EDITOR'S NOTE: The Sentinel commenced a series on mind control in early August and suspended it until September because of the extensive research required after additional information was received.
In July, two inmates died at the Vacaville Medical Facility. According to prison officials at the time, the two may have died as a result of medical treatment, that treatment was the use of mind control or behavior modification drugs. A deeper study into the deaths of the two inmates has unraveled a mind-boggling tale of horror that has been part of California penal history for a long time, and one that caused national outcries years ago.
In the August article, the Sentinel presented a graphic portrait of some of the mind control experiments that have been allowed to continue in the United States. On November 1974 a U.S. Senate Sub committee on Constitutional Rights investigated federally-funded behavior modification programs, with emphasis on federal involvement in, and the possible threat to individual constitutional rights of behavior modification, especially involving inmates in prisons and mental institutions.
The Senate committee was appalled after reviewing documents from the following sources:
Neuro-Research Foundation's study entitled The Medical Epidemiology of Criminals.
The Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence from UCLA.
The closed adolescent treatment center.
A national uproar was created by various articles in 1974, which prompted the Senate investigation. But after all these years, the news that two inmates at Vacaville may have died from these same experiments indicates that though a nation was shocked in 1974, little was done to correct the experimentations. In 1977, a Senate subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, chaired by Senator Ted Kennedy, focussed on the CIA's testing of LSD on unwitting citizens. Only a mere handful of people within the CIA knew about the scope and details of the program.
To understand the full scope of the problem, it is important to study its origins. The Kennedy subcommittee learned about the CIA Operation M.K.-Ultra through the testimony of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. The purpose of the program, accord ing to his testimony, was to "investigate whether and how it was possible to modify an individual's behavior by covert means". Claiming the protection of the National Security Act, Dr. Gottlieb was unwilling to tell the Senate subcommittee what had been learned or gained by these experiments.
He did state, however, that the program was initially engendered by a concern that the Soviets and other enemies of the United States would get ahead of the U.S. in this field. Through the Freedom of Information Act, researchers are now able to obtain documents detailing the M.K.-Ultra program and other CIA behavior modification projects in a special reading room located on the bottom floor of the Hyatt Regency in Rosslyn, VA.
The most daring phase of the M.K.-Ultra program involved slipping unwitting American citizens LSD in real life situations. The idea for the series of experiments originated in November 1941, when William Donovan, founder and director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA during World War Two. At that time the intelligence agency invested $5000 for the "truth drug" program. Experiments with scopolamine and morphine proved both unfruitful and very dangerous. The program tested scores of other drugs, including mescaline, barbituates, benzedrine, cannabis indica, to name a few.
The U.S. was highly concerned over the heavy losses of freighters and other ships in the North Atlantic, all victims of German U-boats. Information about German U-boat strategy was desperately needed and it was believed that the information could be obtained through drug-influenced interrogations of German naval P.O.W.s, in violation of the Geneva Accords.
Tetrahydrocannabinol acetate, a colorless, odorless marijuana extract, was used to lace a cigarette or food substance without detection. Initially, the experiments were done on volunteer U.S. Army and OSS personnel, and testing was also disguised as a remedy for shell shock. The volunteers became known as "Donovan's Dreamers". The experiments were so hush-hush, that only a few top officials knew about them. President Franklin Roosevelt was aware of the experiments. The "truth drug" achieved mixed success.
The experiments were halted when a memo was written: "The drug defies all but the most expert and search analysis, and for all practical purposes can be considered beyond analysis." The OSS did not, however, halt the program. In 1943 field tests of the extract were being con ducted, despite the order to halt them. The most celebrated test was conducted by Captain George Hunter White, an OSS agent and ex-law enforcement official, on August Del Grazio, aka Augie Dallas, aka Dell, aka Little Augie, a New York gangster. Cigarettes laced with the acetate were offered to Augie without his knowledge of the content. Augie, who had served time in prison for assault and murder, had been one of the world's most notorious drug dealers and smugglers. He operated an opium alkaloid factory in Turkey and he was a leader in the Italian underworld on the Lower East Side of New York. Under the influence of the drug, Augie revealed volumes of information about the under world operations, including the names of high ranking officials who took bribes from the mob. These experiments led to the encouragement of Donovan. A new memo was issued: "Cigarette experiments indicated that we had a mechanism which offered promise in relaxing prisoners to be interrogated."
When the OSS was disbanded after the war, Captain White continued to administer behavior modifying drugs. In 1947, the CIA replaced the OSS. White's service record indicates that he worked with the OSS, and by 1954 he was a high ranking Federal Narcotics Bureau officer who had been loaned to the CIA on a part-time basis.
White rented an apartment in Greenwich Village equipped with one-way mirrors, surveillance gadgets and disguised himself as a seaman. White drugged his acquaintances with LSD and brought them back to his apartment. In 1955, the operation shifted to San Francisco. In San Francisco, "safehouses" were established under the code name Operation Midnight Climax. Midnight Climax hired prostitute addicts who lured men from bars back to the safehouses after their drinks had been spiked with LSD. White filmed the events in the safehouses. The purpose of these "national security brothels" was to enable the CIA to experiment with the act of lovemaking for extracting information from men. The safehouse experiments continued until 1963 until CIA Inspector General John Earman criticized Richard Helms, the director of the CIA and father of the M.K.-Ultra project. Earman charged the new director John McCone had not been fully briefed on the M.K.-Ultra Project when he took office and that "the concepts involved in manipulating human behavior are found by many people within and outside the Agency to be distasteful and unethical." He stated that "the rights and interest of U.S. citizens are placed in jeopardy". The Inspector General stated that LSD had been tested on individuals at all social levels, high and low, native American and foreign."
Earman's criticisms were rebuffed by Helms, who warned, "Positive operation capacity to use drugs is diminishing owing to a lack of realistic testing. Tests were necessary to keep up with the Soviets." But in 1964, Helms had testified before the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President John Kennedy, that "Soviet research has consistently lagged five years behind Western research".
Upon leaving government service in 1966, Captain White wrote a startling letter to his superior. In the letter to Dr. Gottlieb, Captain White reminisced about his work in the safehouses with LSD. His comments were frightening. "I was a very minor missionary, actually a heretic, but I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun," White wrote. "Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the all-highest?"
(NEXT: How the drug experiments helped bring about the rebirth of the mafia and the French Connection.)
Go To Part Three of the Series
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