MKUltra was the notorious mind control experimentation program in operation, officially, by the CIA from 1953 to 1963.
Though the CIA was primarily involved and responsible in these affairs, several other federal organizations were involved, including the Department of Defense, the Bureau of Narcotics, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Navy, whose Project Chatter was the actual origin of such experimentation.
Project Chatter began in 1947, in response to reports indicating that the Soviets were achieving “amazing results” in using “truth drugs,” for enhanced interrogation techniques, and included experiments on animals and human subjects using Anabasis aphylla, scopolamine, and mescaline. The project was to determined to have “expanded substantially during the Korean War,” and was said to have ended in 1953.
Agents of the CIA found out about the Project Chatter program, and started experimentation of their own towards the end of 1949, with their own Project Bluebird being approved by the Director of Central Intelligence, at that time, Allan Dulles, in 1950.
The intended purpose of this project, according to internal documentation and congressional inquiries, was defensive in nature, as they were worried about the Soviets’ capabilities with the aforementioned drugs, and also included LSD, hypnosis, and electro-shock experimentation, which was incorporated into the CIA’s testing as well.
As experimentation progressed and expanded, the project was renamed Project Artichoke in 1951. Efforts with Project Artichoke moved more aggressively into experimentation with chemical and biological agents to influence human thought and/or behavior. MKNaomi was one of the first offshoots of Project Artichoke, and it stated directives were:
a. To provide for a covert support base to meet clandestine operational requirements.
b. To stockpile severely incapacitating and lethal materials for the specific use of TSD [Technical Services Division].
c. To maintain in operational readiness special and unique items for the dissemination of biological and chemical materials.
d. To provide for the required surveillance, testing, upgrading, and evaluation of materials and items in order to assure absence of defects and complete predictability of results to be expected under operational conditions.
Through MKNaomi, an agreement was made in 1952 with the U.S. Army, and the Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick began assisting the CIA in developing, testing, and maintaining biological agents and delivery systems.
They devised drug-tipped darts, pills, and developed a drug that would incapacitate a guard dog, and another to revive it, though they were not able to develop it for human use.
Project MKNaomi also included experimentation on crop destruction that could be used against US “enemies,” and were actually tested in field conditions.
MKULTRA began with a proposal from then Assistant Deputy Director for Plans, Richard Helms, to the Director of Central Intelligence, outlining a special funding mechanism for highly sensitive CIA research and development projects that studied the use of biological and chemical materials in altering human behavior. MKULTRA was approved by the DCI on April 13, 1953 along the lines proposed by ADDP Helms.
Senate Report Definition
According to the Senate report, “MKULTRA was the principal CIA program involving the research and development of chemical and biological agents. It was concerned with the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior.”
Covert Funding Mechanisms
Part of the rationale for the establishment of a 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.
What You Don’t Know WILL Hurt You
So despite the fact that they knew they were violating the rights of American citizens, endangering their lives, and that US public opinion would be one of outcry against such activities, they decided to proceed, and because of these observations, proceeded in almost absolute secrecy.
Evolving Project Capability
While there was still interest in defensive aspects, with the inception of the MKUltra program, efforts moved more towards development of offensive capability. This is evidenced by the findings that the projects involved:
“Research to develop a capability in the covert use of biological and chemical materials. This area involves the production of various physiological conditions which could support present or future clandestine operations.”
“Aside from the offensive potential, the development of a comprehensive capability in this field of covert chemical and biological warfare gives us a thorough knowledge of the enemy’s theoretical potential, thus enabling us to defend ourselves against a foe who might not be as restrained in the use of these techniques as we are.”
As well as the progression from defensive to offensive capabilities, given the unparalleled latitude and lack of supervision, it seems that their absolutely indiscriminate power corrupted them absolutely, as not only did they make this move, but although the CIA’s research began with volunteer subjects, MKUltra proceeded quite rapidly into experimentation upon unwitting subjects.
Drugs were administered surreptitiously with the aid, in many instances, of the Bureau of Narcotics, generally being slipped into a drink at a bar, with the subjects then being taken to a “safe house” for monitoring. ‘Subjects’, who should really be named as victims, were also administered the drug without their knowledge on site at the safe houses, in offered food or drink.
The safe houses were located in New York and San Francisco and were outfitted with two-way mirrors and recording equipment, as one might expect. However, the safe houses were also decorated in a sexually suggestive style, to include Toulouse-Lautrec paintings, elaborate draperies, to include “red bedroom curtains”(which seemed somehow to be of particular significance to the Senate Select Committee), and topped off by the hiring of French can-can dancers and prostitutes.
The CIA has openly admitted that adequate medical or scientific personnel were generally not in attendance, and that in most cases, there were no medical or scientific staff there to observe the ‘experiments’.
Operation Paperclip Scientists
Doctor Sidney Gottlieb was the chief of the Technical Services Division, and the primary facilitator for the administration of illicit drugs in attempting to achieve control over human behavior. Gottlieb was a leading Nazi scientist who, along with many others, was brought into the United States under Operation Paperclip.
Instead of prosecuting these reprehensible individuals responsible for unspeakable atrocities during the Nazi’s reign of terror, The US was more interested in their clandestine experiments and knowledge, and not only exonerated them, but encouraged them to continue their work under these CIA programs.
There were 149 known subprojects of MKUltra, though there may have been more that were never revealed, and there also may be information on results and experiments that we may never know.
Most of the projects, experiments, and results were never recorded in accordance with the secretive nature of the program. Not only did the CIA keep this information from the executive branch and congress, but there was little in the way of inter-departmental communication or knowledge within the CIA itself.
That is bad enough, but in addition, all records that could be found and obtained were destroyed.
Destruction of Evidence
In January 1973, MKULTRA records were destroyed by Technical Services Division personnel acting on the verbal orders of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, Chief of TSD. Dr. Gottlieb has testified, and former Director Helms has confirmed, that in ordering the records destroyed, Dr. Gottlieb was carrying out the verbal order of then DCI Helms. As the Senate’s report states:
“The destruction of the MKULTRA documents made it impossible for the Select Committee to determine the full range and extent of the largest CIA research program involving chemical and biological agents.”
“The destruction also prevented the CIA from locating and providing medical assistance to the individuals who were subjects in the program.”
“Finally, it prevented the Committee from determining the full extent of the operations which made use of materials developed in the MKULTRA program.”
**All information in this article is derived directly from the U.S. SENATE, SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE, AND SUBCOMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH OF THE COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES, MKULTRA HEARINGS AUGUST 3, 1977