Saturday, February 16, 2008

CIA Big Pharma Link to Absolute Mind Control

52% of licensed medical physicians in America take psychotropic
drugs every week.
--Harvard Medical School

Another mass killing and horror has occurred due to Big-Pharma's monopoly over reason and their comfortable seat at the Republican power table. Is dumbing down our children then drugging them up an irreversible political trend by entrenched Republican interests? Illinois University shooter Steven P. Kazmierczak apparently went crazy due in part to sexual identity issues and anti-depressant drug withdrawals, most likely from Effexor XR, Prozac or Xanax. In the 2004 election cycle, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals donated only 26.9% to Democrats and over 70% to Republicans. A Wyeth spokesperson said the political parties of candidates do not "necessarily come into play" when the company makes decisions on campaign contributions. Despite significant data on the adverse affects of these drugs, the FDA under Republicans has allowed major segments of our population to become addicted to them. Of course, they do this by the Orwellian double-speak that such drugs are safe, effective and "non-addictive."

These are the same people who told you that opium-based sedatives in your child's cold medicine was "safe, effective and non-addictive." In reality, such sedation indoctrinates children into their for-profit drug culture. It serves absolutely no other function. We now have massive evidence to prove that our secret government's wrongful influence over the entire drug industry is profoundly manifest.

View the YouTube Free Doctor Visit on the truth of Big Pharma

Over the past ten years a Republican Congress has accepted huge donations from drug companies, second only to the military establishment. There has likewise been a dramatic increase in prescribing these drugs to children and young adults, often due to the effects of these children being held in sexual ignorance throughout their childhood. Women and mothers are now routinely coached to go onto drugs instead of dealing with their family issues, often related to sexual repression and imposed ignorance. Men are increasingly troubled by sexual identity issues. Fathers are now routinely portrayed as "predators." What is really going on?

The psychological community took a radical change toward CIA-directed drugs as we follow the money back to HYPe "truth" programming. The real truth that Americans can't seem to handle is that such drugs are the lubricant for illegal and secretive social engineering that is happening all around them. Republican "legal" drugs do more to re-shape, dumb-down and destroy American families than any illegal drug, most illegal drugs being deliberately employed against minorities. Americans have been conditioned like rabbits to eat these things and never question their own government, never question anything. That's the whole point of drugging them.

The Hartford Courant reports that the latest warning against prescribing an antidepressant drug for children comes from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals itself, makers of Effexor, a drug just like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil--a class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors class (SSRIs). In June of last year, Paxil was banned for children by the UK and Irish governments. And on August 26, Connecticut followed suit.

After a decade of denial and concealment of the adverse drug reactions suffered by thousands of people who were prescribed antidepressants by their unsuspecting doctor, some of the documented hazards associated with SSRI antidepressant drugs are finally being brought to public notice.

The Courant reports that Wyeth sent a two-page letter on Aug 22 to health care workers in the US warning about the hazards of prescribing Effexor for children. The Wyeth letter--which has yet to be posted on the company's website-- states that Effexor was not effective in treating depression or anxiety and that there were increased "reports of hostility and especially in Major Depressive Disorder, suicide-related adverse events such as suicidal ideation and self-harm."

A similar warning letter about Paxil was sent to health care workers in Britain-- but not the US--by GlaxoSmithKline in June. [See:

The SSRI class of antidepressants work the same way, they induce similar changes in serotonin and other neuroreceptors, causing dysfunction with chronic use. Reports of hostility and "suicide-related adverse events" are a risk with all SSRIs--as is the risk of severe drug withdrawal symptoms. The major difference between the SSRI brand names is their duration in the body.

In light of the acknowledgement by the manufacturers of Paxil and Effexor that in controlled clinical trials these drugs induced double the rate of suicide related adverse events compared to placebo, one has to wonder about the validity of the publicized Zoloft pediatric study sponsored by Pfizer. Pfizer's study claims that Zoloft was shown to be highly effective and safe in children. It was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. See:

Publication in JAMA ensured media attention. Reports in the national media, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and TV networks. "Zoloft Helps Depression in Kids" "Antidepressant Use for Kids Gains Support" As a result, Pfizer's stock shot up by 14 cents. See: The Wall Street Journal,,SB106193480721126200,00.html

But are the claimed findings of the Pfizer study credible? Only an independent evaluation of the full data by analysts who are in no way affiliated with Pfizer or any psychotropic drug manufacturer will provide a credible answer. Pfizer executives are major Republican contributors and have had a profound impact on how we treat children's mental issues through public policy.

The 1976 Church Committee hearings on the CIA and its mind control projects like MK-ULTRA did scratch the surface of a few of its goals. Anyone can research these findings:

1) To develop "substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public."

2) To develop "materials to render the induction of hypnosis easier and substances which will produce 'pure' euphoria with no subsequent let-down."

3) To develop "materials and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use."

4) To develop "substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced."

5) To develop "substances which will lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men. "

Once the population is divided, demoralized and drugged, it will be easy to bamboozle them out of their Constitution.

LSD was invented in Switzerland by Albert Hofmann, a researcher for Sandoz pharmaceuticals. It did not spontaneously appear among the youth of the Western world as a gift from the God of Getting' High. The CIA was on to acid long before the flower children.

So, for that matter, were upstanding citizens like Time-Life magnate Henry Luce and his wife, Clare Boothe Luce, who openly sang the praises of their magical mystery tours during the early sixties. Henry, a staunch conservative with close connections to the CIA, once dropped acid on the golf course and then claimed he had enjoyed a little chat with God.

While the cognoscenti had the benefit of tuned-in physicians, other psychedelic pioneers took their first trips as part of CIA-controlled research studies.

At least one person committed suicide after becoming an unwitting subject of a CIA LSD test, crashing through a high-story plate-glass window in a New York hotel as his Agency guardian watched. (Or perhaps the guardian did more than watch. In June 1994 the victim's family had his thirty-year-old corpse exhumed to check for signs that he may have been thrown out that window.) Numerous others lost their grip on reality.

MK-ULTRA was the code name the CIA used for its program directed at gaining control over human behavior through "covert use of chemical and biological materials," as proposed by Richard Helms. The name itself was a variation on ULTRA, the U.S. intelligence program behind Nazi lines in World War II, of which the CIA's veteran spies were justly proud.

Helms later became the CIA director and gained a measure of notoriety for his Watergate "lying to Congress" conviction and a touch of immortality in Thomas Powers's aptly named biography, The Man Who Kept the Secrets. Helms founded the MK-ULTRA program and justified its notable unethical aspects with the rationale, "We are not Boy Scouts."

At the time, the spook scientists suspected that LSD had the potential to reprogram the human personality. In retrospect, they were probably right - Timothy Leary spoke in similar terms, though he saw unlimited potential for self-improvement in this "reprogramming." The CIA and the military simply couldn't figure out how to harness the drug's power. Thank goodness. Their idea was not to open "the doors of perception" but to convert otherwise free human beings into automatons.

"We must remember to thank the CIA and the army for LSD," spoke no less an authority figure on matters psychedelic than John Lennon. "They invented LSD to control people and what it did was give us freedom."

Or did it? The acid-tripping intersection between the CIA and the counterculture is one of the areas where the on-the-record facts about MK-ULTRA confirm an active conspiracy over our Constitution. Building a massive fog of wrongful authority is key to this conspiracy. It has been suggested, even by prominent participants in the counterculture, that with LSD the CIA found the ultimate weapon against the youth movement and all future generations.

Officially, the MK-ULTRA program ran from 1953 to 1964, at which time it was renamed MK-SEARCH and continued until 1973. However, U.S. intelligence and military operations with that same purpose had been ongoing at least since World War II and likely chugged ahead for many years after MK-ULTRA's publicly stated conclusion. MK-ULTRA encompassed an undetermined number of bizarre and often grotesque experiments. In one, psychiatrist Ewen Cameron received CIA funding to test a procedure he called "depatterning." This technique, Cameron explained when he applied for his CIA grant (through a front group called the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology), involved the "breaking down of ongoing patterns of the patient's behavior by means of particularly intensive electroshocks," in addition to LSD. Some of his subjects suffered brain damage and other debilitations. One sued the government and won an out-of-court settlement in 1988.

Then there was operation "Midnight Climax," in which prostitutes lured unsuspecting johns to a CIA bordello in San Francisco. There they slipped their clients an LSD mickey while Agency researchers savored the "scientific" action from behind a two-way mirror, a pitcher of martinis at the ready.

Author John Marks, whose The Search for the Manchurian Candidate is on of the most thoroughgoing volumes yet assembled on U.S. government mind-control research, readily admits that all of his source material comprised but ten boxes of documents - but those took him a year to comprehend despite the aid of a research staff.

Marks writes that he sought access to records of a branch of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology, the Office of Research and Development (ORD), which took over behavioral (i.e., mind control) research after MK-ULTRA's staff dispersed.

Marks was told that ORD's files contained 130 boxed of documents relating to behavioral research. Even if they were all released, their sheer bulk is sufficient to fend off even the most dedicated - or obsessed - investigator. To generate such an intimidating volume of paper must have taken considerable time and effort. Yet curiously, the CIA has always claimed that its attempts to create real-life incarnations of Richard Condon's unfortunate protagonist Raymond Shaw - the hypnotically programmed assassin of The Manchurian Candidate - were a complete bust.

If their demurrals are to be trusted, then this particular program constitutes one of the least cost-effective deployments of taxpayer dollars in the history of the U.S. government, which is rife with non-cost-effective dollar deployments.

The CIA's most effective line of defense against exposure of their mind-control operations (or any of their operations, for that matter) has always been self-effacement. The agency portrays its agents as incompetent stooges, encouraging the public to laugh at their wacky attempts to formulate cancer potions and knock off foreign leaders.

Under this cover story, MK-ULTRA's research team was nothing but a bunch of ineffectual eccentrics. "We are sufficiently ineffective so our findings can be published," quipped one MK-ULTRA consultant.

Despite the findings of a Senate committee headed by Ted Kennedy that U.S. mind-control research was a big silly failure and even though Marks - whose approach is fairly conservative - acknowledges that he found no record to prove it, the project may have indeed succeeded.

"I cannot be positive that they never found a technique to control people," Marks writes," despite my definite bias in favor of the idea that the human spirit defeated the manipulators."

A sunny view of human nature, that. And indeed a consoling one. But the human spirit, history sadly proves, is far from indomitable. The clandestine researchers explored every possible means of manipulating the human mind. The CIA's experiments with LSD are the most famous MK-ULTRA undertakings, but acid was not even the most potent drug investigated by intelligence and military agencies. Nor did they limit their inquiries to drugs. Hypnosis, electronic brain implants, microwave transmissions and parapsychology also received intense scrutiny. Marks, Kennedy, and many others apparently believe that the U.S. government failed where all-too-many far less sophisticated operations - from the Moonies to Scientology to EST - have scored resounding triumphs. Brainwashing is commonplace among "cults," but not with the multimillion-dollar resources of the United States government's military and intelligence operations?

For that matter, the (supposed) impetus for the program was the reported success of communist countries in "brainwashing." The word itself originally applied to several soldiers who'd fought in the Korean War who exhibited strange behavior and had large blank spots in their memories - particularly when it came to their travels through regions of Manchuria. Those incidents were the inspiration for Condon's novel, in which a group of American soldiers are hypnotically brainwashed by the Korean and Chinese communists and one is programmed to kill a presidential candidate.

Interestingly, the belief that one's psyche is being invaded by radio transmissions or electrical implants is considered a symptom of paranoid schizophrenia. But there is no doubt that the CIA contemplated using those methods and carried out such experiments on animals, and the way these things go it would require the willful naivete of, say, a Senate subcommittee to maintain that they stopped there. Even Marks ,who exercises the journalistic wisdom to stick only to what he can back up with hard documentation, readily acknowledges that the clandestine researchers "probably" planted electrode experiments "went far beyond giving monkeys orgasms," one of the researchers' early achievements.

The ultimate goal of mind control would have been to produce a Manchurian Candidate assassin, an agent who didn't know he (or she) was an agent - brainwashed and programmed to carry out that most sensitive of missions. Whether the program's accomplishments reached that peak will probably never be public knowledge. So we are left to guess whether certain humans have been "programmed to kill." In 1967, Luis Castillo, a Puerto Rican arrested in the Philippines for planning to bump off Ferdinand Marcos, claimed (while in a hypnotic trance) that he had been implanted with a posthypnotic suggestion to carry out the assassination. Sirhan Sirhan, convicted as the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, showed unmistakable symptoms of hypnosis. A psychiatrist testifying in Sirhan's defense said that the accused assassin was in a trance when he shot Kennedy, albeit a self-induced one. Author Robert Kaiser echoed that doctor's conclusions in his book RFK Must Die! Others, of course, have offered darker conjectures regarding the origins of Sirhan's symptoms.

James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of Martin Luther King, also had a known fascination with hypnosis, and, more recently, British lawyer Fenton Bressler has assembled has assembled circumstantial evidence to support a theory that Mark David Chapman, slayer of John Lennon, was subject to CIA mind control. Way back in 1967, a book titled Were We Controlled?, whose unknown author used the pseudonym Lincoln Lawrence, stated that both Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby were under mind control of some kind. The book may have had at least a trace of validity: Something in the book convinced Oswald's mother that the author was personally acquainted with her son.

Did MK-ULTRA spin off a wave of history-altering assassinations - did it whelp a brood of hypnoprogrammed killers? The definitive answer to that question will certainly never reach the public. We are left, with John Marks, to hope on faith alone that it did not, but always with the uneasy knowledge that it could have.

Perhaps not through assassinations, and perhaps not even intentionally, MK-ULTRA definitely altered a generation. John Lennon was far from the only sixties acid-hero to make the connection between the mood of the streets and the secret CIA labs. "A surprising number of counterculture veterans endorsed the notion that the CIA disseminated street acid en masse to deflate the political potency of the youth rebellion," write Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain in Acid Dreams, their chronicle of both the clandestine and countercultural sides of the LSD revolution.

"By magnifying the impulse toward revolutionism out of context, acid sped up the process by which the Movement became unglued," the authors continue. "The use of LSD among young people in the U.S. reached a peak in the late 1960s, shortly after the CIA initiated a series of covert operations designed to disrupt, discredit, and neutralize the New Left. Was this merely a historical coincidence, or did the Agency actually take steps to promote the illicit acid trade?"

The tale of Ronald Stark, told by lee and Shlain, may provide the connection between the CIA and the Left. Stark was a leading distributor of LSD in the late 1960s - the same time acid use was at its heaviest - and apparently a CIA operative. The Agency has never admitted this, but an Italian judge deciding in 1979 whether to try Stark for "armed banditry" in relation to Stark's many contacts with terrorists (among other things, Stark accurately predicted the assassination of Aldo Moro) released the drug dealer after finding "an impressive series of scrupulously enumerated proofs" that Stark had worked for the CIA "from 1960 onward."

"It could have been," mused Tim Scully, the chief of Stark's major LSD-brewing outfit (a group of idealistic radicals called the Brotherhood who grew to feel exploited by Stark), "that he was employed by an American intelligence agency that wanted to see more psychedelic drugs on the street." But Lee and Shlain leave open the possibility that Stark may have been simply one of the world's most ingenious con artists - a possibility acknowledged by most everyone to come in contact with Stark.

The CIA's original "acid dream" was that LSD would open the mind to suggestion, but they found the drug too potent to manage. Sometime around 1971, right before MK-ULTRA founder and, by then, CIA director Richard Helms hung up his trenchcoat and stepped down from the CIA's top post, he ordered the majority of secret MK-ULTRA documents destroyed due to "a burgeoning paper problem." Among the eradicated material, Lee and Shlain report, were "all existing copies of a of a classified CIA manual titled LSD: Some Un-Psychedelic Implications."

There exists today no on-paper evidence (that anyone has yet uncovered) that MK-ULTRA was the progenitor of either a conspiracy to unleash remote-controlled lethal human robots or to emasculate an entire generation by oversaturating it with a mind-frying drug. But MK-ULTRA was very real and the danger of a secret government program to control the thoughts of its citizens, even just a few of them at a time, needs no elaboration.

The navy became interested in mescaline as an interrogation agent when American investigators learned of mind control experiments carried out by Nazi doctors at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II. After administering the hallucinogen to 30 prisoners, the Nazis concluded 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." But the drug still afforded certain advantages to SS interrogators, who were consistently able to draw "even the most intimate secrets from the [subject] when questions where cleverly put." Not surprisingly, "sentiments of hatred and revenge were exposed in every case."

The mescaline experiments at Dachau were described in a lengthy report by the US Naval Technical Mission, which swept across Europe in search of every scrap of industrial material and scientific data that could be garnered from the fallen Reich. This mission set the stage for the wholesale importation of more than 600 top Nazi scientists under the auspices of Project paperclip -- which the CIA supervised during the early years of the Cold War. Among those who emigrated to the US in such a fashion was Dr Hubertus Strughold, the German scientist whose chief subordinates (Dr Sigmund Ruff and Dr Sigmund Rascher) were directly involved in "aviation medicine" experiments at Dachau, which included the mescaline studies. Despite recurring allegations that he sanctioned medical atrocities during the war, Strughold settled in Texas and became an important figure in America's space program. After Werner von Braun, he was the top Nazi scientist employed by the American government, and he was subsequently hailed by NASA as the "father of space medicine".

The CIA, meanwhile, had launched an intensive research effort geared toward developing "special" interrogation techniques. Two methods showed promise in the late 1940s. The first involved narcohypnosis -- in which a CIA psychiatrist attempted to induce a trance state after administering a mild sedative. A second technique involved a combination of two different drugs with contradictory effects. A heavy dose of barbituates was given to knock the subject out, and then he received an injection of a stimulant, usually some type of amphetamine. As he started to come out of a somnambulant state, he would reach a certain ineffable point prior to becoming fully conscious. Described in CIA documents as "the twilight zone", this groggy condition was considered optimal for interrogation.

CIA doctors attempted to extend the stuporous limbo as long as possible. In order to maintain the delicate balance between consciousness and unconsciousness, an intravenous hookup was inserted in both the subject's arms. One set of works contained a downer, the other an upper (the classic "goofball" effect), with a mere flick of the finger an interrogator could regulate the flow of chemicals. The idea was to produce a "push" -- a sudden outpouring of thoughts, emotions, confidences, and whatnot. Along this line, various combinations were tested. Seconal and Dexedrine; Pentothal and Desoxyn; and depending on the whim of the spy in charge,some marijuana (the old OSS stand-by, which the CIA referred to as "sugar") might be thrown in for good measure.

The goofball approach was not a precision science. There were no strictly prescribed rules or operating procedures regarding what drugs should be employed in a given situation. The CIA interrogators were left to their own devices, and a certain degree of recklessness was perhaps inevitable. In one case, a group of CIA experts hastily drafted a memo after reviewing a report prepared by one of the Agency's special interrogation teams. The medical consultants pointed out that "the amounts of scopolamine administered were extremely heavy." They also noted that the best results were obtained when two or at most three different chemicals were used in a session. In this case, however, heavy doses of scopolamine were administered along with thiamine, sodium luminal, atropine sulfate, sodium pentothal and caffeine sulfate. One of the CIA's professional consultants in "H" techniques also questioned why hypnosis was attempted "after a long and continuous use of chemicals, after the subject had vomited, and after apparently a maximum tolerance point had been reached with the chemicals." Everyone who read the interrogation report agreed that hypnosis was useless, if not impossible, under such conditions. Nevertheless, the memo concluded by reaffirming that "no criticism is intended whatsoever" and that "the choice of operating weapons" must be left to the agents in the field.

Despite the potential hazards and tenuousness of the procedure as a whole, special interrogations were strongly endorsed by Agency officials. A CIA document dated November 26, 1951, announced:

"We're now convinced that we can maintain a subject in a controlled state for a much longer period of time that we heretofore had believed possible. Furthermore, we feel that by use of certain chemicals or combinations, we can, in a very high percentage of cases, produce relevant information."
Although these techniques were still considered experimental, the prevailing opinion among members of the special interrogation teams was that there had been enough experiments "to justify giving the green light to operational use of the techniques." "There will be many a failure," a CIA scientist acknowledged, but he was quick to stress that "very success with this method will be pure gravy."

In an effort to expand its research program, the CIA contacted academics and other outside experts who specialized in areas of mutual interest. Liaison was established with the research sections of police departments and criminology laboratories; medical practitioners, professional hypnotists, and psychiatrists were brought on as paid consultants, and various branches of the military provided assistance. Oftentimes, these arrangements involved a cover to conceal the CIA's interest in behavior modification. With the bureaucratic apparatus already in place, the CIA's mind control efforts were integrated into a single project under the codename BLUEBIRD. Due to the extreme sensitivity of the project, the usual channels for authorization were bypassed -- instead of going through the Projects Review Committee, the proposal for BLUEBIRD was submitted directly to CIA director Roscoe Hillenkoetter, who authorized the use of unvouchered funds to finance the hush-hush undertaking. With this seal of approval, the CIA's first major drug-testing program was officially launched. BLUEBIRD was to remained a carefully guarded secret, for if word of the program leaked out, it would have been a great embarrassment and a detriment to American intelligence. As one CIA document put it, BLUEBIRD material was "not fit for public consumption."

From the outset, the CIA's mind control program had an explicit domestic angle. A memo dated July 13, 1951, described the Agency's mind-bending efforts as "broad and comprehensive, involving both domestic and overseas activities, and taking into consideration the programs and objectives of other departments, principally the military services." BLUEBIRD activities were designed to create as "exploitable alteration of personality" in selected individuals; specific targets included "potential agents, defectors, refugees, POWs," and a vague category of "others." A number of units within the CIA participated in this endeavor, including the Inspection and Security Staff (the forerunner of the Office of Security), which assumed overall responsibility for running the program and dispatching the special interrogation teams. Colonel Sheffield Edwards, the chairman of the BLUEBIRD steering committee, consistently pushed for a more reliable speech-inducing substance. By the time BLUEBIRD evolved into Operation ARTICHOKE (the formal change in codenames occurred August 1951), Security officials were still searching for the magic technique -- the deus ex machina -- that would guarantee surefire results.

The whole concept of a truth drug was a bit farfetched to begin with. It presupposed that there was a way to chemically bypass the mind's censor and turn the psyche inside out, unleashing a profusion of buried secrets, and that surely some approximation of "truth" would emerge amidst all the personal debris. In this respect the CIA's quest resembled a skewed version of a familiar mythological theme from which such images as the Philosopher's Stone and the Fountain of Youth derive -- that through touching or ingesting something one can acquire wisdom, immortality, or eternal peace. It is more than a bit ironic that the biblical inscription on the marble wall of the main lobby at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, reads, "And ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free".

The freewheeling atmosphere that prevailed during the CIA's early years encouraged an "anything goes" attitude among researchers associated with the mind control program. This was before the Agency's bureaucratic arteries began to harden, and those who participated on Operation ARTICHOKE were intent on leaving no stone unturned in an effort to deliver the ultimate truth drug. A number of agents were sent on fact-finding missions to all corners of the globe to procure samples of rare herbs and botanicals. The results of one such trip were recorded in a heavily deleted document entitled "Exploration of Potential Plant Resources in the Caribbean Region". Among the numerous items mentioned in this report, a few were particularly intriguing. A plant called a "stupid bush", characterized by the CIA as a psychogenic agent and a pernicious weed, was said to proliferate in Puerto Rico and Saint Thomas. Its effects were shrouded in mystery. An "information bush" was also discovered. This shrub stumped CIA experts, who were at a loss to pin down its properties. The "information bush" was listed as a psychogenic agent followed by a lingering question mark. What type of information -- prophetic or mundane -- might be evoked by this unusual herb was unclear. Nor was it known whether the "information bush" could be used as an antidote to the "stupid bush" or vice versa. [grin grin grin]

The CIA studied a veritable pharmacopoeia of drugs with the hope of achieving a breakthrough. At one point during the early 1950s Uncle Sam's secret agents viewed cocaine as a potential truth serum. "Cocaine's general effects have been somewhat neglected", noted an astute researcher. Whereupon tests were conducted that enabled the CIA to determine that the precious powder "will produce elation, talkativeness, etc." when administer by injection. "Larger doses," according to a previously classified document, "may cause fearfulness and alarming hallucinations." The document goes on to report that cocaine "counteracts... the catatonia of catatonic schizophrenics" and concludes with the recommendation that the drug be studied further.

A number of cocaine derivatives were also investigated from an interrogation standpoint. Procaine, a synthetic analogue, was tested on mental patients and the results were intriguing. When injected into the frontal lobe of the brain through trephine holes in the skull, the drug "produced free and spontaneous speech within two days in mute schizophrenics". This procedure was rejected as "too surgical for our use". Nevertheless, according to a CIA pharmacologist, "it is possible that such a drug could be gotten into the general circulation of subject without surgery, hypodermic or feeding." He suggested a method known as iontophoresis, which involves using an electric current to transfer the ions of a chosen medicament into the tissues of the body.

The CIA's infatuation with cocaine was short-lived. It may have titilated the nostrils of more than a few spies and produced some heady speculation, but after the initial inspiration it was back to square one. Perhaps their expectations were too high for any drug to accommodate. Or maybe a new approach to the problem was required.

The search for an effective interrogation technique eventually led to heroin. Not the heroin that ex-Nazi pilots under CIA contract smuggled out of the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia on CIA proprietary airlines during the late 1940s and 1950s; nor the heroin that was pumped into America's black and brown ghettos after passing through contraband networks controlled by mobsters who moonlighted as CIA hitmen. The Agency's involvement in worldwide heroin traffic, which has been well documented in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred McCoy, went far beyond the scope of Operation ARTICHOKE, which was primarily concerned with eliciting information from recalcitrant subjects. However, ARTICHOKE scientists did see possible advantages in heroin as a mind control drug. According to a CIA document dated April 26, 1952, heroin was "frequently used by police and intelligence officers on a routine basis [emphasis added]". The cold turkey theory of interrogation: CIA operatives determined that heroin and other habit-forming substances "can be useful in reverse because of the stresses produced when they are withdrawn from those who are addicted to their use".

Enter LSD
It was with the hope of finding the long-sought miracle drug that CIA investigators first began to dabble with LSD-25 in the early 1950s. At the time very little was known about the hallucinogen, even in scientific circles. Dr Werner Stoll, the son of Sandoz president Arthur Stoll and a colleague of Albert Hoffmann's, was the first person to investigate the psychological properties of LSD. The results of his study were presented in the Swiss Archives of Neurology in 1947. Stoll reported that LSD produced disturbances in perception, hallucinations, and acceleration in thinking; moreover, the drug was found to blunt the usual suspiciousness of schizophrenic patients. No favorable aftereffects were described. Two years later in the same journal Stoll contributed a second report entitled "A New Hallucinatory Agent, Active in Very Small Amounts".

The fact that LSD caused hallucinations should not have been a total surprise to the scientific community. Sandoz first became interested in ergot, the natural source of all lysergic acid. The rye fungus had a mysterious and contradictory reputation. In China and parts of the Mideast it was thought to possess medicinal qualities, and certain scholars believe that it may have been used in sacred rites in ancient Greece. In other parts of Europe, however, the same fungus was associated with the horrible malady known as St Anthony's Fire, which struck periodically like the plague. Medieval chronicles tell of villages and towns where nearly everyone went mad for a few days after ergot-diseased rye was unknowingly milled into flour and baked as bread. Men were afflicted with gangrenous limbs that looked like blackened stumps, and pregnant women miscarried. Even in modern times, there have been reports of ergot-related epidemics.

FOOTNOTE: In 1951 hundreds of respectable citizens in Pont-Saint-Esprit, a small French village, went completely berserk one evening. Some of the town's leading citizens jumped from windows into the Rhone. Others ran through the streets screaming abut being chased by lions, tigers, and "bandits with donkey ears". Many died, and those who survived suffered strange aftereffects for weeks. In his book The Day of St Anthony's Fire, John C Fuller attributes this bizarre outbreak to rye flour contaminated with ergot.

The CIA inherited this ambiguous legacy when it embraced LSD as a mind control drug. An ARTICHOKE document dated October 21, 1951, indicates that acid was tested initially as part of a pilot study of the effects of various chemicals "on the conscious suppression of experimental or non-threat secrets". In addition to lysergic acid this particular survey covered a wide range of substances, including morphine, ether, Benzedrine, ethyl alcohol, and mescaline. "There is no question," noted the author of this report, "that drugs are already on hand (and new ones are being produced) that can destroy integrity and make indiscreet the most dependable individual." The report concluded by recommending that LSD be critically tested "under threat conditions beyond the scope of civilian experimentation". POWs, federal prisoners, and Security officers were mentioned as possible candidates for these field experiments.

In another study designed to ascertain optimal dosage levels for interrogation sessions, a CIA psychiatrist administered LSD to "at least 12 human subjects of not too high mentality". At the outset the subjects were "told only that a new drug was being tested and promised that nothing serious or dangerous would happen to them.... During the intoxication they realized something was happening, but were never told exactly what." A dosage range of 100 to 150 micrograms was finally selected, and the Agency proceeded to test the drug in mock interrogation trials.

Initial reports seemed promising. In one instance LSD was given to an officer who had been instructed not to reveal "a significant military secret". When questioned, however, "he gave all the details of the secret... and after the effects of the LSD had worn off, the officer had no knowledge of revealing the information (complete amnesia)." Favorable reports kept coming in, and when this phase of experimentation was completed, the CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) prepared a lengthy memorandum entitled "Potential New Agent for Unconventional Warfare". LSD was said to be useful "for eliciting true nd accurate statements from subjects under its influence during interrogation". Moreover, the data on hand suggested that LSD might help in reviving memories of past experiences.

It almost seemed to good to be true -- a drug that unearthed secrets buried deep in the unconscious mind but also caused amnesia during the effective period. The implications were downright astounding. Soon the entire CIA hierarchy was head over heels as news of what appeared to be a major breakthrough sent shock waves rippling through headquarters. (C.P.Snow once said, "The euphoria of secrecy goes to the head.") For years they had searched, and now they were on the verge of finding the Holy Grail of the cloak-and-dagger trade. As one CIA officer recalled, "We had thought at first this was the secret that was going to unlock the universe."

But the sense of elation did not last long. As the secret research progressed, the CIA ran into problems. Eventually they came to recognize that LSD was not really a truth serum in the classical sense. Accurate information could not always be obtained from people under the influence of LSD because it induced a "marked anxiety and loss of reality contact". Those who received unwitting doses experienced an intense distortion of time, place, and body image, frequently culminating in full-blown paranoid reactions. The bizarre hallucinations caused by the drug often proved more of a hindrance than an aid to the interrogation process. There was always the risk, for example, that an enemy spy who started to trip out would realize he'd been drugged. This could make him overly suspicious and taciturn to the point of clammy up entirely.

There were other pitfalls that made the situation even more precarious from an interrogation standpoint. While anxiety was the predominant characteristic displayed during LSD sessions, some people experienced delusions of grandeur and omnipotence. An entire operation might backfire if someone had an ecstatic or transcendental experience and became convinced that he could defy his interrogators indefinitely. And then there was the question of amnesia, which was not as cut-and-dried as first supposed. Everyone agreed that a person would probably have a difficult time recalling exactly what happened while he was high on LSD, but that didn't mean his mind would be completely blank. While the drug might distort memory to some degree, it did not destroy it.

When CIA scientists tested a drug for speech-inducing purposes and found that it didn't work, they usually put it aside and tried something else. But such was not the case with LSD. Although early reports proved overoptimistic, the Agency was not about the discard such a powerful and unusual substance simply because it did not live up to its original expectations. They had to shift gears. A reassessment of the strategic implications of LSD was necessary. If, strictly speaking, LSD was not a reliable truth drug, then how else could it be used?

CIA researchers were intrigued by this new chemical, but they didn't quite know what to make of it. LSD was significantly different from anything else they knew about. "The most fascinating thing about it," a CIA psychologist recalled, "was that such minute quantities had such a terrible effect." Mere micrograms could create "serious mental confusion... and render the mind temporarily susceptible to suggestion". Moreover, the drug was colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and therefore easily concealed in food and beverage. But it was hard to predict the response to LSD. On certain occasions acid seemed to cause an uninhibited disclosure of information, but oftentimes the overwhelming anxiety experienced by the subject obstructed the interrogation process. And there were unexplainable mood swings -- from total panic to boundless blissout. How could one drug produce such extreme behavior and contradictory reactions? It didn't make sense.

As research continued, the situation became even more perplexing. At one point a group of Security officers did an about-face and suggested that acid might best be employed as an anti-interrogation substance:

"Since information obtained from a person in a psychotic state would be unrealistic, bizarre, and extremely difficult to assess, the self-administration of LSD-25, which is effective in minute doses, might in special circumstances offer an operative temporary protection against interrogation [emphasis added]."
This proposal was somewhat akin to a suicide pill scenario. Secret agents would be equipped with micro-pellets of LSD to take on dangerous assignments. If they fell into enemy hands and were about to be interrogated, they could pop a tab of acid as a preventive measure and babble gibberish. Obviously this idea was impractical, but it showed just how confused the CIA's top scientists were about LSD. First they thought it was a true serum, then a lie serum, and for a while they didn't know what to think.

To make matters worse, there was a great deal of concern within the Agency that the Soviets and the Red Chinese might also have designs on LSD as an espionage weapon. A survey conducted by the Officer of Scientific Intelligence noted that ergot was a commercial product in numerous Eastern Bloc countries. The enigmatic fungus also flourished in the Soviet Union, but Russian ergot had not yet appeared in foreign markets. Could this mean the Soviets were hoarding their supplies? Since information on the chemical structure of LSD was available in scientific journals as early as 1947, the Russians might have been stockpiling raw ergot in order to convert it into a mind control weapon.

"Although no Soviet data are available on LSD-25," the OSI study concluded, "it must be assumed that the scientists of the USSR are thoroughly cognizant of the strategic importance of this powerful new drug and are capable of producing it at any time."
Were the Russian really into acid? "I'm sure they were," asserted John Gittlinger, one of the CIA's leading psychologists during the Cold War, "but if you ask me to prove it, I've never seen any direct proof of it." While hard evidence of a Soviet LSD connection was lacking, the CIA wasn't about to take any chances. What would happen, for example, if an American spy was caught and dosed by the Commies? The CIA realized that an adversary intelligence service could employ LSD "to produce anxiety or terror in medically unsophisticated subjects unable to distinguish drug-induced psychosis from actual insanity". The only way to be sure that an operative would not freak out under such circumstances would be to give him a taste of LSD (a mind control vaccine?) before he was sent on a sensitive overseas mission. Such a person would know that the effects of the drug were transitory and would therefore be in a better position to handle the experience. CIA documents actually refer to agents who were familiar with LSD as "enlightened operatives".

Along this line, Security officials proposed that LSD be administered to CIA trainee volunteers. Such a procedure would clearly demonstrate to select individuals the effects of hallucinogenic substances upon themselves and their associates. Furthermore, it would provide an opportunity to screen Agency personnel for "anxiety proneness"; those who couldn't pass the acid test would be excluded from certain critical assignments. This suggestion was well received by the ARTICHOKE steering committee, although the representative from the CIA's Medical Office felt that the test should not be "confined merely to male volunteer trainee personnel, but that it should be broadened to include all components of the Agency". According to a CIA document dated November 19, 1953, the Project Committee "verbally concurred in this recommendation".

During the next few years numerous CIA agents tried LSD. Some used the drug on repeated occasions. How did their firsthand experience with acid affect their personalities? How did it affect their attitude to their work -- particularly those who were directly involved in mind control research? What impact did it have on the program as a whole?

At the outset of the CIA's behavior control endeavors the main emphasis was on speech-inducing drugs. But when acid entered the scene, the entire program assumed a more aggressive posture. The CIA's turned-on strategic came to believe that mind control techniques could be applied to a wide range of operations above and beyond the strict category of "special interrogation". It was almost as if LSD blew the Agency's collective mind-set -- or was it mind-rut? With acid acting as a catalyst, the whole idea of what could be done with a drug , or drugs in general, was suddenly transformed. Soon a perfect compound was envisioned for every conceivable circumstance: there would be smart shots, memory erasers, "antivitamins", knock-out drops, "aphrodisiacs for operational use", drugs that caused "headache clusters" or uncontrollable twitching, drugs that could induce cancer, a stroke or a heart attack without leaving a trace as to the source of the ailment. There were chemicals to make a drunk man sober and a sober man as drunk as a fish. Even a "recruitment" pill was contemplated. What's more, according to a document dated May 5, 1955, the CIA placed a high priority on the development of a drug "which will produce 'pure euphoria' with no subsequent letdown".

This is not to suggest that the CIA had given up on LSD. On the contrary, after grappling with the drug for a number of years, the Agency devised new methods of interrogation based on the "far-out" possibilities of this mind-altering substance. When employed as a third-degree tactic, acid enabled the CIA to approach a hostile subject with a great deal of leverage. CIA operatives realized that intense mental confusion could be produced by deliberately attacking a person along psychological lines. Of all the chemicals that caused mental derangement, none was as powerful as LSD. Acid not only made people extremely anxious, it also broke down the character defenses for handling anxiety. A skillful interrogator could exploit this vulnerability by threatening to keep an unwitting subject in a tripped-out state indefinitely unless he spilled the beans. This tactic often proved successful where others had failed. CIA documents indicate that LSD was employed as an aid to interrogation on an operational basis from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s.

Laboratories of the State
When the CIA first became interested in LSD, only a handful of scientists in the United States were engaged in hallucinogenic drug research. At the time there was little private or public support for this relatively new field of experimental psychiatry, and no one had undertaken a systematic investigation of LSD. The CIA's mind control specialists sensed a golden opportunity in the making. With a sizable treasure chest at their disposal they were in a position to boost the careers of scientists whose skill and expertise would be of maximum benefit to the CIA. Almost overnight a whole new market for grants in LSD research sprang into existence as money started pouring through CIA-linked conduits or "cutouts" such as the Geschickter Fund for Medical Research, the Society for the Study of Human Ecology, and the Josiah Macy, Jr Foundation.

Among those who benefited from t he CIA's largesse was Dr Max Rinkel, the first person to bring LSD to the United States. In 1949 Rinkel, a research psychiatrist, obtained a supply of LSD from Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Switzerland and gave the drug to his partner, Dr Robert Hyde, who took the first acid trip in the Western Hemisphere. Rinkel and Hyde went on to organize an LSD study at the Boston Psychopathic Institute, a pioneering mental health clinic affiliated with Harvard University. They tested the drug on 100 volunteers and reported the initial findings in May 1950 (nearly three years before the CIA began funding their work) at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. Rinkel announced that LSD had produced "a transitory psychotic disturbance" in normal subjects. This was highly significant, for it raised the possibility that mental disorders could be studied objectively in a controlled experimental setting.

Rinkel's hypothesis was supported and expanded upon during the same forum by Dr Paul Hoch, a prominent psychiatrist who would also proffer his services to the CIA in the years ahead. Hoch reported that the symptoms produced by LSD, mescaline, and related drugs were similar to those of schizophrenia: intensity of color perception, hallucinations, depersonalization, intense anxiety, paranoia, and in some cases catatonic manifestations. As Hock put it, "LSD and Mescaline disorganize the psychic integration of the individual." he believed that the medical profession was fortunate to have access to these substances, for now it would be possible to reconstruct temporary or "model" psychoses in the laboratory. LSD was considered an exceptional research tool in that the subject could provide a detailed description of his experience while he was under the influence of the drug. It was hoped that careful analysis of these data would shed new light on schizophrenia and other enigmatic mental diseases.

Hock's landmark thesis -- that LSD was a "psychotomimetic" or "madness-mimicking" agent -- caused a sensation in scientific circles and led to several important and stimulating theories regarding the biochemical basis of schizophrenia. This in turn sparked an upsurge of interest in brain chemistry and opened new vistas in the field of experimental psychiatry. In light of the extremely high potency of LSD, it seemed completely plausible that infinitesimal traces of a psychoactive substance produced through metabolic dysfunction by the human organism might cause psychotic disturbances. Conversely, attempts to alleviate a "lysergic psychosis" might point the way toward cutting schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness.

FOOTNOTE: While the miracle cure never panned out, it is worth nothing that Thorazine was found to mollify an LSD reaction and subsequently became a standard drug for controlling patients in mental asylums and prisons.

As it turned out, the model psychosis concept dovetailed particularly well with the secret schemes of the CIA, which also viewed LSD in terms of its ability to blow minds and make people crazy. Thus it is not surprising that the CIA chose to invest in men like Rinkel and Hoch. Most scientists were flattered by the government's interest in their research, and they were eager to assist the CIA in its attempts to unravel the riddle of LSD. This was, after all, the Cold War, and one did not have to be a blue-ribboned hawk or a hard-liner to work in tandem with American intelligence.

In the early 1950s the CIA approached Dr Nick Bercel, a psychiatrist who maintained a private practice in Los Angeles. Bercel was one of the first people in the United States to work with LSD, and the CIA asked him to consider a haunting proposition. What would happen if the Russians put LSD in the water supply of a large American city? A skillful saboteur could carry enough acid in his coat pocket to turn an entire metropolis into a loony bin, assuming he found a way to distribute it equally. In light of this frightening prospect, would Bercel render a patriotic service by calculating exactly how much LSD would be required to contaminate the water supply of Los Angeles? Bercel consented, and that evening he dissolved a tiny amount of acid in a glass of tap water, only to discover that the chlorine neutralized the drug. "Don't worry," he told his CIA contact, "it won't work."

The Agency took this as a mandate, and another version of LSD was eventually concocted to overcome the drawback. A CIA document state accordingly,

"If the concept of contaminating a city's water supply seems, or in actual fact, is found to be far-fetched (this is by no means certain), there is still the possibility of contaminating, say, the water supply of a bomber base or, more easily still, that of a battleship.... Our current work contains the strong suggestion that LSD-25 will produce hysteria (unaccountable laughing, anxiety, terror).... It requires little imagination to realize what the consequences might be if a battleship's crew were so affected."
The CIA never got in touch with Bercel again, but they monitored his research reports in various medical journals. When Bercel gave LSD to spiders, they spun perfectly symmetrical webs. Animal studies also showed that cats cringed before untreated mice, and fish that normally swam close to the bottom of a water tank hovered near the top. In another experiment Dr Louis Joylon ("Jolly") West, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oklahoma, injected an elephant with a massive dose of 300,000 micrograms. Dr West, a CIA contract employee and an avid believer in the notion that hallucinogens were psychotomimetic agents, was trying to duplicate the periodic "rut" madness that overtakes male elephants for about one week each year. But the animal did not experience a model elephant psychosis; it just keeled over and remained in a motionless stupor. In attempting to revive the elephant, West administered a combination of drugs that ended up killing the poor beast.
Research on human subjects showed that LSD lodged primarily in the liver, spleen, and kidneys. Only a tiny amount (.01%) of the original dose entered the brain, and it only remained there for 20 minutes. This was a most curious finding, as the effect of LSD was not evident until the drug had disappeared entirely from the central nervous system. Some scientists thought LSD might act as a trigger mechanism, releasing or inhibiting a naturally occurring substance in the brain, but no one could figure out exactly why the drug had such a dramatic effect on the mind.

Many other questions were in need of clarification. Could the drug be fatal? What was the maximum dose? Were the effects constant, or were there variations according to different personality types? Could the reaction be accentuated by combining LSD with other chemicals? Was there an antidote? Some of these questions overlapped with legitimate medical concerns, and researchers on CIA stipends published unclassified versions of their work in prestigious scientific periodicals. But these accounts omitted secret data given to the CIA on how LSD affected "operationally pertinent categories" such as disturbance of memory, alteration of sex patterns, eliciting information, increasing suggestibility, and creating emotional dependence.

The CIA was particularly interested in psychiatric reports suggesting that LSD could break down familiar behavior patterns, for this raised the possibility of reprogramming or brainwashing. If LSD temporarily altered a person's view of the world and suspended his belief system, CIA doctors surmised, then perhaps Russian spies could be cajoled into switching loyalties while they were tripping. The brainwashing strategy was relatively simple: find the subject's weakest point (his "squeaky board") and bear down on it. Use any combination or synthesis which might "open the mind to the power of suggestion to a degree never hitherto dreamed possible". LSD would be employed to provoke a reality shift, to break someone down and tame him, to find a locus of anonymity and leave a mark there forever.

To explore the feasibility of this approach, the Agency turned to Dr Ewen Cameron, a respected psychiatrist who served as president of the Canadian, the American, and the World Psychiatric Association before his death in 1967. Cameron also directed the Allain Memorial Institute at Montreal's McGill University, where he developed a bizarre and unorthodox method for treating schizophrenia. With financial backing from the CIA he tested his method on 53 patients at Allain. The so-called treatment started with "sleep therapy", in which subjects were knocked out for months at a time. The next phase, "depatterning", entailed massive electroshock and frequent doses of LSD designed to wipe out past behavior patterns. Then Cameron tried to recondition the mind through a technique known as "psychic driving". The patients, once again heavily sedated, were confined to "sleep rooms" where tape-recorded messages played over and over from speakers under their pillows. Some heard the message a quarter of a million times.

Cameron's methods were later discredited, and the CIA grudgingly gave up on the notion of LSD as a brainwashing technique. But that was little consolation to those who served as guinea pigs for the CIA's secret mind control projects. Nine of Cameron's former patients have sued the American government for $1,000,000 each, claiming that they are still suffering from the trauma they went through at Allain. These people never agreed to participate in a scientific experiment -- a fact which reflects little credit on the CIA, even if the Agency officials feared that the Soviets were spurting ahead in the mind control race. The CIA violated the Nuremberg Code for medical ethics by sponsoring experiments on unwitting subjects. Ironically, Dr Cameron was a member of the Nuremberg tribunal that heard the case against Nazi war criminals who committed atrocities during World War II.

Like the Nazi doctors at Dachau, the CIA victimized certain groups of people, who were unable to resist: prisoners, mental patients, foreigners, the terminally ill, sexual deviants, ethnic minorities. One project took place at the Addiction Research Centre of the US Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington was ostensibly a place where heroin addicts could go to shake a habit, and although it was officially a penitentiary, all the inmates were referred to as "patients". The patients had their own way of referring to the doctors -- "hacks" or "croakers" -- who patrolled the premises in military uniforms.

The patients at Lexington had no way of knowing that it was one of 15 penal and mental institutions utilized by the CIA in its super-secret drug development program. To conceal its role the Agency enlisted the aid of the navy and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which served as conduits for channeling money to Dr Harris Isbell, a gung-ho research scientist who remained on the CIA payroll for over a decade. According to CIA documents the directors of NIMH and the National Institutes of Health were fully cognizant of the Agency's "interest" in Isbell's work and offered "full support and protection".

When the CIA came across a new drug (usually supplied by American pharmaceutical firms) that needed testing, the frequently sent it over to their chief doctor at Lexington, where an ample supply of captive guinea pigs was readily available. Over 800 compounds were farmed out to Isbell, including LSD and a variety of hallucinogens. It became an open secret among street junkies that if the supply got tight, you could always commit yourself to Lexington, where heroin and morphine were doled out as payment if you volunteered for Isbell's wacky drug experiments. (Small wonder that Lexington had a return rate of 90%.) Dr Isbell, a longtime member of the Food and Drug Administration's Advisory Committee on the Abuse of Depressant and Stimulant Drugs, defended the volunteer program on the grounds that there was no precedent at the time for offering inmates cash for their services.

CIA documents describe experiments conducted by Isbell in which certain patients -- nearly all black inmates -- were given LSD for more than 75 consecutive days. In order to overcome tolerance to the hallucinogen, Isbell administered "double, triple and quadruple doses". A report dated May 5, 1959, comments on an experiment involving psilocybin (a semi-synthetic version of the magic mushroom). Subjects who ingested the drug became extremely anxious, although sometimes there were periods of intense elation marked by "continuous gales of laughter". A few patients felt that they

"had become very large, or had shrunk to the size of children. Their hands of feet did not seem to be their own and sometimes took on the appearance of animal paws.... They reported many fantasies or dreamlike states in which they seemed to be elsewhere. Fantastic experiences, such as trips to the moon or living in gorgeous castles, were occassionally reported."
Isbell concluded,

"Despite these striking subjective experiences, the patients remained oriented in time, place, and person. In most instances, the patients did not lose their insight but realized that the effects were due to the drug. Two of the nine patients, however, did lose insight and felt that their experiences were cased by the experimenters controlling their minds."
In addition to his role as a research scientists, Dr Isbell served as a go-between for the CIA in its attempt to obtain drug samples from European pharmaceutical concerns which assumed they were providing "medicine" to a US Public Health official. The CIA in turn acted as a research coordinator, passing information, tips, and leads to Isbell and its other contract employees so that they could keep abreast of each other's progress; when a new discovery was made, the CIA would often ask another researcher to conduct a follow-up study for confirmation. One scientist whose work was coordinated with Isbell's in such a manner was Dr Carl Pfeiffer, a noted pharmacologist from Princeton who tested LSD on inmates at the federal prison in Atlanta and the Bordentown Reformatory in New Jersey.

Isbell, Pfeiffer, Cameron, West, and Hoch -- all were part of a network of doctors and scientists who gathered intelligence for the CIA. Through these scholar-informants the Agency stayed on top of the latest developments within the "aboveground" LSD scene, which expanded rapidly during the Cold War. By the mid-1950s numerous independent investigators had undertaken hallucinogenic drug studies, and the CIA was determined not to let the slightest detail escape its grasp. In a communique dated May 26, 1954, the Agency ordered all domestic field offices in the United States to monitor scientists engaged in LSD research. People of interest, the memo explained,

"will most probably be found in biochemistry departments of universities, mental hospitals, private psychiatric practice.... We do ask that you remember their importance and report their work when it comes to your attention."
The CIA also expended considerable effort to monitor the latest development in LSD research on a world-wide scale. Drug specialists funded by the Agency made periodic trips to Europe to confer with scientists and representatives of various pharmaceutical concerns, including, of course, Sandoz Laboratories. Initially the Swiss firm provided LSD to investigators all over the world free of charge, in exchange for full access to their research data. (CIA researchers did not comply with this stipulation.) By 1953, Sandoz had decided to deal directly with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which assumed a supervisory role in distributing LSD to American investigators from then on. It was a superb arrangement as far as the CIA was concerned, for the FDA went out of its way to assist the secret drug program. With the FDA as its junior partner, the CIA not only had ready access to supplies of LSD (which Sandoz marketed for a while under the brand name Delysid) but also was able to keep a close eye on independent researchers in the United States.

The CIA would have been content to let the FDA act as an intermediary in its dealings with Sandoz, but business as usual was suspended when the Agency learned of an offer that could not be refused. Prompted by reports that large quantities of the drug were suddenly available, top-level CIA officials authorized the purchase of 10 kilos of LSD from Sandoz at an estimated price of 4240,000 -- enough for a staggering 100 million doses. A document dated November 16, 1953, characterized the pending transaction as a "risky operation", but CIA officials felt it was necessary, if only to preclude any attempt the Communists might make to get their hands on the drug. What the CIA intended to do with such an incredible stash of acid was never made clear.

The CIA later found out that Sandoz had never produced LSD in quantities even remotely resembling ten kilograms. Apparently only 10 milligrams were for sale, but a CIA contact in Switzerland mistook a kilogram, 1,000 grams, for a milligram (.001 grams), which would explain the huge discrepancy. Nevertheless, Sandoz officials were pleased by the CIA's interest in their product, and the two organizations struck up a cooperative relationship. Arthur Stoll, president of Sandoz, agreed to keep the CIA posted whenever new LSD was produced or a shipment was delivered to a customer. Likewise, any information concerning LSD research behind the Iron Curtain would be passed along confidentially.

But the CIA did not want to depend on a foreign company for supplies of a substance considered vital to American security interests. The Agency asked the Eli Lilly Company in Indianapolis to try to synthesize a batch of all-American acid. By mid-1954 Lilly had succeeded in breaking the secret formula held by Sandoz. "This is a closely guarded secret," a CIA document declared, "and should not be mentioned generally." Scientists as Lilly assured the CIA that "in a matter of months LSD would be available in tonnage quantities".

Midnight Climax
In a speech before the National Alumni Conference at Princeton University on April 10, 1953, newly appointed CIA director Allen Dulles lectured his audience on "how sinister the battle for men's minds had become in Soviet hands". The human mind, Dulles warned, was a "malleable tool", and the Red Menace had secretly developed "brain perversion techniques". Some of these methods were "so subtle and so abhorrent to our way of life that we have recoiled from facing up to them". Dulles continued,

"The minds of selected individuals who are subjected to such treatment... are deprived of the ability to state their own thoughts. Parrot-like, the individuals so conditioned can merely repeat the thoughts which have been implanted in their minds by suggestion from outside. In effect the brain... becomes a phonograph playing a disc put on the spindle by an outside genius over which is has no control."
Three days after delivering this address Dulles authorized Operation MK-ULTRA, the CIA's major drug and mind control program during the Cold War. MK-ULTRA was the brainchild of Richard Helms, a high-ranking member of the Clandestine Services (otherwise known as the "dirty tricks department") who championed such methods throughout his career as an intelligence officer. As helms explained to Dulles when he first proposed the MK-ULTRA project,

"Aside from the offensive potential, the development of a comprehensive capability in this field... 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."
The supersecret MK-ULTRA program was run by a relatively small unit within the CIA known as the Technical Services Staff (TSS). Originally established as a supplementary funding mechanism to the ARTICHOKE project, MK-ULTRA quickly grew into a mammoth undertaking that outflanked earlier mind control initiatives. For a while both the TSS and the Office of Security (which directed the ARTICHOKE project) were engaged in parallel LSD tests, and a heated rivalry developed between the two groups. Security officials were miffed because they had gotten into acid first and then this new clique started cutting in on what the ARTICHOKE crowd considered their rightful turf.

The internecine conflict grew to the point where the Office of security decided to have one of its people spy on the TSS. This set off a flurry of memos between the Security informant and his superiors, who were dismayed when they learned that Dr Sidney Gottlieb, the chemist who directed the MK-ULTRA program, had approved a plan to give acid to unwitting American citizens. The Office of Security had never attempted such a reckless gesture -- although it had its own idiosyncracies; ARTICHOKE operatives, for example, were attempting to have a hypnotized subject skill someone while in a trance.

Whereas the Office of Security utilized LSD as an interrogation weapon, Dr Gottlieb had other ideas about what to do with the drug. Because the effects of LSD were temporary (in contrast to the fatal nerve agents), Gottlieb saw important strategic advantages for its use in covert operations. For instance, a surreptitious dose of LSD might disrupt a person's thought process and cause him to act strangely or foolishly in public. A CIA document notes that administering LSD "to high officials would be a relatively simple matter and could have a significant effect at key meetings, speeches, etc." But Gottlieb realized there was a considerable difference between testing LSD in a laboratory and using the drug in clandestine operations. In an effort to bridge the gap, he and his TSS colleagues initiated a series of in-house experiments designed to find out what would happen if LSD was given to someone in a "normal" life setting without advance warning.

They approached the problem systematically, taking one step at a time, until they reached a point where outsiders were zapped with no explanation whatsoever. First everyone in Technical Services tried LSD. They tripped alone and in groups. A typical experiment involved two people pairing off in a closed room where they observed each other for hours at a time, took noted, and analyzed their experiences. As Gottlieb later explained,

"There was an extensive amount of self-experimentation for the reason that we felt that a first hand knowledge of the subjective effects of these drugs [was] important to those of us who were involved in the program."
When they finally learned the hallucinogenic ropes, so to speak, they agreed among themselves to slip LSD into each other's drinks. The target never knew when his turn would come, but as soon as the drug was ingested a TSS colleague would tell him so he could make the necessary preparations -- which usually meant taking the rest of the day off. Initially the leaders of MK-ULTRA restricted the surprise acid tests to TSS members, but when this phase had run its course they started dosing other Agency personnel who had never tripped before. Nearly everyone was fair game, and surprise acid trips became something of an occupational hazard among CIA operatives. Such tests were considered necessary because foreknowledge would prejudice the results of the experiment.

Indeed, things were getting a bit raucous down at headquarters. When Security officials discovered what was going on, they began to have serious doubts about the wisdom of the TSS game plan. MOral reservations were not paramount; it was more a sense that the MK-ULTRA staff had become unhinged by the hallucinogen. The Office of Security felt that the TSS should have exercised better judgment in dealing with such a powerful and dangerous chemical. The straw that broke the camel's back came when a Security informant got wind of a plan by a few TSS jokers to put LSD in the punch served at the annual CIA Christmas office party. A security memo dated December 15, 1954, noted that acid could "produce serious insanity for periods of 8 to 18 hours and possibly for longer". The writer of this memo concluded indignantly and unequivocally that he did "not recommend testing in the Christmas punch bowls usually present at the Christmas office parties".

The purpose of these early acid tests wa not to explore mystical realms or higher states of consciousness. On the contrary, the TSS was trying to figure out how to employ LSD in espionage operations. Nevertheless, there were times when CIA agents found themselves propelled into a visionary world and they were deeply moved by the experience. One MK-ULTRA veteran wept in front of his colleagues at the end of his first trip. "I didn't want it to leave," he explained. "I felt I would be going back to a place where I wouldn't be able to hold on to this kind of beauty." His colleagues assumed he was having a bad trip and wrote a report stating that the drug had made him psychotic.

Adverse reactions often occurred when people were given LSD on an impromptu basis. One one occassion a CIA operative discovered he'd been dosed during his morning coffee break.

"He sort of knew he had it," a fellow-agent recalled, "but he couldn't pull himself together. Somehow, when you known 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."
Then he got away from them and fled across Washington stoned out of his mind while they searched frantically for their missing comrade.

"He reported afterwards," the TSS man continued, "that every automobile that came by was a terrible monster with fantastic eyes, out to get him personally. Each time a car passed he would huddle down against a parapet, terribly frightened. It was a real horror for him. I mean, it was hours of agony... like being in a dream that never stops -- with someone chasing you."
Incidents such as these reaffirmed to the MK-ULTRA crew just how devastating a weapon LSD could be. But this only made them more enthusiastic about the drug. They kept springing it on people in a manner reminiscent of the ritual hazing of fraternity pledges.

"It was just too damned informal," a TSS officer later said. "We didn't know much. We were playing around in ignorance.... We were just naive about what we were doing."
Such pranks claimed their first victim in November 1953, when a group of CIA and army technicians fathered for a three-day work retreat at a remote hunting lodge in the backwoods of Maryland. On the second day of the meeting Dr Gottlieb spiked the after-dinner cocktails with LSD. As the drug began to take effect, Gottlieb told everyone that they had ingested a mind-altering chemical. By that time the group had become boisterous with laughter and unable to carry on a coherent conversation.

One man was not amused by the unexpected turn of events. Dr Frank Olson, an army scientist who specialized in biological warfare research, had never taken LSD before, and he slid into a deep depression. His mood did not lighten when the conference adjourned. Normally a gregarious family man, Olson returned home quiet and withdrawn. When he went to work after the weekend, he asked his boss to fire him because he had "messed up the experiment" during the retreat. Alarmed by his erratic behavior, Olson's superiors contacted the CIA, which sent him to New York to see Dr harold Abramson. A respected physician, Abramson taught at Columbia University and was chief of the allergy clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was also one of the CIA's principal LSD researchers and a part-time consultant to the Army Chemical Corps. While these were impressive credentials, Abramson was not a trained psychiatrist, and it was this kind of counseling his patients desperately needed.

For the next weeks Olson confided his deepest fears to Abramson. He claimed the CIA was putting something in his coffee to make him stay awake at night. He said people were plotting against him and he heard voices at odd hours commanding him to throw away his wallet -- which he did, even though it contained several uncashed checks. Dr Abramson concluded that Olson was mired in "a psychotic state... with delusions of persecution" that had been "crystallized by the LSD experience". Arrangements were made to move him to Chestnut Lodge, a sanitorium in Rockville, Maryland, staffed by CIA-cleared psychiatrists. (Apparently other CIA personnel who suffered from psychiatric disorders were enrolled in this institution.) On his last evening in New York, Olson checked into a room at the Statler Hilton along with a CIA agent assigned to watch him. And then, in the wee hours of the morning, the troubled scientist plunged headlong through a closed window to his death 10 floors below.

The Olson suicide had immediate repercussions within the CIA. An elaborate cover-up erased clues to the actual circumstances leading up to his death. Olson's widow was eventually given a government pension, and the full truth of what happened would not be revealed for another 20 years. Meanwhile CIA director Allen Dulles suspended the in-house testing program for a brief period while an internal investigation was conducted. In the end, Gottlieb and his team received only a mildly worded reprimand for exercising "bad judgment", but no records of the incident were kept in their personnel files which would harm their future careers. The importance of LSD eclipsed all other considerations, and the secret acid tests resumed.

Gottlieb was now ready to undertake the final and most daring phase of the MK-ULTRA program: LSD would be given to unwitting targets in real-life situations. But who would actually do the dirty work? While looking through some old OSS files, Gottlieb discovered that marijuana had been tested on unsuspecting subjects in an effort to develop a truth serum. These experiments had been organized by George Hunter White, a tough, old-fashioned narcotics officer who ran a training school for American spies during World War II. Perhaps White would be interested in testing drugs for the CIA. As a matter of protocol Gottlieb first approached Harry Anslinger, chief of the Federal Narcotics Bureau. Anslinger was favorably disposed and agreed to "lend" one of his top men to the CIA on a part-time basis.

Right from the start White had plenty of leeway in running his operations. He rented an apartment in New York's Greenwich Village, and with funds supplied by the CIA he transformed it into a safehouse complete with two-way mirrors, surveillance equipment, and the like. Posing as an artist and a seaman, White lured people back to his pad and slipped them drugs. A clue as to how his subjects fared can be found in White's personal diary, which contains passing references to surprise LSD experiments: "Gloria gets horrors.... Janet sky high." The frequency of bad reactions prompted White to coin his own code word for the drug: "Stormy", which was how he referred to LSD throughout his 14-year stint as a CIA operative.

In 1955 White transferred to San Francisco, where two more safehouses were established. During this period he initiated Operation Midnight Climax, in which drug-addicted prostitutes were hired to pick up men from local bars and bring them back to a CIA-financed bordello. Unknowing customers were treated to drinks laced with LSD while White sat on a portable toilet behind two-way mirrors, sipping martinis and watching every stoned and kinky moment. As payment for their services the hookers received $100 a night, plus a guarantee from White that he'd intercede on their behalf should they be arrested while plying their trade. In addition to providing data about LSD, Midnight Climax enabled the CIA to learn about the sexual proclivities of those who passed through the safehouses. White's harem of prostitutes became the focal point of an extensive CIA study of how to exploit the art of lovemaking for espionage purposes.

When he wasn't operating a national security whorehouse, White would cruise the streets of San Francisco tracking down drug pushers for the Narcotics Bureau. Sometimes after a tough day on the beat he invited his narc buddies up to one of the safehouses for a little "R&R". Occassionally they unzipped their inhibitions and partied on the premises -- much to the chagrin of the neighbors, who began to complain about men with guns in shoulder straps chasing after women in various states of undress. Needless to say, there was always plenty of dope around, and the feds sampled everything from hashish to LSD.

"So far as I'm concerned," White later told an associate, "'clear thinking' was non-existent while under the influence of any of these drugs. I did feel at times like I was having a 'mind-expanding experience', but this vanished like a dream immediately after the session."
White had quite a scene going for a while. By day he fought to keep drugs out of circulation, and by night he dispensed them to strangers. Not everyone was cut out for this kind of schizophrenic lifestyle, and White often relied on the bottle to reconcile the two extremes. But there were still moments when his Jekyll-and-Hyde routine got the best of him. One night a friend who had helped install bugging equipment for the CIA stopped by the Safehouse only to find the roly-poly narcotics officer slumped in front of a full-length mirror. White had just finished polishing off a half gallon of Gibson's. The he sat, with gun in hand, shooting wax slugs at his own reflection.

The safehouse experiments continued without interruption until 1963, when CIA inspector general John Earman accidentally stumbled across the clandestine testing program during a routine inspection of TSS operations. Only a handful of CIA agents outside Technical Services knew about the testing of LSD on unwitting subjects, and Earman took Richard Helms, the prime instigator of MK-ULTRA, to task for not fully briefing the new CIA director, John J McCone. Although McCone had been replaced by President Kennedy to replace Allen Dulles as the dean of American intelligence, Helms apparently had his own ideas about who was running the CIA.

Earman had grave misgivings about MK-ULTRA and he prepared to 24-page report that included a comprehensive overview of the drug and mind control projects. In a cover letter to McCone he noted that the "concepts involved in manipulating human behavior are found by many people within and outside the Agency to be disasterous and unethical". But the harshest criticism was reserved for the safehouse experiments, which, in his words, placed "the rights and interests of US citizens in jeopardy". Earman stated that LSD had been tested on "individuals at all social levels, high and low, native American and foreign". Numerous subjects had become ill,and some required hospitalization for days and weeks at a time. Moreover, the sophomoric procedures employed during the safehouse sessions raised serious questions about the validity of the data provided by White, who was hardly a qualified scientist. As Earman pointed out, the CIA had no way of knowing whether White was fudging the results to suit his own ends.

Earman recommended a freeze on unwitting drug tests until the matter was fully considered at the higher level of the CIA. But helms, then deputy director for covert operations (the number two position within the Agency), defended the program. In a memo dated November 9, 1964, he warned that the CIA's "positive operational capacity to use drugs is diminishing owing to a lack of realistic testing", and he called for a resumption of the safehouse experiments. While admitting that he had "no answer to the moral issue", Helms argued that such tests were necessary "to keep up with Soviet advances in this field".

This Cold War refrain had a familiar ring. Yet only a few months earlier Helms had sung a different tune when J Lee Rankin, chief counsel of the Warren Commission investigating the Kennedy assassination, asked him to report on Soviet mind control initiatives. Helms stated his views in a document dated June 16, 1964:

"Soviet research in the pharmacological agents producing behavioral effects had consistently lagged five years behind Western research [emphasis added]." Furthermore, he confidently asserted that the Russians did not have "any singular, new potent drugs... to force a course of action on an individual."
The bureaucratic wrangling at CIA headquarters didn't seem to bother George Hunter White, who kept on sending vouchers for "unorthodox expenses" to Dr Sidney Gottlieb. No definitive record exists as to when the unwitting acid tests were terminated, but it appears that White and the CIA parted ways when he retired from the Narcotics Bureau in 1966. Afterwards White reflected upon his service for the Agency in a letter to Gottlieb:

"I was a very minor missionary, actually a heretic, but I toiled wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun. Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape, and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the All-Highest?"
By this time the CIA had developed a "stable of drugs", including LSD, that were used in covert operations. The decision to employ LSD on an operational basis was handled through a special committee that reported directly to Richard Helms, who characterized the drug as "dynamite" and asked to be "advised at all times when it was intended for use". A favorite plan involved slipping "P-1" (the code name for LSD when used operationally) to socialist or left-leaning politicians in foreign countries so that they would babble incoherently and discredit themselves in public.

Fidel Castro was among the Third World leaders targeted for surprise acid attacks. When this method proved unworkable, CIA strategists thought of other ways to embarrass the Cuban president. One scheme involved dusting Castro's shoes with thalium salts to make his beard fall out. Apparently they thought that Castro would lose his charisma along with his hair. Eventually the Agency shifted its focus from bad trips nd close shaves to eliminating Castro altogether. Gottlieb and his TSS cohorts were asked to prepare an array of bizarre gadgets and biochemical poisons for a series of murder conspiracies allying the CIA with anti-Castro mercenaries and the Mob.

Egyptian president Gamal Abdal Nasser also figured high on the CIA's hallucinogenic hit list. While he managed to avoid such a fate, others presumably were less fortunate. CIA documents cited in a documentary by ABC News confirm that Gottlieb carried a stash of acid overseas on a number of occasions during the Cold War with the intention of dosing foreign diplomats and statesmen. But the effects of LSD were difficult to predict when employed in such a haphazard manner, and the CIA used LSD only sparingly in operations of this sort.


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  2. My name is Steve Smith
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    Jon Ronson wrote the introduction to my book confirming I am who I say I am and I was there.

    I am happy to answer any questions or discuss any part of this story. I can be contacted at

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