DEVELOPING “TRUTH SERUMS” AND MIND-ALTERING DRUGS
The history of using humans as guinea pigs in America dates back to early American history. In the 1820s Cherokees were given blankets infested with small pox bacteria when they were evicted from Georgia in the infamous Trail of Tears march to the Oklahoma territory. Cholera-infected blankets were distributed to native Americans in the 1860s. In 1900 American Army doctors in the Philippines, two years after the islands were seized by the United States, infected five prisoners with plague and 29 prisoners with beriberi. At least four of the subjects died. In 1915 an American doctor exposed 12 prisoners in Mississippi to pellagra.
The Chemical Warfare Service (CWS) was established in 1918, only one year after gas warfare was used for the first time by the Germans against the British at the Battle of Ypres. However, between the wars the United States reverted to a policy of isolationism, and the research efforts of the CWS grinded to a halt.
In 1941, the CWS merged with the Committee on Medical Research (CMR) which had been established just a few years before. CWS and CMR researchers concluded that animal experiments could not adequately validate the effects that chemicals had on humans.
The CMR consisted of officials from the Army, Navy, and Public Health Service. Vannevar Bush was in charge of conducting research into medical military problems. He oversaw research and experiments conducted at a number of American universities and penitentiaries. The largest portion of the experiments were conducted on military personnel, but the subjects also consisted of students, hospital patients, and prison inmates. The experiments were viewed as essential for the war effort.
On April 7, 1942, Richards wrote Secretary of War Henry Stimson requesting the use of human subjects in gas testing. Stimson approved the experiments and subsequently tens of thousands of military personnel were used as guinea pigs. The experiments included the effectiveness of clothing on servicemen in chambers filled with deadly gases and the effect of contaminated areas of land on human subjects. Some of the soldiers were locked in chambers for up to 24 hours while poisonous gases filled the room.
The policy of the CMR was to mandate that waivers be signed by the subjects. One of the CMR's first experiments was with extremely ill people who were used as guinea pigs to determine the effects of nitrogen mustard which eventually was used in chemotherapy. Three types of nitrogen mustard had been discovered earlier in 1935 by several Czech scientists. Since mustard gas was used in World War I, Richards saw this break-through as a chance to find new applications for these chemicals in World War II. The CMR began these classified experiments in 1942 and hoped to convince Nazi Germany scientists that the United States was developing a far superior type of chemical warfare agents.
The CMR used patients with terminal cancer at Yale-New Haven Hospital and injected them with nitrogen mustard since the hypothesis was that it would to poison human cells. However, the experiment was counter-productive since the patients' condition worsened as the cancer spread more rapidly until they died.
Other experiments with mustard gas were conducted "in the field" in numerous places overseas. In May 1944, 150 soldiers with fully protected gear were taken to San Jose Island off the coast of Panama. Then two planes dropped over 200 bombs containing a total of five tons of mustard gas, and one hour later the soldiers were marched into that area. Afterwards, chemical tests were conducted, and it was concluded that all the soldiers would have been casualties had they not worn protective gear which included gas masks. Field testing also was conducted in Sandfly where soldiers moved into areas saturated with mustard gas just one hour after bombings. Some of the soldiers did not wear protective clothing, while others lied on the ground where they had direct contact with the chemicals.
Richards conducted another experiment with prisoners at a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. He recommended that the subjects be paid $100 plus medical insurance for the experiments. The federal government agreed to pay the $100 per inmate but refused to pick up the insurance for the people. Bush approved the experiment in March 1943. But the CMR shortly abandoned the experiment since, as with test animals, they could not produce a disease with enough reliability to make their tests valid.
The United States government also conducted experiments with malaria during World War II. Since 300,000 people contacted malaria every year, the government was particularly convinced that malaria should be conquered in the South Pacific where Americans were contacting the disease during the war. In the early 1940s the government concluded that the anti-malaria drug Atabrine was tested successfully in human subjects. Thus, new types of drugs to combat malaria were tested on human subjects who had been deliberately infected with the disease by the government. The largest single CMR malaria experiment involved 800 prisoners at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, the New Jersey State Reformatory, and the Illinois State Penitentiary.
Deadly chemicals were tested on other subjects. In 1944, Nathan Schnurman, a Navy serviceman, was given a three day pass in return for being a guinea pig in an experiment involving dichloroethyl sulfide, more commonly known as mustard gas. He was placed in a gas chamber filled with the toxic gas. The first reaction was to vomit, and that was followed by a blistering of the skin and then temporary blindness. Several times Schnurman asked to leave the chamber, but the requests were denied. Only after he passed out was he pulled out of the gas chamber. In 1945, a 17-year old recruit also consented to testing in return for a short leave to visit his parents. He developed severe blisters on his skin and passed out before he was carried out of the chamber.
In 1993, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) estimated that over 60,000 servicemen were used as guinea pigs in chemical experiments during World War II. Of that number, approximately 4,000 were used as subjects in experiments with mustard gas or lewsite. All the subjects promised to keep the experiments secret, and most of them did since they believed that it was their patriotic duty to do so. Others kept silent since they feared reprisals by the government. However, the first stories of these tests on humans leaked out in the 1980s when some of the subjects sought compensation for long term medical problems which resulted from these chemical tests. The NAS also said that the Pentagon still withheld some of the facts about what had taken place during the gas experiments.
Radium was used particularly by the military beginning in the 1940s to treat ear infections. Between 8,000 and 20,000 servicemen and their families were treated by military doctors who placed small rods containing radium into the nostrils to alleviate inflammation.
Other experiments with humans during World War II involved biological weapons (BW). The Medical Unit at the Edgewood Arsenal Unit planned scientific research into BW in 1941. The research was a joint effort which included the CWS, Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), the surgeon general, the Department of Agriculture, the Public Health Service, and the NAS. The following year, these groups recommended that BW experiments be approved. President Roosevelt then created the War Research Service (WRS) which fell under the authority of the Federal Security Agency (FSA). Roosevelt then announced that BW would be used only in retaliation.
In November 1943, the CWS constructed a BW center in Frederick, Maryland which was later named Fort Detrick. The following summer, the secret Special Projects Division of the CWS was established. It was responsible for coordinating BW experiments throughout the United States.
Even as Nazi doctors were carrying out experiments at Dachau and Auswitz, covert American operations were being conducted by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and by the military. The Chemical Warfare Service was founded in 1944 and was provided a budget of $2.5 million. The agency soon developed large quantities of anthrax and botulism and also two strains of biochemical poisons which the government had considered using against Third World populations. Secretary of War Henry Stimson founded the Biochemical Warfare Division (BWD), many of whose chemists had worked in the Nazi government. In the early 1950s, the BWD was run by Lawrence Layton, a Nazi agent who had been recruited after World War II.
Since the 1940s, the Army and the CIA conducted numerous experiments with biological and chemical agents in the United States. During World War II American soldiers were rounded up and placed in closed rooms, where mustard gas was discharged to determine the impact of chemical gasses on the human body. In 1942, Army and Navy doctors infected 400 prisoners in Chicago with malaria as part of an experiment to get "a profile of the disease and treatment for it." In fact, Nazi doctors at their trials in Nuremberg cited this as part of their defense. In 1951, the Army secretly contaminated the Norfolk Naval Supply Center in Virginia with infectious bacteria. This was an experiment to determine if blacks were more susceptible than whites to the bacterium.
CIA officials picked for subjects their own equivalents of Nazi Germany's Jews and gypsies. They chose mental patients, prostitutes, foreigners, drug addicts, and prisoners who were often minority ethnic groups. In addition, they conducted experiments on government agents who were suspected of being counter-agents or communist-sympathizers. The Office of Security was established primarily to protect the CIA from enemy penetration. Sheffield Edwards, a former Army colonel, was the office's security chief. Its first goal was to study the effects of hypnosis on subjects. CIA Director Roscoe Hillenkoetter approved the top-secret operation, and secret funding was provided.
SEARCHING FOR A TRUTH SERUM (TS)
SEARCHING FOR A TRUTH SERUM (TS)
In 1942, the OSS began a search for a new mind-control hallucinogen known as a “truth drug” (TD) -- a speech-inducing drug – for use in intelligence interrogations. The clandestine agency first set up the “truth drug” committee. Dr. Winfred Overholser of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C. oversaw the program. The committee first conducted experiments with mescaline but soon thereafter rejected that drug as a “truth serum.”
The committee felt that a drug would be useful for screening their own agents in order to identify German sympathizers and double-agents. The TD that was first introduced was an extremely high concentration of marijuana, and through a process of esterification they obtained a highly concentrated liquid. This product had no color, odor, or taste.
TD could be injected into any type of food such as mashed potatoes, butter, salad dressing, and candy. However, if a suspect of the government had a huge appetite, too much TD could knock the person out and render him useless for interrogation. Another scheme relied on using tissue paper saturated with TD.
The OSS reported: "TD appears to relax all inhibitions and to deaden the areas of the brain which governs the individual’s discretion and caution. It accentuates the senses and makes manifest any strong characteristics of the individual." The OSS tested TD on themselves, their associates, and American military personnel. The results were mixed. In some circumstances the subject felt a driving necessity to discuss topics and not to withhold any information which he may normally try to hide. On other occasions subjects had "toxic reactions," becoming irritable, threatening, acting as two different individuals. The use of TD had many effects which went from one extreme to another. Since TD was too unpredictable, the OSS continued to search for more reliable truth serums.
In the spring of 1943, the OSS began to explore other drugs which could be used in interrogating subjects. It turned to marijuana and began testing it on subjects who were part of the top secret Manhatten Project to develop the atomic bomb. The top officials of the Manhatten Project provided a dozen subjects who swallowed a glass of highly concentrated marijuana, unaware of the contents. When the oral consumption of marijuana failed, the OSS decided to administer it by inhalation.
The first field case of marijuana-laced cigarettes took place on May 27, 1943. The experiment was conducted by OSS official George White who was also an Army captain. The subject was August Del Gracio, a New York mobster who was involved in drug trafficking. Over a span of two hours, Del Gracio told interrogators secret information about drug trade. Then he became unconscious for about an hour. The experiment was branded a success, so White moved ahead with subsequent testing. White obtained 15 to 18 dossiers on soldiers who were suspected of being communists.
OSS officials observed the various behavioral reactions of marijuana on their subjects and reported: "It accentuates the senses and makes strong any characteristic of the individual." Boris Pash was individually responsible for probing into the behavior pattern of Robert Oppenheimer. Pash was also the primary interrogator when Oppenheimer was suspected of leaking classified information to the Soviet Union. In 1944 Pash headed the Alvos Mission which was designed to recruit German scientists who were involved in atomic, chemical, and biologicals weapons research.
THE MK ULTRA PROGRAM
THE MK ULTRA PROGRAM
After World War II, the OSS evolved into the CIA. This new agency now continued where the OSS had left off in the search for a new truth serum. They did experiments with mescaline, the extract of peyote cactus which produced hallucinations. Animals and humans were used in experiments in the early 1950s, but this did not yield an effective truth serum. Thus, this experiment was terminated in 1953.
The Navy's Technical Mission became interested in mescaline after gathering information about the Nazis after World War II was over. The Navy learned that it was used by Nazis at the Dachau concentration camp. The Navy obtained Nazi reports that "it was impossible to impose one's will on another person as in hypnosis even when the strongest dose of mescaline had been given." Yet the SS had stated that they were able to obtain answers "even the most intimate secrets from the subject when questions where cleverly put."
Several years after Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman developed LSD, the CIA began pouring money into Project Bluebird in 1949. The CIA's secret experiments with LSD was originally dubbed MK-Naomi, and then the code-name was changed to MK-ULTRA in April 1953. "MK" was the code for "Technical Services" and "Naomi" referred to the agency secret project to develop poisons.
CIA chemists and psychiatrists studied LSD-25, a derivative of lysergic acid, a hallucinogen which they knew almost nothing about. They looked at the first published study of LSD which was presented to the Swiss Archives of Neurology in 1947. The CIA also knew that in 1951 hundreds of respectable citizens in a small French village went completely berserk one evening and jumped out of their windows into the Rhone River. Others ran through the streets claiming that they were being chased by lions and tigers.
The CIA learned that only .01 percent of LSD which entered the brain would remain there for 20 minutes. The CIA's first test was on 12 subjects of "not too high mentality." From the outset, the CIA psychiatrist told them that "a new drug was being tested and promised that nothing serious or dangerous would happen to them." They were injected with 150 micrograms of LSD and were then the subject of a mock interrogation.
MK-ULTRA operated out of the CIA's Technical Services Division by Willis Gibbons. Then he was replaced in November by Sidney Gottlieb, a former Nazi doctor who was recruited after World War II. Gottlieb had powerful allies such as Richard Helms, the deputy director of covert operations. Even though the agency had been working on biological and chemical agents clandestinely, Helms pressured Director Dulles to approve the use of such materials for "covert use."
By late 1953, Dulles had officially established MK-ULTRA. "Gottlieb worked with a group of scientists form the Army Chemical Corps' Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick, Maryland. SOD was founded in 1950 by Dr. John Schwab. Gottlieb hoped to gain the capacity to kill or incapacitate selective people with biological weapons. Only a handful of people knew that SOD received $200,000 a year in return for operational systems to infect enemies with disease. Gottlieb's division also continued to push ahead with more LSD experiments.
The first LSD experiments were conducted at Edgewood Chemical Arsenal in Maryland. Twelve subjects who were given 150 micrograms of LSD, and then they were subjected to hours of interrogation. In another hallucinogenic experiment, the CIA brought in 7,000 soldiers who unknowingly were given a variety of hallucinogenic drugs which included LSD, mescalin, and Benzedrine. Most of the subjects emerged with serious psychological afflictions and some committed suicide.
Gottlieb tested LSD on his colleagues. He and six other CIA and military personnel met at a mountain resort in Maryland and discussed MK-Naomi. Unknowing to others, Gottlieb slipped a heavy dose of LSD into the others' drinks, and he observed the effect which LSD had on his colleagues. Only one of them had a "bad trip." That was Dr. Frank Olson who was the Army's expert on biological warfare. So severe was his reaction to LSD that he was taken to New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital and was examined by Dr. Harold Abramson. Because of Olson's fragile state of mind in the LSD experiment, he was considered a possible threat to the CIA. Abramson was merely an allergy specialist, but he had a top security clearance and was totally loyal to Gottlieb. Olson was provided a room at the Statler Hilton Hotel where Abramson provided him with a drink of bourbon and spiked with Benzedrine. Olson became delusional, opened his hotel room window, and jumped from the tenth floor to his death.
After Olson died, the CIA called off all experiments while they investigated his death and reexamined their general policy. The agency concluded that the only "operational realistic" way to test the drugs was to try them on people who were not suspicious. Shortly afterwards, Gottlieb began testing with LSD again.
OPERATIONS BLUEBIRD AND ARTICHOKE
OPERATIONS BLUEBIRD AND ARTICHOKE
OPERATION BLUEBIRD. In the early 1950s, the CIA put all its efforts into one project under the codeword "Bluebird." This top secret program was a "behavior-modification" program jointly undertaken with the Pentagon. Bluebirds was a direct continuation of Nazi programs which had been conducted at Dachau concentration camp. The CIA continued with the use of human guinea pigs at the Pentagon's chemical warfare base in Edgewood, Maryland. Several Nazi scientists were used under Operation Paperclip which was set up to bring several Nazi scientists into the United States military.
The first operations under Bluebird were conducted in Japan three months after the new operation was launched. Twenty-five North Korean war prisoners were given depressants and stimulants, then injected with barbiturates, hypnotized, and finally interrogated. In addition to the experiments which were conducted on North Koreans, CIA officials also tested other subjects while in Japan. They administered intensive polygraph testing as well as experimenting with the stimulant Benzedrine on four subjects. Two of these four people were also given a second stimulant, picrotoxin. Furthermore, the CIA tried to induce amnesia.
Bluebird also included experiments in electro-shock therapy and psycho-surgery. By the end of 1950, Morse Allen replaced Edwards as the head of Bluebird. He received a $100,000 CIA grant to conduct his experiments. Electro-shock was used to induce a state of amnesia. A psychiatrist reported that the electro-shock treatments could produce amnesia for varying lengths of time and that valuable information could be obtained from the subjects when they came out of the sleep. At a Richmond, Virginia hospital, an "electro-sleep" machine was used on various patients. It put people to sleep without shock or convulsions. Shortly after these experiments, the Office of Scientific Intelligence recommended that the psychiatrist be given $100,000 in research funds.
In 1952, the Office of Scientific Intelligence proposed giving another $100,000 to another doctor. The funds were used to conduct "neurosurgical techniques" and more specifically to conduct lobotomies. Following the brain surgery, subjects were interrogated. Bluebird was expanded to include outside consultants to test other techniques. These included the effects of ultrasonics, vibrations, concussions, high and low pressure, various gases in air-tight chambers, caffeine, fatigue radiation, heat and cold, and changing light.
In 1952, 42-year old Harold Blauer was on the verge of a mental collapse. He admitted himself into New York's Bellevue Hospital for clinical depression. He was subsequently transferred to the Psychiatric Institute which was administered by Columbia University physicians. The Psychiatric Institute had received a secret contract to work with mentally ill patients from the Army Chemical Corps, so none of the patients knew of the chemical tests which the institute implemented. In addition the institute was not required to obtain consent forms from their patients. The goal of the Army Chemical Corps was to gather information for the utilization of psycho-chemical agents against belligerent countries and their agents. The Psychiatric Institute was provided with Mescaline for their experiments, and their doctors were given security clearances by the Army.
Blauer was admitted to the Psychiatric Institute on December 5, 1952 and was administered an experimental drug, and of course he did not know the motives of the physicians. Between December 11 and January 8, 1952, he received five more mescaline injections. When he was about to get his third injection, he objected and asked nurses to tell the physician that he was ill. Nevertheless, he was administered more mescaline on that day. After his fourth injection on December 30, Blauer experienced horrendous tremors. In the morning of January 8 he was given his fifth injection which was 16 times more potent than the prior one. He went into convulsions and was pronounced dead just hours later at 12:15 p.m. Eventually, in 1978, Blauer's estate was awarded $702,000 in damages.
Gottlieb expanded his experiments into Canada. Under the Society for Investigation of Human Ecology (SIHE) in the early 1950s, Dr. Ewen Campbell theory of "differential amnesia" involved experiments which included electroshock and the use of hallucinogens. He goal was to "depattern" both normal and abnormal behavior by creating temporary amnesia. Campbell used techniques which included bombarding patients with continuous taped messages, sensory deprivation, and the use of LSD. He postulated that he produced "complete amnesia" in a subject when the person would eventually recover memory of one's normal behavior but not schizophrenic behavior. His electro-shock treatments consisted of waking a patient three times during the night and administering several drugs, changing around the quantities of each until he thought he achieved the best results. Patients received 100 milligrams of Thorazine, 100 milligrams of Nembutal, 100 milligrams of Seconal, 150 milligrams of Veronal, and 10 milligrams Phenergan, and then they were given electro-shock treatments.
Campbell conducted shock treatments once a day. Subjects were given a dose of 110 volts, lasting a fraction of a second. Then Cameron moved a more intense routine, turning the power up to 150 volts and administering this test three times a day. He called this the "Page-Russell" method, named after two British doctors who devised the plan. This caused a major convulsion, and then five to nine additional shocks in the middle of the primary and follow- up convulsions. Frequent screams resonated throughout the ward of the hospital were ignored by the staff.
Dr. John Lilly from the National Institutes of Health was recruited to carry out his experiments. In 1953, Lilly devised a method of placing 600 tiny sections of hypodermic tubing in the skulls of monkeys. Then he inserted electrodes inside the tubes and ran them to the monkeys' brains. Using electricity, Lilly discovered precise areas of the brains that caused pain, anxiety, fear, and anger.
The next year, Lilly isolated the operations of the brain -- not by electrodes -- but through sensory deprivation. He invented a special "tank" which was filled with body-temperature water. Subjects were submerged in the water and breathed through tubes. They were deprived of sight and sound. Some subjects were injected with pure Sandoz LSD before they were placed in the sensory-deprivation tanks.
OPERATION ARTICHOKE. At the end of 1952, the top secret Bluebird operation was changed to Artichoke. Under the direction of Richard Wendt of the Psychology Department at the University of Rochester, Artichoke moved ahead in more experiments. In 1951, Morse Allen of Artichoke was intrigued after seeing a New York City hypnotist. Convinced that hypnosis could be an integral part of covert operations, he took a four-day course from the hypnotist.
Allen received permission from high CIA officials to expand his project into the area of narco-hypnosis. Psychiatrists first tried experiments by injecting a sedative into the subject and then attempting to induce a trance state of mind. Doctors began to increase the dose of barbiturates which immediately knocked out the subject. Then they injected an amphetamine at which time the subject would regain partial consciousness in a "twilight zone." At this point the subject was interrogated. An intravenous hookup was inserted in both arms. One consisted of uppers; the other had downers. The interrogator could regulate the subject's state of mind and could keep him or her between a state of consciousness and unconsciousness. However, neither of these processes proved acceptable.
In another experiment, Allen took asked some of his secretaries if he could conduct a hypnotism experiment. After hypnotizing them, he told them to steal "secret" files and pass them on to strangers. His experiment was a success, so he continued with others.
In yet another experiment, Allen took two secretaries. The first subject was put into a deep trance and was told to continue sleeping. Then he hypnotized a second subject who had expressed a fear of firearms. Allen told her that if she could not wake up her friend that "her rage would be so great that she would not hesitate to kill." He placed a handgun on a nearby table. Unknown to the subject, the gun was unloaded. When the second subject awoke, she attempted to awake her friend. When that failed, she grabbed the unloaded gun and "killed" her. Allen knew then that he could use hypnosis as a tool to plan assassinations. In 1954, Director Dulles took the behavioral-research experiments away from Allen and gave it to Gottlieb.
Psychiatrists conducted more experiments, using hallucinogenic drugs along with hypnosis as the tools to interrogate subjects. They were also used to attempt to induce amnesia on the subjects. At first, this method was used to question subjects who were prisoners, drug addicts, and homeless. Under Operation Explosive, four alleged double agents were hypnotized by Wendt, and he claimed to have obtained "valuable information" while they were interrogated. Wendt also claimed that he hypnotically induced amnesia, so when they returned to reality they did not recall what they had said.
Gottlieb received a $300,000 grant to pursue these experiments, and his associate, Harold Abramson, received another $85,000. In Louisville, Kentucky, CIA money was funneled through the National Institutes of Health to conduct an experiment on nine black males were strapped to a table and injected with Psilocybin. Then the joints of their bodies were struck in order to test their neural reactions.
The agency allocated $60,000 over four years to conduct sensory deprivation techniques. On one occasion, a woman was locked in a box for 35 days, while being deprived of all light, smell, and sounds. LSD was administered to an unsuspecting woman over a two-month period. Injections of curare were given to patients, so that doctors could study the effect of paralysis in humans. Electro-shock treatments, 40 times more severe than what a human can tolerate, were administered to subjects. Other patients were assaulted with continuous verbal messages from a tape recorder. The words, "You killed your mother. You killed your mother" were piped into a patient's room 24 hours a day.
Thompson conducted an experiment where subjects unknowingly were given a combination of the depressant Seconal, the stimulant Dexedrine, and Tetrahydrocannabinol -- the active ingredient in marijuana. On another occasion Wendt conducted experiments with marijuana, and he concluded that it worked best on subjects who wanted to tell the truth but were afraid to do so. Wendt also injected Sodium Pentothal into a patient. When he fell asleep, he was stimulated back to semiconsciousness with a shot of Benzedrine.
In other experiments, several American soldiers stationed in Edgewood, New Jersey were given doses of LSD against their will. In 1958, James Stanley volunteered to test chemical warfare protection gear and unknowingly was given LSD in a glass of water. In 1978, he sued the government, and nine years later the Supreme Court ruled against him, claiming that "soldiers rights are secondary to the national interest." In 1961, another American soldier, James Thornhill, was arrested by the Army while stationed in France. After being accused of stealing sensitive government documents, he was given LSD. Subsequently, he developed epilepsy and in 1981 was awarded $625,000 in damages. In 1984, he drowned in a swimming pool after suffering a seizure.
In another instance a military officer, unknown to him, was given LSD after he had been instructed not to reveal "a significant military secret." When questioned "he gave all the details of the secret." Yet, when the LSD wore off, he remembered nothing of what he had said. The results were astounding to the CIA -- almost too good to be true. One CIA official stated: "We had thought at first this was the secret that was going to unlock the universe." However, this elation did not last long, as the CIA began to run into problems.
While continuing with LSD experiments, the CIA went ahead with more research. They looked for drugs which would act as memory erasers, knockout drops, and headache clusters, as well as drugs which would cause cancer, strokes, and heart attacks. They searched for chemicals which would make a sober person drunk and a drunk person sober. CIA documents indicated that LSD was used as an interrogation drug on an operational basis through the 1960s.
After more CIA tests were conducted, the agency noted that subjects experienced high anxiety and their people's minds became distorted. There were unexplainable mood swings -- from total panic to total silence. They became confused about where they were and what time it was, as well as visualizing different body images. When LSD did not seem to work, more milligrams were injected.
One CIA agent realized that he probably was given a dose of LSD in his coffee. A fellow agent stated, "He sort of knew he had it, but he couldn't pull himself together. Somehow you know that you've taken it; you start the process of maintaining your composure. But this grabbed him before he was aware, and it got away from him." This agent ran out of his office into the streets of Washington, D.C. The agent later stated: "Every automobile that came by was a terrible monster with fantastic eyes, out to get him personally. Every time a car passed by, he would huddle down, terribly frightened."
Another CIA agent, George White, had operated a school for training spies during World War II. In the 1950s, Gottlieb and White set up a Harlem operation dubbed Operation Climax. White rented two Greenwich Village apartments and posed as an artist named Morgan Hall. He then lured subjects into his "safehouses" and slipped them drugs. He analyzed their behavior and reported back to Gottlieb. The CIA paid all of Olson's bills and paid him $4,000 in cash. Gottlieb expanded his experiments and brought in surveillance equipment and two-way mirrors, so he could film and record their behavior.
White moved to San Francisco where he ran a similar operation. He rented a "safehouse" in Haight-Ashbury where he brought in prostitutes. Drug-addicted prostitutes were assigned to pick up men from bars and take them to a CIA-financed brothel. The men were then given drinks laced with LSD, as White watched them from behind a two-way mirror. As payment for their services, White paid the hookers $100 a night and guaranteed them that they would not be arrested.
The CIA's goal was to evaluate the use of sex as an interrogation tool. Agents studied the art of lovemaking for espionage purposes. When they went on dangerous assignments, secret CIA agents were equipped with micropellets of LSD. If they were ever caught and interrogated, they could pop a tablet of LSD and babble nonsense. First the CIA thought LSD was a truth serum; then a lie serum; and then they did not know what to think. The CIA thought that the Soviets and the Chinese might use it as an intelligence weapon, so its agents began administering LSD to its new recruits to see its effects. In 1953, the CIA's Medical Office even recommended that LSD "should be broadened to include all components of the agency."
All these sessions were filmed and tape-recorded through one-way mirrors in brothels. White then moved onto the streets of San Francisco where he and his assistant operated among the homeless. Cigarettes were doctored with hallucinogens and given to street people, and LSD was slipped into unknowing subjects' cocktails, and agents observed their reactions. Then White moved across the Golden Gate to Marin County, where he opened an apartment and ran similar operations. The San Francisco operation was shut down in 1965 and the New York one was closed the following year.
Dr. Harris Isbell also conducted secret experiments and was funded through the Navy with the approval of the director of the National Institutes of Health. He recruited inmates who were then rewarded either in the drug of their choice or with a reduced sentence. They were also moved into the experimental wing of a hospital where they received better food and could listen to music. Most were addicts and consequently chose either heroin or morphine. These subjects were given newly developed and untried drugs. On one occasion seven convicts were given LSD for 77 straight days.
Since the CIA was primarily incensed with LSD experiments, the agency needed to stay on top of the supply. Eli Lilly & Company worked with the agency and provided synthesized LSD. In 1954, Lilly scored a major breakthrough when its researchers worked out a complicated 15-step process to develop LSD from chemicals available on the open market. This allowed the CIA to purchase larger quantities of the hallucinogenic drug. The two largest world suppliers of LSD were Lilly and Sandoz. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration supplied the CIA with confidential information on LSD testing. Even though the CIA did not have a monopoly on the LSD market, it certainly had a great deal of control.
The last research project involved the work of Dr. Charles Geschickter. In 1955, he convinced the CIA to appropriate $375,000 in secret funds for the construction of a new research wing at Georgetown Hospital. CIA documents showed that he tested powerful drugs on mental retarded subjects and terminal cancer patients at the hospital. The agency funneled $655,000 into his research on knock-out drugs, stress-producing drugs, and mind- altering substances. In addition $2.1 million flowed to other researchers.
In other experiments the CIA released whooping-cough bacteria into the air in Florida in 1955, and a high rate of cases of that disease broke out later that year. The next year, another toxic substance was emitted into New York City streets and subways. In 1956 and 1957, the Army experimented with biological weapons in Savannah, Georgia and Avon Park, Florida to test the ability of insects to carry and deliver yellow fever and dengue fever.
The clandestine CIA programs continued into the 1960s and the early 1970s. In June 1960, the CIA launched an expanded program of operational experiments in hypnosis in cooperation with the agency's Counterintelligence staff. The Counterintelligence program had three goals. First, it sought to induce hypnosis very rapidly on unwitting subjects. Second, it hoped to create amnesia in its subjects. And third, it hoped to plant posthypnotic suggestions in the subjects who then could be used in its field operations. In October 1960, the CIA invested $9,000 in an outside consultant to develop a way to quickly hypnotize an unsuspecting subject. In 1962, the CIA discussed joint work in hypnosis with a foreign secret service, but whether the agency went further than that was unknown.
In 1964, the CIA funding for experiments was $250,000. In 1972, its projects had been cut to just four at $110,,000. In June 1972, Gottlieb decided to end his research, and that ended the program which had started two decades before.
IN SEARCH OF OTHER MIND-ALTERING DRUGS
IN SEARCH OF OTHER MIND-ALTERING DRUGS
In the early 1950s, the CIA began to search outside the United States for more mind-altering substances. In 1952, one of the agency's drug experts informed Artichoke's Allen of an intoxicant which was used by Mexican natives. The agency sent a operant, fluent in Spanish, on a field trip into the mountains of Mexico to gather samples of piule as well as other plants of "high narcotic and toxic value of interest." In February 1953, the agent collected bags full of material, including 10 pounds of piule. He then looked for more samples in the Caribbean area. When he returned to Washington D.C., the agent's samples went immediately to the CIA labs.
The CIA also recruited botanists to collect samples of plants and trees which were toxic. They roamed through tropical areas in Central and South America. They brought back samples which were analyzed by chemists. Objects included a leaf which could kill cattle; several plants which were deadly to fish; a leaf which caused one's hair to fall out; sap which caused temporary blindness; and a wide range of natural products which could alter moods, stimulate the nerve system, or generally disorient people.
For 50 years, the United States refused to sign the Geneva Protocol which prohibits the use of chemical and biological warfare (CBW). Then in 1975, the CIA claimed that it had overwhelming evidence that the Soviet Union, in violation of a 1928 pact, was waging a chemical war in Afghanistan, Laos, and Cambodia. At the same time, the United States, which was experimenting with biological and chemical weapons, was accusing the Soviets of the same charges. First, the CIA was able to produce only a few fungus leaves and twigs. Had it been true that the Soviets were engaged in CBW, there would have been hundreds or thousands of foliage samples, contaminated corpses, and shell fragments and canisters containing heavy traces of mycotoxin. Second, the United States claimed that the Soviet Union used balloons and shells to spray chemicals into the air. Despite these allegations by the CIA, the Soviets denied that they had any such chemical or biological attack system, and no such system was ever proved to exist. Third, the description of victims vomiting large amounts of blood was not plausible, since experiments conducted on animals were inconclusive. Over several decades of research, animals reacted in a wide variety of ways to biological and chemical weapons.
In 1984, two American scientists announced that the Soviet Union had used "yellow rain" in Southeast Asia. After this was publicized and the Soviets were confronted, it turned out that this was not CBW deposits but instead was a massive amount of bee excrement.