CIA Project MK-ULTRA
The United States government funded and performed countless psychological experiments on unwitting humans, especially during the Cold War era, perhaps partially to help develop more effective torture and interrogation techniques for the US military and the CIA, but the almost unbelieveable extent, range and duration of these activities far surpassed possible interrogation applications and appear to have been performed from a fundamental monstrous inhumanity. To simply read summaries of these, even without the details, is almost traumatising in itself.
In studies that began in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the US Military began identifying and testing truth serums like mescaline and scopolamine on human subjects, which they claimed might be useful during interrogations of Soviet spies. These programs eventually expanded to a project of vast scope and enormous ambition, centralised under the CIA in what would come to be called Project MK-ULTRA, a major collection of interrogation and mind-control projects. Inspired initially by delusions of a brainwashing program, the CIA began thousands of experiments using both American and foreign subjects often without their knowledge or against their will, destroying countless tens of thousands of lives and causing many deaths and suicides. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations and jointly operated by the CIA, the FBI and the intelligence divisions of all military groups, this decades-long CIA research constituted an immense collection of some of the most cold-blooded and callous atrocities conceivable, in a determined effort to develop reliable techniques of controlling the human mind.
MK-ULTRA was an umbrella for a large number of clandestine activities that formed part of the CIA’s psychological warfare research and development, consisting of about 150 projects and sub-projects, many of them very large in their own right, with research and human experimentation occurring at more than 80 institutions that included about 50 of America’s best-known colleges and universities, 15 or 20 major research Foundations including Rockefeller, dozens of major hospitals, a great many prisons and mental institutions, and many chemical and pharmaceutical companies. At least 200 well-known private scientific researchers were part of this program, as were many thousands of physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and other similar. Many of these institutions and individuals received their funding through so-called “grants” from what were clearly CIA front companies. In 1994 a Congressional subcommittee revealed that up to 500,000 unwitting Americans were endangered, damaged or destroyed by secret CIA and military tests between 1940 and 1974. Given the deliberate destruction of all the records, the full truth of the MK-ULTRA victims will never be known, and certainly not the death toll. As the inspector general of the US Army later stated in a report to a Senate committee: “In universities, hospitals and research institutions, an unknown number of chemical tests and experiments … were carried out with healthy adults, with mentally ill and with prison inmates.” According to one government report, “In 149 separate mind-control experiments on thousands of people, CIA researchers used hypnosis, electroshock treatments, LSD, marijuana, morphine, benzedrine, mescaline, seconal, atropine and other drugs.” Test subjects were usually people who could not easily object – prisoners, mental patients and members of minority groups – but the agency also performed many experiments on normal, healthy civilians without their knowledge or consent.
The project was under the direct command of a Dr. Sidney Gottlieb and received undisclosed but almost unlimited millions of dollars for hundreds of experiments on human subjects at hundreds of locations across the United States, Canada and Europe, the eventual budget for this program apparently having exceeded $1 billion per year. The evil in some of these MK-ULTRA documents is almost palpable, one such document from 1955 stating openly of a search for “substances which will cause (temporary or) permanent brain damage as well as loss of memory”. Part of the intent was to develop “techniques that would crush the human psyche to the point that it would admit anything”. In a US government memo from 1952, a program director asked, “Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature, such as self-preservation?” It also listed the wide range of horrid abuses to which the victims would be subjected. These people were not bashful about their intent.
The mechanics included primordial sex programming for women in attempts to eliminate learned moral convictions and stimulate primitive sexual instinct devoid of inhibitions, to create a kind of sex machine – the ultimate prostitute for diplomatic espionage. Several researchers have claimed the sexual appetite of these women was developed in young girls their formative years through constant incest with a government employee who had been deliberately developed as a father figure to the girls. In part, these programs involved conditioning the human mind through torture, with one portion of this program intended to train special agents as fearless terrorists lacking self-preservation instincts and who would willingly commit suicide if caught. They even experimented with electronic implants, inaudible sounds, messages embedded in the subconscious mind, mind altering drugs and much more. One portion of this extensive operation involved an attempt to create an assassins program, to learn if it were possible to kidnap a national in another country, conduct hypnosis and other techniques, then return them home to assassinate their leaders.
Another part of the CIA mind-control project was aimed at finding a “truth serum” to use on spies. Test subjects were given LSD and other drugs, often without their knowledge or consent, and some were tortured. Many people died – or were killed – as a result of these experiments, and an unknown number of government employees working on these projects were murdered for fear they would tell what they had seen, perhaps the best-known being Frank Olson whose death I have described elsewhere. The project was steadfastly denied by both the government and the CIA, but was finally exposed after investigations by the Rockefeller Commission. When this information became known, the US government paid many millions of dollars to settle the hundreds of claims and lawsuits that resulted. There exists much evidence that these programs had never been terminated.