the concepts of agents in place, disinformation, the doubling of enemy agents, and the compartmentalization of information on the basis of "need to know." He also stressed the art of agent-handling, remarking that "he who is not delicate and subtle cannot get the truth out of them."

There's the rub. Delicacy and subtlety do not always work, and in any event are not easily taught. In the mid-1970s, Richard Helms, a former director of the CIA (1966-1973), told a Senate hearing, "The clandestine operator ... is trained to believe you can't count on the honesty of your agent to do exactly what you want, or to report accurately unless you own him body and soul." But "owning" an agent goes beyond ordinary rapport, and even the greatest insight, tact and sensitivity may fail with the hard cases. When clandestine operators dream of the philosopher's stone, it's a surefire, no-fail, all-weather, inconspicuous device for the control of agents they have in mind -- a "magic bullet" to make agents putty in their hands.

Of course there is no such thing. Agent-running is an art, not a science. But from its beginning in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency has done more than simply dream of a magic bullet. It has spent millions of dollars on a major program of research to find drugs or other esoteric methods to bring ordinary people, willing and unwilling alike, under complete control -- to act, to talk, to reveal the most precious secrets, even to forget on command. Leading doctors and scientists were recruited to run many of these experiments, major institutions agreed to sponsor them, and some of the results were substantial. The CIA probably played as big a role in the development and study of psychoactive drugs as the National Security Agency's code-breakers did in the development of computers.

But no magic bullet was found. Drugs can confuse, frighten, relax, arouse, kill, or simply put people to sleep, but none can reliably induce a zombielike trance and slavish obedience. The hope for selective amnesia was not only far-fetched, but based on a fundamental misunderstanding of neuro-chemistry. The spy-runners wanted a drug that would destroy all memory of code words, addresses, the identity of case officers, and even whole operations. CIA officers say it is not "soggy morality" that prevents them from undertaking dangerous operations like assassination, but the plain fact the Agency would thereafter be vulnerable to the tremors of conscience of the assassin. A memory pill would solve that problem nicely.

Researchers found that powerful drugs can indeed wipe out memory, but the sweep is clean. If the year in Berlin went, the wife and kids went with it. For a dozen years it was Liberty Hall in the variously named research arms of the CIA, as the program shifted from the Office of Security to Scientific Intelligence and back again, and then, in 1954, to the Technical Services Staff. Nothing was too wild or unlikely to escape investigation. Eventually it was clear that research was not going to turn up anything more than some useful rules for character assessment, and the drug-testing program was gradually shut down. Knowledge of the experiments had always been closely held within the Agency. Before Richard Helms retired in January 1973, he authorized destruction of CIA drug-testing records in the frank hope that all memory of the experiments, and of their victims, would disappear.

But luck was against him. The antic god that governs the fate of secrets in the American intelligence community works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform. Less than two years after Helms had destroyed all institutional memory of the CIA's drug-testing program, as he had certainly intended and probably thought, a chain of improbable circumstances brought it back to the surface like the body of a drowned man. The first link in the fatal chain was forged when The New York Times reporter, Seymour Hersh, discovered that the CIA had been investigating American citizens inside the United States, something forbidden by the Agency's 1947 charter, and opening first-class mail, forbidden by law. The uproar following publication of Hersh's story in December 1974, led President Gerald Ford to appoint a commission, under the chairmanship of Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller, to investigate these and other charges. The Rockefeller Commission interpreted its mandate narrowly and hoped to issue a prompt, reassuring report that would soothe and eventually bury public concern in the time-honored tradition of governments faced by scandal.

It didn't work out that way. The Commission found secrets dumped into its lap by the bushel. Helms's successor as Director of Central Intelligence, James Schlesinger, had concluded that there was only one way to end the string of intelligence scandals that had dogged the Agency since the Watergate burglary of June 1972. Prompted by Deputy Director William Colby, he ordered all CIA employees to tell the Agency's Inspector General about any illegal or "improper" activities that might be laid at the Agency's door. The IG's fat report, referred to within the Agency as "the family jewels," included a reference to the CIA's drug-testing program. In early 1975, Colby, by then Del himself, passed on the IG's findings to the Rockefeller Commission. Once officially delivered, the new batch of secrets could not be safely reburied, and the Commission found itself all but forced to cite the drug-testing program in its final report, issued in June 1975. Two pages of text related the bare facts, but assured the public that all doubtful practices had ceased in the mid· 1960s. News accounts focused on the worst "abuse" of the drug-testing program -- the suicide of one test subject who was secretly dosed with LSD. Even at this late hour the CIA's drug-testing program might have remained largely secret if it were not for one last element of chance -- the aroused curiosity of a former State Department officer turned free-lance writer, John Marks, who had already published one best-selling book on the CIA. It was Marks who gave human features to the bare bones of the Rockefeller account.

The publication of "national security secrets" in the United States is either the scandal or the glory of the nation, depending on who's talking. Intelligence professionals are uniformly horrified that no legal means have been found to enjoin secrecy, a matter of routine in other democracies. Great Britain, which prides itself on its ancient liberties, nevertheless submits to a rigid Official Secrets Act that grants the government· arbitrary and all but unlimited power to decide what's secret and who gets to know. American intelligence officers, including an old-boy network originally trained by the British Secret Intelligence Service during World War II, dream wistfully of an American secrets act that would close the intelligence business to outsiders. They have come close in the past, and may well succeed in the end, because the average American appears to dislike the inky wretches of journalism more than he distrusts the keepers of official secrets.

But for the moment the American press is wide open, and can freely publish anything reporters manage to find out. The result is public debate of unusual vigor and frankness, far removed from the fairy-tale world of the early 1950s, in which officials alleged and the press parroted, an evil international communist conspiracy to undermine faith in God and the Four Freedoms. The white-hat, black-hat version of the Cold War is long gone. The new realism often makes life hard for the secret arm of government, which would prefer to help friends and confound enemies without having to explain every move to the folks back home. But it also enables the attentive public to weigh what it's being asked to support, something impossible -- to cite only one example -- back in the early 19605 when the administration of President Lyndon Johnson mounted secret military operations against North Vietnam that gradually dragged the United States into war. At the same time, however, the extraordinary freedom of the American press is dependent on the handful of journalists willing to dig for the facts that officials would prefer to keep hidden. In effect, American freedom of the press is also the wild card of American democracy, since there is no predicting what journalists will take into their heads to pursue. John Marks, asking no one's by-your-leave, decided he wanted to know why an "employee of the Department of the Army" -- the sole identification provided by the Rockefeller Report -- had been secretly dosed with LSD, and then handled so casually he was allowed to jump from a tenth-floor hotel window in New York City in 1953.

Before joining the Foreign Service in 1965, Marks had graduated from Cornell, embarking on a personal odyssey in many ways typical of the last generation of American college students for whom Vietnam had once been only a geographical place name. Classified 1A by his local draft board two years later, Marks volunteered for State Department duty in Vietnam, where he spent 18 months working in the pacification program. ·He describes himself at the time as a member of "the leverage school" -- officials of mainly liberal sentiment who believed the war could be won if only the Saigon government could be made to change its policies in order to win the hearts and minds of the people. This laudable hope foundered on the great rock of culture -- the inability of our's to understand theirs -- and Marks's faith in leverage had faded by January 1968, when he watched the Tet offensive from the roof of a five-story apartment house in Saigon, marveling at the tracers lazily floating up and down as the battle raged.

By the middle of the year, Marks was back in Washington where he was assigned as a staff assistant to the director of Intelligence and Research, Ray Cline. Every Thursday he accompanied Cline to meetings of the United States Intelligence Board held in the Director's Conference Room on the 7th floor of the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, just outside Washington. There Marks listened to the latest intelligence on the war. "The hawks used to say, 'If you could only see what the President was seeing ...''' Marks says now. "Well, I saw it all." Cambodia was the last straw. A "NOD IS" (i.e., "no distribution") message describing secret military aid to the Lon Nol government, soon followed by the American invasion, convinced Marks he could no longer remain in the government, and he quit to become an aide to Senator Clifford Case.

In 1971 Marks was intrigued by a story in The Washington Post about a dissident CIA officer named Victor Marchetti. Marks went to see Marchetti, and stayed and talked till three in the morning. Marks already knew something about the politics of intelligence in Washington; Marchetti, who planned to write an expose of the CIA, introduced him to the world of clandestine operators inside the Agency. Marchetti got a literary agent recommended by Marks and submitted a book proposal to a number of New York publishers: One of them slipped the outline to the CIA, which then obtained a restraining order requiring Marchetti to submit his manuscript to the Agency for review. A year later, in November 1972, Marchetti told Marks he couldn't seem to write the book on his own, and asked him to help. Marks jumped at the chance. Seymour Hersh advised him to take notes on a typewriter, and Marks soon found himself typing up as many as twenty-five pages of notes in a three- or four-hour interview. Always a constitutionalist and "kind of Boy Scout-ish," Marks felt the secrecy of the CIA represented a misuse of American power, a betrayal of American ideals, and a symptom of everything wrong with American policy toward the rest of the world. He approached Marchetti's book in the spirit of a crusader.

Marks and Marchetti originally planned to publish all the secrets and then flee the country or go to jail. But after the manuscript was completed in August 1973, Marks was secretly relieved when Marchetti changed his mind, and decided to submit his book to the Agency for clearance. At first the CIA insisted on 339 deletions from the text, some big, some small, and many just plain baffling. Argument and legal maneuver reduced the number of forbidden passages to 170.Marks proposed that they publish the book with bold-face passages to indicate material the CIA tried but failed to censor, and blank gaps where the Agency had its way. This proved a brilliant publicity move. Newspapers throughout the country published a picture of the book's editor at Knopf, Daniel Okrent, holding up tattered pages of manuscript, with daylight showing through the passages literally cut out by the CIA. The book Marchetti and Marks finally published, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, was the first substantial work on the American intelligence community since The Invisible Government by David Wise and Thomas B. Ross published in 1965. Marks and Marchetti's book provided the first sustained look at American intelligence from the inside. It was a widely reviewed best seller, and it dispatched Marks on a new career as a writer.

For a time, whipped on by a reformer's zeal, Marks harried the Central Intelligence Agency like an avenging angel. His book with Marchetti was treated by the Agency as a major threat to its security, something Marks fully grasped only later when he read internal documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. At this point in his life, Marks felt the CIA contributed nothing but trouble to international relations, and he did not shrink from making its job more difficult. The Agency was furious, but soon had its revenge.

In December 1974 Marks went to Saigon on assignment for Rolling Stone magazine, slipping into the country with a visa obtained in Bangkok and with the aid of a friend who spoke perfect Vietnamese. The CIA had learned of Marks's trip and had cabled a warning from Langley saying he was clever, not to be trusted, and not to be admitted to the country. Marks's name was added to a persona non grata blacklist at customs, but the captain who stamped Marks's passport failed to note his name. The Italian journalist Tiziano Terzzani later told Marks that the captain was jailed for his lapse. On the day before Christmas, Marks went to the embassy to arrange interviews with American officials, saying he was planning to write for Harper's. which was true, and omitted any reference to Rolling Stone. The CIA station soon knew Marks was in Saigon, and did not wait to find out what he had in mind. The day after Christmas, a dozen armed Vietnamese in tigerstripe fatigues suddenly burst into the apartment where Marks was staying and whisked him off into the night. The next half hour was the most frightening of Marks's life. He felt completely helpless, and was. But the Vietnamese, directed by the CIA, were content just to get Marks out of the country.

A dozen years later, in April 1986, Marks met the CIA officer, by then retired, who had personally arranged Marks's arrest and expulsion -- William Johnson, a grizzled and highly literate veteran of the OSS, a decade of counterintelligence wars with the Russians, and several long tours of duty in Vietnam. There are many references to Bill Johnson and his wife, Pat, in Frank Snepp's book about the fall of Saigon in 1975, Decent Interval; indeed, Johnson appears as one of the few American heroes of the debacle, desperately trying to rescue the Vietnamese who had worked for him. In 1986, at a conference in Boulder, Colorado, Johnson told Marks he was lucky to be alive; the Vietnamese (that is, the CIA) might have put him in Chi Hoa prison in Saigon, in which Americans didn't survive. But a half hour of sheer terror had been bad enough; Marks made no further trips to Third World countries where the CIA ran the local security services, and he realized there was a limit to his appetite for a secret war with the Agency.

But Marks continued to write about intelligence. He gathered material about the CIA's support of a secret war in Angola and then gave it to Seymour Hersh when he couldn't find a publisher on his own. In mid-1975, Marks was sure that useful things were still to be learned from the documents provided by the Agency to the Rockefeller Commission. So he requested them under the Freedom of Information Act. At first the Agency said the documents on drug-testing were gone -- destroyed on Helms's orders in 1973. But then in the spring of 1977 -- at a time when Marks's interests had gradually been turning in the direction of humanistic psychology, and he had begun to see less black and more gray in the political world, even where the CIA was concerned -- the Agency told him it had found several boxes of documents. Marks's interest was aroused by the first batch and the promises of more to follow.

In August, the Carter White House announced the discovery of the documents -- a total of some 16,000 pages, held as part of the Agency's financial history and thereby preserved from the shredders. But the White House described the drug-testing program in narrow terms as defensive in nature, prompted by fear of the Russians. Marks already knew that the CIA's research went much further than that, and was intended to give the United States its own broad capacity to manipulate human behavior in the age-old quest for secret control. Angry at the White House attempt to disguise what had really happened, Marks held a news conference of his own -- his first, citing documents he'd already obtained, and spelling out the broad reach of the CIA's drug-testing program. The story was picked up by all three major television networks, and made page one of The New York Times. Shortly thereafter, Marks received a phone call from the Times book publishing subsidiary, asking if he'd like to write a book for them about the CIA's drug testing. Beset by the usual money-troubles of writers and beginning to take a serious interest in psychology and the human potential movement, Marks agreed.

The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate" took a year to write. The heart of the narrative is based on 16,000 pages of documents, but interviews with psychologists· and CIA officials -- including one helpful Agency veteran they called "Deep Trance" -- helped to fill out the story. By this time Marks had learned to understand CIA officials, and even to trust them. After a research trip to Cuba, for example, Marks told William Hood, an old counterintelligence hand, about the grilling he'd received from one intelligence officer in the Cuban DGI. Late one night, the officer pulled out a copy of Frank Snepp's book and insisted Marks tell him the real names of all the agents Snepp had protected with pseudonyms. Marks refused, and the following day an official of the Foreign Ministry apologized. Marks told Hood about this episode because he wanted no part in the spook game, and feared the CIA might learn about his run-in with DGI through other means.

To help go through the huge mass of material turned over by the CIA, Marks hired four researchers to organize it by subject matter and chronology. Few documents were complete. Almost every name was blacked out with the exception of Sidney Gottlieb's. Why the Agency made an exception for Gottlieb, Marks never learned. Gottlieb had been head of the Technical Services Stat' at a time when the CIA was trying to assassinate Fidel Castro, and he appears frequently in the Church Committee's report on Alleged Assassination Plots under the pseudonym "Victor Scheider." Some of the blacked-out names could be read by simply holding them up to the light; others were identified by context. Dr. James Moore, an expert on mushrooms, for example, was one of only 200 names in a directory of American mycologists; a few clues about job history were enough to single him out. When Marks got him on the phone, he had the feeling Moore had been expecting this call for fifteen years.

But a few names proved maddeningly difficult. A year of frustrating effort followed the simple question, What's a seven-letter name that begins with B and ends with N? When Marks finally thought he had the name he called up Deep Trance and asked, "Have you ever heard of Maitland Baldwin?" "I thought you'd never get him!" was the answer. Baldwin was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health in 1955 who had wanted to do terminal-type experiments on the effect of sensory deprivation, which meant locking someone up in a lightproof, soundproof box indefinitely -- to see what would happen.

Baldwin's proposal was rejected by an Agency medical officer on humanitarian grounds. Baldwin, however, did perform lobotomies on chimpanzees, and even attempted to transplant one monkey's head to the body of another. Small wonder that the CIA blacked out Baldwin's name on documents, and devoutly hoped no one would ever find out what he'd been up to.

How did the Agency ever get involved in these bizarre experiments, and what did it hope to achieve? Official answers to these questions were all versions of the schoolboy's all-purpose excuse -- the other guys did it first. The Agency cited the baffling confession of impossible crimes by Cardinal Josef Mindszenty of Hungary in 1949, hard to explain unless the Soviets had found some way to drug or hypnotize the victim. Later, Americans were perplexed and frightened by the "brainwashing" of prisoners taken by the Chinese during the Korean War. Some of them confessed to ghastly crimes, like the use of germ warfare, and others even refused to come home at war's end. In 1954, a Soviet defector, Nikolai Khokhlov, told the CIA of his responsibility for "executive action," including assassinations for the 13th Department of the Third Chief Directorate of the KGB. According to a classified document prepared by the CIA in 1964 for the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy, Khokhlov "described two laboratories associated with the executive action department.... The laboratory for poisons was supposedly a large and super-secret installation. No agents were permitted access to it or even knew of its location. Khokhlov could provide no first-hand information on it. Other sources, however, have reported the existence of this type of laboratory dating back to the purges in the late 19308. A report from one source in 1954 described an experimental laboratory within Spets Byuro #1 known as the 'Chamber' (Kamera). This laboratory conducted experiments on prisoners and persons subject to execution to test the effectiveness of different powders, beverages, liquors, and various types of injections, as well as research on the use of hypnotism to force prisoners to confess."

It is not hard to imagine that this frightening report, and others like it, encouraged the CIA to redouble its secret research efforts. But the truth is the experimenters needed no encouragement, and that fear of Russian wonder drugs had nothing' to do with the origin of the CIA's own program. That went back to the Second World War, when an OSS "truth drug" committee under Dr. Winfred Overholser began experiments with marijuana and mescaline in 1943, and another OSS group investigated "quietus medication" -- that is, lethal poisons -- for possible use against Hitler. Despite harsh condemnation at the Nuremberg trials, of Nazi "scientific" experiments, U.S. investigators poring over research records at Dachau described some of the work, if confirmed, as "an important complement to existing knowledge." American clandestine operators were intrigued by the notion of exotic drugs and truth serums. Protected by secrecy, amply supplied with funds, lured on by the dream of a "magic bullet," they embarked on experiments at the frontiers of medical knowledge.

There were plenty of horrors in the 16,000 pages of documents Marks and his researchers pored through, but for the most part the research was not far removed from what later came to be known as "humanistic psychology" -- study of what the brain can do. Marks was writing a book about two subjects -- the CIA, and the human mind, and by the time Marks was finished writing, he knew he found the human mind by far the more interesting. As a result The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate" expresses two dominant attitudes -- fascination with the discoveries of psychological researchers, and anger with their misuse. by the CIA for purposes that were narrow and morally careless.

Talking about morality is not the way to make friends with intelligence officers. They hate the word. They live and work in a world of sometimes harsh, always expedient rules, where results count more heavily than gold stars for good conduct. Intelligence professionals hate to be lectured on right and wrong by people who are sure both always come clearly marked. Who can blame them? "Dumb" is a word they much prefer to "wrong." Asked to judge assassination plots, weird medical experiments, and similar "excesses," they all tend to say much the same thing -- these regrettable episodes were all worse than a crime -- a blunder.

It would be nice to leave it at that, but to excuse everything afterwards is to permit everything in advance. Some things are wrong under any circumstances, and lots of things are wrong when convenience is the real reason for doing them. A little more success in the CIA's research program might have turned up a "safe" way to kill Castro. Would we regret it now only because nothing useful would have been achieved? Killing Castro would have been wrong -- not because we couldn't keep it secret, not because he might have been followed by someone even "worse." It would have been wrong because the United States had no right to inflict the trauma of a murdered leader on the people of Cuba for reasons that amounted, in the end, for the convenience of Washington. Sidney Gottlieb (alias "Victor Scheider") secured his place in history by his efforts to provide toxins for political murder, but in that effort he played only a pharmacist's role. More sinister was his sponsorship of research to find a way to make assassination routine, by turning ordinary men into automatons who would kill on command.

Facing up to the fact of the attempt has been agony enough; the heart quails to think of the catastrophe of success. What if Gottlieb and his researchers had succeeded in their wildest dreams, and no secret, nor the life of any "enemy," had been safe from the CIA? The Agency's masters have been prey to lethal daydreams about many opponents over the last 40 years -- Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Sukarno, Lumumba, Qaddafi, DeGaulle, Nasser, Chou En Lai, Khomeini. How could the United States have resisted the temptation to "remove" these inconvenient figures, if it could only have been done in confident secrecy? Owning agents body and soul, attractive in theory, would have given us much to regret, to deny, and to hide. But Providence is kind, and blessed us with failure. "We are sufficiently ineffective," said Martin Orne, a consultant to the CIA during the drug-testing program, "so our findings can be published."

Thomas Powers
January 1988
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and M

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:14 am


This book has grown out of the 16,000 pages of documents that the CIA released to me under the Freedom of Information Act. Without these documents, the best investigative reporting in the world could not have produced a book, and the secrets of CIA mind-control work would have remained buried forever, as the men who knew them had always intended. From the documentary base, I was able to expand my knowledge through interviews and readings in the behavioral sciences. Nevertheless, the final result is not the whole story of the CIA's attack on the mind. Only a few insiders could have written that, and they choose to remain silent. I have done the best I can to make the book as accurate as possible, but I have been hampered by the refusal of most of the principal characters to be interviewed and by the CIA's destruction in 1973 of many of the key documents.

I want to extend special thanks to the congressional sponsors of the Freedom of Information Act. I would like to think that they had my kind of research in mind when they passed into law the idea that information about the government belongs to the people, not to the bureaucrats. I am also grateful to the CIA officials who made what must have been a rather unpleasant decision to release the documents and to those in the Agency who worked on the actual mechanics of release. From my point of view, the system has worked extremely well.

I must acknowledge that the system worked almost not at all during the first six months of my three-year Freedom of Information struggle. Then in late 1975, Joseph Petrillo and Timothy Sullivan, two skilled and energetic lawyers with the firm of Fried, Frank, Shriver, Harris and Kampelman, entered the case. I had the distinct impression that the government attorneys took me much more seriously when my requests for documents started arriving on stationery with all those prominent partners at the top. An author should not need lawyers to write a book, but I would have had great difficulty without mine. I greatly appreciate their assistance.

What an author does need is editors, a publisher, researchers, consultants, and friends, and I have been particularly blessed with good ones. My very dear friend Taylor Branch edited the book, and I continue to be impressed with his great skill in making my ideas and language coherent. Taylor has also served as my agent, and in this capacity, too, he has done me great service.

I had a wonderful research team, without which I never could have sifted through the masses of material and run down leads in so many places. I thank them all, and I want to acknowledge their contributions. Diane St. Clair was the mainstay of the group. She put together a system for filing and cross-indexing that worked beyond all expectations. (Special thanks to Newsday's Bob Greene, whose suggestions for organizing a large investigation came to us through the auspices of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.) Not until a week before the book was finally finished did I fail to find a document which I needed; naturally, it was something I had misfiled myself. Diane also contributed greatly to the Cold War chapter. Richard Sokolow made similar contributions to the Mushroom and Safehouse chapters. His work was solid, and his energy boundless. Jay Peterzell delved deeply into Dr. Cameron's "depatterning" work in Montreal and stayed with it when others might have quit. Jay also did first-rate studies of brainwashing and sensory deprivation. Jim Mintz and Ken Cummins provided excellent assistance in the early research stage.

The Center for National Security Studies, under my good friend Robert Borosage, provided physical support and research aid, and I would like to express my appreciation. My thanks also to Morton Halperin who continued the support when he became director of the Center. I also appreciated the help of Penny Bevis, Hannah Delaney, Florence Oliver, Aldora Whittaker, Nick Fiore, and Monica Andres.

My sister, Dr. Patricia Greenfield, did excellent work on the CIA's interface with academia and on the Personality Assessment System. I want to acknowledge her contribution to the book and express my thanks and love.

There has been a whole galaxy of people who have provided specialized help, and I would like to thank them all: Jeff Kohan, Eddie Becker, Sam Zuckerman, Matthew Meselson, Julian Robinson, Milton Kline, Marty Lee, M. J. Conklin, Alan Scheftin, Bonnie Goldstein, Paul Avery, Bill Mills, John Lilly, Humphrey 0smond, Julie Haggerty, Patrick Oster, Norman Kempster, Bill Richards, Paul Magnusson, Andy Sommer, Mark Cheshire, Sidney Cohen, Paul Altmeyer, Fred and Elsa Kleiner, Dr. John Cavanagh, and Senator James Abourezk and his staff.

I sent drafts of the first ten chapters to many of the people I interviewed (and several who refused to be interviewed). My aim was to have them correct any inaccuracies or point out material taken out of context. The comments of those who responded aided me considerably in preparing the final book. My thanks for their assistance to Albert Hofmann, Telford Taylor, Leo Alexander, Walter Langer, John Stockwell, William Hood, Samuel Thompson, Sidney Cohen, Milton Greenblatt, Gordon Wasson, James Moore, Laurence Hinkle, Charles Osgood, John Gittinger (for Chapter 10 only), and all the others who asked not to be identified.

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to my publisher, Times Books, and especially to my editor John J. Simon. John, Tom Lipscomb, Roger Jellinek, Gyorgyi Voros, and John Gallagher all believed in this book from the beginning and provided outstanding support. Thanks also go to Judith H. McQuown, who copyedited the manuscript, and Rosalyn T. Badalamenti, Times Books' Production Editor, who oversaw the whole production process.

John Marks
Washington, D.C.
October 26, 1978
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and M

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:15 am


If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.

It is far pleasanter to sit comfortably in the shade rubbing red pepper in a poor devil's eyes than to go about in the sun hunting up evidence.

If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable -- what then?


On the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland, overlooking the Rhine, lies the worldwide headquarters of the Sandoz drug and chemical empire. There, on the afternoon of April 16, 1943, Dr. Albert Hofmann made an extraordinary discovery -- by accident.

At 37, with close-cropped hair and rimless glasses, Hofmann headed the company's research program to develop marketable drugs out of natural products. He was hard at work in his laboratory that warm April day when a wave of dizziness suddenly overcame him. The strange sensation was not unpleasant, and Hofmann felt almost as though he were drunk.

But he became quite restless. His nerves seemed to run off in different directions. The inebriation was unlike anything he had ever known before. Leaving work early, Hofmann managed a wobbly bicycle-ride home. He lay down and closed his eyes, still unable to shake the dizziness. Now the light of day was disagreeably bright. With the external world shut out, his mind raced along. He experienced what he would later describe as "an uninterrupted stream of fantastic images of extraordinary plasticity and vividness.... accompanied by an intense, kaleidoscopelike play of colors."

These visions subsided after a few hours, and Hofmann, ever the inquiring scientist, set out to find what caused them. He presumed he had somehow ingested one of the drugs with which he had been working that day, and his prime suspect was d-lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, a substance that he himself had first produced in the same lab five years earlier. As part of his search for a circulation stimulant, Hofmann had been examining derivatives of ergot, a fungus that attacks rye.

Ergot had a mysterious, contradictory reputation. In China and some Arab countries, it was thought to have medicinal powers, but in Europe it was associated with the horrible malady from the Middle Ages called St. Anthony's Fire, which struck periodically like the plague. The disease turned fingers and toes into blackened stumps and led to madness and death.

Hofmann guessed that he had absorbed some ergot derivative through his skin, perhaps while changing the filter paper in a suction bottle. To test his theory, he spent three days making up a fresh batch of LSD. Cautiously he swallowed 250 micrograms (less than 1/100,000 of an ounce). Hofmann planned to take more gradually through the day to obtain a result, since no known drug had any effect on the human body in such infinitesimal amounts. He had no way of knowing that because of LSD's potency, he had already taken several times what would later be termed an ordinary dose. Unexpectedly, this first speck of LSD took hold after about 40 minutes, and Hofmann was off on the first self-induced "trip" of modern times. [i]

Hofmann recalls he felt "horrific ... I was afraid. I feared I was becoming crazy. I had the idea I was out of my body. I thought I had died. I did not know how it would finish. If you know you will come back from this very strange world, only then can you enjoy it." Of course, Hofmann had no way of knowing that he would return. While he had quickly recovered from his accidental trip three days earlier, he did not know how much LSD had caused it or whether the present dose was more than his body could detoxify. His mind kept veering off into an unknown dimension, but he was unable to appreciate much beyond his own terror.

Less than 200 miles from Hofmann's laboratory, doctors connected to the S.S. and Gestapo were doing experiments that led to the testing of mescaline (a drug which has many of the mind-changing qualities of LSD) on prisoners at Dachau. Germany's secret policemen had the notion, completely alien to Hofmann, that they could use drugs like mescaline to bring unwilling people under their control. According to research team member Walter Neff, the goal of the Dachau experiments was "to eliminate the will of the person examined."

At Dachau, Nazis took the search for scientific knowledge of military value to its most awful extreme. There, in a closely guarded, fenced-off part of the camp, S.S. doctors studied such questions as the amount of time a downed airman could survive in the North Atlantic in February. Information of this sort was considered important to German security, since skilled pilots were in relatively short supply. So, at Heinrich Himmler's personal order, the doctors at Dachau simply sat by huge tubs of ice water with stopwatches and timed how long it took immersed prisoners to die. In other experiments, under the cover of "aviation medicine," inmates were crushed to death in high-altitude pressure chambers (to learn how high pilots could safely fly), and prisoners were shot, so that special blood coagulants could be tested on their wounds.

The mescaline tests at Dachau run by Dr. Kurt Plotner were not nearly so lethal as the others in the "aviation" series, but the drug could still cause grave damage, particularly to anyone who already had some degree of mental instability. The danger was increased by the fact that the mescaline was administered covertly by S.S. men who spiked the prisoners' drinks. Unlike Dr. Hofmann, the subjects had no idea that a drug was causing their extreme disorientation. Many must have feared they had gone stark mad all on their own. Always, the subjects of these experiments were Jews, gypsies, Russians, and other groups on whose lives the Nazis placed little or no value. In no way were any of them true. volunteers, although some may have come forward under the delusion that they .would receive better treatment.

After the war, Neff told American investigators that the subjects showed a wide variety of reactions. Some became furious; others were melancholy or gay, as if they were drunk. Not surprisingly, "sentiments of hatred and revenge were exposed in every case." Neff noted that the drug caused certain people to reveal their "most intimate secrets." Still, the Germans were not ready to accept mescaline as a substitute for their more physical methods of interrogation. They went on to try hypnosis in combination with the drug, but they apparently never felt confident that they had found a way to assume command of their victim's mind.

Even as the S.S. doctors were carrying on their experiments at Dachau, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), America's wartime intelligence agency, set up a "truth drug" committee under Dr. Winfred Overholser, head of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington. The committee quickly tried and rejected mescaline, several barbiturates, and scopolamine. Then, during the spring of 1943, the committee decided that cannabis indica -- or marijuana -- showed the most promise, and it started a testing program in cooperation with the Manhattan Project, the TOP SECRET effort to build an atomic bomb. It is not clear why ass turned to the bomb makers for help, except that, as one former Project official puts it, "Our secret was so great, I guess we were safer than anyone else." Apparently, top Project leaders, who went to incredible lengths to preserve security, saw no danger in trying out drugs on their personnel.

The Manhattan Project supplied the first dozen test subjects, who were asked to swallow a concentrated, liquid form of marijuana that an American pharmaceutical company furnished in small glass vials. A Project man who was present recalls: "It didn't work the way we wanted. Apparently the human system would not take it all at once orally. The subjects would lean over and vomit." What is more, they disclosed no secrets, and one subject wound up in the hospital.

Back to the drawing board went the ass experts. They decided that the best way to administer the marijuana was inhalation of its fumes. Attempts were made to pour the solution on burning charcoal, and an ass officer named George White (who had already succeeded in knocking himself out with an overdose of the relatively potent substance) tried out the vapor, without sufficient effect, at St. Elizabeth's. Finally, the ass group discovered a delivery system which had been known for years to jazz musicians and other users: the cigarette. ass documents reported that smoking a mix of tobacco and the marijuana essence brought on a "state of irresponsibility, causing the subject to be loquacious and free in his impartation of information."

The first field test of these marijuana-laced cigarettes took place on May 27, 1943. The subject was one August Del Gracio, who was described in OSS documents as a "notorious New York gangster." [ii] George White, an Army captain who had come to OSS from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, administered the drug by inviting Del Gracio up to his apartment for a smoke and a chat. White had been talking to Del Gracio earlier about securing the Mafia's cooperation to keep Axis agents out of the New York waterfront and to prepare the way for the invasion of Sicily. [iii]

Del Gracio had already made it clear to White that he personally had taken part in killing informers who had squealed to the Feds. The gangster was as tough as they came, and if he could be induced to talk under the influence of a truth drug, certainly German prisoners could -- or so the reasoning went. White plied him with cigarettes until "subject became high and extremely garrulous." Over the next two hours, Del Gracio told the Federal agent about the ins and outs of the drug trade (revealing information so sensitive that the CIA deleted it from the OSS documents it released 34 years later). At one point in the conversation, after Del Gracio had begun to talk, the gangster told White, "Whatever you do, don't ever use any of the stuff I'm telling you." In a subsequent session, White packed the cigarettes with so much marijuana that Del Gracio became unconscious for about an hour. Yet, on the whole the experiment was considered a success in "loosening the subject's tongue."

While members of the truth-drug committee never believed that the concentrated marijuana could compel a person to confess his deepest secrets, they authorized White to push ahead with the testing. On the next stage, he and a Manhattan Project counterintelligence man borrowed 15 to 18 thick dossiers from the FBI and went off to try the marijuana on suspected Communist soldiers stationed in military camps outside Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans. According to White's Manhattan Project 'sidekick, a Harvard Law graduate and future judge, they worked out a standard interrogation technique:

Before we went in, George and I would buy cigarettes, remove them from the bottom of the pack, use a hypodermic needle to put in the fluid, and leave the cigarettes in a shot glass to dry. Then, we resealed the pack.... We sat down with a particular soldier and tried to win his confidence. We would say something like "This is better than being overseas and getting shot at," and we would try to break them. We started asking questions from their [FBI] folder, and we would let them see that we had the folder on them.... We had a pitcher of ice water on the table, and we knew the drug had taken effect when they reached for a glass. The stuff actually worked .... Everyone but one -- and he didn't smoke -- gave us more information than we had before.

The Manhattan Project lawyer remembers this swing through the South with George White as a "good time." The two men ate in the best restaurants and took in all the sights. "George was quite a guy," he says. "At the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans after we had interviewed our men, we were lying on the beds when George took out his pistol and shot his initials into the molding that ran along the ceiling. He used his .22 automatic, equipped with a silencer, and he emptied several clips." Asked if he tried out the truth drug himself, the lawyer says, "Yes. The cigarettes gave you a feeling of walking a couple of feet off the floor. I had a pleasant sensation of well-being.... The fellows from my office wouldn't take a cigarette from me for the rest of the war."


Since World War II, the United States government, led by the Central Intelligence Agency, has searched secretly for ways to control human behavior. This book is about that search, which had its origins in World War II. The CIA programs were not only an extension of the OSS quest for a truth drug, but they also echoed such events as the Nazi experiments at Dachau and Albert Hofmann's discovery of LSD.

By probing the inner reaches of consciousness, Hofmann's research took him to the very frontiers of knowledge. As never before in history, the warring powers sought ideas from scientists capable of reaching those frontiers -- ideas that could make the difference between victory and defeat. While Hofmann himself remained aloof, in the Swiss tradition, other scientists, like Albert Einstein, helped turn the abstractions of the laboratory into incredibly destructive weapons. Jules Verne's notions of spaceships touching the moon stopped being absurd when Wernher von Braun's rockets started pounding London. With their creations, the scientists reached beyond the speculations of science fiction. Never before had their discoveries been so breathtaking and so frightening. Albert Hofmann's work touched upon the fantasies of the mind -- accessible, in ancient legends, to witches and wizards who used spells and potions to bring people under their sway. In the early scientific age, the dream of controlling the brain took on a modem form in Mary Shelley's creation, Dr. Frankenstein's monster. The dream would be updated again during the Cold War era to become the Manchurian Candidate, the assassin whose mind was controlled by a hostile government. [iv] Who could say for certain that such a fantasy would not be turned into a reality, like Verne's rocket stories or Einstein's calculations? And who should be surprised to learn that government agencies -- specifically the CIA -- would swoop down on Albert Hofmann's lab in an effort to harness the power over the mind that LSD seemed to hold?

From the Dachau experiments came the cruelty that man was capable of heaping upon his fellows in the name of advancing science and helping his country gain advantage in war. To say that the Dachau experiments are object lessons of how far people can stretch ends to justify means is to belittle by cliche what occurred in the concentration camps. Nothing the CIA ever did in its postwar search for mind-control technology came close to the callous killing of the Nazi "aviation research." Nevertheless, in their attempts to find ways to manipulate people, Agency officials and their agents crossed many of the same ethical barriers. They experimented with dangerous and unknown techniques on people who had no idea what was happening. They systematically violated the free will and mental dignity of their subjects, and, like the Germans~ they chose to victimize special groups of people whose existence the)' considered, out of prejudice and convenience, less worthy than their own. Wherever their extreme experiments went, the CIA sponsors picked for subjects their own equivalents of the Nazis' Jews and gypsies: mental patients, prostitutes, foreigners, drug addicts, and prisoners, often from minority ethnic groups.

In the postwar era, American officials straddled the ethical and the cutthroat approaches to scientific research. After an Allied tribunal had convicted the first echelon of surviving Nazi war criminals -- the Gorings and Speers -- American prosecutors charged the Dachau doctors with "crimes against humanity" at a second Nuremberg trial. None of the German scientists expressed remorse. Most claimed that. someone else had carried out the vilest experiments. All said that issues of moral and personal responsibility are moot in state-sponsored research. What is critical, testified Dr. Karl Brandt, Hitler's personal physician, is "whether the experiment is important or unimportant." Asked his attitude toward killing human beings in the course of medical research, Brandt replied, "00 you think that one can obtain any worthwhile fundamental results without a definite toll of lives?" The judges at Nuremberg rejected such defenses and put forth what came to be known as the Nuremberg Code on scientific research. [v] Its main points were simple: Researchers must obtain full voluntary consent from all subjects; experiments should yield fruitful results for the good of society that can be obtained in no other way; researchers should not conduct tests where death or serious injury might occur, "except, perhaps" when the supervising doctors also serve as subjects. The judges -- all Americans -- sentenced seven of the Germans, including Dr. Brandt, to death by hanging. Nine others received long prison sentences. Thus, the U.S. government put its full moral force behind the idea that there were limits on what scientists could do to human subjects, even when a country's security was thought to hang in the balance.

The Nuremberg Code has remained official American policy ever since 1946,but, even before the verdicts were in, special U.S. investigating teams were sifting through the experimental records at Dachau for information of military value. The report of one such team found that while part of the data was "inaccurate," some of the conclusions, if confirmed, would be "an important complement to existing knowledge." Military authorities sent the records, including a description of the mescaline and hypnosis experiments, back to the United States. None of the German mind-control research was ever made public.

Immediately after the war, large political currents began to shift in the world, as they always do. Allies became enemies and enemies became allies. Other changes were fresh and yet old. In the United States, the new Cold War against communism carried with it a piercing sense of fear and a sweeping sense of mission -- at least as far as American leaders were concerned. Out of these feelings and out of that overriding American faith in advancing technology came the CIA's attempts to tame hostile minds and make spy fantasies real. Experiments went forward and the CIA's scientists -- bitten, sometimes obsessed -- kept going back to their laboratories for one last adjustment. Some theories were crushed, while others emerged in unexpected ways that would have a greater impact outside the CIA than in the world of covert operations. Only one aspect remained constant during the quarter-century of active research: The CIA's interest in controlling the human mind had to remain absolutely secret.

World War II provided more than the grand themes of the CIA's behavioral programs. It also became the formative life experience of the principal CIA officials, and, indeed, of the CIA itself as an institution. The secret derring-do of the OSS was new to the United States, and the ways of the OSS would grow into the ways of the CIA. OSS leaders would have their counterparts later in the Agency. CIA officials tended to have known the OSS men, to think like them, to copy their methods, and even, in some cases, to be the same people. When Agency officials wanted to launch their massive effort for mind control, for instance, they got out the old OSS documents and went about their goal in many of the same ways the OSS had. OSS leaders enlisted outside scientists; Agency officials also went to the most prestigious ones in academia and industry, soliciting aid for the good of the country. They even approached the same George White who had shot his initials in the hotel ceiling while on OSS assignment.

Years later, White's escapades with OSS and CIA would carry with them a humor clearly unintended at the time. To those directly involved, influencing human behavior was a deadly serious business, but qualities like bumbling and pure craziness shine through in hindsight. In the CIA's campaign, some of America's most distinguished behavioral scientists would stick all kinds of drugs and wires into their experimental subjects -- often dismissing the obviously harmful effects with theories reminiscent of the learned nineteenth-century physicians who bled their patients with leeches and belittled the ignorance of anyone who questioned the technique. If the schemes of these scientists to control the mind had met with more success, they would be much less amusing. But so far, at least, the human spirit has apparently kept winning. That -- if anything -- is the saving grace of the mind-control campaign.


World War II signaled the end of American isolation and innocence, and the United States found it had a huge gap to close, with its enemies and allies alike, in applying underhanded tactics to war. Unlike Britain, which for hundreds of years had used covert operations to hold her empire together, the United States had no tradition of using subversion as a secret instrument of government policy. The Germans, the French, the Russians, and nearly everyone else had long been involved in this game, although no one seemed as good at it as the British.

Clandestine lobbying by British agents in the United States led directly to President Franklin Roosevelt's creation of the organization that became OSS in 1942. This was the first American agency set up to wage secret, unlimited war. Roosevelt placed it under the command of a Wall Street lawyer and World War I military hero, General William "Wild Bill" Donovan. A burly, vigorous Republican millionaire with great intellectual curiosity, Donovan started as White House intelligence adviser even before Pearl Harbor, and he had direct access to the President.

Learning at the feet of the British who made available their expertise, if not all their secrets, Donovan put together an organization where nothing had existed before. A Columbia College and Columbia Law graduate himself, he tended to turn to the gentlemanly preserves of the Eastern establishment for recruits. (The initials OSS were said to stand for "Oh So Social.") Friends -- or friends of friends -- could be trusted. "Old boys" were the stalwarts of the British secret service, and, as with most other aspects of OSS, the Americans followed suit.

One of Donovan's new recruits was Richard Helms, a young newspaper executive then best known for having gained an interview with Adolf Hitler in 1936 while working for United Press. Having gone to Le Rosey, the same Swiss prep school as the Shah of Iran, and then on to clubby Williams College, Helms moved easily among the young OSS men. He was already more taciturn than the jovial Donovan, but he was equally ambitious and skilled as a judge of character. For Helms, OSS spywork began a lifelong career. He would become the most important sponsor of mind-control research within the CIA, nurturing and promoting it throughout his steady climb to the top position in the Agency.

Like every major wartime official from President Roosevelt down, General Donovan believed that World War II was in large measure a battle of science and organization. The idea was to mobilize science for defense, and the Roosevelt administration set up a costly, intertwining network of research programs to deal with everything from splitting the atom to preventing mental breakdowns in combat. Donovan named Boston industrialist Stanley Lovell to head OSS Research and Development and to be the secret agency's liaison with the government scientific community.

A Cornell graduate and a self-described "saucepan chemist," Lovell was a confident energetic man with a particular knack for coming up with offbeat ideas and selling them to others. Like most of his generation, he was an outspoken patriot. He wrote in his diary shortly after Pearl Harbor: "As James Hilton said, 'Once at war, to reason is treason.' My job is clear -- to do all that is in me to help America."

General Donovan minced no words in laying out what he expected of Lovell: "I need every subtle device and every underhanded trick to use against the Germans and Japanese -- by our own people -- but especially by the underground resistance programs in all the occupied countries. You'll have to invent them all, Lovell, because you're going to be my man." Thus Lovell recalled his marching orders from Donovan, which he instantly received on being introduced to the blustery, hyperactive OSS chief. Lovell had never met anyone with Donovan's personal magnetism.

Lovell quickly turned to some of the leading lights in the academic and private sectors. A special group -- called Division 19 -- within James Conant's National Defense Research Committee was set up to produce "miscellaneous weapons" for OSS and British intelligence. Lovell's strategy, he later wrote, was "to stimulate the Peck's Bad Boy beneath the surface of every American scientist and to say to him, 'Throw all your normal law- abiding concepts out the window. Here's a chance to raise merry hell.'"

Dr. George Kistiakowsky, the Harvard chemist who worked on explosives research during the war (and who became science adviser to Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy) remembers Stanley Lovell well: "Stan came to us and asked us to develop ways for camouflaging explosives which could be smuggled into enemy countries." Kistiakowsky and an associate came up with a substance which was dubbed "Aunt Jemima" because it looked and tasted like pancake mix. Says Kistiakowsky: "You could bake bread or other things out of it. I personally took it to a high-level meeting at the War Department and ate cookies in front of all those characters to show them what a wonderful invention it was. All you had to do was attach a powerful detonator, and it exploded with the force of dynamite." Thus disguised, "Aunt Jemima" could be slipped into occupied lands. It was credited with blowing up at least one major bridge in China.

Lovell encouraged ass behavioral scientists to find something that would offend Japanese cultural sensibilities. His staff anthropologists reported back that nothing was so shameful to the Japanese soldier as his bowel movements. Lovell then had the chemists work up a skatole compound which duplicated the odor of diarrhea. It was loaded into collapsible tubes, flown to China, and distributed to children in enemy-occupied cities. When a Japanese officer appeared on a crowded street, the kids were encouraged to slip up behind him and squirt the liquid on the seat of his pants. Lovell named the product "Who? Me?" and he credited it with costing the Japanese "face."

Unlike most weapons, "Who? Me?" was not designed to kill or maim. It was a "harassment substance" designed to lower the morale of individual Japanese. The inspiration came from academicians who tried to make a science of human behavior. During World War II, the behavioral sciences were still very much in their infancy, but OSS -- well before most of the outside world -- recognized their potential in warfare. Psychology and psychiatry, sociology, and anthropology all seemed to offer insights that could be exploited to manipulate the enemy.

General Donovan himself believed that the techniques of psychoanalysis might be turned on Adolf Hitler to get a better idea of "the things that made him tick," as Donovan put it. Donovan gave the job of being the Fuhrer's analyst to Walter Langer, a Cambridge, Massachusetts psychoanalyst whose older brother William had taken leave from a chair of history at Harvard to head OSS Research and Analysis. [vi] Langer protested that a study of Hitler based on available data would be highly uncertain and that conventional psychiatric and psychoanalytic methods could not be used without direct access to the patient. Donovan was not the sort to be deterred by such details. He told Langer to go ahead anyway.

With the help of a small research staff, Langer looked through everything he could find on Hitler and interviewed a number of people who had known the German leader. Aware of the severe limitations on his information, but left no choice by General Donovan, Langer plowed ahead and wrote up a final study. It pegged Hitler as a "neurotic psychopath" and proceeded to pick apart the Fuhrer's psyche. Langer, since retired to Florida, believes he came "pretty close" to describing the real Adolf Hitler. He is particularly proud of his predictions that the Nazi leader would become increasingly disturbed as Germany suffered more and more defeats and that he would commit suicide rather than face capture.

One reason for psychoanalyzing Hitler was to uncover vulnerabilities that could be covertly exploited. Stanley Lovell seized upon one of Langer's ideas -- that Hitler might have feminine tendencies -- and got permission from the OSS hierarchy to see if he could push the Fuhrer over the gender line. [vii] "The hope was that his moustache would fall off and his voice become soprano," Lovell wrote. Lovell used ass's agent network to try to slip female sex hormones into Hitler's food, but nothing apparently came of it. Nor was there ever any payoff to other Lovell schemes to blind Hitler permanently with mustard gas or to use a drug to exacerbate his suspected epilepsy. The main problem in these operations -- all of which were tried -- was to get Hitler to take the medicine. Failure of the delivery schemes also kept Hitler alive -- OSS was simultaneously trying to poison him. [viii]

Without question, murdering a man was a decisive way to influence his behavior, and ass scientists developed an arsenal of chemical and biological poisons that included the incredibly p0- tent botulinus toxin, whose delivery system was a gelatin capsule smaller than the head of a pin. Lovell and his associates also realized there were less drastic ways to manipulate an enemy's behavior, and they came up with a line of products to cause sickness, itching, baldness, diarrhea, and/or the odor thereof. They had less success finding a drug to compel truth-telling, but it was not for lack of trying.

Chemical and biological substances had been used in wartime long before ass came on the scene. Both sides had used poison gas in World War I; during the early part of World War II, the Japanese had dropped deadly germs on China and caused epidemics; and throughout the war, the Allies and Axis powers alike had built up chemical and biological warfare (CBW) stockpiles, whose main function turned out, in the end, to be deterring the other side. Military men tended to look on CBW as a way of destroying whole armies and even populations. Like the world's other secret services, OSS individualized CBW and made it into a way of selectively but secretly embarrassing, disorienting, incapacitating, injuring, or killing an enemy.

As diversified as were Lovell's scientific duties for ass, they were narrow in comparison with those of his main counterpart in the CIA's postwar mind-control program, Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. Gottlieb would preside over investigations that ranged from advanced research in amnesia by electroshock to dragnet searches through the jungles of Latin America for toxic leaves and barks. Fully in the tradition of making Hitler moustacheless, Gottlieb's office would devise a scheme to make Fidel Castro's beard fall out; like Lovell, Gottlieb would personally provide operators with deadly poisons to assassinate foreign leaders like the Congo's Patrice Lumumba, and he would be equally at ease discussing possible applications of new research in neurology. On a much greater scale than Lovell's, Gottlieb would track down every conceivable gimmick that might give one person leverage over another's mind. Gottlieb would preside over arcane fields from handwriting analysis to stress creation, and he would rise through the Agency along with his bureaucratic patron, Richard Helms.


Early in the war, General Donovan got another idea from the British, whose psychologists and psychiatrists had devised a testing program to predict the performance of military officers. Donovan thought such a program might help OSS sort through the masses of recruits who were being rushed through training. To create an assessment system for Americans, Donovan called in Harvard psychology professor Henry "Harry" Murray. In 1938 Murray had written Explorations of Personality, a notable book which laid out a whole battery of tests that could be used to size up the personalities of individuals. "Spying is attractive to loonies," states Murray. "Psychopaths, who are people who spend their lives making up stories, revel in the field." The program's prime objective, according to Murray, was keeping out the crazies, as well as the "sloths, irritants, bad actors, and free talkers."

Always in a hurry, Donovan gave Murray and a distinguished group of colleagues only 15 days until the first candidates arrived to be assessed. In the interim, they took over a spacious estate outside Washington as their headquarters. In a series of hurried meetings, they put together an assessment system that combined German and British methods with Murray's earlier research. It tested a recruit's ability to stand up under pressure, to be a leader, to hold liquor, to lie skillfully, and to read a person's character by the nature of his clothing.

More than 30 years after the war, Murray remains modest in his claims for the assessment system, saying that it was only an aid in weeding out the "horrors" among OSS candidates. Nevertheless, the secret agency's leaders believed in its results, and Murray's system became a fixture in ass, testing Americans and foreign agents alike. Some of Murray's young behavioral scientists, like John Gardner, [ix] would go on to become prominent in public affairs, and, more importantly, the OSS assessment program would be recognized as a milestone in American psychology. It was the first systematic effort to evaluate an individual's personality in order to predict his future behavior. After the war, personality assessment would become a new field in itself, and some of Murray's assistants would go on to establish OSS-like systems at large corporations, starting with AT&T. They also would set up study programs at universities, beginning with the University of California at Berkley. [x] As would happen repeatedly with the CIA's mind-control research, ass was years ahead of public developments in behavioral theory and application.

In the postwar years, Murray would be superseded by a young Oklahoma psychologist John Gittinger, who would rise in the CIA on the strength of his ideas about how to make a hard science out of personality assessment and how to use it to manipulate people. Gittinger would build an office within CIA that refined both Murray's assessment function and Walter Langer's indirect analysis of foreign leaders. Gittinger's methods would become an integral part of everyday Agency operations, and he would become Sid Gottlieb's protege.


Stanley Lovell reasoned that a good way to kill Hitler -- and the OSS man was always looking for ideas -- would be to hypnotically control a German prisoner to hate the Gestapo and the Nazi regime and then to give the subject a hypnotic suggestion to assassinate the Fuhrer. The OSS candidate would be let loose in Germany where he would take the desired action, "being under a compulsion that might not be denied," as Lovell wrote.

Lovell sought advice on whether this scheme would work from New York psychiatrist Lawrence Kubie and from the famed Menninger brothers, Karl and William. The Menningers reported that the weight of the evidence showed hypnotism to be incapable of making people do anything that they would not otherwise do. Equally negative, Dr. Kubie added that if a German prisoner had a logical reason to kill Hitler or anyone else, he would not need hypnotism to motivate him.

Lovell and his coworkers apparently accepted this skeptical view of hypnosis, as did the overwhelming majority of psychologists and psychiatrists in the country. At the time, hypnosis was considered a fringe activity, and there was little recognition of either its validity or its usefulness for any purpose -- let alone covert operations. Yet there were a handful of serious experimenters in the field who believed in its military potential. The most vocal partisan of this view was the head of the Psychology Department at Colgate University, George "Esty" Estabrooks. Since the early 19305,Estabrooks had periodically ventured out from his sleepy upstate campus to advise the military on applications of hypnotism.

Estabrooks acknowledged that hypnosis did not work on everyone and that only one person in five made a good enough subject to be placed in a deep trance, or state of somnambulism. He believed that only these subjects could be made to do such things against their apparent will as reveal secrets or commit crimes. He had watched respected members of the community make fools of themselves in the hands of stage hypnotists, and he had compelled his own students to reveal fraternity secrets and the details of private love affairs -- all of which the subjects presumably did not want to do.

Still his experience was limited. Estabrooks realized that the only certain way to know whether a person would commit a crime like murder under hypnosis was to have the person kill someone. Unwilling to settle the issue on his own by trying the experiment, he felt that government sanction of the process would relieve the hypnotist of personal responsibility. "Any 'accidents' that might occur during the experiments will simply be charged to profit and loss," he wrote, "a very trifling portion of that enormous wastage in human life which is part and parcel of war."

After Pearl Harbor, Estabrooks offered his ideas to OSS, but they were not accepted by anyone in government willing to carry them to their logical conclusion. He was reduced to writing books about the potential use of hypnotism in warfare. Cassandra-like, he tried to warn America of the perils posed by hypnotic control. His 1945 novel, Death in the Mind, concerned a series of seemingly treasonable acts committed by Allied personnel: an American submarine captain torpedoes one of our own battleships, and the beautiful heroine starts acting in an irrational way which serves the enemy. After a perilous investigation, secret agent Johnny Evans learns that the Germans have been hypnotizing Allied personnel and conditioning them to obey Nazi commands. Evans and his cohorts, shaken by the many ways hypnotism can be used against them, set up elaborate countermeasures and then cannot resist going on the offensive. Objections are heard from the heroine, who by this time has been brutally and rather graphically tortured. She complains that "doing things to people's minds" is "a loathsome way to fight." Her qualms are brushed aside by Johnny Evans, her lover and boss. He sets off after the Germans -- "to tamper with their minds; Make them traitors; Make them work for us."

In the aftermath of the war, as the U.S. national security apparatus was being constructed, the leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency would adopt Johnny Evans' mission -- almost in those very words. Richard Helms, Sid Gottlieb, John Gittinger, George White, and many others would undertake a far-flung and complicated assault on the human mind. In hypnosis and many other fields, scientists even more eager than George Estabrooks would seek CIA approval for the kinds of experiments they would not dare perform on their own. Sometimes the Agency men concurred; on other occasions, they reserved such experiments for themselves. They would tamper with many minds and inevitably cause some to be damaged. In the end, they would minimize and hide their deeds, and they would live to see doubts raised about the health of their own minds.



i. While Hofmann specifically used the word "trip" in a 1977 interview to describe his consciousness-altering experience, the word obviously had no such meaning in 1943 and is used here anachronistically.

ii. Del Gracio's name was deleted by the CIA from the OSS document that described the incident, but his identity was learned from the papers of George White, whose widow donated them to Foothills College in Los Altos, California. CIA officials cut virtually all the names from the roughly 16,000pages of its own papers and the few score pages from OSS that it released to me under the Freedom of Information Act. However, as in this case, many of the names could be found through collateral sources.

iii. Naval intelligence officers eventually made a deal in which mob leaders promised to cooperate, and as a direct result, New York Governor Thomas Dewey ordered Del Gracio's chief, boss of bosses, Charles "Lucky" Luciano freed from jail in 1946.

iv. The term "Manchurian Candidate" came into the language in 1959 when author Richard Condon made it the title of his best-selling novel that later became a popular movie starring Laurence Harvey and Frank Sinatra. The story was about a joint Soviet-Chinese plot to take an American soldier captured in Korea, condition him at a special brainwashing center located in Manchuria, and create a remote-controlled assassin who was supposed to kill the President of the United States. Condon consulted with a wide variety of experts while researching the book, and some inside sources may well have filled him in on the gist of a discussion that took place at a 1953 meeting at the CIA on behavior control. Said one participant, " ... individuals who had come out of North Korea across the Soviet Union to freedom recently apparently had a blank period of disorientation while passing through a special zone in Manchuria." The CIA and military men at this session promised to seek more information, but the matter never came up again in either the documents released by the Agency or in the interviews done for this book.

v. The Code was suggested in essentially its final form by prosecution team consultant, Dr. Leo Alexander, a Boston psychiatrist.

vi. Four months before Pearl Harbor, Donovan had enlisted Walter Langer to put together a nationwide network of analysts to study the morale of the country's young men, who, it was widely feared, were not enthusiastic about fighting a foreign war. Pearl Harbor seemed to solve this morale problem, but Langer stayed with Donovan as a part-time psychoanalytic consultant.

vii. Langer wrote that Hitler was "masochistic in the extreme inasmuch as he derives sexual pleasure from punishment inflicted on his own body. There is every reason to suppose that during his early years, instead of identifying himself with his father as most boys do, he identified with his mother. This was perhaps easier for him than for most boys since, as we have seen, there is a large feminine component in his physical makeup. ... His extreme sentimentality, his emotionality, his occasional softness, and his weeping, even after he became Chancellor, may be regarded as manifestations of a fundamental pattern that undoubtedly had its origin in his relationship to his mother."

viii. Although historians have long known that OSS men had been in touch with the German officers who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944, the fact that OSS independently was trying to murder him has eluded scholars of the period. Stanley Lovell gave away the secret in his 1963 book, Of Spies and Strategems. but he used such casual and obscure words that the researchers apparently did not notice. Lovell wrote: "I supplied now and then a carbamate or other quietus medication, all to be injected into der Fuhrer's carrots, beets, or whatever." A "quietus medicine" is a generic term for a lethal poison, of which carbamates are one type.

ix. Gardner, a psychologist teaching at Mount Holyoke College, helped Murray set up the original program and went on to open the West Coast OSS assessment site at a converted beach club in San Juan Capistrano. After the war, he would become Secretary of HEW in the Johnson administration and founder of Common Cause.

x. Murray is not at all enthusiastic with the spinoffs. "Some of the things done with it turn your stomach," he declares.
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and M

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:16 am


CIA officials started preliminary work on drugs and hypnosis shortly after the Agency's creation in 1947, but the behavior=control program did not really get going until the Hungarian government put Josef Cardinal Mindszenty on trial in 1949.With a glazed look in his eyes, Mindszenty confessed to crimes of treason he apparently did not commit. His performance recalled the Moscow purge trials of 1937 and 1938 at which tough and dedicated party apparatchiks had meekly pleaded guilty to long series of improbable offenses. These and a string of postwar trials in other Eastern European countries seemed staged, eerie, and unreal. CIA men felt they had to know how the Communists had rendered the defendants zombielike. In the Mindszenty case, a CIA Security Memorandum declared that "some unknown force" had controlled the Cardinal, and the memo speculated that the communist, authorities had used hypnosis on him.

In the summer of 1949, the Agency's head of Scientific Intelligence made a special trip to Western Europe to find out more about what the Soviets were doing and "to apply special methods of interrogation for the purpose of evaluation of Russian practices." In other words, fearful that the communists might have used drugs and hypnosis on prisoners, a senior CIA official used exactly the same techniques on refugees and returned prisoners from Eastern Europe. On returning to the United States, this official recommended two courses of action: first, that the Agency consider setting up an escape operation to free Mindszenty; and second, that the CIA train and send to Europe a team skilled in "special" interrogation methods of the type he had tried out in Europe.

By the spring of 1950, several other CIA branches were contemplating the operational use of hypnosis. The Office of Security, whose main job was to protect Agency personnel and facilities from enemy penetration, moved to centralize all activity in this and other behavioral fields. The Security chief, Sheffield Edwards, a former Army colonel who a decade later would personally handle joint CIA-Mafia operations, took the initiative by calling a meeting of all interested Agency parties and proposing that interrogation teams be formed under Security's command. Security would use the teams to check out agents and defectors for the whole CIA. Each team would consist of a psychiatrist, a polygraph (lie detector) expert trained in hypnosis, and a technician. Edwards agreed not to use the teams operationally without the permission of a high-level committee. He called the project BLUEBIRD, a code name which, like all Agency names, had no significance -- except perhaps to the person who chose it. Edwards classified the program TOP SECRET and stressed the extraordinary need for secrecy. On April 20, 1950, CIA Director Roscoe Hillenkoetter approved BLUEBIRD and authorized the use of unvouchered funds to pay for its most sensitive areas. The CIA's behavior-control program now had a bureaucratic structure.

The chief of Scientific Intelligence attended the original BLUEBIRD meeting in Sheffield Edwards' office and assured those present that his office would keep trying to gather all possible data on foreign -- particularly Russian -- efforts in the behavioral field. Not long afterward, his representative arranged to inspect the Nuremberg Tribunal records to see if they contained anything useful to BLUEBIRD. According to a CIA psychologist who looked over the German research, the Agency did not find much of specific help. "It was a real horror story, but we learned what human beings were capable of," he recalls. "There were some experiments on pain, but they were so mixed up with sadism as not to be useful.... How the victim coped was very interesting. "

At the beginning, at least, there was cooperation between the scientists and the interrogators in the CIA. Researchers from Security (who had no special expertise but who were experienced in police work) and researchers from Scientific Intelligence (who lacked operational background but who had academic training) pored jointly over all the open literature and secret reports. They quickly realized that the only way to build an effective defense against mind control was to understand its offensive possibilities. The line between offense and defense -- if it ever existed -- soon became so blurred as to be meaningless. Nearly every Agency document stressed goals like "controlling an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against such fundamental laws of nature as self-preservation." On reading one such memo, an Agency officer wrote to his boss: "If this is supposed to be covered up as a defensive feasibility study, it's pretty damn transparent."

Three months after the Director approved BLUEBIRD, the first team traveled to Japan to tryout behavioral techniques on human subjects -- probably suspected double agents. The three men arrived in Tokyo in July 1950, about a month after the start of the Korean War. No one needed to impress upon them the importance of their mission. The Security Office ordered them to conceal their true purpose from even the U.S. military authorities with whom they worked in Japan, using the cover that they would be performing "intensive polygraph" work. In stifling, debilitating heat and humidity, they tried out combinations of the depressant sodium amytal with the stimulant benzedrine on each of four subjects, the last two of whom also received a second stimulant, picrotoxin. They also tried to induce amnesia. The team considered the tests successful, but the CIA documents available on the trip give only the sketchiest outline of what happened. [i] Then around October 1950, the BLUEBIRD team used "advanced" techniques on 25 subjects, apparently North Korean prisoners of war.

By the end of that year, a Security operator, Morse Allen, had become the head of the BLUEBIRD program. Forty years old at the time, Allen had spent most of his earlier career rooting out the domestic communist threat, starting in the late 1930s when he had joined the Civil Service Commission and set up its first security files on communists. ("He knows their methods," wrote a CIA colleague.) During World War II, Allen had served with Naval intelligence, first pursuing leftists in New York and then landing with the Marines on Okinawa. After the war, he went to the State Department, only to leave in the late 1940s because he felt the Department was whitewashing certain communist cases. He soon joined the CIA's Office of Security. A suspicious man by inclination and training, Allen took nothing at face value. Like all counterintelligence or security operators, his job was to show why things are not what they seem to be. He was always thinking ahead and behind, punching holes in surface realities. Allen had no academic training' for behavioral research (although he did take a short course in hypnotism, a subject that fascinated him). He saw the BLUEBIRD job as one that called for studying every last method the communists might use against the United States and figuring out ways to counter them.

The CIA had schooled Morse Allen in one field which in the CIA's early days became an important part of covert operations: the use of the polygraph. Probably more than any intelligence service in the world, the Agency developed the habit of strapping its foreign agents -- and eventually, its own employees -- into the "box." The polygraph measures physiological changes that might show lying -- heartbeat, blood pressure, perspiration, and the like. It has never been foolproof. In 1949 the Office of Security estimated that it worked successfully on seven out of eight cases, a very high fraction but not one high enough for those in search of certainty. A psychopathic liar, a hypnotized person, or a specially trained professional can "beat" the machine. Moreover, the skill of the person running the polygraph and asking the questions determines how well the device will work. "A good operator can make brilliant use of the polygraph without plugging it in," claims one veteran CIA case officer. Others maintain only somewhat less extravagantly that its chief value is to deter agents tempted to switch loyalties or reveal secrets. The power of the machine -- real and imagined -- to detect infidelity and dishonesty can be an intimidating factor. [ii] Nevertheless, the polygraph cannot compel truth. Like Pinocchio's nose, it only indicates lying. In addition, the machine requires enough physical control over the subject to strap him in. For years, the CIA tried to overcome this limitation by developing a "super" polygraph that could be aimed from afar or concealed in a chair. In this field, as in many others, no behavior control scheme was too farfetched to investigate, and Agency scientists did make some progress.

In December 1950, Morse Allen told his boss, Paul Gaynor, a retired brigadier general with a long background In counterintelligence and interrogation, that he had heard of experiments with an "electro-sleep" machine in a Richmond, Virginia hospital. Such an invention appealed to Allen because it supposedly put people to sleep without shock or convulsions. The BLUEBIRD team had been using drugs to bring on a state similar to a hypnotic trance, and Allen hoped this machine would allow an operator to put people into deep sleep without having to resort to chemicals. In theory, all an operator had to do was to attach the electrode-tipped wires to the subject's head and let the machine do the rest. It cost about $250 and was about twice the size of a table-model dictating machine. "Although it would not be feasible to use it on any of our own people because there is at least a theoretical danger of temporary brain. damage," Morse Allen wrote, "it would possibly be of value in certain areas in connection with POW interrogation or on individuals of interest to this Agency." The machine never worked well enough to get into the testing stage for the CIA.

At the end of 1951, Allen talked to a famed psychiatrist (whose name, like most of the others, the CIA has deleted from the documents released) about a gruesome but more practical technique. This psychiatrist, a cleared Agency consultant, reported that electroshock treatments could produce amnesia for varying lengths of time and that he had been able to obtain information from patients as they came out of the stupor that followed shock treatments. He also reported that a lower setting of the Reiter electroshock machine produced an "excruciating pain" that, while nontherapeutic, could be effective as "a third degree method" to make someone talk. Morse Allen asked if the psychiatrist had ever taken advantage of the "groggy" period that followed normal electroshock to gain hypnotic control of his patients. No, replied the psychiatrist, but he would try it in the near future and report back to the Agency. The psychiatrist also mentioned that continued electroshock treatments could gradually reduce a subject to the "vegetable level," and that these treatments could not be detected unless the subject was given EEG tests within two weeks. At the end of a memo laying out this information, Allen noted that portable, battery-driven electroshock machines had come on the market.

Shortly after this Morse Allen report, the Office of Scientific Intelligence recommended that this same psychiatrist be given $100,000 in research funds "to develop electric shock and hypnotic techniques." While Allen thought this subject worth pursuing, he had some qualms about the ultimate application of the shock treatments: "The objections would, of course, apply to the use of electroshock if the end result was creation of a 'vegetable.' [I] believe that these techniques should not be considered except in gravest emergencies, and neutralization by confinement and/or removal from the area would be far more appropriate and certainly safer."

In 1952 the Office of Scientific Intelligence proposed giving another private doctor $100,000 to develop BLUEBIRD-related "neurosurgical techniques" -- presumably lobotomy-connected. [iii] Similarly, the Security office planned to use outside consultants to find out about such techniques as ultrasonics, vibrations, concussions, high and low pressure, the uses of various gases in airtight chambers, diet variations, caffeine, fatigue, radiation, heat and cold, and changing light. Agency officials looked into all these areas and many others. Some they studied intensively; others they merely discussed with consultants.

The BLUEBIRD mind-control program began when Stalin was still alive, when the memory of Hitler was fresh, and the terrifying prospect of global nuclear war was just sinking into popular consciousness. The Soviet Union had subjugated most of Eastern Europe, and a Communist party had taken control over the world's most populous nation, China. War had broken out in Korea, and Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist crusade was on the rise in the United States. In both foreign and domestic politics, the prevailing mood was one of fear -- even paranoia.

American officials have pointed to the Cold War atmosphere ever since as an excuse for crimes and excesses committed then and afterward. One recurring litany in national security investigations has been the testimony of the exposed official citing Cold War hysteria to justify an act that he or she would not otherwise defend. The apprehensions of the Cold War do not provide a moral or legal shield for such acts, but they do help explain them. Even when the apprehensions were not well founded, they were no less real to the people involved.

It was also a time when the United States had achieved a new preeminence in the world. After World War II, American officials wielded the kind of power that diplomats frequently dream of. They established new alliances, new rulers, and even new nations to suit their purposes. They dispensed guns, favors, and aid to scores of nations. Consequently, American officials were noticed, respected, and pampered wherever they went -- as never before. Their new sense of importance and their Cold War fears often made a dangerous combination -- it is a fact of human nature that anyone who is both puffed up and afraid is someone to watch out for.

In 1947 the National Security Act created not only the CIA but also the National Security Council -- in sum, the command structure for the Cold War. Wartime ass leaders like William Donovan and Allen Dulles lobbied feverishly for the Act. Officials within the new command structure soon put their fear and their grandiose notions to work. Reacting to the perceived threat, they adopted a ruthless and warlike posture toward anyone they considered an enemy -- most especially the Soviet Union. They took it upon themselves to fight communism and things that might lead to communism everywhere in the world. Few citizens disagreed with them; they appeared to express the sentiments of most Americans in that era, but national security officials still preferred to act in secrecy. A secret study commission under former President Hoover captured the spirit of their call to clandestine warfare:

It is now clear we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable longstanding American concepts of "fair play" must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage, and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated, and more effective methods than those used against us.

The men in the new CIA took this job quite seriously. "We felt we were the first line of defense in the anticommunist crusade," recalls Harry Rositzke, an early head of the Agency's Soviet Division. "There was a clear and heady sense of mission -- a sense of what a huge job this was." Michael Burke, who was chief of CIA covert operations in Germany before going on to head the New York Yankees and Madison Square Garden, agrees: "It was riveting.... One was totally absorbed in something that has become misunderstood now, but the Cold War in those days was a very real thing with hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops, tanks, and planes poised on the East German border, capable of moving to the English Channel in forty-eight hours." Hugh Cunningham, an Agency official who stayed on for many years, remembers that survival itself was at stake, "What you were made to feel was that the country was in desperate peril and we had to do whatever it took to save it."

BLUEBIRD and the CIA's later mind-control programs sprang from such alarm. As a matter of course, the CIA was also required to learn the methods and intentions of all possible foes. "If the CIA had not tried to find out what the- Russians were doing with mind-altering drugs in the early 1950s, I think the then-Director should have been fired," says Ray Cline, a former Deputy Director of the Agency.

High Agency officials felt they had to know what the Russians were up to. Nevertheless, a careful reading of the contemporaneous CIA documents almost three decades later indicates that if the Russians were scoring breakthroughs in the behavior-control field -- whose author they almost certainly were not -- the CIA lacked intelligence to prove that. For example, a 1952 Security document, which admittedly had an ax to grind with the Office of Scientific Intelligence, called the data gathered on the Soviet programs "extremely poor." The author noted that the Agency's information was based on "second· or third-hand rumors, unsupported statements and non-factual data." [iv] Apparently, the fears and fantasies aroused by the Mindszenty trial and the subsequent Korean War "brainwashing" furor outstripped the facts on hand. The prevalent CIA notion of a "mind-control gap" was as much of a myth as the later bomber and missile "gaps." In any case, beyond the defensive curiosity, mind control took on a momentum of its own.

As unique and frightening as the Cold War was, it did not cause people working for the government to react much differently to each other or power than at other times in American history. Bureaucratic squabbling went on right through the most chilling years of the behavior-control program. No matter how alarmed CIA officials became over the Russian peril, they still managed to quarrel with their internal rivals over control of Agency funds and manpower. Between 1950 and 1952, responsibility for mind control went from the Office of Security to the Scientific Intelligence unit back to Security again. In the process, BLUEBIRD was rechristened ARTICHOKE. The bureaucratic wars were drawn-out affairs, baffling to outsiders; yet many of the crucial turns in behavioral research came out of essentially bureaucratic considerations on the part of the contending officials. In general, the Office of Security was full of pragmatists who were anxious to weed out communists (and homosexuals) everywhere. They believed the intellectuals from Scientific Intelligence had failed to produce "one new, usable paper, suggestion, drug, instrument, name of an individual, etc., etc.," as one document puts it. The learned gentlemen from Scientific Intelligence felt that the former cops, military men, and investigators in Security lacked the technical background to handle so awesome a task as controlling the human mind.

"Jurisdictional conflict was constant in this area," a Senate committee would state in 1976.A 1952 report to the chief of the CIA's Medical Staff (itself a participant in the infighting) drew a harsher conclusion: "There exists a glaring lack of cooperation among the various intra-Agency groups fostered by petty jealousies and personality differences that result in the retardation of the enhancing and advancing of the Agency as a body." When Security took ARTICHOKE back from Scientific Intelligence in 1952, the victory lasted only two and one-half years before most of the behavioral work went to yet another CIA outfit, full of Ph.D.s with operational experience -- the Technical Services Staff (TSS). [v]

There was bureaucratic warfare outside the CIA as well, although there were early gestures toward interagency cooperation. In April 1951 the CIA Director approved liaison with Army, Navy, and Air Force intelligence to avoid duplication of effort. The Army and Navy were both looking for truth drugs, while the prime concern of the Air Force was interrogation techniques used on downed pilots. Representatives of each service attended regular meetings to discuss ARTICHOKE matters. The Agency also invited the FBI, but J. Edgar Hoover's men stayed away.

During their brief period of cooperation, the military and the CIA also exchanged information with the British and Canadian governments. At the first session in June 1951, the British representative announced at the outset that there had been nothing new in the interrogation business since the days of the Inquisition and that there was little hope of achieving valuable results through research. He wanted to concentrate on propaganda and political warfare as they applied to such threats as communist penetration of trade unions. The CIA's minutes of the session record that this skeptical Englishman finally agreed to the importance of behavioral research, but one doubts the sincerity of this conversion. The minutes also record a consensus of "no conclusive evidence" that either Western countries or the Soviets had made any "revolutionary progress" in the field, and describe Soviet methods as "remarkably similar ... to the age-old methods." Nonetheless, the representatives of the three countries agreed to continue investigating behavior-control methods because of their importance to "cold war operations." To what extent the British and Canadians continued cannot be told. The CIA did not stop until the 1970s.


Bureaucratic conflict was not the only aspect of ordinary government life that persisted through the Cold War. Officials also maintained their normal awareness of the ethical and legal consequences of their decisions. Often they went through contorted rationalizations and took steps to protect themselves, but at least they recognized and paused over the various ethical lines before crossing them. It would be unfair to say that all moral awareness evaporated. Officials agonized over the consequences of their acts, and much of the bureaucratic record of behavior control is the history of officials dealing with moral conflicts as they arose.

The Security office barely managed to recruit the team psychiatrist in time for the first mission to Japan, and for years, Agency officials had trouble attracting qualified medical men to the project. Speculating why, one Agency memo listed such reasons as the CIA's comparatively low salaries for doctors and ARTICHOKE's narrow professional scope, adding that a candidate's "ethics might be such that he might not care to cooperate in certain more revolutionary phases of our project." This consideration became explicit in Agency recruiting. During the talent search, another CIA memo stated why another doctor seemed suitable: "His ethics are such that he would be completely cooperative in any phase of our program, regardless of how revolutionary it may be."

The matter was even more troublesome in the task of obtaining guinea pigs for mind-control experiments. "Our biggest current problem," noted one CIA memo, "is to find suitable subjects." The men from ARTICHOKE found their most convenient source among the flotsam and jetsam of the international spy trade: "individuals of dubious loyalty, suspected agents or plants, subjects having known reason for deception, etc," as one Agency document described them. ARTICHOKE officials looked on these people as "unique research material," from whom meaningful secrets might be extracted while the experiments went on.

It is fair to say that the CIA operators tended to put less value on the lives of these subjects than they did on those of American college students, upon whom preliminary, more benign testing was done. They tailored the subjects to suit the ethical sensitivity of the experiment. A psychiatrist who worked on an ARTICHOKE team stresses that no one from the Agency wanted subjects to be hurt. Yet he and his colleagues were willing to treat dubious defectors and agents in a way which not only would be professionally unethical in the United States but also an indictable crime. In short, these subjects were, if not expendable, at least not particularly prized as human beings. As a CIA psychologist who worked for a decade in the behavior-control program, puts it, "One did not put a high premium on the civil rights of a person who was treasonable to his own country or who was operating effectively to destroy us." Another ex-Agency psychologist observes that CIA operators did not have "a universal concept of mankind" and thus were willing to do things to foreigners that they would have been reluctant to try on Americans. "It was strictly a patriotic vision," he says.

ARTICHOKE officials never seemed to be able to find enough subjects. The professional operators -- particularly the traditionalists -- were reluctant to turn over agents to the Security men with their unproved methods. The field men did not particularly want outsiders, such as the ARTICHOKE crew, getting mixed up in their operations. In the spy business, agents are very valuable property indeed, and operators tend to be very protective of them. Thus the ARTICHOKE teams were given mostly the dregs of the clandestine underworld to work on.

Inexorably, the ARTICHOKE men crossed the clear ethical lines. Morse Allen believed it proved little or nothing to experiment on volunteers who gave their informed consent. For all their efforts to act naturally, volunteers still knew they were playing in a make-believe game. Consciously or intuitively, they understood that no one would allow them to be harmed. Allen felt that only by testing subjects "for whom much is at stake (perhaps life and death)," as he wrote, could he get reliable results relevant to operations. In documents and conversation, Allen and his coworkers called such realistic tests "terminal experiments" -- terminal in the sense that the experiment would be carried through to completion. It would not end when the subject felt like going home or when he or his best interest was about to be harmed. Indeed, the subject usually had no idea that he had ever been part of an experiment.

In every field of behavior control, academic researchers took the work only so far. From Morse Allen's perspective, somebody then had to do the terminal experiment to find out how well the technique worked in the real world: how drugs affected unwitting subjects, how massive electroshock influenced memory, how prolonged sensory deprivation disturbed the mind. By definition, terminal experiments went beyond conventional ethical and legal limits. The ultimate terminal experiments caused death, but ARTICHOKE sources state that those were forbidden.

For career CIA officials, exceeding these limits in the name of national security became part of the job, although individual operators usually had personal lines they would not cross. Most academics wanted no part of the game at this stage -- nor did Agency men always like having these outsiders around. If academic and medical consultants were brought along for the terminal phase, they usually did the work overseas, in secret. As Cornell Medical School's famed neurologist Harold Wolff explained in a research proposal he .made to the CIA, when any of the tests involved doing harm to the subjects, "We expect the Agency to make available suitable subjects and a proper place for the performance of the necessary experiments." Any professional caught trying the kinds of things the Agency came to sponsor-holding subjects prisoner, shooting them full of unwanted drugs -- probably would have been arrested for kidnapping or aggravated assault. Certainly such a researcher would have been disgraced among his peers. Yet, by performing the same experiment under the CIA's banner, he had no worry from the law. His colleagues could not censure him because they had no idea what he was doing. And he could take pride in helping his country.

Without having been there in person, no one can know exactly what it felt like to take part in a terminal experiment. In any case, the subjects probably do not have fond memories of the experience. While the researchers sometimes resembled Alphonse and Gaston, they took themselves and their work very seriously. Now they are either dead, or, for their own reasons, they do not want to talk about the tests. Only in the following case have I been able to piece together anything approaching a firsthand account of a terminal experiment, and this one is quite mild compared to the others the ARTICHOKE men planned.



i. For a better-documented case of narcotherapy and narcohypnosis, see Chapter 3.

ii. While the regular polygraphing of CIA career employees apparently never has turned up a penetration agent in the ranks, it almost certainly has a deterrent effect on those considering coming out of the homosexual closet or on those considering dipping into the large sums of cash dispensed from proverbial black bags.

iii. Whether the Agency ultimately funded this or the electric-shock proposal cited above cannot be determined from the documents.

iv. The CIA refused to supply either a briefing or additional material when I asked for more background on Soviet behavior-control programs.

v. This Agency component, responsible for providing the supporting gadgets, disguises, forgeries, secret writing, and weapons, has been called during its history the Technical Services Division and the Office of Technical Services, as well as TSS, the name which will be used throughout this book.
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and M

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:17 am


The three men were all part of the same Navy team, traveling together to Germany. Their trip was so sensitive that they had been ordered to ignore each other, even as they waited in the terminal at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington on a sweltering August morning in 1952. Just the month before, Gary Cooper had opened in High Noon, and the notion of showdown -- whether with outlaws or communists -- was in the air. With war still raging in Korea, security consciousness was high. Even so, the secrecy surrounding this Navy mission went well beyond ordinary TOP SECRET restrictions, for the team was slated to link up in Frankfurt with a contingent from the most hush-hush agency of all, the CIA. Then the combined group was going to perform dangerous experiments on human subjects. Both Navy and CIA officials believed that any disclosure about these tests would cause grave harm to the American national interest.

The Navy team sweated out a two-hour delay at Andrews before the four-engine military transport finally took off. Not until the plane touched down at the American field in the Azores did one of the group, a representative of Naval intelligence, flash a prearranged signal indicating that they were not being watched and they could talk. "It was all this cloak-and-dagger crap," recalls another participant, Dr. Samuel Thompson, a psychiatrist, physiologist, and pharmacologist who was also a Navy commander.

The third man in the party was G. Richard Wendt, chairman of the Psychology Department at the University of Rochester and a part-time Navy contractor. A small 46-year-old man with graying blond hair and a fair-sized paunch, Wendt had been the only one with companionship during the hours of decreed silence. He had brought along his attractive young assistant, ostensibly to help him with the experiments. She was not well received by the Navy men, nor would she be appreciated by the CIA operators in Frankfurt. The behavior-control field was very much a man's world, except when women subjects were used. The professor's relationship with this particular lady was destined to become a source of friction with his fellow experimenters, and, eventually, a topic of official CIA reporting.

In theory, Professor Wendt worked under Dr. Thompson's supervision in a highly classified Navy program called Project CHATTER, but the strong-minded psychologist did not take anyone's orders easily. Very much an independent spirit, Wendt ironically, had accepted CHATTER's goal of weakening, if not eliminating, free will in others. The Navy program, which had started in 1947, was aimed at developing a truth drug that would force people to reveal their innermost secrets.

Thompson, who inherited Wendt and CHATTER in 1951 when he became head of psychiatric research at the Naval Medical Research Institute, remembers Naval intelligence telling him of the need for a truth drug in case "someone planted an A-bomb in one of our cities and we had twelve hours to find out from a person where it was. What could we do to make him talk?" Thompson concedes he was always "negative" about the possibility that such a drug could ever exist, but he cites the fear that the Russians might develop their own miracle potion as reason enough to justify the program. Also, Thompson and the other U.S. officials could not resist looking for a pill or panacea that would somehow make their side all-knowing or all-powerful.

Professor Wendt had experimented with drugs for the Navy before he became involved in the search for a truth serum. His earlier work had been on the use of drama mine and other methods to prevent motion sickness, and now that he was doing more sensitive research, the Navy hid it under the cover of continuing his "motion sickness" study. At the end of 1950, the Navy gave Wendt a $300,000 contract to study such substances as barbiturates, amphetamines, alcohol, and heroin. To preserve secrecy, which often reached fetish proportions in mind-control research, the money flowed to him not through Navy channels but out of the Secretary of Defense's contingency fund. For those drugs that were not available from pharmaceutical companies, Navy officials went to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. The Commissioner of Narcotics personally signed the papers, and special couriers carried pouches of illegal drugs through Washington streets and then up to the professor at Rochester. Receipts show that the Bureau sent the Navy 30 grams of pure heroin and 11 pounds of "Mexican grown" marijuana, among other drugs.

Like most serious drug researchers, Wendt sampled everything first before testing on assistants and students. The drug that took up the most space in his first progress report was heroin. He had become his own prime subject. At weekly intervals, he told the Navy, the psychologist gave himself heroin injections and then wrote down his reactions as he moved through the "full range" of his life: driving, shopping, recreation, manual work, family relations, and sexual activity. He noted in himself "slight euphoria ... heightened aesthetic appreciation ... absentminded behavior ... lack of desire to operate at full speed ... lack of desire for alcohol ... possibly reduced sex interest ... feeling of physical well-being." He concluded in his report that heroin could have "some, but slight value for interrogation" if used on someone "worked on for a long period of time." [i]

Wendt never had any trouble getting student volunteers. He simply posted a notice on a campus bulletin board, and he wound up with a long waiting list. He chose only men subjects over 21, and he paid everyone accepted after a long interview $1.00 an hour. With so much government money to spend, he hired over 20 staff assistants, and he built a whole new testing facility in the attic of the school library. Wendt was cautious with his students, and he apparently did not share the hard drugs with them. He usually tested subjects in small groups -- four to eight at a time. He and his associates watched through a two-way mirror and wrote down the subjects' reactions. He always used both placebos (inert substances) and drugs; the students never knew what -- if anything -- they were taking. According to Dr. Thompson, to have alerted them in advance and thus given themselves a chance to steel themselves up "would have spoiled the experiment."

Nonetheless, Wendt's procedure was a far cry from true unwitting testing. Any drug that was powerful enough to break through an enemy's resistance could have a traumatic effect on the person taking it -- particularly if the subject was totally unaware of what was happening. The Navy research plan was to do preliminary studies on subjects like Wendt's students, and then, as soon as the drug showed promise, to try it under field conditions. Under normal scientific research, the operational tests would not have been run before the basic work was finished. But the Navy could not wait. The drugs were to be tested on involuntary subjects. Thompson readily admits that this procedure was "unethical," but he says, "We felt we had to do it for the good of country."

During the summer of 1952, Professor Wendt announced that he had found a concoction "so special" that it would be "the answer" to the truth-drug problem, as Thompson recalls it. "I thought it would be a good idea to call the Agency," says Thompson. "I thought they might have someone with something to spill." Wendt was adamant on one point: He would not tell anyone in the Navy or the CIA what his potion contained. He would only demonstrate. Neither the CHATTER nor ARTICHOKE teams could resist the bait. The Navy had no source of subjects for terminal experiments, but the CIA men agreed to furnish the human beings -- in Germany -- even though they had no idea what Wendt had in store for his guinea pigs. The CIA named the operation CASTIGATE.

After settling into a Frankfurt hotel, Wendt, Thompson, and the Naval Intelligence man set out to meet the ARTICHOKE crew at the local CIA headquarters. It was located in the huge, elongated building that had housed the I. G. Farben industrial complex until the end of the war. The frantic bustle of a U.S. military installation provided ideal cover for this CIA base, and the arrival of a few new Americans attracted no special attention. The Navy group passed quickly through the lobby and rode up the elevator. At the CIA outer office, the team members had to show identification, and Thompson says they were frisked. The Naval Intelligence man had to check his revolver.

A secretary ushered the Navy group in to meet the ARTICHOKE contingent, which had arrived earlier from Washington. The party included team leader Morse Allen, his boss in the Office of Security, Paul Gaynor, and a prominent Washington psychiatrist who regularly left his private practice to fly off on special missions for the Agency. Also present were case officers from the CIA's Frankfurt base who had taken care of the support arrangements -- the most important of which was supplying the subjects.

Everyone at the meeting wanted to know what drugs Wendt was going to use on the five selected subjects, who included one known double agent, one suspected double, and the three defectors. The professor still was not talking. Dr. Thompson asked what would happen if something went wrong and the subject died. He recalls one of the Frankfurt CIA men replying, "Disposal of the body would be no problem."

After the session ended, Thompson took Wendt aside and pointed out that since the professor, unlike Thompson, was neither a psychiatrist nor a pharmacologist, he was acting irresponsibly in not having a qualified physician standing by with antidotes in case of trouble. Wendt finally relented and confided in Thompson that he was going to slip the subjects a combination of the depressant Seconal, the stimulant Dexedrine, and tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana. Thompson was dumbfounded. He remembers wanting to shoot Wendt on the spot. These were all well-known drugs that had been thoroughly tested. Indeed, even the idea of mixing Seconal and Dexedrine was not original: The combined drug already had its own brand name -- Dexamyl (and it would eventually have a street name, "the goofball"). Thompson quickly passed on to the CIA men what Wendt had in mind. [ii] They, too, were more than a little disappointed.

Nevertheless, there was never any thought of stopping the experiments. The ARTICHOKE team had its own methods to try, even if Wendt's proved a failure, and the whole affair had developed its own momentum. Since this was one of the early ARTICHOKE trips into the field, the team was still working to perfect the logistics of testing. It had reserved two CIA "safehouses" in the countryside not far from Frankfurt, and Americans had been assigned to guard the experimental sites. Agency managers had already completed the paperwork for the installation of hidden microphones and two-way mirrors, so all the team members could monitor the interrogations.

The first safehouse proved to be a solid old farmhouse set picturesquely in the middle of green fields, far from the nearest dwelling. The ARTICHOKE and CHATTER groups drove up just as the CIA's carpenters were cleaning up the mess they had made in ripping a hole through the building's thick walls. The house had existed for several hundred years without an observation glass peering in on the sitting room, and it had put up some structural resistance to the workmen.

Subject 1 arrived in the early afternoon, delivered in a CIA sedan by armed operators, who had handcuffed him, shackled his feet, and made him lie down on the floor of the back seat. Agency officials described him as a suspected Russian agent, about 40 years old, who had a "Don Juan complex." One can only imagine how the subject must have reacted to these rather inconsistent Americans who only a few hours earlier had literally grabbed him out of confinement, harshly bound him, and sat more or less on top of him as they wandered through idyllic German farm country, and who now were telling him to relax as they engaged him in friendly conversation and offered him a beer. He had no way of knowing that it would be the last unspiked drink he would have for quite some time.

On the following morning, the testing started in earnest. Wendt put 20 mg. of Seconal in the subject's breakfast and then followed up with 50 mg. of Dexedrine in each of his two morning cups of coffee. Wendt gave him a second dose of Seconal in his luncheon beer. The subject was obviously not his normal self -- whatever that was. What was clear was that Wendt was in way over his head, and even the little professor seemed to realize it. "I don't know how to deal with these people," he told the CIA psychiatric consultant. Wendt flatly refused to examine the subject, leaving the interrogation to the consultant. For his part, the consultant had little success in extracting information not already known to the CIA.

The third day was more of the same: Seconal with breakfast, Dexedrine and marijuana in a glass of water afterwards. The only break from the previous day's routine came at 10:10 A.M. when the subject was allowed to playa short poker game. Then he was given more of Wendt's drugs in two red capsules that were, he was told, "a prescription for his nerves." By 2:40 P.M., Wendt declared that this subject was not the right personality type for his treatment. He explained to his disgusted colleagues that if someone is determined to lie, these drugs will only make him a better liar. He said that the marijuana extract produced a feeling of not wanting to hold anything back and that it worked best on people who wanted to tell the truth but were afraid to. ass had discovered the same thing almost a decade earlier.

Wendt retired temporarily from the scene, and the others concluded it would be a shame to waste a good subject. They decided to give him the "A" (for ARTICHOKE) treatment. This, too, was not very original. It had been used during the war to interrogate prisoners and treat shell-shocked soldiers. As practiced on the suspected Russian agent, it consisted of injecting enough sodium pentothal into the vein of his arm to knock him out and then, twenty minutes later, stimulating him back to semi-consciousness with a shot of Benzedrine. In this case, the Benzedrine did not revive the subject enough to suit the psychiatric consultant and he told Dr. Thompson to give the subject another 10 mg. ten minutes later. This put the subject into a state somewhere between waking and sleeping -- almost comatose and yet bug-eyed. In hypnotic tones that had to be translated into Russian by an interpreter, the consultant used the technique of "regression" to convince the subject he was talking to his wife Eva at some earlier time in his life. This was no easy trick, since a male interpreter was playing Eva. Nevertheless, the consultant states he could "create any fantasy" with 60 to 70 percent of his patients, using narcotherapy (as in this case) or hypnosis. For roughly an hour, the subject seemed to have no idea he was not speaking with his wife but with CIA operatives trying to find out about his relationship with Soviet intelligence. When the subject started to doze, the consultant had Thompson give him a doubled jolt of Benzedrine. A half hour later, the subject began to weep violently. The consultant decided to end the session, and in his most soothing voice, he urged the subject to fall asleep. As the subject calmed down, the consultant suggested, with friendly and soothing words, that the subject would remember nothing of the experience when he woke up.

Inducing amnesia was an important Agency goal. "From the ARTICHOKE point of view," states a 1952 document, "the greater the amnesia produced, the more effective the results." Obviously if a victim remembered the "A" treatment, it would stop being a closely guarded ARTICHOKE secret. Presumably, some subject who really did work for the Russians would tell them how the Americans had worked him over. This reality made "disposal" of ARTICHOKE subjects a particular problem. Killing them seems to have been ruled out, but Agency officials made sure that some stayed in foreign prisons for long periods of time. While in numerous specific cases, ARTICHOKE team members claimed success in making their subjects forget, their outside consultants had told them "that short of cutting a subject's throat, a true amnesia cannot be guaranteed." As early as 1950, the Agency had put out a contract to a private researcher to find a memory-destroying drug, but to no apparent avail. [iii] In any case, it would be unreasonable to assume that over the years at least one ARTICHOKE subject did not shake off the amnesic commands and tell the Russians what happened to him. As was so often the case with CIA operations, the enemy probably had a much better idea of the Agency's activities than the folks back home.

Back at the safehouse, Wendt was far from through. Four more subjects would be brought to him. The next one was an alleged double agent whom the CIA had code-named EXPLOSIVE. Agency documents describe him as a Russian "professional agent type" and "a hard-boiled individual who apparently has the ability to lie consistently but not very effectively." He was no stranger to ARTICHOKE team members who, a few months before, had plied him with a mixture of drugs and hypnosis under the cover of a "psychiatric-medical" exam. At that time, a professional hypnotist had accompanied the team, and he had given his commands through an elaborate intercom system to an interpreter who, in turn, was apparently able to put EXPLOSIVE under. [iv] Afterward, the team reported to the CIA's Director that EXPLOSIVE had revealed "extremely valuable" information and that he had been made to forget his interrogation through a hypnotically induced amnesia. Since that time EXPLOSIVE had been kept in custody. Now he was being brought out to give Professor Wendt a crack at him with the Seconal-Dexedrine-marijuana combination.

This time, Wendt gave the subject all three drugs together in one beer, delivered at the cocktail hour. Next came Seconal in a dinner beer and then all three once more in a postprandial beer. There were little, if any, positive results. Wendt ended the session after midnight and commented, "At least we learned one thing from this experiment. The people you have to deal with here are different from American college students."

During the next week, the CIA men brought Wendt three more subjects, with little success. The general attitude toward Wendt became, in Thompson's words, "hostile as all hell." Both the Agency and the Navy groups questioned his competence. With one subject, the professor declared he had given too strong a dose; with the next, too weak. While he had advertised his drugs as tasteless, the subjects realized they had swallowed something. As one subject in the next room was being interrogated in Russian that no one was bothering to translate, Wendt took to playing the same pattern on the piano over and over for a half hour. While the final subject was being questioned, Wendt and his female assistant got a little tipsy on beer. Wendt became so distracted during this experiment that he finally admitted, "My thoughts are elsewhere." His assistant began to giggle. Her presence had become like an open sore -- which was made more painful when Mrs. Wendt showed up in Frankfurt and the professor threatened to jump off a church tower, Thompson recalls.

Wendt is not alive to give his version of what happened, but both CIA and Navy sources are consistent in their description of him. ARTICHOKE team leader Morse Allen felt he had been the victim of "a fraud or at least a gross misinterpretation," and he described the trip as "a waste of time and money." A man who usually hid his feelings, Allen became livid when Wendt's assistant measured drugs out with a penknife. He recommended in his final report that those who develop drugs not be allowed to participate in future field testing. "This, of course, does not mean that experimental work is condemned by the ARTICHOKE team," he wrote, "but a common sense approach in this direction will preclude arguments, alibis, and complaints as in the recent situation." In keeping with this "common sense approach," he also recommended that as "an absolute rule," no women be allowed on ARTICHOKE missions -- because of the possible danger and because "personal convenience, toilet facilities, etc., are complicated by the presence of women."

Morse Allen and his ARTICHOKE mates returned to the States still convinced that they could find ways to control human behavior, but the Navy men were shaken. Their primary contractor had turned out to be a tremendous embarrassment. Dr. Thompson stated he could never work with Wendt again. Navy officials soon summoned Wendt to Bethesda and told him they were canceling their support for his research. Adding insult to injury, they told him they expected refund of all unspent money. While the Navy managers made some effort to continue CHATTER at other institutions, the program never recovered from the Wendt fiasco. By the end of the next year, 1953, the Korean War had ended and the Navy abandoned CHATTER altogether.

Over the next two decades, the Navy would still sponsor large amounts of specialized behavioral research, and the Army would invest huge sums in schemes to incapacitate whole armies with powerful drugs. But the CIA clearly pulled far into the lead in mind control. In those areas in which military research continued, the Agency stayed way ahead. The CIA consistently was out on what was called the "cutting edge" of the research, sponsoring the lion's share of the most harrowing experiments. ARTICHOKE and its successor CIA programs became an enormous effort that harnessed the energies of hundreds of scientists.

The experience of the CIA psychiatric consultant provides a small personal glimpse of how it felt to be a soldier in the mind-control campaign. This psychiatrist, who insists on anonymity, estimates that he made between 125 and 150 trips overseas on Agency operations from 1952 through his retirement in 1966. "To be a psychiatrist chasing off to Europe instead of just seeing the same patients year after year, that was extraordinary," he reminisces. "I wish I was back in those days. I never got tired of it." He says his assignments called for "practicing psychiatry in an ideal way, which meant you didn't become involved with your patients. You weren't supposed to." Asked how he felt about using drugs on unwitting foreigners, he snaps, "Depends which side you were on. I never hurt anyone.... We were at war."


For the most part, the psychiatrist stopped giving the "A" treatment after the mid-1950s but he continued to use his professional skills to assess and manipulate agents and defectors. His job was to help find out if a subject was under another country's control and to recommend how the person could be switched to the CIA's. In this work, he was contributing to the mainstream of CIA activity that permeates its institutional existence from its operations to its internal politics to its social life: the notion of controlling people. Finding reliable ways to do that is a primary CIA goal, and the business is often a brutal one. As former CIA Director Richard Helms stated in Senate testimony, "The clandestine operator ... is trained to believe you can't count on the honesty of your agent to do exactly what you want or to report accurately unless you own him body and soul."

Like all the world's secret services, the CIA sought to find the best methods of owning people and making sure they stayed owned. How could an operator be sure of an agent's loyalties? Refugees and defectors were flooding Western Europe, and the CIA wanted to exploit them. Which ones were telling the truth? Who was a deception agent or a provocateur? The Anglo-American secret invasion of Albania had failed miserably. Had they been betrayed? [v] Whom could the CIA trust?

One way to try to answer these questions is to use physical duress -- or torture. Aside from its ethical drawbacks, however, physical brutality simply does not work very well. As a senior counterintelligence official explains, "If you have a blowtorch up someone's ass, he'll give you tactical information." Yet he will not be willing or able to play the modem espionage game on the level desired by the CIA. One Agency document excludes the use of torture "because such inhuman treatment is not only out of keeping with the traditions of this country, but of dubious effectiveness as compared with various supplemental psychoanalytical techniques."

The second and most popular method to get answers is traditional spy tradecraft. Given enough time, a good interrogator can very often find out a person's secrets. He applies persuasion and mental seduction, mixed with psychological pressures of every description -- emotional carrots and sticks. A successful covert operator uses the same sorts of techniques in recruiting agents and making sure they stay in line. While the rest of the population may dabble in this sort of manipulation, the professional operator does it for a living, and he operates mostly outside the system of restraints that normally govern personal relationships. "I never gave a thought to legality or morality," states a retired and quite cynical Agency case officer with over 20 years' experience. "Frankly, I did what worked."

The operator pursues people he can turn into "controlled sources" -- agents willing to do his bidding either in supplying intelligence or taking covert action. He seeks people in a position to do something useful for the Agency -- or who someday might be in such a position, perhaps with CIA aid. Once he picks his target, he usually looks for a weakness or vulnerability he can play on. Like a good fisherman, the clever operator knows that the way to hook his prey is to choose an appropriate bait, which the target will think he is seizing because he wants to. The hook has to be firmly implanted; the agent sometimes tries to escape once he understands the implications of betraying his country. While the case officer might try to convince him he is acting for the good of his homeland, the agent must still face up to being branded a traitor.

Does every man have his price? Not exactly, states the senior counterintelligence man, but he believes a shrewd operator can usually find a way to reach anyone, particularly through his family. In developing countries, the Agency has caused family members to be arrested and mistreated by the local police, given or withheld medical care for a sick child, and, more prosaically, provided scholarships for a relative to study abroad. This kind of tactic does not work as well on a Russian or Western European, who does not live in a society where the CIA can exert pressure so easily.

Like a doctor's bedside manner or a lawyer's courtroom style, spy tradecraft is highly personalized. Different case officers swear by different approaches, and successful methods are carefully observed and copied. Most CIA operators seem to prefer using an ideological lure if they can. John Stockwell, who left the Agency in 1977 to write a book about CIA operations in Angola, believes his best agents were "people convinced they were doing the right thing ... who disliked communists and felt the CIA was the right organization." Stockwell recalls his Agency instructors "hammering away at the positive aspect of recruitment. This was where they established the myth of CIA case officers being good guys. They said we didn't use negative control, and we always made the relationship so that both parties were better off for having worked together." More cynical operators, like the one quoted above, take a different view: "You can't create real motivation in a person by waving the flag or by saying this is for the future good of democracy. You've got to have a firmer hold than that.... His opinions can change." This ex-operator favors approaches based either on revenge or helping the agent advance his career:

Those are good motives because they can be created within the individual.... Maybe you start with a Communist party cell member and you help him become a district committee member by eliminating his competition, or you help him get a position where he can get even with someone. At the same time, he's giving you more and more information as he moves forward, and if you ever surface his reports, he's out of business. You've really got him wrapped up. You don't even have to tell him. He realizes it himself.

No matter what the approach to the prospective agent, the case officer tries to make money a factor in the relationship. Sometimes the whole recruiting pitch revolves around enrichment. In other instances, the case officer allows the target the illusion that he has sold out for higher motives. Always, however, the operator tries to use money to make the agent dependent. The situation can become sticky with money-minded agents when the case officer insists that part or all of the payments be placed in escrow, to prevent attracting undue attention. But even cash does not create control in the spy business. As the cynical case officer puts it, "Money is tenuous because somebody can always offer more."

Surprisingly, each of the CIA operators sampled agrees that overt blackmail is a highly overrated form of control. The senior counterintelligence man notes that while the Russians frequently use some variety of entrapment -- sexual or otherwise -- the CIA rarely did. "Very few [Agency] case officers were tough enough" to pull it off and sustain it, he says. "Anytime an agent has been forced to cooperate, you can take it for granted that he has two things on his mind: he is looking for a way out and for revenge. Given the slightest opportunity, he will hit you right between the eyes." Blackmail could backfire in unexpected ways. John Stock· well remembers an agent in Southeast Asia who wanted to quit: "The case officer leaned on the guy and said, 'Look, friend, we still need your intelligence, and we have receipts you signed which we can turn over to the local police.' The agent blew his brains out, leaving a suicide note regretting his cooperation with the CIA and telling how the Agency had tried to blackmail him. It caused some problems with the local government."

The case officer always tries to weave an ever-tightening web of control around his agent. His methods of doing so are so personal and so basic that they often reveal more about the case officer himself than the agent, reflecting his outlook and his personal philosophy. The cynical operator describes his usual technique, which turns out to be a form of false idealism: "You've got to treat a man as an equal and convince him you're partners in this thing. Even if he's a communist party member, you can't deal with him like a crumb. You sit down with him and ask how are the kids, and you remember that he told you last time that his son was having trouble in school. You build personal rapport. If you treat him like dirt or an object of use, eventually he'll turn on you or drop off the bandwagon."

John Stockwell's approach relies on the power of imagination in a humdrum world: "I always felt the real key was that you were offering something special -- a real secret life -- something that he and you only knew made him different from all the pedestrian paper shufflers in a government office or a boring party cell meeting. Everybody has a little of Walter Mitty in him -- what a relief to know you really do work for the CIA in your spare time."

Sometimes a case officer wants to get the agent to do something he does not think he wants to do. One former CIA operator uses a highly charged metaphor to describe how he did it: "Sometimes one partner in a relationship wants to get into deviations from standard sex. If you have some control, you might be able to force your partner to try different things, but it's much better to lead her down the road a step at a time, to discuss it and fantasize until eventually she's saying, 'Let's try this thing.' If her inhibitions and moral reservations are eroded and she is turned on, it's much more fun and there's less chance of blowback [exposure, in spy talk].... It's the same with an agent."

All case officers -- and particularly counterintelligence men -- harbor recurring fears that their agents will betray them. The suspicious professional looks for telltale signs like lateness, nervousness, or inconsistency. He relies on his intuition. "The more you've been around agents, the more likely you are to sense that something isn't what it should be," comments the senior counterintelligence man. "It's like with children."

No matter how skillfully practiced, traditional spycraft provides only incomplete answers to the nagging question of how much the Agency can really trust an agent. All the sixth sense, digging, and deductive reasoning in the world do not produce certainty in a field that is based on deception and lies. Whereas the British, who invented the game, have historically understood the need for patience and a stiff upper lip, Americans tend to look for quick answers, often by using the latest technology. "We were very gimmick-prone," says the senior counterintelligence official. Gimmicks -- machines, drugs, technical tricks -- comprise the third method of behavior control, after torture and tradecraft. Like safecrackers who swear by the skill in their fingertips, most of the Agency's mainstream operators disparage newfangled gadgets. Many now claim that drugs, hypnosis, and other exotic methods actually detract from good tradecraft because they make operators careless and lazy.

Nevertheless, the operators and their high-level sponsors, like Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, consistently pushed for the magic technique -- the deus ex machina -- that would solve their problems. Caught in the muck and frustration of ordinary spywork, operators hoped for a miracle tool. Faced with liars and deceivers, they longed for a truth drug. Surrounded by people who knew too much, they sought a way to create amnesia. They dreamed of finding means to make unwilling people carry out specific tasks, such as stealing documents, provoking a fight, killing someone, or otherwise committing an antisocial act. Secret agents recruited by more traditional appeals to idealism, greed, ambition, or fear had always done such deeds, but they usually gave their spymasters headaches in the process. Sometimes they balked. Moreover, first they had to agree to serve the CIA. The best tradecraft in the world seldom works against a well-motivated target. (The cynical operator recalls offering the head of Cuban intelligence $1,000,000 -- in1966 at a Madrid hotel -- only to receive a flat rejection.) Plagued by the unsureness, Agency officials hoped to take the randomness -- indeed, the free will -- out of agent handling. As one psychologist who worked on behavior control describes it, "The problem of every intelligence operation is how do you remove the human element? The operators would come to us and ask for the human element to be removed." Thus the impetus toward mind-control research came not only from the lure of science and the fantasies of science fiction, it also came from the heart of the spy business.



i. What Wendt appears to have been getting at -- namely, that repeated shots of heroin might have an effect on interrogation -- was stated explicitly in a 1952 CIA document which declared the drug "can be useful in reverse because of the stresses produced when ... withdrawn from those addicted." Wendt's interest in heroin seems to have lasted to his death in 1911, long after his experiments had stopped. The woman who cleaned out his safe at that time told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle she found a quantity of the white powder, along with syringes and a good many other drugs.

ii. Being good undercover operators, the CIA men never let on to Wendt that they knew his secret, and Wendt was not about to give it away. Toward the end of the trip, he told the consultant he would feel "unpatriotic" if he were to share his secret because the ARTICHOKE team was "not competent" to use the drugs.

iii. Homer reported the ancient Greeks had such a substance -- nepenthe -- "a drug to lull all pain and anger, and bring forgetfulness of every sorrow."

iv. Neither Morse Allen nor anyone else on the ARTICHOKE teams spoke any foreign languages. Allen believed that the difficulty in communicating with the guinea pigs hampered ARTICHOKE research.

v. The answer was yes, in the sense that Soviet agent Harold "Kim" Philby, working as British intelligence's liaison with the CIA apparently informed his spymasters of specific plans to set up anti-communist resistance movements in Albania and all over Eastern Europe. The Russians almost certainly learned about CIA plans to overthrow communist rule in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union itself. Knowing of such operations presumably increased Soviet hostility.
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and M

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:18 am


And it seems to me perfectly in the cards that there will be within the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing ... a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda, brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods.

I had perfected LSD for medical use, not as a weapon. It can make you insane or even kill you if it is not properly used under medical supervision. In any case, the research should be done by medical people and not by soldiers or intelligence agencies.

-- LYRIC FROM Hair, 1968.


Albert Hofmann's discovery of LSD in 1943 may have begun a new age in the exploration of the human mind, but it took six years for word to reach America. Even after Hofmann and his coworkers in Switzerland published their work in a 1947 article, no one in the United States seemed to notice. Then in 1949, a famous Viennese doctor named Otto Kauders traveled to the United States in search of research funds. He gave a conference at Boston Psychopathic Hospital, [i] a pioneering mental-health institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School, and he spoke about a new experimental drug called d-lysergic acid diethylamide. Milton Greenblatt, the hospital's research director, vividly recalls Kauders' description of how an infinitesimally small dose had rendered Dr. Hofmann temporarily "crazy." "We were very interested in anything that could make someone schizophrenic," says Greenblatt. If the drug really did induce psychosis for a short time, the Boston doctors reasoned, an antidote -- which they hoped to find -- might cure schizophrenia. It would take many years of research to show that LSD did not, in fact, produce a "model psychosis," but to the Boston doctors in 1949, the drug showed incredible promise. Max Rinkel, a neuropsychiatrist and refugee from Hitler's Germany, was so intrigued by Kauders' presentation that he quickly contacted Sandoz, the huge Swiss pharmaceutical firm where Albert Hofmann worked. Sandoz officials arranged to ship some LSD across the Atlantic.

The first American trip followed. The subject was Robert Hyde, a Vermont-born psychiatrist who was Boston Psychopathic's number-two man. A bold, innovative sort, Hyde took it for granted that there would be no testing program until he tried the drug. With Rinkel and the hospital's senior physician, H. Jackson DeShon looking on, Hyde drank a glass of water with 100 micrograms of LSD in it -- less than half Hofmann's dose, but still a hefty jolt. DeShon describes Hyde's reaction as "nothing very startling." The perpetually active Hyde insisted on making his normal hospital rounds while his colleagues tagged along. Rinkel later told a scientific conference that Hyde became "quite paranoiac, saying that we had not given him anything. He also berated us and said the company had cheated us, given us plain water. That was not Dr. Hyde's normal behavior; he is a very pleasant man." Hyde's first experience was hardly as dramatic as Albert Hofmann's, but then the Boston psychiatrist had not, like Hofmann, set off on a voyage into the complete unknown. For better or worse, LSD had come to America in 1949 and had embarked on a strange trip of its own. Academic researchers would study it in search of knowledge that would benefit all mankind. Intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, would subsidize and shape the form of much of this work to learn how the drug could be used to break the will of enemy agents, unlock secrets in the minds of trained spies, and otherwise manipulate human behavior. These two strains -- of helping people and of controlling them -- would coexist rather comfortably through the 1950s. Then, in the 1960s, LSD would escape from the closed world of scholar and spy, and it would playa major role in causing a cultural upheaval that would have an impact both on globalpolitics and on intimate personal beliefs. The trip would wind up -- to borrow some hyperbole from the musical Hair -- with "the youth of America on LSD."


The counterculture generation was not yet out of the nursery, however, when Bob Hyde went tripping: Hyde himself would not become a secret CIA consultant for several years. The CIA and the military intelligence agencies were just setting out on their quest for drugs and other exotic methods to take possession of people's minds. The ancient desire to control enemies through magical spells and potions had come alive again, and several offices within the CIA competed to become the head controllers. Men from the Office of Security's ARTICHOKE program were struggling -- as had OSS before them -- to find a truth drug or hypnotic method that would aid in interrogation. Concurrently, the Technical Services Staff (TSS) was investigating in much greater depth the whole area of applying chemical and biological warfare (CBW) to covert operations. TSS was the lineal descendent of Stanley Lovell's Research and Development unit in OSS, and its officials kept alive much of the excitement and urgency of the World War II days when Lovell had tried to bring out the Peck's Bad Boy in American scientists. Specialists from TSS furnished backup equipment for secret operations: false papers, bugs, taps, suicide pills, explosive seashells, transmitters hidden in false teeth, cameras in tobacco pouches, invisible inks, and the like. In later years, these gadget wizards from TSS would become known for supplying some of history's more ludicrous landmarks, such as Howard Hunt's ill-fitting red wig; but in the early days of the CIA, they gave promise of transforming the spy world.

Within TSS, there existed a Chemical Division with functions that few others -- even in TSS -- knew about. These had to do with using chemicals (and germs) against specific people. From 1951 to 1956, the years when the CIA's interest in LSD peaked, Sidney Gottlieb, a native of the Bronx with a Ph.D. in chemistry from Cal Tech, headed this division. (And for most of the years until 1973, he would oversee TSS's behavioral programs from one job or another.) Only 33 years old when he took over the Chemical Division, Gottlieb had managed to overcome a pronounced stammer and a clubfoot to rise through Agency ranks. Described by several acquaintances as a "compensator," Gottlieb prided himself on his ability, despite his obvious handicaps, to pursue his cherished hobby, folk dancing. On returning from secret missions overseas, he invariably brought back a new step that he would dance with surprising grace. He could call out instructions for the most complicated dances without a break in his voice, infecting others with enthusiasm. A man of unorthodox tastes, Gottlieb lived in a former slave cabin that he had remodeled himself -- with his wife, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries in India, and his four children. Each morning, he rose at 5:30 to milk the goats he kept on his 15 acres outside Washington. The Gottliebs drank only goat's milk, and they made their own cheese. They also raised Christmas trees which they sold to the outside world. Greatly respected by his former colleagues, Gottlieb, who refused to be interviewed for this book, is described as a humanist, a man of intellectual humility and strength, willing to carry out, as one ex-associate puts it, "the tough things that had to be done." This associate fondly recalls, "When you watched him, you gained more and more respect because he was willing to work so hard to get an idea across. He left himself totally exposed. It was more important for us to get the idea than for him not to stutter." One idea he got across was that the Agency should investigate the potential use of the obscure new drug, LSD, as a spy weapon.

At the top ranks of the Clandestine Services (officially called the Directorate of Operations but popularly known as the "dirty tricks department"), Sid Gottlieb had a champion who appreciated his qualities, Richard Helms. For two decades, Gottlieb would move into progressively higher positions in the wake of Helms' climb to the highest position in the Agency. Helms, the tall, smooth "preppie," apparently liked the way the Jewish chemist, who had started out at Manhattan's City College, could thread his way through complicated technical problems and make them understandable to nonscientists. Gottlieb was loyal and he followed orders. Although many people lay in the chain of command between the two men, Helms preferred to avoid bureaucratic niceties by dealing directly with Gottlieb.

On April 3, 1953, Helms proposed to Director Allen Dulles that the CIA set up a program under Gottlieb for "covert use of biological and chemical materials." Helms made clear that the Agency could use these methods in "present and future clandestine operations" and then added, "Aside from the offensive potential, the development of a comprehensive capability in this field ... gives us a thorough knowledge of the enemy's theoretical potential, thus enabling us to defend ourselves against a foe who might not be as restrained in the use of these techniques as we are." Once again. as it would throughout the history of the behavioral programs. defense justified offense. Ray Cline, often a bureaucratic rival of Helms. notes the spirit in which the future Director pushed this program: "Helms fancied himself a pretty tough cookie. It was fashionable among that group to fancy they were rather impersonal about dangers. risks. and human life. Helms would think it sentimental and foolish to be against something like this."

On April 13. 1953 -- the same day that the Pentagon announced that any U.S. prisoner refusing repatriation in Korea would be listed as a deserter and shot if caught -- Allen Dulles approved the program. essentially as put forth by Helms. Dulles took note of the "ultra-sensitive work" involved and agreed that the project would be called MKULTRA. [ii] He approved an initial budget of $300.000. exempted the program from normal CIA financial controls. and allowed TSS to start up research projects "without the signing of the usual contracts or other written agreements'" Dulles ordered the Agency's bookkeepers to pay the costs blindly on the signatures of Sid Gottlieb and Willis Gibbons. a former u.s. Rubber executive who headed TSS.

As is so often the case in government, the activity that Allen Dulles approved with MKULTRA was already under way, even before he gave it a bureaucratic structure. Under the code name MKDELTA. the Clandestine Services had set up procedures the year before to govern the use of CBW products. (MKDELTA now became the operational side of MKULTRA.) Also in 1952. TSS had made an agreement with the Special Operations Division (SOD) of the Army's biological research center at Fort Detrick. Maryland whereby SOD would produce germ weapons for the CIA's use (with the program called MKNAOMI). Sid Gottlieb later testified that the purpose of these programs was "to investigate whether and how it was possible to modify an individual's behavior by covert means. The context in which this investigation was started was that of the height of the Cold War with the Korean War just winding down; with the CIA organizing its resources to liberate Eastern Europe by paramilitary means; and with the threat of Soviet aggression very real and tangible, as exemplified by the recent Berlin airlift" (which occurred in 1948).

In the early days of MKULTRA, the roughly six TSS professionals who worked on the program spent a good deal of their time considering the possibilities of LSD. [iii] "The most fascinating thing about it," says one of them, "was that such minute quantities had such a terrific effect." Albert Hofmann had gone off into another world after swallowing less than 1/100,000 of an ounce. Scientists had known about the mind-altering qualities of drugs like mescaline since the late nineteenth century, but LSD was several thousand times more potent. Hashish had been around for millennia, but LSD was roughly a million times stronger (by weight). A two-suiter suitcase could hold enough LSD to turn on every man, woman, and child in the United States. "We thought about the possibility of putting some in a city water supply and having the citizens wander around in a more or less happy state, not terribly interested in defending themselves," recalls the TSS man. But incapacitating such large numbers of people fell to the Army Chemical Corps, which also tested LSD and even stronger hallucinogens. The CIA was concentrating on individuals. TSS officials understood that LSD distorted a person's sense of reality, and they felt compelled to learn whether it could alter someone's basic loyalties. Could the CIA make spies out of tripping Russians -- or vice versa? In the early 19508, when the Agency developed an almost desperate need to know more about LSD, almost no outside information existed on the subject. Sandoz had done some clinical studies, as had a few other places, including Boston Psychopathic, but the work generally had not moved much beyond the horse-and-buggy stage. The MKULTRA team had literally hundreds of questions about LSD's physiological, psychological, chemical, and social effects. Did it have any antidotes? What happened if it were combined with other drugs? Did it affect everyone the same way? What was the effect of doubling the dose? And so on.

TSS first sought answers from academic researchers, who, on the whole, gladly cooperated and let the Agency pick their brains. But CIA officials realized that no one would undertake a quick and systematic study of the drug unless the Agency itself paid the bill. Almost no government or private money was then available for what had been dubbed "experimental psychiatry." Sandoz wanted the drug tested, for its own commercial reasons, but beyond supplying it free to researchers, it would not assume the costs. The National Institutes of Mental Health had an interest in LSD's relationship to mental illness, but CIA officials wanted to know how the drug affected normal people, not sick ones. Only the military services, essentially for the same reasons as the CIA, were willing to sink much money into LSD, and the Agency men were not about to defer to them. They chose instead to take the lead -- in effect to create a whole new field of research.

Suddenly there was a huge new market for grants in academia, as Sid Gottlieb and his aides began to fund LSD projects at prestigious institutions. The Agency's LSD pathfinders can be identified: Bob Hyde's group at Boston Psychopathic, Harold Abramson at Mt. Sinai Hospital and Columbia University in New York, Carl Pfeiffer at the University of Illinois Medical School, Harris Isbell of the NIMH-sponsored Addiction Research Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Louis Jolyon West at the University of Oklahoma, and Harold Hodge's group at the University of Rochester. The Agency disguised its involvement by passing the money through two conduits: the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, a rich establishment institution which served as a cutout (intermediary) only for a year or two, and the Geschickter Fund for Medical Research, a Washington, D.C. family foundation, whose head, Dr. Charles Geschickter, provided the Agency with a variety of services for more than a decade. Reflexively, TSS officials felt they had to keep the CIA connection secret. They could only "assume," according to a 1955 study, that Soviet scientists understood the drug's "strategic importance" and were capable of making it themselves. They did not want to spur the Russians into starting their own LSD program or into devising countermeasures.

The CIA's secrecy was also clearly aimed at the folks back home. As a 1963 Inspector General's report stated, "Research in the manipulation of human behavior is considered by many authorities in medicine and related fields to be professionally unethical"; therefore, openness would put "in jeopardy" the reputations of the outside researchers. Moreover, the CIA Inspector General declared that disclosure of certain MKULTRA activities could result in "serious adverse reaction" among the American public.

At Boston Psychopathic, there were various levels of concealment. Only Bob Hyde and his boss, the hospital superintendant, knew officially that the CIA was funding the hospital's LSD program from 1952 on, to the tune of about $40,000 a year. Yet, according to another member of the Hyde group, Dr. DeShon, all senior staff understood where the money really came from. "We agreed not to discuss it," says DeShon. "I don't see any objection to this. We never gave it to anyone without his consent and without explaining it in detail." Hospital officials told the volunteer subjects something about the nature of the experiments but nothing about their origins or purpose. None of the subjects had any idea that the CIA was paying for the probing of their minds and would use the results for its own purposes; most of the staff was similarly ignorant.

Like Hyde, almost all the researchers tried LSD on themselves. Indeed, many believed they gained real insight into what it felt like to be mentally ill, useful knowledge for health professionals who spent their lives treating people supposedly sick in the head. Hyde set up a multidisciplinary program -- virtually unheard of at the time -- that brought together psychiatrists, psychologists, and physiologists. As subjects, they used each other, hospital patients, and volunteers -- mostly students -- from the Boston area. They worked through a long sequence of experiments that served to isolate variable after variable. Palming themselves off as foundation officials, the men from MKULTRA frequently visited to observe and suggest areas of future research. One Agency man, who himself tripped several times under Hyde's general supervision, remembers that he and his colleagues would pass on a nugget that another contractor like Harold Abramson had gleaned and ask Hyde to perform a follow-up test that might answer a question of interest to the Agency. Despite these tangents, the main body of research proceeded in a planned and orderly fashion. The researchers learned that while some subjects seemed to become schizophrenic, many others did not. Surprisingly, true schizophrenics showed little reaction at all to LSD, unless given massive doses. The Hyde group found out that the quality of a person's reaction was determined mainly by the person's basic personality structure (set) and the environment (setting) in which he or she took the drug. The subject's expectation of what would happen also played a major part. More than anything else, LSD tended to intensify the subject's existing characteristics -- often to extremes. A little suspicion could grow into major paranoia, particularly in the company of people perceived as threatening.

Unbeknownst to his fellow researchers, the energetic Dr. Hyde also advised the CIA on using LSD in covert operations. A CIA officer who worked with him recalls: "The idea would be to give him the details of what had happened [with a case], and he would speculate. As a sharp M.D. in the old-school sense, he would look at things in ways that a lot of recent bright lights couldn't get.... He had a good sense of make-do." The Agency paid Hyde for his time as a consultant, and TSS officials eventually set aside a special MKULTRA subproject as Hyde's private funding mechanism. Hyde received funds from yet another MKULTRA subproject that TSS men created for him in 1954, so he could serve as a cutout for Agency purchases of rare chemicals. His first buy was to be $32,000 worth of corynanthine, a possible antidote to LSD, that would not be traced to the CIA.

Bob Hyde died in 1976 at the age of 66 widely hailed as a pacesetter in mental health. His medical and intelligence colleagues speak highly of him both personally and professionally. Like most of his generation, he apparently considered helping the CIA a patriotic duty. An Agency officer states that Hyde never raised doubts about his covert work. "He wouldn't moralize. He had a lot of trust in the people he was dealing with [from the CIA]. He had pretty well reached the conclusion that if they decided to do something [operationally], they had tried whatever else there was and were willing to risk it."

Most of the CIA's academic researchers published articles on their work in professional journals, but those long, scholarly reports often gave an incomplete picture of the research. In effect, the scientists would write openly about how LSD affects a patient's pulse rate, but they would tell only the CIA how the drug could be used to ruin that patient's marriage or memory. Those researchers who were aware of the Agency's sponsorship seldom published anything remotely connected to the instrumental and rather unpleasant questions the MKULTRA men posed for investigation. That was true of Hyde and of Harold Abramson, the New York allergist who became one of the first Johnny Appleseeds of LSD by giving it to a number of his distinguished colleagues. Abramson documented all sorts of experiments on topics like the effects of LSD on Siamese fighting fish and snails, [iv] but he never wrote a word about one of his early LSD assignments from the Agency. In a 1953 document, Sid Gottlieb listed subjects he expected Abramson to investigate with the $85,000 the Agency was furnishing him. Gottlieb wanted "operationally pertinent materials along the following lines: a. Disturbance of Memory; b. Discrediting by Aberrant Behavior; c. Alteration of Sex Patterns; d. Eliciting of Information; e. Suggestibility; f. Creation of Dependence."

Dr. Harris Isbell, whose work the CIA funded through Navy cover with the approval of the Director of the National Institutes of Health, published his principal findings, but he did not mention how he obtained his subjects. As Director of the Addiction Research Center at the huge Federal drug hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, he had access to a literally captive population. Inmates heard on the grapevine that if they volunteered for Isbell's program, they would be rewarded either in the drug of their choice or in time off from their sentences. Most of the addicts chose drugs -- usually heroin or morphine of a purity seldom seen on the street. The subjects signed an approval form, but they were not told the names of the experimental drugs or the probable effects. This mattered little, since the "volunteers" probably would have granted their informed consent to virtually anything to get hard drugs.

Given Isbell's almost unlimited supply of subjects, TSS officials used the Lexington facility as a place to make quick tests of promising but untried drugs and to perform specialized experiments they could not easily duplicate elsewhere. For instance, Isbell did one study for which it would have been impossible to attract student volunteers. He kept seven men on LSD for 77 straight days. [v] Such an experiment is as chilling as it is astonishing -- both to lovers and haters of LSD. Nearly 20 years after Dr. Isbell's early work, counterculture journalist Hunter S. Thompson delighted and frightened his readers with accounts of drug binges lasting a few days, during which Thompson felt his brain boning away in the sun, his nerves wrapping around enormous barbed wire forts, and his remaining faculties reduced to their reptilian antecedents. Even Thompson would shudder at the thought of 77 days straight on LSD, and it is doubtful he would joke about the idea. To Dr. Isbell, it was just another experiment. "I have had seven patients who have now been taking the drug for more than 42 days," he wrote in the middle of the test, which he called "the most amazing demonstration of drug tolerance I have ever seen." Isbell tried to "break through this tolerance" by giving triple and quadruple doses of LSD to the inmates.

Filled with intense curiosity, Isbell tried out a wide variety of unproven drugs on his subjects. Just as soon as a new batch of scopolamine, rivea seeds, or bufontenine arrived from the CIA or NIMH, he would start testing. His relish for the task occasionally shone through the dull scientific reports. "I will write you a letter as soon as I can get the stuff into a man or two," he informed his Agency contact.

No corresponding feeling shone through for the inmates, however. In his few recorded personal comments, he complained that his subjects tended to be afraid of the doctors and were not as open in describing their experiences as the experimenters would have wished. Although Isbell made an effort to "break through the barriers" with the subjects, who were nearly all black drug addicts, Isbell finally decided "in all probability, this type of behavior is to be expected with patients of this type." The subjects have long since scattered, and no one apparently has measured the aftereffects of the more extreme experiments on them.

One subject who could be found spent only a brief time with Dr. Isbell. Eddie Flowers was 19 years old and had been in Lexington for about a year when he signed up for Isbell's program. He lied about his age to get in, claiming he was 21. All he cared about was getting some drugs. He moved into the experimental wing of the hospital where the food was better and he could listen to music. He loved his heroin but knew nothing about drugs like LSD. One day he took something in a graham cracker. No one ever told him the name, but his description sounds like it made him trip -- badly, to be sure. "It was the worst shit I ever had," he says. He hallucinated and suffered for 16 or 17 hours. "I was frightened. I wouldn't take it again." Still, Flowers earned enough "points" in the experiment to qualify for his "payoff" in heroin. All he had to do was knock on a little window down the hall. This was the drug bank. The man in charge kept a list of the amount of the hard drug each inmate had in his account. Flowers just had to say how much he wanted to withdraw and note the method of payment. "If you wanted it in the vein, you got it there," recalls Flowers who now works in a Washington, D.C. drug rehabilitation center.

Dr. Isbell refuses all request for interviews. He did tell a Senate subcommittee in 1975 that he inherited the drug payoff system when he came to Lexington and that "it was the custom in those days.... The ethical codes were not so highly developed, and there was a great need to know in order to protect the public in assessing the potential use of narcotics.... I personally think we did a very excellent job."

For every Isbell, Hyde, or Abramson who did TSS contract work, there were dozens of others who simply served as casual CIA informants, some witting and some not. Each TSS project officer had a skull session with dozens of recognized experts several times a year. "That was the only way a tiny staff like Sid Gottlieb's could possibly keep on top of the burgeoning behavioral sciences," says an ex-CIA official. "There would be no way you could do it by library research or the Ph.D. dissertation approach." The TSS men always asked their contacts for the names of others they could talk to, and the contacts would pass them on to other interesting scientists.

In LSD research, TSS officers benefited from the energetic intelligence gathering of their contractors, particularly Harold Abramson. Abramson talked regularly to virtually everyone interested in the drug, including the few early researchers not funded by the Agency or the military, and he reported his findings to TSS. In addition, he served as reporting secretary of two conference series sponsored by the Agency's sometime conduit, the Macy Foundation. These series each lasted over five-year periods in the 19505;one dealt with "Problems of Consciousness" and the other with "Neuropharmacology." Held once a year in the genteel surroundings of the Princeton Inn, the Macy Foundation conferences brought together TSS's (and the military's) leading contractors, as part of a group of roughly 25 with the multidisciplinary background that TSS officials so loved. The participants carne from all over the social sciences and included such luminaries as Margaret Mead and Jean Piaget. The topics discussed usually mirrored TSS's interests at the time, and the conferences served as a spawning ground for ideas that allowed researchers to engage in some healthy cross-fertilization.

Beyond the academic world, TSS looked to the pharmaceutical companies as another source on drugs -- and for a continuing supply of new products to test. TSS's Ray Treichler handled the liaison function, and this secretive little man built up close relationships with many of the industry's key executives. He had a particular knack for convincing them he would not reveal their trade secrets. Sometimes claiming to be from the Army Chemical Corps and sometimes admitting his CIA connection, Treichler would ask for samples of drugs that were either highly poisonous, or, in the words of the onetime director of research of a large company, "caused hypertension, increased blood pressure, or led to other odd physiological activity."

Dealing with American drug companies posed no particular problems for TSS. Most cooperated in any way they could. But relations with Sandoz were more complicated. The giant Swiss firm had a monopoly on the Western world's production of LSD until 1953. Agency officials feared that Sandoz would somehow allow large quantities to reach the Russians. Since information on LSD's chemical structure and effects was publicly available from 1947on, the Russians could have produced it any time they felt it worthwhile. Thus, the Agency's phobia about Sandoz seems rather irrational, but it unquestionably did exist.

On two occasions early in the Cold War, the entire CIA hierarchy went into a dither over reports that Sandoz might allow large amounts of LSD to reach Communist countries. In 1951 reports came in through military channels that the Russians had obtained some 50 million doses from Sandoz. Horrendous visions of what the Russians might do with such a stockpile circulated in the CIA, where officials did not find out the intelligence was false for several years. There was an even greater uproar in 1953 when more reports came in, again through military intelligence, that Sandoz wanted to sell the astounding quantity of to kilos (22 pounds) of LSD -- enough for about 100 million doses -- on the open market.

A top-level coordinating committee which included CIA and Pentagon representatives unanimously recommended that the Agency put up $240,000 to buy it all. Allen Dulles gave his approval, and off went two CIA representatives to Switzerland, presumably with a black bag full of cash. They met with the president of Sandoz and other top executives. The Sandoz men stated that the company had never made anything approaching 10 kilos of LSD and that, in fact, since the discovery of the drug 10 years before, its total production had been only 40 grams (about 11/2 ounces). [vi] The manufacturing process moved quite slowly at that time because Sandoz used real ergot, which could not be grown in large quantities. Nevertheless, Sandoz executives, being good Swiss businessmen, offered to supply the U.S. Government with 100 grams weekly for an indefinite period, if the Americans would pay a fair price. Twice the Sandoz president thanked the CIA men for being willing to take the nonexistent 10 kilos off the market. While he said the company now regretted it had ever discovered LSD in the first place, he promised that Sandoz would not let the drug fall into communist hands. The Sandoz president mentioned that various Americans had in the past made "covert and sideways" approaches to Sandoz to find out about LSD, and he agreed to keep the U.S. Government informed of all future production and shipping of the drug. He also agreed to pass on any intelligence about Eastern European interest in LSD. The Sandoz executives asked only that their arrangement with the CIA be kept "in the very strictest confidence."

All around the world, the CIA tried to stay on top of the LSD supply. Back home in Indianapolis, Eli Lilly & Company was even then working on a process to synthesize LSD. Agency officials felt uncomfortable having to rely on a foreign company for their supply, and in 1953 they asked Lilly executives to make them up a batch, which the company subsequently donated to the government. Then, in 1954, Lilly scored a major breakthrough when its researchers worked out a complicated 12- to 15-step process to manufacture first lysergic acid. (the basic building block) and then LSD itself from chemicals available on the open market. Given a relatively sophisticated lab, a competent chemist could now make LSD without a supply of the hard-to-grow ergot fungus. Lilly officers confidentially informed the government of their triumph. They also held an unprecedented press conference to trumpet their synthesis of lysergic acid, but they did not publish for another five years their success with the closely related LSD.

TSS officials soon sent a memo to Allen Dulles, explaining that the Lilly discovery was important because the government henceforth could buy LSD in "tonnage quantities," which made it a potential chemical-warfare agent. The memo writer pointed out, however, that from the MK ULTRA point of view, the discovery made no difference since TSS was working on ways to use the drug only in small-scale covert operations, and the Agency had no trouble getting the limited amounts it needed. But now the Army Chemical Corps and the Air Force could get their collective hands on enough LSD to turn on the world.

Sharing the drug with the Army here, setting up research programs there, keeping track of it everywhere, the CIA generally presided over the LSD scene during the 19508. To be sure, the military services played a part and funded their own research programs. [vii] So did the National Institutes of Health, to a lesser extent. Yet both the military services and the NIH allowed themselves to be co-opted by the CIA -- as funding conduits and intelligence sources. The Food and Drug Administration also supplied the Agency with confidential information on drug testing. Of the Western world's two LSD manufacturers, one- -- li Lilly -- gave its entire (small) supply to the CIA and the military. The other -- Sandoz -- informed Agency representatives every time it shipped the drug. If somehow the CIA missed anything with all these sources, the Agency still had its own network of scholar-spies, the most active of whom was Harold Abramson who kept it informed of all new developments in the LSD field. While the CIA may not have totally cornered the LSD market in the 19508, it certainly had a good measure of control -- the very power it sought over human behavior.


Sid Gottlieb and his colleagues at MKULTRA soaked up pools of information about LSD and other drugs from all outside sources, but they saved for themselves the research they really cared about: operational testing. Trained in both science and espionage, they believed they could bridge the huge gap between experimenting in the laboratory and using drugs to outsmart the enemy. Therefore the leaders of MKULTRA initiated their own series of drug experiments that paralleled and drew information from the external research. As practical men of action, unlimited by restrictive academic standards, they did not feel the need to keep their tests in strict scientific sequence. They wanted results now -- not next year. If a drug showed promise, they felt no qualms about trying it out operationally before all the test results came in. As early as 1953, for instance, Sid Gottlieb went overseas with a supply of a hallucinogenic drug -- almost certainly LSD. With unknown results, he arranged for it to be slipped to a speaker at a political rally, presumably to see if it would make a fool of him.

These were freewheeling days within the CIA -- then a young agency whose bureaucratic arteries had not started to harden. The leaders of MKULTRA had high hopes for LSD. It appeared to be an awesome substance, whose advent, like the ancient discovery of fire, would bring out primitive responses of fear and worship in people. Only a speck of LSD could take a strong-willed man and turn his most basic perceptions into willowy shadows. Time, space, right, wrong, order, and the notion of what was possible all took on new faces. LSD was a frightening weapon, and it took a swashbuckling boldness for the leaders of MKULTRA to prepare for operational testing the way they first did: by taking it themselves. They tripped at the office. They tripped at safehouses, and sometimes they traveled to Boston to trip under Bob Hyde's penetrating gaze. Always they observed, questioned, and analyzed each other. LSD seemed to remove inhibitions, and they thought they could use it to find out what went on in the mind underneath all the outside acts and pretensions. If they could get at the inner self, they reasoned, they could better manipulate a person -- or keep him from being manipulated.

The men from MKULTRA were trying LSD in the early 1950s -- when Stalin lived and Joe McCarthy raged. It was a foreboding" time, even for those not professionally responsible for doomsday poisons. Not surprisingly, Sid Gottlieb and colleagues who tried LSD did not think of the drug as something that might enhance creativity or cause transcendental experiences. Those notions would not come along for years. By and large, there was thought to be only one prevailing and hard-headed version of reality, which was "normal," and everything else was "crazy," An LSD trip made people temporarily crazy, which meant potentially vulnerable to the CIA men (and mentally ill, to the doctors). The CIA experimenters did not trip for the experience itself, or to get high, or to sample new realities. They were testing a weapon; for their purposes, they might as well have been in a ballistics lab.

Despite this prevailing attitude in the Agency, at least one MKULTRA pioneer recalls that his first trip expanded his conception of reality: HI was shaky at first, but then I just experienced it and had a high. I felt that everything was working right. I was like a locomotive going at top efficiency. Sure there was stress, but not in a debilitating way. It was like the stress of an engine pulling the longest train it's ever pulled." This CIA veteran describes seeing all the colors of the rainbow growing out of cracks in the sidewalk. He had always disliked cracks as signs of imperfection, but suddenly the' cracks became natural stress lines that measured the vibrations of the universe. He saw people with blemished faces, which he had previously found slightly repulsive. "I had a change of values about faces," he says. "Hooked noses or crooked teeth would become beautiful for that person. Something had turned loose in me, and all I had done was shift my attitude. Reality hadn't changed, but I had. That was all the difference in the world between seeing something ugly and seeing truth and beauty."

At the end of this day of his first trip, the CIA man and his colleagues had an alcohol party to help come down. "I had a lump in my throat," he recalls wistfully. Although he had never done such a thing before, he wept in front of his coworkers. "I didn't want to leave it. I felt I would be going back to a place where I wouldn't be able to hold on to this kind of beauty. I felt very unhappy. The people who wrote the report on me said I had experienced depression, but they didn't understand why I felt so bad. They thought I had had a bad trip."

This CIA man says that others with his general personality tended to enjoy themselves on LSD, but that the stereotypical CIA operator (particularly the extreme counterintelligence type who mistrusts everyone and everything) usually had negative reactions. The drug simply exaggerated his paranoia. For these operators, the official notes, "dark evil things would begin to lurk around," and they would decide the experimenters were plotting against them.

The TSS team understood it would be next to impossible to allay the fears of this ever-vigilant, suspicious sort, although they might use LSD to disorient or generally confuse such a person. However, they toyed with the idea that LSD could be applied to better advantage on more trusting types. Could a clever foe "reeducate" such a person with a skillful application of LSD? Speculating on this question, the CIA official states that while under the influence of the drug, "you tend to have a more global view of things. I found it awfully hard when stoned to maintain the notion: I am a U.S. citizen -- my country right or wrong.... You tend-to have these good higher feelings. You are more open to the brotherhood-of-man idea and more susceptible to the seamy sides of your own society.... I think this is exactly what happened during the 19608,but it didn't make people more communist. It just made them less inclined to identify with the U.S. They took a plague-on-both-your-houses position."

As to whether his former colleagues in TSS had the same perception of the LSD experience, the man replies, "I think everybody understood that if you had a good trip, you had a kind of above-it-all look into reality. What we subsequently found was that when you came down, you remembered the experience, but you didn't switch identities. You really didn't have that kind of feeling. You weren't as suspicious of people. You listened to them, but you also saw through them more easily and clearly. We decided that this wasn't the kind of thing that was going to make a guy into a turncoat to his own country. The more we worked with it, the less we became convinced this was what the communists were using for brainwashing."

The early LSD tests -- both outside and inside the Agency -- had gone well enough that the MKULTRA scientists moved forward to the next stage on the road to "field" use: They tried the drug out on people by surprise. This, after all, would be the way an operator would give -- or get -- the drug. First they decided to spring it on each other without warning. They agreed among themselves that a coworker might slip it to them at any time. (In what may be an apocryphal story, a TSS staff man says that one of his former colleagues always brought his own bottle of wine to office parties and carried it with him at all times.) Unwitting doses became an occupational hazard.

MKULTRA men usually took these unplanned trips in stride, but occasionally they turned nasty. Two TSS veterans tell the story of a coworker who drank some LSD-laced coffee during his morning break. Within an hour, states one veteran, "he sort of knew he had it, but he couldn't pull himself together. Sometimes you take it, and you start the process of maintaining your composure. But this grabbed him before he was aware, and it got away from him." Filled with fear, the CIA man fled the building that then housed TSS, located on the edge of the Mall near Washington's great monuments. Having lost sight of him, his colleagues searched frantically, but he managed to escape. The hallucinating Agency man worked his way across one of the Potomac bridges and apparently cut his last links with rationality. "He reported afterwards that every automobile that came by was a terrible monster with fantastic eyes, out to get him personally," says the veteran. "Each time a car passed, he would huddle down against the parapet, terribly frightened. It was a real horror trip for him. I mean, it was hours of agony. It was like a dream that never stops -- with someone chasing you."

After about an hour and a half, the victim's coworkers found him on the Virginia side of the Potomac, crouched under a fountain, trembling. "It was awfully hard to persuade him that his friends were his friends at that point," recalls the colleague. "He was alone in the world, and everyone was hostile. He'd become a full-blown paranoid. If it had lasted for two weeks, we'd have plunked him in a mental hospital." Fortunately for him, the CIA man came down by the end of the day. This was not the first, last, or most tragic bad trip in the Agency's testing program. [viii]

By late 1953, only six months after Allen Dulles had formally created MKULTRA, TSS officials were already well into the last stage of their research: systematic use of LSD on "outsiders" who had no idea they had received the drug. These victims simply felt their moorings slip away in the midst of an ordinary day, for no apparent reason, and no one really knew how they would react.

Sid Gottlieb was ready for the operational experiments. He considered LSD to be such a secret substance that he gave it a private code name ("serunim") by which he and his colleagues often referred to the drug, even behind the CIA's heavily guarded doors. In retrospect, it seems more than bizarre that CIA officials -- men responsible for the nation's intelligence and alertness when the hot and cold wars against the communists were at their peak -- would be sneaking LSD into each other's coffee cups and thereby subjecting themselves to the unknown frontiers of experimental drugs. But these side trips did not seem to change the sense of reality of Gottlieb or of high CIA officials, who took LSD on several occasions. The drug did not transform Gottlieb out of the mind set of a master scientist-spy, a protege of Richard Helms in the CIA's inner circle. He never stopped milking his goats at 5:30 every morning.

The CIA leaders' early achievements with LSD were impressive. They had not invented the drug, but they had gotten in on the American ground floor and done nearly everything else. They were years ahead of the scientific literature -- let alone the public -- and spies win by being ahead. They had monopolized the supply of LSD and dominated the research by creating much of it themselves. They had used money and other blandishments to build a network of scientists and doctors whose work they could direct and turn to their own use. All that remained between them and major espionage successes was the performance of the drug in the field.

That, however, turned out to be a considerable stumbling block. LSD had an incredibly powerful effect on people, but not in ways the CIA could predict or control.



i. During the 19505, Boston Psychopathic changed its name to Massachusetts Mental Health Center, the name it bears today.

ii. Pronounced M-K-ULTRA. The MK digraph simply identified it as a TSS project. As for the ULTRA part, it may have had its etymological roots in the most closely guarded Anglo-American World War II intelligence secret. the ULTRA program, which handled the cracking of German military codes. While good espionage tradecraft called for cryptonyms to have no special meaning, wartime experiences were still very much on the minds of men like Allen Dulles.

iii. By no means did TSS neglect other drugs. It looked at hundreds of others from cocaine to nicotine, with special emphasis on special-purpose substances. One 1952 memo talked about the urgent operational need for a chemical "producing general listlessness and lethargy," Another mentioned finding-as TSS later did-a potion to accelerate the effects of liquor, called an "alcohol extender."

iv. As happened to Albert Hofmann the first time, Abramson once unknowingly ingested some LSD, probably by swallowing water from his spiked snail tank. He started to feel bad, but with his wife's help, he finally pinpointed the cause. According to brain and dolphin expert John Lilly, who heard the story from Mrs. Abramson, Harold was greatly relieved that his discomfort was not grave. "Oh, it's nothing serious," he said. "It's just an LSD psychosis. I'll just go to bed and sleep it off."

v. Army researchers, as usual running about five years behind the CIA, became interested in the sustained use of LSD as an interrogation device during 1961 field tests (called Operation THIRD CHANCE). The Army m~ tested the drug in Europe on nine foreigners and one American, a black soldier named James Thornwell, accused of stealing classified documents. While Thornwell was reacting to the drug under extremely stressful conditions, his captors threatened "to extend the state indefinitely, even to a permanent condition of insanity," according to an Army document. Thornwell is now suing the U.S. government for $30 million.

In one of those twists that Washington insiders take for granted and outsiders do not quite believe, Terry Lenzner, a partner of the same law firm seeking this huge sum for Thornwell, is the lawyer for Sid Gottlieb, the man who oversaw the 17-day trips at Lexington and even more dangerous LSD testing.

vi. A 1975 CIA document clears up the mystery of how the Agency's military sources could have made such a huge error in estimating Sandoz's LSD supply (and probably also explains the earlier inaccurate report that the Russians had bought 50,000,000 doses). What happened, according to the document, was that the U.S. military attache in Switzerland did not know the difference between a milligram (1/1,000 of a gram) and a kilogram (1,000 grams). This mix-up threw all his calculations off by a factor of 1,000.000.

vii. Military security agencies supported the LSD work of such well-known researchers as Amedeo Marrazzi of the University of Minnesota and Missouri Institute of Psychiatry, Henry Beecher of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, Charles Savage while he was at the Naval Medical Research Institute, James Dille of the University of Washington, Gerald Klee of the University of Maryland Medical School, Neil Burch of Baylor University (who performed later experiments for the CIA), and Paul Hoch and James Cattell of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, whose forced injections of a mescaline derivative led to the 1953 death of New York tennis professional Harold Blauer. (Dr. Cattell later told Army investigators, "We didn't know whether it was dog piss or what it was we were giving him.")

viii. TSS officials had long known that LSD could be quite dangerous. In 1952, Harvard Medical School's Henry Beecher, who regularly gave the Agency information on his talks with European colleagues, reported that a Swiss doctor had suffered severe depression after taking the drug and had killed herself three weeks later.
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and M

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:18 am


In November 1953, Sid Gottlieb decided to test LSD on a group of scientists from the Army Chemical Corps' Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. Although the Clandestine Services hierarchy had twice put TSS under strict notice not to use LSD without permission from above, Gottlieb must have felt that trying the drug on SOD men was not so different from giving it to his colleagues at the office. After all, officials at TSS and SOD worked intimately together, and they shared one of the darkest secrets of the Cold War: that the U.S. government maintained the capability -- which it would use at times -- to kill or incapacitate selected people with biological weapons. Only a handful of the highest CIA officials knew that TSS was paying SOD about $200,000 a year in return for operational systems to infect foes with disease.

Gottlieb planned to drop the LSD on the SOD men in the splendid isolation of a three-day working retreat. Twice a year, the SOD and TSS men who collaborated on MKNOAMI, their joint program, held a planning session at a remote site where they could brainstorm without interruption. On November 18, 1953, they gathered at Deep Creek Lodge, a log building in the woods of Western Maryland. It had been built as a Boy Scout camp 25 years earlier. Surrounded by the water of a mountain lake on three sides, with the peaks of the Appalachian chain looking down over the thick forest, the lodge was isolated enough for even the most security conscious spy. Only an occasional hunter was likely to wander through after the summer months.

Dr. John Schwab, who had founded SOD in 1950, Lt. Colonel Vincent Ruwet, its current chief, and Dr. Frank Olson, its temporary head earlier that year, led the Detrick group. These germ warriors came under the cover of being wildlife writers and lecturers off on a busman's holiday. They carefully removed the Fort Detrick parking stickers from their cars before setting out. Sid Gottlieb brought three co-workers from the Agency, including his deputy Robert Lashbrook.

They met in the living room of the lodge, in front of a roaring blaze in the huge walk-in fireplace. Then they split off into smaller groups for specialized meetings. The survivors among those who attended these sessions remain as tight-lipped as ever, willing to share a few details of the general atmosphere but none of the substance. However, from other sources at Fort Detrick and from government documents, the MKNAOMI research can be pieced together. It was this program that was discussed during the fateful retreat.

Under MKNAOMI, the SOD men developed a whole arsenal of toxic substances for CIA use. If Agency operators needed to kill someone in a few seconds with, say, a suicide pill, SOD provided super-deadly shellfish toxin. [i] On his iII-fatedU-2 flight over the Soviet Union in 1960, Francis Gary Powers carried -- and chose not to use -- a drill bit coated with this poison concealed in a silver dollar. While perfect for someone anxious to die -- or kill -- instantly, shellfish toxin offered no time to escape and could be traced easily. More useful for assassination, CIA and SOD men decided, was botulinum. With an incubation period of 8 to 12 hours, it allowed the killer time to separate himself from the deed. Agency operators would later supply pills laced with this lethal food poison to its Mafia allies for inclusion in Fidel Castro's milkshake. If CIA officials wanted an assassination to look like a death from natural causes, they could choose from a long list of deadly diseases that normally occurred in particular countries. Thus in 1960, Clandestine Services chief Richard Bissell asked Sid Gottlieb to pick out an appropriate malady to kill the Congo's Patrice Lumumba. Gottlieb told the Senate investigators that he selected one that "was supposed to produce a disease that was ... indigenous to that area [of West Africa] and that could be fatal." Gottlieb personally carried the bacteria to the Congo, but this murderous operation was scrubbed before Lumumba could be infected. (The Congolese leader was killed shortly thereafter under circumstances that still are not clear.)

When CIA operators merely wanted to be rid of somebody temporarily, SOD stockpiled for them about a dozen diseases and toxins of varying strengths. At the relatively benign end of the SOD list stood Staph. enterotoxin, a mild form of food poisoning -- mild compared to botulinum. This Staph. infection almost never killed and simply incapacitated its victim for 3 to 6 hours. Under the skilled guidance of Sid Gottlieb's wartime predecessor, Stanley Lovell, ass had used this very substance to prevent Nazi official Hjalmar Schacht from attending an economic conference during the war. More virulent in the SOD arsenal was Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis virus. It usually immobilized a person for 2 to 5 days and kept him in a weakened state for several more weeks. If the Agency wanted to incapacitate someone for a period of months, SOD had two different kinds of brucellosis. [ii]

A former senior official at Fort Detrick was kind enough to run me through all the germs and toxins SOD kept for the CIA, listing their advantages and disadvantages. Before doing so, he emphasized that SOD was also trying to work out ways to protect U.S. citizens and installations from attack with similar substances. "You can't have a serious defense," he says, "unless someone has thought about offense." He stated that Japan made repeated biological attacks against China during World War II -- which was one reason for starting the American program. [iii] He knows of no use since by the Soviet Union or any other power.

According to the Detrick official, anyone contemplating use of a biological product had to consider many other factors besides toxicity and incubation period.

Can the germ be detected easily and countered with a vaccine? He notes that anthrax, a fatal disease (when inhaled) that SOD stored for CIA, has the advantage of symptoms that resemble pneumonia; similarly, Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis can be mistaken for the grippe. While vaccines do exist for many of the stockpiled diseases, SOD was forever developing more virulent strains. "I don't know of any organism susceptible to a drug that can't be made more resistant," states the Detrick man.

Did the disease have a high degree of secondary spread? SOD preferred it not to, because these germ warfare men did not want to start epidemics -- that was the job of others at Fort Detrick.

Was the organism stable? How did humidity affect it? SOD considered these and many other factors.

To the CIA, perhaps the most important question was whether it could covertly deliver the germ to infect the right person. One branch of SOD specialized in building delivery systems, the most famous of which now is the dart gun fashioned out of a .45 pistol that ex-CIA Director William Colby displayed to the world at a 1975 Senate hearing. The Agency had long been after SOD to develop a "non-discernible microbioinoculator" which could give people deadly shots that, according to a CIA document, could not be "easily detected upon a detailed autopsy." SOD also rigged up aerosol sprays that could be fired by remote control, including a fluorescent starter that was activated by turning on the light, a cigarette lighter that sprayed when lit, and an engine head bolt that shot off as the engine heated. "If you're going to infect people, the most likely way is respiratory," notes the high Detrick official. "Everybody breathes, but you might not get them to eat."

Frank Olson specialized in the airborne delivery of disease. He had been working in the field ever since 1943, when he came to Fort Detrick as one of the original military officers in the U.S. biological warfare program. Before the end of the war, he developed a painful ulcer condition that led him to seek a medical discharge from the uniformed military, but he had stayed on as a civilian. He joined SOD when it started in 1950. Obviously good at what he did, Olson served for several months as acting chief of SOD in 1952-53 but asked to be relieved when the added stress caused his ulcer to flare up. He happily returned to his lesser post as a branch chief, where he had fewer administrative duties and could spend more time in the laboratory. A lover of practical jokes, Olson was very popular among his many friends. He was an outgoing man, but, like most of his generation, he kept his inner feelings to himself. His great passion was his family, and he spent most of his spare time playing with his three kids and helping around the house. He had met his wife while they both studied at the University of Wisconsin.

Olson attended all the sessions and apparently did everything expected of him during the first two days at the lodge. After dinner on Thursday, November 19, 1953 -- the same day that a Washington Post editorial decried the use of dogs in chemical experiments -- Olson shared a drink of Cointreau with all but two of the men present. (One had a heart condition; the other, a reformed alcoholic, did not drink.) Unbeknownst to the SOD men, Sid Gottlieb had decided to spike the liqueur with LSD. [iv]

"To me, everyone was pretty normal," says SOD's Benjamin Wilson. "No one was aware anything had happened until Gottlieb mentioned it. [20 minutes after the drink] Gottlieb asked if we had noticed anything wrong. Everyone was aware, once it was brought to their attention." They tried to continue their discussion, but once the drug took hold, the meeting deteriorated into laughter and boisterous conversation. Two of the SOD men apparently got into an all-night philosophical conversation that had nothing to do with biological warfare. Ruwet remembers it as "the most frightening experience I ever had or hope to have." Ben Wilson recalls that "Olson was psychotic. He couldn't understand what happened. He thought someone was playing tricks on him.... One of his favorite expressions was 'You guys are a bunch of thespians.'"

Olson and most of the others became increasingly uncomfortable and could not sleep. [v] When the group gathered in the morning, Olson was still agitated, obviously disturbed, as were several of his colleagues. The meeting had turned sour, and no one really wanted to do more business. They all straggled home during the day.

Alice Olson remembers her husband coming in before dinner that evening: "He said nothing. He just sat there. Ordinarily when he came back from a trip, he'd tell me about the things he could -- that they had to eat, that sort of thing. During dinner, I said, 'It's a damned shame the adults in this family don't communicate anymore.' He said, 'Wait until the kids get to bed and I'll talk to you.'" Later that night, Frank Olson told his wife he had made "a terrible mistake," that his colleagues had laughed at him and humiliated him. Mrs. Olson assured him that the others were his friends, that they would not make fun of him. Still, Olson would not tell her any more. He kept his fears bottled up inside, and he shared nothing of his growing feeling that someone was out to get him. Alice Olson was accustomed to his keeping secrets. Although she realized he worked on biological warfare, they never talked about it. She had had only little glimpses of his profession. He complained about the painful shots he was always taking. [vi] He almost never took a bath at home because he showered upon entering and leaving his office every day. When a Detrick employee died of anthrax (one of three fatalities in the base's 27-year history), Frank Olson told his wife the man had died of pneumonia.

Alice Olson had never even seen the building where her husband worked. Fort Detrick was built on the principle of concentric circles, with secrets concealed inside secrets. To enter the inner regions where SOD operated, one needed not only the highest security clearance but a "need to know" authorization. Her husband was not about to break out of a career of government-imposed secrecy to tell her about the TOP SECRET experiment that Sid Gottlieb had performed on him.

The Olsons spent an uncommunicative weekend together. On Sunday they sat on the davenport in their living room, holding hands -- something they had not done for a long time. "It was a rotten November day," recalls Mrs. Olson. "The fog outside was so thick you could hardly see out the front door. Frank's depression was dreadful." Finally, she recalls, they packed up the three young children, and went off to the local theater. The film turned out to be Luther. "It was a very serious movie," remembers Mrs. Olson, "not a good one to see when you're depressed."

The following day, Olson appeared at 7:30 A.M. in the office of his boss, Lieutenant Colonel Ruwet. To Ruwet, Olson seemed "agitated" He told Ruwet he wanted either to quit or be fired. Taken aback, Ruwet reassured Olson that his conduct at the lodge had been "beyond reproach." Seemingly satisfied and relieved, Olson agreed to stay on and spent the rest of the day on routine SOD business. That evening, the Olsons spent their most lighthearted evening since before the retreat to Deep Creek Lodge, and they planned a farewell party for a colleague the following Saturday night.

Tuesday morning, Ruwet again arrived at his office to find a disturbed Frank Olson waiting for him. Olson said he felt "all mixed up" and questioned his own competence. He said that he should not have left the Army during the war because of his ulcer and that he lacked the ability to do his present work. After an hour, Ruwet decided Olson needed "psychiatric attention." Ruwet apparently felt that the CIA had caused Olson's problem in the first place, and instead of sending him to the base hospital, he called Gottlieb's deputy Robert Lashbrook to arrange for Olson to see a psychiatrist.

After a hurried conference, Lashbrook and Gottlieb decided to send Olson to Dr. Harold Abramson in New York. Abramson had no formal training in psychiatry and did not hold himself out to be a psychiatrist. He was an allergist and immunologist interested in treating the problems of the mind. Gottlieb chose him because he had a TOP SECRET CIA security clearance and because he had been working with LSD -- under Agency contract -- for several years. Gottlieb was obviously protecting his own bureaucratic position by not letting anyone outside TSS know what he had done. Having failed to observe the order to seek higher approval for LSD use, Gottlieb proceeded to violate another CIA regulation. It states, in effect, that whenever a potential flap arises that might embarrass the CIA or lead to a break in secrecy, those involved should immediately call the Office of Security. For health problems like Olson's, Security and the CIA medical office keep a long list of doctors (and psychiatrists) with TOP SECRET clearance who can provide treatment.

Gottlieb had other plans for Frank Olson, and off to New York went the disturbed SOD biochemist in the company of Ruwet and Lashbrook. Olson alternately improved and sank deeper and deeper into his feelings of depression, inadequacy, guilt, and paranoia. He began to think that the CIA was putting a stimulant like Benzedrine in his coffee to keep him awake and that it was the Agency that was out to get him. That first day in New York, Abramson saw Olson at his office. Then at 10:30 in the evening, the allergist visited Olson in his hotel room, armed with a bottle of bourbon and a bottle of the sedative Nembutal -- an unusual combination for a doctor to give to someone with symptoms like Olson's.

Before Olson's appointment with Dr. Abramson the following day, he and Ruwet accompanied Lashbrook on a visit to a famous New York magician named John Mulholland, whom TSS had put under contract to prepare a manual that would apply "the magician's art to covert activities." An expert at pulling rabbits out of hats could easily find new and better ways to slip drugs into drinks, and Gottlieb signed up Mulholland to work on, among other things, "the delivery of various materials to unwitting subjects." Lashbrook thought that the magician might amuse Olson, but Olson became "highly suspicious." The group tactfully cut their visit short, and Lashbrook dropped Olson off at Abramson's office. After an hour's consultation with Abramson that afternoon the allergist gave Olson permission to return to Frederick the following day, Thanksgiving, to be with his family.

Olson, Ruwet, and Lashbrook had plane reservations for Thursday morning, so that night, in a preholiday attempt to lift spirits, they all went to see the Rodgers and Hammerstein hit musical, Me and Juliet. Olson became upset during the first act and told Ruwet that he knew people were waiting outside the theater to arrest him. Olson and Ruwet left the show at intermission, and the two old friends walked back to the Statler Hotel, near Penn Station. Later, while Ruwet slept in the next bed, Olson crept out of the hotel and wandered the streets. Gripped by the delusion that he was following Ruwet's orders, he tore up all his paper money and threw his wallet down a chute. At 5:30 A.M., Ruwet and Lashbrook found him sitting in the Statler lobby with his hat and coat on.

They checked out of the hotel and caught the plane back to Washington. An SOD driver picked Olson and Ruwet up at National Airport and started to drive them back to Frederick. As they drove up Wisconsin Avenue, Olson had the driver pull into a Howard Johnson's parking lot. He told Ruwet that he was "ashamed" to see his family in his present state and that he feared he might become violent with his children. Ruwet suggested he go back to see Abramson in New York, and Olson agreed. Ruwet and Olson drove back to Lashbrook's apartment on New Hampshire Avenue off Dupont Circle, and Lashbrook summoned Sid Gottlieb from Thanksgiving dinner in Virginia. All agreed that Lashbrook would take Olson back to New York while Ruwet would go back to Frederick to explain the situation to Mrs. Olson and to see his own family. (Ruwet was Olson's friend, whereas Lashbrook was no more than a professional acquaintance. Olson's son Eric believes that his father's mental state suffered when Ruwet left him in the hands of the CIA's Lashbrook, especially since Olson felt the CIA was "out to get him.") Olson and Lashbrook flew to LaGuardia airport and went to see Abramson at his Long Island office. Then the two men ate a joyless Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant. Friday morning Abramson drove them into Manhattan. Abramson, an allergist, finally realized that he had more on his hands with Olson than he could handle, and he recommended hospitalization. He wrote afterward that Olson "was in a psychotic state ... with delusions of persecution."

Olson agreed to enter Chestnut Lodge, a Rockville, Maryland sanitarium that had CIA-cleared psychiatrists on the staff. They could not get plane reservations until the next morning, so Olson and Lashbrook decided to spend one last night at the Statler. They took a room on the tenth floor. With his spirits revived, Olson dared to call his wife for the first time since he had left originally for New York. They had a pleasant talk, which left her feeling better.

In the early hours of the morning, Lashbrook woke up just in time to see Frank Olson crash through the drawn blinds and closed window on a dead run.

Within seconds, as a crowd gathered around Olson's shattered body on the street below, the cover-up started. Lashbrook called Gottlieb to tell him what had happened before he notified the police. Next, Lashbrook called Abramson, who, according to Lashbrook, "wanted to be kept out of the thing completely." Abramson soon called back and offered to assist. When the police arrived, Lashbrook told them he worked for the Defense Department. He said he had no idea why Olson killed himself, but he did know that the dead man had "suffered from ulcers." The detectives assigned to the case later reported that getting information out of Lashbrook was "like pulling teeth." They speculated to each other that the case could be a homicide with homosexual overtones, but they soon dropped their inquiries when Ruwet and Abramson verified Lashbrook's sketchy account and invoked high government connections.

Back in Washington, Sid Gottlieb finally felt compelled to tell the Office of Security about the Olson case. Director Allen Dulles personally ordered Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick to make a full investigation, but first, Agency officials tried to make sure that no outsider would tie Olson's death either to the CIA or LSD. Teams of Security officers were soon scurrying around New York and Washington, making sure the Agency had covered its tracks. One interviewed Lashbrook and then accompanied him to a meeting with Abramson. When Lashbrook and Abramson asked the security officer to leave them alone, he complied and then, in the best traditions of his office, listened in on the conversation covertly. From his report on their talk, it can safely be said that Lashbrook and Abramson conspired to make sure they told identical stories. Lashbrook dictated to Abramson, who made a recording of the symptoms that Olson was supposed to be suffering from and the problems that were bothering him. Lashbrook even stated that Mrs. Olson had suggested her husband see a psychiatrist months before the LSD incident. [vii] Lashbrook's comments appeared in three reports Abramson submitted to the CIA, but these reports were internally inconsistent. In one memo, Abramson wrote that Olson's "psychotic state ... seemed to have been crystallized by [the LSD] experiment." In a later report, Abramson called the LSD dose "therapeutic" and said he believed "this dosage could hardly have had any significant role in the course of events that followed. [viii]

The CIA officially -- but secretly -- took the position that the LSD had "triggered" Olson's suicide. Agency officials worked industriously behind the scenes to make sure that Mrs. Olson received an adequate government pension -- two-thirds of her husband's base pay. Ruwet, who had threatened to expose the whole affair if Mrs. Olson did not get the pension, submitted a form saying Olson had died of a "classified illness." Gottlieb and Lashbrook kept trying to have it both ways in regard to giving Olson LSD, according to the CIA's General Counsel. They acknowledged LSD's triggering function in his death, but they also claimed it was "practically impossible" for the drug to have harmful aftereffects. The General Counsel called these two positions "completely inconsistent," and he wrote he was "not happy with what seems to me a very casual attitude on the part of TSS representatives to the way this experiment was conducted and to their remarks that this is just one of the risks running with scientific investigation."

As part of his investigation, Inspector General Kirkpatrick sequestered Gottlieb's LSD files, which Kirkpatrick remembers did not make Gottlieb at all happy. "I brought out his stutter," says Kirkpatrick with a wry smile. "He was quite concerned about his future.;' Kirkpatrick eventually recommended that some form of reprimand be given to Gottlieb, TSS chief Willis Gibbons, and TSS deputy chief James "Trapper" Drum, who had waited 20 days after Olson's death to admit that Gottlieb had cleared the experiment with him. Others opposed Kirkpatrick's recommendation. Admiral Luis deFlorez, the Agency's Research Chairman, sent a personal memo to Allen Dulles saying' reprimands would be an "injustice" and would hinder "the spirit of initiative and enthusiasm so necessary in our work." The Director's office went along, and Kirkpatrick began the tortuous process of preparing letters for Dulles' signature that would say Gottlieb, Gibbons, and Drum had done something wrong, but nothing too wrong. Kirkpatrick went through six drafts of the Gottlieb letter alone before he came up with acceptable wording. He started out by saying TSS officials had exercised "exceedingly bad judgment." That was too harsh for high Agency officials, so Kirkpatrick tried "very poor judgment." Still too hard. He settled for "poor judgment." The TSS officials were told that they should not consider the letters to be reprimands and that no record of the letters would be put in their personnel files where they could conceivably harm future careers.

The Olson family up in Frederick did not get off so easily. Ruwet told them Olson had jumped or fallen out of the window in New York, but he mentioned not a word about the LSD, whose effects Ruwet himself believed had led to Olson's death. Ever the good soldier, Ruwet could not bring himself to talk about the classified experiment -- even to ease Alice Olson's sorrow. Mrs. Olson did not want to accept the idea that her husband had willfully committed suicide. "It was very important to me -- almost the core of my life -- that my children not feel their father had walked out on them," recalls Mrs. Olson.

For the next 22 years, Alice Olson had no harder evidence than her own belief that her husband did not desert her and the family. Then in June 1975, the Rockefeller Commission studying illegal CIA domestic operations reported that a man fitting Frank Olson's description had leaped from a New York hotel window after the CIA had given him LSD without his knowledge. The Olson family read about the incident in the Washington Post. Daughter Lisa Olson Hayward and her husband went to see Ruwet, who had retired from the Army and settled in Frederick. In an emotional meeting, Ruwet confirmed that Olson was the man and said he could not tell the family earlier because he did not have permission. Ruwet tried to discourage them from going public or seeking compensation from the government, but the Olson family did both. [ix] On national television, Alice Olson and each of her grown children took turns reading from a prepared family statement:

"We feel our family has been violated by the CIA in two ways," it said. "First, Frank Olson was experimented upon illegally and negligently. Second, the true nature of his death was concealed for twenty-two years.... In telling our story, we are concerned that neither the personal pain this family has experienced nor the moral and political outrage we feel be slighted. Only in this way can Frank Olson's death become part of American memory and serve the purpose of political and ethical reform so urgently needed in our society."

The statement went on to compare the Olsons with families in the Third World "whose hopes for a better life were destroyed by CIA intervention." Although Eric Olson read those words in behalf of the whole family, they reflected more the politics of the children than the feelings of their mother, Alice Olson. An incredibly strong woman who seems to have made her peace with the world, Mrs. Olson went back to college after her husband's death, got a degree, and held the family together while she taught school. She has no malice in her heart toward Vin Ruwet, her friend who withheld that vital piece of information from her all those years. He comforted her and gave support during the most difficult of times, and she deeply appreciates that. Mrs. Olson defends Ruwet by saying he was in "a bad position," but then she stops in mid-sentence and says, "If I had only been given some indication that it was the pressure of work.... If only I had had something I could have told the kids. I don't know how (Ruwet] could have done it either. It was a terrible thing for a man who loved him."

"I'm not vindicative toward Vin (Ruwet)," reflects Mrs. Olson. "Gottlieb is a different question. He was despicable." She tells how Gottlieb and Lashbrook both attended Olson's funeral in Frederick and contributed to a memorial fund. A week or two later, the two men asked to visit her. She knew they did not work at Detrick, but she did not really understand where they came from or their role. "I didn't want to see them," she notes. "Vin told me it would make them feel better. I didn't want an ounce of flesh from them. I didn't think it was necessary, but, okay, I agreed. In retrospect, it was so bizarre, it makes me sick ... I was a sucker for them."

Gottlieb and Lashbrook apparently never returned to the biological warfare offices at SOD. Little else changed, however. Ray Treichler and Henry Bortner took over CIA's liaison with SOD. SOD continued to manufacture and stockpile bacteriological agents for the CIA until 1969, when President Richard Nixon renounced the use of biological warfare tactics.

And presumably, someone replaced Frank Olson.



i. Toxins are chemical substances, not living organisms, derived from biological agents. While they can make people sick or dead, they cannot reproduce themselves like bacteria. Because of their biological origin, toxins came under the responsibility of Fort Detrick rather than Edgewood Arsenal, the facility which handled the chemical side of America's chemical and biological warfare (CBW) programs.

ii. Brucellosis may well have been the disease that Gottlieb selected in the spring of 1960 when the Clandestine Services' Health Alteration Committee approved an operation to disable an Iraqi colonel, said to be "promoting Soviet-bloc political interests" for at least three months. Gottlieb told the Church committee that he had a monogrammed handkerchief treated with the incapacitating agency, and then mailed it to the colonel. CIA officials told the committee that the colonel was shot by a firing squad -- which the Agency had nothing to do with -- before the handkerchief arrived.

iii. For some reason, the U.S. government has made it a point not to release information about Japanese use of biological warfare. The senior Detrick source says, "We knew they sprayed Manchuria. We had the results of how they produced and disseminated [the biological agents, including anthrax].... I read the autopsy reports myself. We had people who went over to Japan after the war."

iv. Gottlieb stated just after Olson's death, at a time when he was trying to minimize his own culpability, that he had talked to the SOD men about LSD and that they had agreed in general terms to the desirability of unwitting testing. Two of the SOD group in interviews and a third in congressional testimony flatly deny the Gottlieb version. Gottlieb and. the SOD men all agree Gottlieb gave no advance warning that he was giving them a drug in their liqueur.

v. For the very reason that most trips last about eight hours no matter what time a subject takes the drug, virtually all experimenters, including TSS's own contractors, give LSD in the morning to avoid the discomfort of sleepless nights.

vi. To enter the SOD building, in addition to needing an incredibly hard-to- get security clearance, one had to have an up-to-date shot card with anywhere from 10 to 20 immunizations listed. The process was so painful and time consuming that at one point in the 1960s the general who headed the whole Army Chemical Corps decided against inspecting SOD and getting an on-the-spot briefing. When asked about this incident, an SOD veteran who had earlier resigned said, "That's the way we kept them out. Those [military) types didn't need to know. Most of the security violations came from the top level.... He could have gone in without shots if he had insisted. The safety director would have protested, but he could have."

vii. Mrs. Olson says that this is an outright lie.

viii. Nonpsychiatrist Abramson who allowed chemist Lashbrook to tell him about his patient's complexes clearly had a strange idea what was "therapeutic" -- or psychotherapeutic, for that matter. In Abramson's 1953 proposal to the CIA for $85,000 to study LSD, he wrote that over the next year he "hoped" to give hospital patients "who are essentially normal from a psychiatric point of view ... unwitting doses of the drug for psychotherapeutic purposes." His treatment brings to mind the William Burroughs character in Naked Lunch who states; "Now, boys, you won't see this operation performed very often, and there's a reason for that ... you see, it has absolutely no medical value."

ix. President Gerald Ford later personally apologized to the Olson family, and Congress passed a bill in 1976 to pay $750,000 in compensation to Mrs. Olson and her three children. The family voluntarily abandoned the suit.
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate": The CIA and M

Postby admin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 3:24 am


Frank Olson's death could have been a major setback for the Agency's LSD testing, but the program, like Sid Gottlieb's career, emerged essentially unscathed. High CIA officials did call a temporary halt to all experiments while they investigated the Olson case and re-examined the general policy. They cabled the two field stations that had supplies of the drug (Manila and Atsugi, Japan) not to use it for the time being, and they even took away Sid Gottlieb's own private supply and had it locked up in his boss' safe, to which no one else had the combination. In the end, however, Allen Dulles accepted the view Richard Helms put forth that the only "operationally realistic" way to test drugs was to try them on unwitting people. Helms noted that experiments which gave advance warning would be "pro forma at best and result in a false sense of accomplishment and readiness." For Allen Dulles and his top aides, the possible importance of LSD clearly outweighed the risks and ethical problem of slipping the drug to involuntary subjects. They gave Gottlieb back his LSD.

Once the CIA's top echelon had made its decision to continue unwitting testing, there remained, in Richard Helms' words, "only then the question of how best to do it." The Agency's role in the Olson affair had come too perilously close to leaking out for the comfort of the security-minded, so TSS officials simply had to work out a testing system with better cover. That meant finding subjects who could not be so easily traced back to the Agency.

Well before Olson's death, Gottlieb and the MKULTRA crew had started pondering how best to do unwitting testing. They considered using an American police force to test drugs on prisoners, informants, and suspects, but they knew that some local politicians would inevitably find out. In the Agency view, such people could not be trusted to keep sensitive secrets. TSS officials thought about trying Federal prisons or hospitals, but, when sounded out, the Bureau of Prisons refused to go along with true unwitting testing (as opposed to the voluntary, if coercive, form practiced on drug addicts in Kentucky). They contemplated moving the program overseas, where they and the ARTICHOKE teams were already performing operational experiments, but they decided if they tested on the scale they thought was necessary, so many foreigners would have to know that it would pose an unacceptable security risk.

Sid Gottlieb is remembered as the brainstorming genius of the MKULTRA group -- and the one with a real talent for showing others, without hurting their feelings, why their schemes would not work. States an ex-colleague who admires him greatly, "In the final analysis, Sid was like a good soldier -- if the job had to be done, he did it. Once the decision was made, he found the most effective way."

In this case, Gottlieb came up with the solution after reading through old OSS files on Stanley Lovell's search for a truth drug. Gottlieb noted that Lovell had used George White, a pre-war employee of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, to test concentrated marijuana. Besides trying the drug out on Manhattan Project volunteers and unknowing suspected Communists, White had slipped some to August Del Gracio, the Lucky Luciano lieutenant. White had called the experiment a great success. If it had not been -- if Del Gracio had somehow caught on to the drugging -- Gottlieb realized that the gangster would never have gone to the police or the press. His survival as a criminal required he remain quiet about even the worst indignities heaped upon him by government agents.

To Gottlieb, underworld types looked like ideal test subjects. Nevertheless, according to one TSS source, "We were not about to fool around with the Mafia." Instead, this source says they chose "the borderline underworld" -- prostitutes, drug addicts, and other small-timers who would be powerless to seek any sort of revenge if they ever found out what the CIA had done to them. In addition to their being unlikely whistle-blowers, such people lived in a world where an unwitting dose of some drug -- usually knockout drops -- was an occupational hazard anyway. They would therefore be better equipped to deal with -- and recover from -- a surprise LSD trip than the population as a whole. Or so TSS officials rationalized. "They could at least say to themselves, 'Here I go again. I've been slipped a mickey,'" says a TSS veteran. Furthermore, this veteran remembers, his former colleagues reasoned that if they had to violate the civil rights of anyone, they might as well choose a group of marginal people.

George White himself had left OSS after the war and returned to the Narcotics Bureau. In 1952 he was working in the New York office. As a high-ranking narcotics agent, White had a perfect e3cuse to be around drugs and people who used them. He had proved during the war that he had a talent for clandestine work, and he certainly had no qualms when it came to unwitting testing. With his job, he had access to all the possible subjects the Agency would need, and if he could use LSD or any other drug to find out more about drug trafficking, so much the better. From a security viewpoint, CIA officials could easily deny any connection to anything White did, and he clearly was not the crybaby type. For Sid Gottlieb, George White was clearly the one. The MKULTRA chief decided to contact White directly to see if he might be interested in picking up with the CIA where he had left off with OSS.

Always careful to observe bureaucratic protocol, Gottlieb first approached Harry Anslinger, the longtime head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and got permission to use White on a part-time basis. Then Gottlieb traveled to New York and made his pitch to the narcotics agent, who stood 5'7", weighed over 200 pounds, shaved his head, and looked something like an extremely menacing bowling ball. After an early-morning meeting, White scrawled in his sweat-stained, leather-bound diary for that day, June 9, 1952: "Gottlieb proposed I be a CIA consultant -- I agree." By writing down such a thing and using Gottlieb's true name, [i] White had broken CIA security regulations even before he started work. But then, White was never known as a man who followed rules.

Despite the high priority that TSS put on drug testing, White's security approval did not come through until almost a year later. "It was only last month that I got cleared," the outspoken narcotics agent wrote to a friend in 1953. "I then learned that a couple of crew-cut, pipe-smoking punks had either known me -- or heard of me -- during OSS days and had decided I was 'too rough' for their league and promptly blackballed me. It was only when my sponsors discovered the root of the trouble they were able to bypass the blockade. After all, fellas, I didn't go to Princeton."

People either loved or hated George White, and he had made some powerful enemies, including New York Governor Thomas Dewey and J. Edgar Hoover. Dewey would later help block White from becoming the head of the Narcotics Bureau in New York City, a job White sorely wanted. For some forgotten reason, Hoover had managed to stop White from being hired by the CIA in the Agency's early days, at a time when he would have preferred to leave narcotics work altogether. These were two of the biggest disappointments of his life. White's previous exclusion from the CIA may explain why he jumped so eagerly at Gottlieb's offer and why at the same time he privately heaped contempt on those who worked for the Agency. A remarkably heavy drinker, who would sometimes finish off a bottle of gin in one sitting; White often mocked the CIA crowd over cocktails. "He thought they were a joke," recalls one long-time crony. "They were too complicated, and they had other people do their heavy stuff. "

Unlike his CIA counterparts, White loved the glare of publicity. A man who gloried in talking about himself and cultivating a hard-nosed image, White knew how to milk a drug bust for all it was worth -- a skill that grew out of early years spent as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In search of a more financially secure profession, he had joined the Narcotics Bureau in 1934, but he continued to pal around with journalists, particularly those who wrote favorably about him. Not only did he come across in the press as a cop hero, but he helped to shape the picture of future Kojaks by serving as a consultant to one of the early-television detective series. To start a raid, he would dramatically tip his hat to signal his agents -- and to let the photographers know that the time had come to snap his picture. "He was sort of vainglorious," says another good friend, "the kind of guy who if he did something, didn't mind having the world know about it." [ii]

The scientists from TSS, with their Ph.D.s and lack of street experience, could not help admiring White for his swashbuckling image. Unlike the men from MKULTRA, who, for all their pretensions, had never worked as real-live spies, White had put his life on the line for OSS overseas and had supposedly killed a Japanese agent with his bare hands. The face of one ex-TSS man lit up, like a little boy's on Christmas morning, as he told of racing around New York in George White's car and parking illegally with no fear of the law. "We were Ivy League, white, middle- class," notes another former TSSer. "We were naive, totally naive about this, and he felt pretty expert. He knew the whores, the pimps, the people who brought in the drugs. He'd purportedly been in a number of shootouts where he'd captured millions of dollars worth of heroin.... He was a pretty wild man. I know I was afraid of him. You couldn't control this guy ... I had a little trouble telling who was controlling who in those days."

White lived with extreme personal contradictions. As could be expected of a narcotics agent, he violently opposed drugs. Yet he died largely because his beloved alcohol had destroyed his liver. He had tried everything else, from marijuana to LSD, and wrote an acquaintance, "I did feel at times I was having a 'mind-expanding' experience but this vanished like a dream immediately after the session." He was a law-enforcement official who regularly violated the law. Indeed, the CIA turned to him because of his willingness to use the power of his office to ride roughshod over the rights of others -- in the name of "national security," when he tested LSD for the Agency, in the name of stamping out drug abuse, for the Narcotics Bureau. As yet another close associate summed up White's attitude toward his job, "He really believed the ends justified the means."


George White's "pragmatic" approach meshed perfectly with Sid Gottlieb's needs for drug testing. In May 1953 the two men, who wound up going folk dancing together several times, formally joined forces. In CIA jargon, White became MKULTRA subproject;# 3. Under this arrangement, White rented two adjacent Greenwich Village apartments, posing as the sometime artist and seaman "Morgan Hall." White agreed to lure guinea pigs, the "safehouse" -- as the Agency men called the apartments -- slip them drugs, and report the results to Gottlieb and the others in TSS. For its part, the CIA let the Narcotics Bureau use the place for undercover activities (and often for personal pleasure whenever no Agency work was scheduled, and the CIA paid all the bills, including the cost of keeping a well-stocked liquor cabinet -- a substantial bonus for White. Gottlieb personally handed over the first $4,000 in cash, to cover the initial costs of furnishing the safehouse in the lavish style that White felt befitted him.

Gottlieb did not limit his interest to drugs. He and other TSS officials wanted to try out surveillance equipment. CIA technicians quickly installed see-through mirrors and microphones through which eavesdroppers could film, photograph, and record the action. "Things go wrong with listening devices and two-way mirrors, so you build these things to find out what works and what doesn't," says a TSS source. "If you are going to entrap, you've got to give the guy pictures [flagrante delicto] and voice recordings. Once you learn how to do it so that the whole thing looks comfortable, cozy, and safe, then you can transport the technology overseas and use it." This TSS man notes that the Agency put to work in the bedrooms of Europe some of the techniques developed in the George White safehouse operation.

In the safehouse's first months, White tested LSD, several kinds of knockout drops, and that old OSS standby, essence of marijuana. He served up the drugs in food, drink, and cigarettes and then tried to worm information -- usually on narcotics matters -- from his "guests." Sometimes MKULTRA men came up from Washington to watch the action. A September 1953entry in White's diary noted: "Lashbrook at 81 Bedford Street -- Owen Winkle and LSD surprise -- can wash." Sid Gottlieb's deputy, Robert Lashbrook, served as "project monitor" for the New York safehouse. [iii]

White had only been running the safehouse six months when Olson died (in Lashbrook's company), and Agency officials suspended the operation for re-evaluation. They soon allowed him to restart it, and then Gottlieb had to order White to slow down again. A New York State commissioner had summoned the narcotics agent to explain his role in the deal that wound up with Governor Dewey pardoning Lucky Luciano after the war. The commissioner was asking questions that touched on White's use of marijuana on Del Gracio, and Gottlieb feared that word of the CIA's current testing might somehow leak out. This storm also soon passed, but then, in early 1955, the Narcotics Bureau transferred White to San Francisco to become chief agent there. Happy with White's performance, Gottlieb decided to let him take the entire safehouse operation with him to the Coast. White closed up the Greenwich Village apartments, leaving behind unreceipted "tips" for the landlord "to clear up any difficulties about the alterations and damages," as a CIA document put it. [iv]

White soon rented a suitable "pad" (as he always called it) on Telegraph Hill, with a stunning view of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz. To supplement the furniture he brought from the New York safehouse, he went out and bought items that gave the place the air of the brothel it was to become: Toulouse-Lautrec posters, a picture of a French can-can dancer, and photos of manacled women in black stockings. "It was supposed to look rich," recalls a narcotics agent who regularly visited, "but it was furnished like crap."

White hired a friend's company to install bugging equipment, and William Hawkins, a 25-year-old electronics whiz then studying at Berkley put in four DD-4 microphones disguised as electrical wall outlets and hooked them up to two F-301 tape recorders, which agents monitored in an adjacent "listening post." Hawkins remembers that White "kept a pitcher of martinis in the refrigerator, and he'd watch me for a while as I installed a microphone and then slip off." For his own personal "observation post," White had a portable toilet set up behind a two-way mirror, where he could watch the proceedings, usually with drink in hand.

The San Francisco safehouse specialized in prostitutes. "But this was before The Hite Report and before any hooker had writ· ten a book," recalls a TSS man, "so first we had to go out and learn about their world. In the beginning, we didn't know what a john was or what a pimp did." Sid Gottlieb decided to send his top staff psychologist, John Gittinger, to San Francisco to probe the demimonde.

George White supplied the prostitutes for the study, although White, in turn, delegated much of the pimping function to one of his assistants, Ira "Ike" Feldman. A muscular but very short man, whom even the 5'7" White towered over, Feldman tried even harder than his boss to act tough. Dressed in suede shoes, a suit with flared trousers, a hat with a turned-up brim, and a huge zircon ring that was supposed to look like a diamond, Feldman first came to San Francisco on an undercover assignment posing as an East Coast mobster looking to make a big heroin buy. Using a drug-addicted prostitute named Janet Jones, whose common- law husband states that Feldman paid her off with heroin, the undercover man lured a number of suspected drug dealers to the "pad" and helped White make arrests.

As the chief Federal narcotics agent in San Francisco, White was in a position to reward or punish a prostitute. He set up a system whereby he and Feldman provided Gittinger with all the hookers the psychologist wanted. White paid off the women with a fixed number of "chits." For each chit, White owed one favor. "So the next time the girl was arrested with a john," says an MKULTRA veteran, "she would give the cop George White's phone number. The police all knew White and cooperated with him without asking questions. They would release the girl if he said so. White would keep good records of how many chits each person had and how many she used. No money was exchanged, but five chits were worth $500 to $1,000." Prostitutes were not the only beneficiaries of White's largess. The narcotics agent worked out a similar system to forgive the transgressions of small time drug pushers when the MKULTRA men wanted to talk to them about "the rules of their game," according to the source.

TSS officials wanted to find out everything they could about how to apply sex to spying, and the prostitute project became a general learning and then training ground for CIA carnal operations. After all, states one TSS official, "We did quite a study of prostitutes and their behavior .... At first nobody really knew how to use them. How do you train them? How do you work them? How do you take a woman who is willing to use her body to get money out of a guy to get things which are much more important, like state secrets? I don't care how beautiful she is -- educating the ordinary prostitute up to that level is not a simple task."

The TSS men continually tried to refine their knowledge. They realized that prostitutes often wheedled extra money out of a customer by suggesting some additional service as male orgasm neared. They wondered if this might not also be a good time to seek sensitive information. "But no," says the source, "we found the guy was focused solely on hormonal needs. He was not thinking of his career or anything else at that point." The TSS experts discovered that the postsexual, light-up-a-cigarette period was much better suited to their ulterior motives. Says the source:

Most men who go to prostitutes are prepared for the fact that [after the act] she's beginning to work to get herself out of there, so she can get back on the street to make some more money.... To find a prostitute who is willing to stay is a hell of a shock to anyone used to prostitutes. It has a tremendous effect on the guy. It's a boost to his ego if she's telling him he was really neat, and she wants to stay for a few more hours. ... Most of the time, he gets pretty vulnerable. What the hell's he going to talk about? Not the sex, so he starts talking about his business. It's at this time she can lead him gently. But you have to train prostitutes to do that. Their natural inclination is to do exactly the opposite.

The men from MKULTRA learned a great deal about varying sexual preferences. One of them says:

We didn't know In those days about hidden sadism and all that sort of stuff. We learned a lot about human nature in the bedroom. We began to understand that when people wanted sex, it wasn't just what we had thought of -- you know, the missionary position.... We started to pick up knowledge that could be used in operations, but with a lot of it we never figured out any way to use it operationally. We just learned .... All these ideas did not come to us at once. But evolving over three or four years in which these studies were going on, things emerged which we tried. Our knowledge of prostitutes' behavior became pretty damn good.... This comes across now that somehow we were just playing around and we just found all these exotic ways to waste the taxpayers' money on satisfying our hidden urges. I'm not saying that watching prostitutes was not exciting or something like that. But what I am saying was there was a purpose to the whole business. [v]

In the best tradition of Mata Hari, the CIA did use sex as a clandestine weapon, although apparently not so frequently as the Russians. While many in the Agency believed that it simply did not work very well, others like CIA operators in Berlin during the mid-1960s felt prostitutes could be a prime source of intelligence. Agency men in that city used a network of hookers to good advantage -- or so they told visitors from headquarters. Yet, with its high proportion of Catholics and Mormons -- not to mention the Protestant ethic of many of its top leaders -- the Agency definitely had limits beyond which prudery took over. For instance, a TSS veteran says that a good number of case officers wanted no part of homosexual entrapment operations. And to go a step further, he recalls one senior KGB man who told too many sexual jokes about young boys. "It didn't take too long to recognize that he was more than a little fascinated by youths," says the source. "I took the trouble to point out he was probably too good, too well-trained, to be either entrapped or to give away secrets. But he would have been tempted toward a compromising position by a preteen. I mentioned this, and they said, 'As a psychological observer, you're probably quite right. But what the hell are we going to do about it? Where are we going to get a twelve-year-old boy?' " The source believes that if the Russian had had a taste for older men, U.S. intelligence might have mounted an operation, "but the idea of a twelve-year-old boy was just more than anybody could stomach."


As the TSS men learned more about the San Francisco hustlers, they ventured outside the safehouse to try out various clandestine- delivery gimmicks in public places like restaurants, bars, and beaches. They practiced ways to slip LSD to citizens of the demimonde while buying them a drink or lighting up a cigarette, and they then tried to observe the effects when the drug took hold. Because the MKULTRA scientists did not move smoothly among the very kinds of people they were testing, they occasionally lost an unwitting victim in a crowd -- thereby sending a stranger off alone with a head full of LSD.

In a larger sense, all the test victims would become lost. As a matter of policy, Sid Gottlieb ordered that virtually no records be kept of the testing. In 1973, when Gottlieb retired from the Agency, he and Richard Helms agreed to destroy what they thought were the few existing documents on the program. Neither Gottlieb nor any other MKULTRA man has owned up to having given LSD to an unknowing subject, or even to observing such an experiment -- except of course in the case of Frank Olson. Olson's death left behind a paper trail outside of Gottlieb's control and that hence could not be denied. Otherwise, Gottlieb and his colleagues have put all the blame for actual testing on George White, who is not alive to defend himself. One reason the MKULTRA veterans have gone to such lengths to conceal their role is obvious: fear of lawsuits from victims claiming damaged health.

At the time of the experiments, the subjects' health did not cause undue concern. At the safehouse, where most of the testing took place, doctors were seldom present. Dr. James Hamilton, a Stanford Medical School psychiatrist and White's OSS colleague, visited the place from time to time, apparently for studies connected to unwitting drug experiments and deviant sexual practices. Yet neither Hamilton nor any other doctor provided much medical supervision. From his perch atop the toilet seat, George White could do no more than make surface observations of his drugged victims. Even an experienced doctor would have had difficulty handling White's role. In addition to LSD, which they knew could cause serious, if not fatal problems, TSS officials gave White even more exotic experimental drugs to test, drugs that other Agency contractors mayor may not have already used on human subjects. "If we were scared enough of a drug not to try it out on ourselves, we sent it to San Francisco," recalls a TSS source. According to a 1963 report by CIA Inspector General John Earman, "In a number of instances, however, the test subject has become ill for hours or days, including hospitalization in at least one case, and [White] could only follow up by guarded inquiry after the test subject's return to normal life. Possible sickness and attendant economic loss are inherent contingent effects of the testing."

The Inspector General noted that the whole program could be compromised if an outside doctor made a "correct diagnosis of an illness." Thus, the MKULTRA team not only made some people sick but had a vested interest in keeping doctors from finding out what was really wrong. If that bothered the Inspector General, he did not report his qualms, but he did say he feared "serious damage to the Agency" in the event of public exposure. The Inspector General was only somewhat reassured by the fact that George White "maintain[ed] close working relations with local police authorities which could be utilized to protect the activity in critical situations."


If TSS officials had been willing to stick with their original target group of marginal underworld types, they would have had little to fear from the police. After all, George White was the police. But increasingly they used the safehouse to test drugs, in the Inspector General's words, "on individuals of all social levels, high and low, native American and foreign." After all, they were looking for an operational payoff, and they knew people reacted differently to LSD according to everything from health and mood to personality structure. If TSS officials wanted to slip LSD to foreign leaders, as they contemplated doing to Fidel Castro, they would try to spring an unwitting dose on somebody as similar as possible. They used the safehouse for "dry runs" in the intermediate stage between the laboratory and actual operations.

For these dress rehearsals, George White and his staff procurer, Ike Feldman, enticed men to the apartment with prostitutes. An unsuspecting john would think he had bought a night of pleasure, go back to a strange apartment, and wind up zonked. A CIA document that survived Sid Gottlieb's shredding recorded this process. Its author, Gottlieb himself, could not break a lifelong habit of using nondescriptive language. For the MKULTRA chief, the whores were "certain individuals who covertly administer this material to other people in accordance with [White's] instructions." White normally paid the women $100 in Agency funds for their night's work, and Gottlieb's prose reached new bureaucratic heights as he explained why the prostitutes did not sign for the money: "Due to the highly unorthodox nature of these activities and the considerable risk incurred by these individuals, it is impossible to require that they provide a receipt for these payments or that they indicate the precise manner in which the funds were spent." The CIA's auditors had to settle for canceled checks which White cashed himself and marked either "Stormy" or, just as appropriately, "Undercover Agent." The program was also referred to as "Operation Midnight Climax."

TSS officials found the San Francisco safehouse so successful that they opened a branch office, also under George White's auspices, across the Golden Gate on the beach in Marin County. [vi] Unlike the downtown apartment, where an MKULTRA man says "you could bring people in for quickies after lunch," the suburban Marin County outlet proved useful for experiments that required relative isolation. There, TSS scientists tested such MKULTRA specialties as stink bombs, itching and sneezing powders, and diarrhea inducers. TSS's Ray Treichler, the Stanford chemist, sent these "harassment substances" out to California for testing by White, along with such delivery systems as a mechanical launcher that could throw a foul-smelling object 100 yards, glass ampules that could be stepped on in a crowd to release any of Treichler's powders, a fine hypodermic needle to inject drugs through the cork in a wine bottle, and a drug-coated swizzle stick.

TSS men also planned to use the Marin County safehouse for an ill-fated experiment that began when staff psychologists David Rhodes and Walter Pasternak spent a week circulating in bars, inviting strangers to a party. They wanted to spray LSD from an aerosol can on their guests, but according to Rhodes' Senate testimony, "the weather defeated us." In the heat of the summer, they could not close the doors and windows long enough for the LSD to hang in the air and be inhaled. Sensing a botched operation, their MKULTRA colleague, John Gittinger (who brought the drug out from Washington) shut himself in the bathroom and let go with the spray. Still, Rhodes testified, Gittinger did not get high, and the CIA men apparently scrubbed the party. [vii]

The MKULTRA crew continued unwitting testing until the summer of 1963 when the Agency's Inspector General stumbled across the safehouses during a regular inspection of TSS activities. This happened not long after Director John McCone had appointed John Barman to the Inspector General position. [viii] Much to the displeasure of Sid Gottlieb and Richard Helms, Barman questioned the propriety of the safehouses, and he insisted that Director McCone be given a full briefing. Although President Kennedy had put McCone in charge of the Agency the year before, Helms -- the professional's professional -- had not bothered to tell his outsider boss about some of the CIA's most sensitive activities, including the safehouses and the CIA-Mafia assassination plots. [ix] Faced with Barman's demands, Helms -- surely one of history's most clever bureaucrats -- volunteered to tell McCone himself about the safehouses (rather than have Earman present a negative view of the program). Sure enough, Helms told Earman afterward, McCone raised no objections to unwitting testing (as Helms described it). A determined man and a rather brave one, Earman countered with a full written report to McCone recommending that the safehouses be closed. The Inspector General cited the risks of exposure and pointed out that many people both inside and outside the Agency found "the concepts involved in manipulating human behavior ... to be distasteful and unethical." McCone reacted by putting off a final decision but suspending unwitting testing in the meantime. Over the next year, Helms, who then headed the Clandestine Services, wrote at least three memos urging resumption. He cited "indications ... of an apparent Soviet aggressiveness in the field of covertly administered chemicals which are, to say the least, inexplicable and disturbing," and he claimed the CIA's "positive operational capacity to use drugs is diminishing owing to a lack of realistic testing." [x] To Richard Helms, the importance of the program exceeded the risks and the ethical questions, although he did admit, "We have no answer to the moral issue." McCone simply did nothing for two years. The director's indecision had the effect of killing the program, nevertheless. TSS officials closed the San Francisco safehouse in 1965 and the New York one in 1966.

Years later in a personal letter to Sid Gottlieb, George White wrote an epitaph for his role with the CIA: "I was a very minor missionary, actually a heretic, but I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape, and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest?"


After 10 years of unwitting testing, the men from MKULTRA apparently scored no major breakthroughs with LSD or other drugs. They found no effective truth drug, recruitment pill, or aphrodisiac. LSD had not opened up the mind to CIA control. "We had thought at first that this was the secret that was going to unlock the universe," says a TSS veteran. "We found that human beings had resources far greater than imagined."

Yet despite the lack of precision and uncertainty, the CIA still made field use of LSD and other drugs that had worked their way through the MKULTRA testing progression. A 1957 report showed that TSS had already moved 6 drugs out of the experimental stage and into active use. Up to that time, CIA operators had utilized LSD and other psychochemicals against 33 targets in 6 different operations. Agency officials hoped in these cases either to discredit the subject by making him seem insane or to "create within the individual a mental and emotional situation which will release him from the restraint of self-control and induce him to reveal information willingly under adroit manipulation." The Agency has consistently refused to release details of these operations, and TSS sources who talk rather freely about other matters seem to develop amnesia when the subject of field use comes up. Nevertheless, it can be said that the CIA did establish a relationship with an unnamed foreign secret service to interrogate prisoners with LSD-like drugs. CIA operators participated directly in these interrogations, which continued at least until 1966. Often the Agency showed more concern for the safety of its operational targets abroad than it did for its unwitting victims in San Francisco, since some of the foreign subjects were given medical examinations before being slipped the drug. [xi]

In these operations, CIA men sometimes brought in local doctors for reasons that had nothing to do with the welfare of the patient. Instead, the doctor's role was to certify the apparent insanity of a victim who had been unwittingly dosed with LSD or an even more durable psychochemical like BZ (which causes trips lasting a week or more and which tends to induce violent behavior). If a doctor were to prescribe hospitalization or other severe treatment, the effect on the subject could be devastating. He would suffer not only the experience itself, including possible confinement in a mental institution, but also social stigma. In most countries, even the suggestion of mental problems severely damages an individual's professional and personal standing (as Thomas Eagleton, the recipient of some shock therapy, can testify). "It's an old technique," says an MKULTRA veteran. "You neutralize someone by having their constituency doubt them." The Church committee confirms that the Agency used this technique at least several times to assassinate a target's character. [xii]

Still, the Clandestine Services did not frequently call on TSS for LSD or other drugs. Many operators had practical and ethical objections. In part to overcome such objections and also to find better ways to use chemical and biological substances in covert operations, Sid Gottlieb moved up in 1959 to become Assistant for Scientific Matters to the Clandestine Services chief. Gottlieb found that TSS had kept the MKULTRA programs so secret that many field people did not even know what techniques were available. He wrote that tight controls over field use in MKDELTA operations "may have generated a general defeatism among case officers," who feared they would not receive permission or that the procedure was not worth the effort. Gottlieb tried to correct these shortcomings by providing more information on the drug arsenal to senior operators and by streamlining the approval process. He had less luck in overcoming views that drugs do not work or are not reliable, and that their operational use leads to laziness and poor tradecraft.

If the MKULTRA program had ever found that LSD or any other drug really did turn a man into a puppet, Sid Gottlieb would have had no trouble surmounting all those biases. Instead, Gottlieb and his fellow searchers came frustratingly close but always fell short of finding a reliable control mechanism. LSD certainly penetrated to the innermost regions of the mind. It could spring loose a whole gamut of feelings, from terror to insight. But in the end, the human psyche proved so complex that even the most skilled manipulator could not anticipate all the variables. He could use LSD and other drugs to chip away at free will. He could score temporary victories, and he could alter moods, perception -- sometimes even beliefs. He had the power to cause great harm, but ultimately he could not conquer the human spirit.



i. CIA operators and agents all had cover names by which they were supposed to be called -- even in classified documents. Gottlieb was "Sherman R. Grifford." George White became "Morgan Hall."

ii. One case which put White in every newspaper in the country was his 1949 arrest of blues singer Billie Holliday on an opium charge. To prove she had been set up and was not then using drugs, the singer checked into a California sanitarium that had been recommended by a friend of a friend, Dr. James Hamilton. The jury then acquitted her. Hamilton's involvement is bizarre because he had worked with George White testing truth drugs for OSS, and the two men were good friends. White may have put his own role in perspective when he told a 1970 interviewer he "enjoyed" chasing criminals. "It was a game for me," he said. "I felt quite a bit of compassion for a number of the people that 1 found it necessary to put in jail, particularly when you'd see the things that would happen to their families. I'd give them a chance to stay out of jail and take care of their families by giving me information, perhaps, and they would stubbornly refuse to do so. They wouldn't be a rat, as they would put it."

iii. Despite this indication from White's diary that Lashbrook came to the New York safehouse for an "LSD surprise" and despite his signature on papers authorizing the subproject, Lashbrook flatly denied all firsthand knowledge of George White's testing in 1977 Senate testimony. Subcommittee chairman Edward Kennedy did not press Lashbrook, nor did he refer the matter to the Justice Department for possible perjury charges.

iv. This was just one of many expenditures that would drive CIA auditors wild while going over George White's accounts. Others included $44.04 for a telescope, liquor bills over $1,000 "with no record as to the necessity of its use," and $31.75 to make an on-the-spot payment to a neighborhood lady whose car he hit. The reason stated for using government funds for the last expense: "It was important to maintain security and forestall an insurance investigation."

v. In 1984. George Orwell wrote about government-encouraged prostitution: "Mere debauchery did not matter very much, so long as it was furtive and joyless, and only involved the women of a submerged and despised class."

vi. In 1961 MKULTRA officials started a third safehouse in New York, also under the Narcotics Bureau's supervision. This one was handled by Charles Siragusa, who, like White, was a senior agent and OSS veteran.

vii. Rhodes' testimony about this incident, which had been set up in advance with Senator Edward Kennedy's staff, brought on the inevitable "Gang That Couldn't Spray Straight" headline in the Washington Post. This approach turned the public perception of a deadly serious program into a kind of practical joke carried out badly by a bunch of bumblers.

viii. Lyman Kirkpatrick, the longtime Inspector General who had then recently left the job to take a higher Agency post, had personally known of the safehouse operation since right after Olson's death and had never raised any noticeable objection. He now states he was "shocked" by the unwitting testing, but that he "didn't have the authority to follow up ... I was trying to determine what the tolerable limits were of what I could do and still keep my job."

ix. Trying to explain why he had specifically decided not to inform the CIA Director about the Agency's relationship with the mob, Helms stated to the Church committee, "Mr. McCone was relatively new to this organization, and I guess I must have thought to myself, well this is going to look peculiar to him .... This was, you know not a very savory effort." Presumably, Helms had similar reasons for not telling McCone about the unwitting drug-testing in the safehouses.

x. Helms was a master of telling different people different stories to suit his purposes. At the precise· time he was raising the Soviet menace to push McCone into letting the unwitting testing continue, he wrote the Warren Commission that not only did Soviet behavioral research lag five years behind the West's, but that "there is no present evidence that the Soviets have any singular, new, potent, drugs ... to force a course of action on an individual."

xi. TSS officials led by Sid Gottlieb, who were responsible for the operational use of LSD abroad, took the position that there was "no danger medically" in unwitting doses and that neither giving a medical exam or having a doctor present. was necessary. The Agency's Medical Office disagreed, saying the drug was "medically dangerous." In 1957 Inspector General Lyman Kirkpatrick noted it would be "unrealistic" to give the Medical Office what amounted to veto power over covert operations by letting Agency doctors rule on the health hazard to subjects in the field.

xii. While I was doing the research for this book, many people approached me claiming to be victims of CIA drugging plots. Although I listened carefully to all and realized that some might be authentic victims, I had no way of distinguishing between someone acting strangely and someone made to act strangely. Perhaps the most insidious aspect of this whole technique is that anyone blaming his aberrant behavior on a drug or on the CIA gets labeled a hopeless paranoid and his case is thrown into the crank file. There is no better cover than operating on the edge of madness.

One leftist professor in a Latin American university who had opposed the CIA says that he was working alone in his office one day in 1974 when a strange woman entered and jabbed his wrist with a pin stuck in a small round object. Almost immediately, he became irrational, broke glasses, and threw water in colleagues' faces. He says his students spotted an ambulance waiting for him out front. They spirited him out the back door and took him home, where he tripped (or had psychotic episodes) for more than a week. He calls the experience a mix of "heaven and hell," and he shudders at the thought that he might have spent the time in a hospital "with nurses and straitjackets." Although he eventually returned to his post at the university, he states that it took him several years to recover the credibility he lost the day he "went crazy at the office." If the CIA was involved, it had neutralized a foe.
Site Admin
Posts: 32942
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Political Science

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests