Tuesday, September 10, 2019

NPR Article on MK-ULTRA

In "The CIA's Secret Quest For Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief'," Terry Gross, writing at NPR, lays out the origins of the CIA's MK-ULTRA program, itself a thing of conspiracy theories.

     MK-ULTRA was CIA research program run during the 1950's and 60's to develop a means of mind control using drugs, supposedly based on fears that the Soviets were also working on mind-control techniques. The program was started and run by Sidney Gottlieb (born Joseph Scheider), a chemist. He was the son of Hungarian Jewish immigrant parents.

      The article explains:
       Some of Gottlieb's experiments were covertly funded at universities and research centers, Kinzer says, while others were conducted in American prisons and in detention centers in Japan, Germany and the Philippines. Many of his unwitting subjects endured psychological torture ranging from electroshock to high doses of LSD, according to Kinzer's research.

       "Gottlieb wanted to create a way to seize control of people's minds, and he realized it was a two-part process," Kinzer says. "First, you had to blast away the existing mind. Second, you had to find a way to insert a new mind into that resulting void. We didn't get too far on number two, but he did a lot of work on number one."
One of the drugs used in the testing was LSD:
       As part of the search for drugs that would allow people to control the human mind, CIA scientists became aware of the existence of LSD, and this became an obsession for the early directors of MK-ULTRA. Actually, the MK-ULTRA director, Sidney Gottlieb, can now be seen as the man who brought LSD to America. He was the unwitting godfather of the entire LSD counterculture.

        In the early 1950s, he arranged for the CIA to pay $240,000 to buy the world's entire supply of LSD. He brought this to the United States, and he began spreading it around to hospitals, clinics, prisons and other institutions, asking them, through bogus foundations, to carry out research projects and find out what LSD was, how people reacted to it and how it might be able to be used as a tool for mind control.

       Now, the people who volunteered for these experiments and began taking LSD, in many cases, found it very pleasurable. They told their friends about it. Who were those people? Ken Kesey, the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, got his LSD in an experiment sponsored by the CIA by MK-ULTRA, by Sidney Gottlieb. So did Robert Hunter, the lyricist for the Grateful Dead, which went on to become a great purveyor of LSD culture. Allen Ginsberg, the poet who preached the value of the great personal adventure of using LSD, got his first LSD from Sidney Gottlieb. Although, of course, he never knew that name.
But not all of the subjects found the treatments pleasurable. Whitey Bulger was one of the prisoner "volunteers." He thought he had volunteered to help find treatments for schizophrenia. Instead, he was given LSD everyday for over a year. In describing his experience, Bulger found it horrific and thought he was losing his mind. He later vowed to find and kill the doctor that had been the head of the program.

     But the subjects were not limited to just Americans. The article relates:
      Gottlieb and the CIA established secret detention centers throughout Europe and East Asia, particularly in Japan, Germany and the Philippines, which were largely under American control in the period of the early '50s, and therefore Gottlieb didn't have to worry about any legal entanglements in these places. ...

      CIA officers in Europe and Asia were capturing enemy agents and others who they felt might be suspected persons or were otherwise what they called "expendable." They would grab these people and throw them into cells and then test all kinds of, not just drug potions, but other techniques, like electroshock, extremes of temperature, sensory isolation — all the meantime bombarding them with questions, trying to see if they could break down resistance and find a way to destroy the human ego. So these were projects designed not only to understand the human mind but to figure out how to destroy it. And that made Gottlieb, although in some ways a very compassionate person, certainly the most prolific torturer of his generation.
And, of course, there is a Nazi connection. Gross writes:
       The CIA mind control project, MK-ULTRA, was essentially a continuation of work that began in Japanese and Nazi concentration camps. Not only was it roughly based on those experiments, but the CIA actually hired the vivisectionists and the torturers who had worked in Japan and in Nazi concentration camps to come and explain what they had found out so that we could build on their research.

       For example, Nazi doctors had conducted extensive experiments with mescaline at the Dachau concentration camp, and the CIA was very interested in figuring out whether mescaline could be the key to mind control that was one of their big avenues of investigation. So they hired the Nazi doctors who had been involved in that project to advise them.

      Another thing the Nazis provided was information about poison gases like sarin, which is still being used. Nazi doctors came to America to Fort Detrick in Maryland, which was the center of this project, to lecture to CIA officers to tell them how long it took for people to die from sarin.
Gottlieb had little or no supervision. "This guy had a license to kill. He was allowed to requisition human subjects across the United States and around the world and subject them to any kind of abuse that he wanted, even up to the level of it being fatal — yet nobody looked over his shoulder."

      Ultimately, according to the article,"Gottlieb concluded that mind control was not possible. After MK-ULTRA shut down, he went on to lead a CIA program that created poisons and high-tech gadgets for spies to use." In 1972, when Richard Helms, then director of the CIA, was removed by President Richard Nixon, Helms and Gottlieb decided that it was critical to cover up the MK-ULTRA program by destroying its records.
Gottlieb actually drove out to the CIA records center and ordered the archives to destroy boxes full of MK-ULTRA records. ... However, it turns out that there were some [records] found in other places; there was a depot for expense account reports that had not been destroyed, and various other pieces of paper remain. So there is enough out there to reconstruct some of what he did, but his effort to wipe away his traces by destroying all those documents in the early '70s was quite successful.
So, in reality, if the article is correct, no one really knows that extent of MK-ULTRA or whether it was successful, or led to subsequent black research projects.

      There are some interesting implications and questions from this information. First is the CIA's concern that the Soviets had developed methods of mind control. Why did they think this? Was there evidence of actual incidents of mind control? How far had Nazi and Japanese scientists come in their research? We ran Operation Paperclip following World War II to snatch up German scientists before the Soviets were able to, but the Soviets swept up a great number. Since the concentration camps were primarily located in territory that the Soviets captures, it is likely that the Soviets were able to capture more of the scientists involved in the medical and psychiatric research.

     The article indicated that Gottlieb was not successful at implanting a new "mind," but had done a lot of research on destroying the existing mind. The implication is that he was successful at destroying the existing mind. What was the result of blasting away the existing mind? Was the person more susceptible to "programming"? Could suggestions be implanted that they could carry out later? How many successes were there?

     What were the CIA's plans if the project was successful? Whose minds where they intending to control?

      Gottlieb went on to produce poisons for the CIA, implying that the CIA used, or at least intended to use, poisons to carry out assassinations. Where they ever used? On whom?

      Why did Gottlieb change his name from Joseph Scheider?

     What other researchers worked with Gottlieb? Where did they go and where are they now? Did they continue his research?

No comments:

Post a Comment