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Project MKULTRA

July 25, 2011


MKULTRA was approved by the DCI on April 13, 1953 along the lines proposed by ADDP Helms. Part of the rationale for the establishment of this special funding mechanism was its extreme sensitivity. The Inspector General’s survey of MKULTRA in 1963 noted the following reasons for this sensitivity:

  • (a) Research in the manipulation of human behavior is considered by many authorities in medicine and related fields to be professionally unethical, therefore the reputation of professional participants in the MKULTRA program are on occasion in jeopardy.
  • (b) Some MKULTRA activities raise questions of legality implicit in the original charter.
  • (c) A final phase of the testing of MKULTRA products places the rights and interests of U.S. citizens in jeopardy.
  • (d) Public disclosure of some aspects of MKULTRA activity could induce serious adverse reaction in U.S. public opinion, as well as stimulate offensive and defensive action in this field on the part of foreign intelligence services.

Over the ten-year life of the program, many “additional avenues to the control of human behavior” were designated as appropriate for investigation under the MKULTRA charter. These include radiation electroshock, various fields of psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and anthropology, graphology, harassment substances, and paramilitary devices and materials.” The research and development of materials to be used for altering human behavior consisted of three phases: first, the search for materials suitable for study; second, laboratory testing on voluntary human subjects in various types of institutions; third, the application of MKULTRA materials in normal life settings. The search for suitable materials was conducted though standing arrangements with specialists in universities, pharmaceutical houses, hospitals, state and federal institutions, and private research organizations. The annual grants of funds to these specialists were made under ostensible research foundation auspices, thereby concealing the CIA’s interest from the specialist’s institution. The next phase of the MKULTRA program involved physicians, toxicologists, and other specialists in mental, narcotics, and general hospitals, and in prisons. Utilizing the products and findings of the basic research phase, they conducted intensive tests on human subjects. One of the first studies was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. This study was intended to test various drugs, including hallucinogenics, at the NIMH Addiction Research Center in Lexington, Kentucky. The “Lexington Rehabilitation Center ” as it was then called, was a prison for drug addicts serving sentences for drug violations. The test subjects were volunteer prisoners who, after taking a brief physical examination and signing a general consent form, were administered hallucinogenic drugs. As a reward far participation in the program, the addicts were provided with the drugs of their addiction. LSD was one of the materials tested in the MKULTRA program.

The final phase of LSD testing involved surreptitious administration to unwitting nonvolunteer subjects in normal life settings by undercover officers of the Bureau of Narcotics acting for the CIA. The rationale for such testing was “that testing of materials under accepted scientific procedures fails to disclose the full pattern of reactions and attributions that may occur in operational situations.” According to the CIA, the advantage of the relationship with the Bureau was that test subjects could be sought and cultivated within the setting of narcotics control. Some subjects have been informers or members of suspect criminal elements from whom the [Bureau of Narcotics] has obtained results of operational value through the tests. On the other hand, the effectiveness of the substances on individuals at all social levels, high and low, native American and foreign, is of great significance and testing has been performed on a variety of individuals within these categories. A special procedure, designated MKDELTA, was established to govern the use of MKULTRA materials abroad. Such materials were used on a number of occasions. Because MKULTRA records were destroyed, it is impossible to reconstruct the operational use of MKULTRA materials by the CIA overseas; it has been determined that the use of these materials abroad began in 1953, and possibly as early as 1950. Drugs were used primarily as an aid to interrogations, but MKULTRA/MKDELTA materials were also used for harassment, discrediting or disabling purposes. According to an Inspector General Survey of the Technical Services Division of the CIA in 1957 — an inspection which did not discover the MKULTRA projects involving the surreptitious administration of LSD to unwitting, nonvolunteer subjects — the CIA had developed six drugs for operational use and they had been used in six different operations on a total of thirty-three subjects. By 1963 the number of operations and subjects had increased substantially. In the spring of 1963, during a wide-ranging Inspector General survey of the Technical Services Division, a member of the Inspector General’s staff, John Vance, learned about MKULTRA and about the project involving the surreptitious administration of LSD to unwitting, nonvoluntary human subjects. As a result of the discovery and the Inspector General’s subsequent report, this testing was halted and much tighter administrative controls were imposed on the program. According to the CIA, the project was decreased significantly each budget year until its complete termination in the late 1960s (94TH CONGRESS, 2d Session SENATE REPORT No. 94-755)

voodoo science – “…CIA became interested in Montreal Dr. Ewen Cameron’s work at McGill University’s Allan Memorial Institute. With full knowledge of the Canadian government, he was funded to perform bizarre experiments on his psychiatric patients, including keeping them asleep and isolated for weeks, then administering large doses of electroshock and experimental drug cocktails, LSD and PCP angel dust among them. Though clearly unethical, Cameron believed by blasting the human brain with an array of shocks, he could unmake impaired minds, rebuilding them with new personalities cleansed of their previous state. It was voodoo science and failed, but CIA gained a wealth of knowledge it’s used to this day…” (MK-ULTRA: The CIA’s Mind Control Program)

never ended – “…The war never really ended and the programs were merely moved to America and continued. German scientists headed up NASA rocket programs and Heinrich Mueller was made head of the CIA. In fact most people do not know the truth of the secret government, the Military/Industrial Complex, which is the real government of the world which all our elected leaders condone and give service. President Eisenhower gave us warning but we were too apathetic to follow his meaning and things just continued on getting more complex, sinister and secret. The ongoing MK ULTRA experiment was brought from Germany and went underground. Under the protection of the secret government and the CIA it has operated since then in many areas” in the ongoing wars” Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and in all sectors of our normal life…” (Stop MKULTRA Programs Now!)

without knowledge – “…Perhaps most disturbing of all was the fact that the extent of experimentation on human subjects was unknown. The records of all these activities were destroyed in January 1973, at the instruction of then CIA Director Richard Helms. In spite of persistent inquiries by both the Health Subcommittee and the Intelligence Committee, no additional records or information were forthcoming. And no one — no single individual — could be found who remembered the details, not the Director of the CIA, who ordered the documents destroyed, not the official responsible for the program, nor any of his associates. We believed that the record, incomplete as it was, was as complete as it was going to be. Then one individual, through a Freedom of Information request, accomplished what two U.S. Senate committees could not. He spurred the agency into finding additional records pertaining to the CIA’s program of experimentation with human subjects…Eighty-six universities or institutions were involved. New instances of unethical behavior were revealed. The intelligence community of this Nation, which requires a shroud of secrecy in order to operate, has a very sacred trust from the American people. The CIA’s program of human experimentation of the fifties and sixties violated that trust. It was violated again on the day the bulk of the agency’s records were destroyed in 1973. It is violated each time a responsible official refuses to recollect the details of the program. The best safeguard against abuses in the future is a complete public accounting of the abuses of the past…The Central Intelligence Agency drugged American citizens without their knowledge or consent. It used university facilities and personnel without their knowledge. It funded leading researchers, often without their knowledge. These institutes, these individuals, have a right to know who they are and how and when they were used. As of today, the Agency itself refuses to declassify the names of those institutions and individuals, quite appropriately, I might say, with regard to the individuals under the Privacy Act. It seems to me to be a fundamental responsibility to notify those individuals or institutions, rather. I think many of them were caught up in an unwitting manner to do research for the Agency. Many researchers, distinguished researchers, some of our most outstanding members of our scientific community, involved in this network, now really do not know whether they were involved or not, and it seems to me that the whole health and climate in terms of our university and our scientific and health facilities are entitled to that response. So, I intend to do all I can to persuade the Agency to, at the very least, officially inform those institutions and individuals involved…” – Senator Kennedy (Opening Remarks by Senator Ted Kennedy).

Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a covert CIA human research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence. This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s, continuing at least through the late 1960s, and it used U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects. The published evidence indicates that Project MKULTRA involved the use of many methodologies to manipulate individual mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, and verbal and sexual abuse. Project MKULTRA was first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee, and by a presidential commission known as the Rockefeller Commission. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKULTRA files destroyed in 1973; the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission investigations relied on the sworn testimony of direct participants and on the relatively small number of documents that survived Helms’ destruction order. In 1977, a FOIA request uncovered a cache of 20,000 documents relating to project MKULTRA, which led to the Senate Hearings of 1977. In recent times most information regarding MKULTRA has been officially declassified. Although the CIA insists that MKULTRA-type experiments have been abandoned, 14-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti has stated in various interviews that the CIA routinely conducts disinformation campaigns and that CIA mind control research continued. In a 1977 interview, Marchetti specifically called the CIA claim that MKULTRA was abandoned a “cover story.” (Wikepedia)

MKSEARCH – Headed by Sidney Gottlieb, the MKULTRA project was started on the order of CIA director Allen Dulles on April 13, 1953, largely in response to alleged Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean use of mind-control techniques on U.S. prisoners of war in Korea. The CIA wanted to use similar methods on their own captives. The CIA was also interested in being able to manipulate foreign leaders with such techniques, and would later invent several schemes to drug Fidel Castro. Experiments were often conducted without the subjects’ knowledge or consent. In some cases, academic researchers being funded through grants from CIA front organizations were unaware that their work was being used for these purposes. In 1964, the project was renamed MKSEARCH. The project attempted to produce a perfect truth drug for use in interrogating suspected Soviet spies during the Cold War, and generally to explore any other possibilities of mind control. Another MKULTRA effort, Subproject 54, was the Navy’s top secret “Perfect Concussion” program, which was supposed to use sub-aural frequency blasts to erase memory, however the program was never carried out. Because most MKULTRA records were deliberately destroyed in 1973 by order of then CIA Director Richard Helms, it has been difficult, if not impossible, for investigators to gain a complete understanding of the more than 150 individually funded research sub-projects sponsored by MKULTRA and related CIA programs (Wikepedia).

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