Recently, the Central Intelligence Agency offered one of its intermittent mea culpas for past abuses. That the agency has dosed one of its own scientists, Frank Olsen, with LSD is a fact that has been public at least since July 16, 1977 when the New York Times ran the headline “Drug Tests by CIA Held More Extensive Than Reported in ’75.” Coincidentally, also in the Times that day was a report that a man named Stephen Grant Moore was indicted in Denver, Colorado, by a federal grand jury on extortion charges. Morton had sent at least 18 letter bombs, which injured several people. Morton also was charged with poisoning drugs at grocery stores in Colorado Springs and with contaminating foods at grocery stores in Houston. You might think that a “terrorist” such a Morton would not have slipped down the memory hole but would be at least a famous as Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. What happened? The case against Morton was dismissed at the behest of the government. Why? We don’t know.
Was there any relationship between the two stories?
For those folks who don’t know, the CIA drug tests were part of what has been called Project MKULTRA. MKULTRA is the kind of stuff which brings immediate catcalls of conspiracism when the subject is raised. While critics claim that mind control theories lack verifiable evidence, how does is someone supposed to collect evidence of what the Agency does when the public isn’t even allowed to know what the agency spends? All you really can make your arguments with is circumstantial and anecdotal evidence.
There is nothing wrong with circumstantial evidence. Take the example of a person leaving a house carrying a bloody axe while in the house lies a dismembered victim. This is the classic example of circumstantial evidence. Yet, outside the axe-carrier’s defense lawyer, not many people would be saying, “Well, you didn’t see him swing the axe, did you?” But when the issue of government misbehavior and conspiracy is raised, be prepared to be labeled a kook if you claim our government has done things which is should not have. (But I ask you, who excels more at kookism than the Feds?) While most Americans don’t want to believe that their own government might sometimes “conspire” to do wrongdoings, they’re ready to jump on the notion that a band of mysterious Middle Easterners successfully “conspired” to carry out the attacks of September 11th.
Our thinking about non-government conspiracies seems freer and is the key to freeing our minds. Hardly anyone would disagree with the statement that Charles Manson exerted a “mind control” over his “Family.” It isn’t controversial either to contend that Patty Hearst was “brainwashed” by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Can we really think that a one-time song-writing hippie gone sociopath and a rag-tag band of leftist radicals could crack the secrets of manipulating the human mind while the U.S. government could not? Knowing about what Manson and the SLA did, we can’t say that the government couldn’t attempt to engage in brainwashing experiments. The best we can say about the government is that they didn’t have an interest in doing it. However, Walter Bowart’s 1978 book Operation Mind Control gives compelling reasons to think that our government did engage is this kind of illegal and immoral behavior.
What Bowart documented almost 30 years ago is that the government was extremely interested in controlling the will of individuals and manipulating them toward the service of the national security state. Bowart tells us that the term “brainwashing” comes from the 1951 book Brainwashing in Red China by Edward Hunter, former OSS propaganda specialist. (You can tell from the title, its always “them” who are up to the bad stuff, not “us.”) Hunter even testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1958 and boldly said, “We discovered in the last thirty years, a technique to influence, by clinical, hospital procedures, the thinking process of human beings.”
Another key figure introduced to the reader by Bowart is Dr. George Estabrooks. Dr. Estabrooks comes across to the reader as a sinister figure, at one moment he warns that foreign programmed sleeper agents could be present in the United States forming a dangerous Sixth Column, while a little while later he offers to create an army of Cubans subconsciously loyal to America which would be used to stage a revolution. It was also Dr. Estabrooks who determined that drugs, in combination with hypnosis, could heighten control over the mind. Does this explain why, in 1952, the CIA placed an order with Sandoz, the pharmaceutical company which had recently discovered LSD, for 100 million doses of acid?
This all brings us to Frank Olsen, the scientist who the CIA keeps apologizing for giving him LSD which resulted in his death. In 1975, the Rockefeller Report to the President on CIA Activites reported that Olsen had been drugged without his knowledge. It also reported that not only Olsen, but a pro tennis player, Harold Blauer, had been dosed to death with a substance which could not be revealed due to “national security.” The Olsen family was irate that the government had lied to them about the cause of Frank Olsen’s death. Eventually, the Olsens were provided with compensation of $750K from a special bill from Congress.
While Olsen and Blauer were fortunate enough to have their name’s remembered, the report masked the obscenity of the government’s actions, as it usually does, in statistics: 1,500 servicemen where unknowingly drugged by the army, while 2,500 prisoners and mental patients had been drugged by Health, Education and Welfare. Everyone should remember that these figures are self-reported – in essence, this is what the federal government is willing to tell us – and this is the heart of the problem. Every American is left to speculate about what our government is doing. Some are accused of being too mindlessly trustful of the government. Other people are accused of being paranoid tinfoil hat wearers. The sad truth is that neither side has access to any of the true facts. The only group who truly knows what has gone on is the group Bowart calls the crytpocracy:
“Although the Central Intelligence Agency has long been the convenient symbol for all those who have committed atrocities in the name of national security, the secret bureaucracy, the cryptocracy, does not consist solely of the CIA. It is as well a vast network of alliances between individuals in a number of government agencies normally thought to be outside the intelligence field.
Since the cryptocracy violates every constitutional principle as a matter of course, and commits every crime known to man in the interest of “national security,” it cannot entirely rely on the patriotism of its agents to keep its secrets. Therefore, no single individual is told more than he has a “need to know.”
The cryptocracy is a brotherhood reminiscent of the ancient secret societies, with rites of initiation and indoctrination programs to develop in its loyal membership the special understanding of its mysteries. It has codes and oaths of silence which reinforce the sense of elitism necessary for the maintenance of its strict loyalty. It is automated, organized in the mode of a computer, where all have access to general knowledge and the most obvious aims and goals, but where the individual is isolated by tribal rituals and compartmentalization.”
While Bowart’s work is important in educating the average citizen about the history of the United States government’s interest in mind control, there is a chilling bit of anecdotal evidence, which could not possibly have been understood in 1978. But before addressing that story, we need to introduce another piece of the puzzle.
In 2004, David McGowan published Programmed to Kill, a book which sought to explore possible connections between serial killers serial killers, elite secret societies elite secret societies, political figures, and the MKULTRA program political figures, and the MKULTRA program. McGowan shows that there is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that serial killers may not be a completely natural phenomenon but, in certain cases, there is a link to the Army’s Vietnam War version of MKULTRA, Project Phoenix. McGowan makes some very interesting connections. The reader is left to ponder some very odd circumstances, like how in 1980 two U.S. Army colonels authored a PSYOPS paper: one of them has gone on to become a Fox News contributor, while the other has been linked to a bizarre child sex ring and satanism. Both were veterans of Project Phoenix. If nothing else, after reading McGowan’s book, every reader should be troubled by the question of why then-Texas Governor George W. Bush only ever pardoned one death row inmate – and it was not one who became a born-again Christian and whose life Pope John Paul II had pled for, but the serial killer to be a government contract killer on the side.
But the essential element of MKULTRA that McGowan adds to the puzzle is the role of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). The person with multiple personalities fits Bowart’s ideal of a perfect secret operative because they are “protected from their own memories and guilt by amnesia” while “the knowledge they possess is buried deep within the tombs of their own minds.” But in order to operationalize MPDs on a large scale, a greater supply is needed. But how do you get them? The very minds and souls of innocent victims must be shattered through the creative destruction of intense physical, sexual and psychological abuse, so that they become grist for the mill for the cryptocracy.
With the understanding that a hellish concoction of hypnosis, drugs, and torture were perfected under MKULTRA, we need to return to that bit of anecdotal evidence from Bowart that I mentioned earlier. When writing his book, Bowart placed ads in Soldier of Fortune and Rolling Stone in order to talk to former military people who suspected that they had been victims of hypnosis programs in the military. One such story is that of “Tex.” He returned from military service with amnesia about what exactly he had done in the military, with the exception of a haunting, recurring nightmare:
“In a dream my buddy – I know him real well, we’ve shared things together – my buddy is taken with his hands behind his back. I’m standing in rank in a line of other soldiers and we are like a firing squad. . . My buddy is marched into an open area in front of us with his hands tied behind his back. He is blindfolded and some Ay-rab is talking to him or reading to him. Another Ay-rab comes up and hits him behind the knees with a rifle butt and he falls to a kneeling position . . . Then while he is on his knees another Ay-rab takes a big sword and cuts off his head. His neck squirts blood, but surprisingly little . . . his head rolls on the ground. His face has a peaceful expression. His body squirms like a chicken. That’s when I always wake up . . .”
What “Tex” described in 1978 looks disturbingly like the beheadings we have seen on the news performed by masked insurgents in 21st century Iraq. If MKULTRA is alive and well in Iraq, it would certainly go a long way in explaining what happened at Abu Ghraib. Just maybe, rather than mindless, sadistic torturing soldiers run amok, Abu Ghraib may be the Agency’s attempt to create the raw human material of MPD damaged Iraqis for that column of subconscious loyalists Dr. George Estabrooks had proposed placing in Cuba more than 50 years ago.
While you can argue that all of this is just circumstantial evidence, it is a considerable amount of circumstantial evidence that our own government has, to some degree or another, gone down the road of seeking to enslave not only the bodies, but the minds of those whom they have sworn to serve. Our leaders have lost their way. The military-industrial-intelligence complex has embraced its heart of darkness. And if, just if, mind-control programs have risen from the ashes to appear in Iraq, it would be unwise to think that that experiment in tyranny will not come home to roost on our people in the name of national security.
Maybe it isn’t so crazy to suggest that we might be better off without the CIA?