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How a deadly fall revealed CIA secrets (theguardian.com)
190 points by ljf 39 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments



Two other LSD targets of the CIA's program weren't mentioned in this excerpt. You've probably heard of them:

Ted Kaczynski

Charles Manson

It is possible that neither would have committed their crimes but for their involvement in the CIA's mind experimentation programs. See, O'Neill, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties (2019).


Kinda makes you think about all the shooters "known to federal authorities" recently.


speaking about famous shooters, the MKULTRA doctors just happened to be around:

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/dec/19/mkruby/

"After he shot Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby’s psychosis was diagnosed by the same CIA doctor who had once killed an elephant with psychedelics"

The same doctor happened to be around in the context of Charles Manson too :

https://longreads.com/2019/06/27/a-manson-murder-investigati...

"I could show that he was working out of the [Haight-Ashbury Free] clinic recruiting subjects for his research at the same time Manson was bringing the women in to see his parole officer there, but I was trying to get them in the same room. I felt like everything that Manson did with his women was exactly what the CIA was trying to do with people without their knowledge, in the exact same time, at the exact same place.

West had a history of doing research in inducing insanity without a person’s awareness. He reported that he had learned how to replace true memories with false ones. And he saw Jack Ruby [who shot JFK’s killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, in 1963] within the 24 hours that Ruby became insane."


That same CIA doctor went on to perform a necropsy on the elephant /while/ on LSD.


Sheesh, that is terrifying...



To my knowledge Ted Kaczynskis experiences with MKultra didn't involve any substances. He just sat in a chair while some folks screamed at him trying to aggressively undermine all of his views.


Professional lawyers posing as peers psychologically tortuting him to shatter his worldview, while the professor that led the experiment manipulated him to continue.

Given that he secluded himself and wrote about his ideology for years like a comic book villain origin story, it's safe to say they took to too far, whatever it is they did.

Also, afaik MK tested lacing with different doses, and only the big incidents were disclosed. Why wouldn't you suspect drugging here too?


I wonder if there is even anything one could do in that kind of situation to have a normal life.

Edit: I also think this kind of thing exists in society today, but probably bought and sold on exclusive markets to modern lords and ladies.


Wait, what?


If someone shared outright that they'd had similar experiences, few people would believe them.


> I also think this kind of thing exists in society today, but probably bought and sold on exclusive markets to modern lords and ladies.

Can you elaborate? I don't know what you're referring to.


Maybe some people have had similar experiences. And how to even begin to share them, let alone ask for help, if that is even possible?

I don't know if that is what is really happening and I doubt that it is, but I also don't know how to distinguish these experiences from that possibility.


There is an interesting documentary on him by Lutz Dammbeck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gznwiZzvkg


Another one not many people know about, but will usually recognize the name instantly: Whitey Bulger [1]

1. https://knowledgenuts.com/2013/11/17/mobster-whitey-bulger-u...


Not a criminal, but another very influential person, Ken Kesey, was involved with MKULTRA as well.


Source?


> See, O'Neill, Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties (2019).


That book is about the FBI's involvement, not the CIA


Interesting that psychedelics are being pushed by elites via popular media like Joe Rogan, etc.


It's unclear if Kaczynski received any psychedelics. What we know is that he faced hundreds of hours of intense personal abuse including belittling his hopes for the future. Nobody is pushing that.

I haven't heard Manson's story on the issue, but he would have already spent a decade incarcerated before they did anything.


Yes, and he underwent said abuse at Harvard by a doctor named Henry Murray who was apart of the division that created MKUltra/MKSEARCH and who had previously administered LSD to unwitting patients.

Lets get real, when your goal is complete ego control, all forms of mindfucking are on the table.

Also, almost all of the MK Ultra files were destroyed. So what people know is residual and stories from guilt ridden scientists and abused people.


'pushed by elites'?


Interesting that it doesn't mention Errol Morris' Wormwood: https://www.indiewire.com/2018/05/wormwood-errol-morris-use-...


How is it? I'm debating watching it.


They were psychiatrists from the 1950's. It was around the time the first antipsychotic was introduced and people naively believed psychiatry was this miracle. There are chemicals that make people impressionable, they're administered at hospitals and available in liquor stores.

IMO the most interesting (and impactful, powerful) stuff is just plain-old psychology, like what is read in therapy books. You can apply it in nearly any situation in so many ways.

It adds on to intuition you'd feel normally, the really complicated social behaviors we act out on into concepts and frameworks. You can choose how you interpret and use it.

If you don't believe me, google: Dialectical behavior therapy, attachment theory, schema therapy with "filetype: pdf" in the query and load em into PDF reader. Kindle has good books.

Schema Therapy: https://www.guilford.com/excerpts/young.pdf

Attachment theory: https://www.behaviorology.org/oldsite/pdf/AttachmentTheoryBe...

I'm trying to spread the message far and wide so people can know and get woke. This is stuff I wish I knew 15 years ago.


Interesting how the article turns a story of mass torture and killings akin to nazy mad-science into a story about one individual murder.

Makes one wonder why would a state research mind control from drugs, when mind control from history books and newspapers is already so efficient.


They were researching mind control to extract information from individual subjects. (Because torture doesn't work) It has nothing to do with propaganda.


Maybe mind control from history books or whatever is not as efficient as you're thinking it is?

Just speculating that if I was a military commander, yeah, I'd go for saturating a place with drugs to keep the people there from planting IED's way before I would trust history books to do so. Just strikes me as way more reliable.

If history is any indication, using history books to get people to behave decently doesn't seem terribly reliable at all.


I believe the vast majority of people in the west believe that the west, despite some fixable issues, represents the Good, whereas for instance Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia are the worst Evil Nations ever created, while when one stick to the facts it's much harder to tell them apart (but for the fact that one side won and therefore can tell its own story).

This observation alone leads me to believe that there is some very effective propaganda that's been going on for a good while.

Impossible to find out for sure of course, as the only propaganda that is visible is the propaganda that fails.


Especially unreliable if you want people to do horrible things. Drugs may help you more then than books.


I can think of two very influential books that have caused (are still causing) untold human misery.


But it's far easier to think up drugs that have caused untold human misery, and do so much more reliably. Every human who takes these drugs will suffer through the misery. No such thing as "I'm too strong to be affected by this drug." (heroin, crystal meth.) Or "I can quit whenever I want." (opium, flakka.) Or, "My neighborhood, or community, or nation won't fall into ruin because of this drug." (China with opium, black americans with crack.)

And that's just the drugs we know about, just imagine the secret ones we don't know about.

Take X drug, it will have Y effect on every human. Immediately. That's the definition of efficiency. Keeping with the original example, that's the sort of efficiency and effectiveness a military leader would want when waging a campaign against an enemy. Far more swift, efficient, and effective than using a history book.


> Every human who takes these drugs will suffer through the misery.

Blatantly false. Not everyone you uses XYZ drug ends up a hopeless addict. The vast majority of people use the drug with no long term negative effects addiction, including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine et al

> No such thing as "I'm too strong to be affected by this drug." (heroin, crystal meth.)

Sure they will effect you

> Or "I can quit whenever I want." (opium, flakka.)

Within addiction, sure. Non-addiction use, false. You can stop whenever you want. Getting addicted to a substance is not as easy as people think. You need to be using through the day for multiple days in a row. You can use heroin every weekend without getting addicted, so long as you stop during the week

> Take X drug, it will have Y effect on every human

To an extent, different people can vary degrees of effects from the same dose when tolerance is not an issue


This is a recklessly false statement. Please do research into current literature before relaying dangerous anecdotes that you believe to be true about you.


1. Good night moon 2. That Marie Kondo tidying book


The article is an excerpt from a book on Sydney Gottlieb, which is linked at the bottom. It’s one chapter, not a summary.


The CIA is the Nazi's fourth reich. They escaped Europe, found themselves with new resources in America's military-industrial complex, and have been fucking shit up around the world ever since. There are many in the world who believe we're still fighting Nazi policies, only its the USA this time around, doing the implementing.

And its hard to disagree that secret torture chambers (like, literally, thousands of them) being operated by shadowy figures who are not accountable to anyone is anything less than a total usurpation of the founding principles of the USA ..


I was honestly quite shocked whilst reading this, CIA operated facilities use to kill and test chemical weapons on volunteer soldiers? damn.


thats a good point: the fact that testing on a volunteer soldier and on army and CIA researchers, seems to suggest they wanted to compare effectiveness with the general population, since random members from the population might not be psychologically representative for foreign soldiers, secret clearance'd scientists and spies. So from this perspective testing on people of similar function / caliber from your own accessible population might seem "logical" if unethical...


Something tells me keeping statistical integrity wasn't a major factor in testing on these soldiers. i think soldiers just tend to be better test subjects for these purposes as they are more obedient, willing to sacrifice their lives for a bigger cause, take instruction without asking too many questions, keep secrets and no doubt they have more mental fortitude and a higher pain threshold to withstand multiple rounds of various chemical attacks.


that only explains experimentation on the now dead soldier in Britain, not on the army and CIA scientists, researchers, agents described though.

if both occured I seek the shortest explanation that explains the most observations


I am pretty sure that facility where he witnessed a sarin attack on a soldier was a UK facility. "Microbiological Research Establishment at Porton Down in Wiltshire"


One quibble about the title: How would we know if these are the CIA's darkest secrets?


Ok, we've removed the dark superlative above.


Really makes you wonder what stuff they're doing now that will be declassified in a few decades


Preet Bharara recently interviewed a former CIA acting director on his podcast. He asked (paraphrased), “If a regular person was able to see the kind of classified gadgets you’re working with now, would they say ‘oh, sure, that’s something like what I see in movies’ or would they be blown away?”

The immediate response was “They’d be blown away.” Which piques my curiosity of course. Then again...that statement could just be a psyop. Twisty little passages.

Some other recent thread here talks about how the Hubble Space Telescope was created from leftover CIA spy satellite gear. Read a bunch of near-future sci-fi and some of those ideas are bound to be hits.


MKUltra was the US program that expounded on the research done by the Germans, Japanese, and Soviets (sometimes only programs we thought they were working on and started counter-programs which then spurred the creation of counter-counter-programs...)

My take is that by about the late 80's, early 90's, they had finished most of the research and transitioned into implementation at mass scale, both domestically and internationally. Extrapolate from that what you may.


"It has been verified by a source who claims she was there that then-CIA Director William Casey did in fact say the controversial and often-disputed line “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false,” reportedly in 1981."

"In their propaganda today’s dictators rely for the most part on repetition, supression and rationalization – the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the supression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationalization of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art and science of manipulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine these techniques with the non-stop distractions which, in the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrelevance the rational propaganda essential to the maintenance of individual liberty and the survival of democratic institutions. -- Aldous Huxley, "Propaganda in a Democratic Society" Brave New World Revisited"

https://www.globalresearch.ca/1975-video-cia-admits-to-congr...


Global Warming is bullshit.


Yeah, why not. These programs, to me, are all about defusing populations. Keep em busy smoking and getting stoned. Maybe so.


or for plausible deniability: if LSD is kept illegal (to insure the majority doesn't use it, and doesn't sympathize with those who do), while kept available (to insure there will be enough people who use it recreationally), then the large but relatively smaller latter group can be used to draw test subjects from, and if things go sideways, you have a documented history of voluntary drug abuse events of an individual to point to in order to obscure the involuntary drug experimentation event that went sideways.


If there is even something to declassify, considering how little there is left of MKULTRA.


sad we just have to wait, you'll discredit yourself if you think about it outloud


Look who we find in the vanguard, defending the darkest secrets of government; Dick Cheney.


If you google 'Cheney Rumsfeld MKULTRA' there's plenty enough reading to fill a rainy Sunday afternoon...


> “Some of our people were out of control in those days,” Colby said. “They went too far. There were problems of supervision and administration.”

That was in 1975 talking about the events in the 1950s. There is this idea that, well CIA might have gone a bit too far, but it was a long time ago. Hiring Nazi scientists, feeding people drugs, murdering, overthrowing governments, conducting torture sessions. That was in those old dark and confused times. Today they just sit at their desks and type reports like nice little bored bureaucrats.

What if they are just as evil and brutal today and we just don't know about it. I have a hard time believing that as an organization, they sort found their moral one day and decided they need to start behaving.

> “Well, he’s gone,” the caller had said. Abramson replied: “Well, that’s too bad.”

Abramson is a doctor treating Olson. Surely, after being told his patient is gone, he would be horrified and demand to know all about the tragedy. But the conversation indicates they were both expecting it to happen. Well who is Dr Harold Abramson, were there any other suspicious deaths associated with his patients. What the heck was Abramson doing that made Olson reconsider seeing his family again and instead opted to head back to New York to this doctor instead. How many Dr. Abramsons are there around today I wonder...


>What if they are just as evil and brutal today and we just don't know about it.

Pay attention to America's illegal wars, and the nature of the innocent victims.

Yes, these wars are evil and brutal. That is why the American people are kept un-informed about them.

But if you peek beneath the propaganda you will find the ugly truth: the people of the USA have been hoodwinked into letting their military-industrial complex ruin civilisation around the world.


>Today they just sit at their desks and type reports like nice little bored bureaucrats.

What if they are just as evil and brutal today and we just don't know about it.

Just throwing this out here, but what if it's both. They, like every other nation in the world, are evil and brutal, and the vast majority of them are just sitting at desks somewhere doing fairly mundane jobs. That's just the nature of a modern intelligence agency I bet.


The trend has been to push the crazy research stuff into the private sector or universities and fund it through intermediaries / grants.

Not just the IC but in general.


Hannah Arendt wrote about this in The Banality of Evil.

Bureaucracies which create disassociation from accountability are necessarily evil.

So yeah, I'd imagine you're correct.


Wow - that's a grim read. And this is what we know the CIA is up to plus I think some of the "war on terror" dark site work?


>Because Olson’s survivors had signed away their right to legal relief when they accepted their $750,000 compensation payment in 1975, they could not sue the CIA.

can someone clarify how this works? how does signing away a right work? isn't it just a contract?

am I correct that people in such a situation could in theory still seek legal relief, but that in doing so they "merely" violate this "contract"?


I assume there was a quite broad release clause in the paperwork - not uncommon for settlements. If the other party refrained from offering assurances it might be hard to make an argument they weren't acting in good faith. On the other hand, it shouldn't preclude a criminal investigation. I can only assume the evidence was too circumstantial or trail too stale to gain traction from investigators.

This is a really disconcerting story for a population that tends to assume we're the good guys.


It's referred to earlier as a settlement. It's a form of pre-trial relief when both sides agree that this settles the matter and brings litigation to an end. It's not a contract per se, and to seek legal relief again, you would have to find new grounds - you have effectively used your legal relief. It's the usual end for lawsuits.


is the discovery of deception not a new ground in itself? "jump or fell". "the suicide of your father upset you, go seek therapy", ... don't qualify as new grounds?

does the law explicitly regulate settlement, new grounds, etc or is it emergent behaviour or "standard operating behaviour" of which everyone assumes that is what the law says as opposed to what the law actually says?

Edit: perhaps a clearer phrasing in everyday language: is there a difference between how lawyers, judges, ... have the cookie crumble versus how the law says cookies should crumble?


Yes, I'd think that there was a breach of the settlement contract by virtue of the fact that the family was lied to. They might have done something different if the facts were known then as they are known now. It's definitely new information or new grounds.


I don't think so. Signing away your right to sue is pretty common.


as if breach of contract with the government never occurs?

as if such disputes are never settled by court?


The most terrifying book I have read recently is "Men Who Stare at Goats", by Jon Ronson. He keeps it light, on the surface. If you read what it is really telling you, all these programs like MK-ULTRA were not disbanded, and are still being used against the American public.

The "staring at goats" tale is an example of PSY-OPs tested on the public, wholly successfully. Ever wonder how we got fired up to invade Iraq when the UN inspector was perfectly clear that there were no WMDs there, and we knew Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11?

The Pentagon has never been able to begin to account for the trillions of dollars it gets. Is there any possibility much of it is not piped through black programs into convenient pockets?


>He was one of several special operations division scientists who were in France on 16 August 1951, when an entire French village, Pont-Saint-Esprit, was mysteriously seized by mass hysteria and violent delirium that afflicted more than 200 residents and caused several deaths; the cause was later determined to have been poisoning by ergot, the fungus from which LSD was derived.

The article insinuates this group of CIA & army scientists was responsible for the "ergot" poisoning in the french village, has any new evidence to this regard come to light besides the theory / book published in 2009?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1951_Pont-Saint-Esprit_mass_po...

>In his 2009 book, A Terrible Mistake, writer Hank P. Albarelli Jr alleged that the Special Operations Division of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tested the use of LSD on the population of Pont-Saint-Esprit as part of its MKNAOMI chemical behavior program in a field test dubbed Project SPAN. According to Albarelli, the ergot contamination explanation had been challenged and "ruled out".[10][13][14] Historian Stephen Kaplan dismissed Albarelli's theories and assertions as "hardly possible", and anthropologist Bernd Rieken [de] wrote that "even in the secular society of the present, substitutes for the devil and other demons may be found, in this case the CIA, which some people believe capable of every conceivable evil".[10][15]

Especially the last quote seems very naive After reading the following paragraph from the posted article!

>“In CIA safe-houses in Germany,” according to one study, “Olson witnessed horrific brutal interrogations on a regular basis. Detainees who were deemed ‘expendable’ – SUSPECTED spies or moles, security leaks, etc – were literally interrogated to death in experimental methods combining drugs, hypnosis and torture, to attempt to master brainwashing techniques and memory erasing.”

capitalization mine: suspects being interrogated to death without any form of due process or trial?

So we have a story about american (and presumably also west german) agents interrogating / experimenting suspects to death in safehouses in germany, and then we have an american-born historian Stephen Kaplan and a german (psychologist?) dismissing that western powers would ever perform feats typically associated with east-german Stasi practices. Guantanamo bay also happened, and was rubberstamped by psychologists / psychiatrists...

some real class acts these CIA & army biological warfare gents!


"He was one of several special operations division scientists who were in France on 16 August 1951, when an entire French village, Pont-Saint-Esprit, was mysteriously seized by mass hysteria and violent delirium"

Big if true. The book doesn't come out till October. I wonder if this is the only circumstantial evidence they have? If they can place him in the actual village, that would be something.


I just wanted to point out that entire villages mysteriously being seized by mass hysteria and violent delirium happened due to at least other factors as well. Case in point: ergotism [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergotism


I recall distinctly this being called a conspiracy theory years ago.


What stories were regarded as conspiracies? I had thought that a fair amount of information about MKUltra was uncovered by the end of the 70s. [1] (Assuming you are not referring to a time before then).

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/national/13inmate_Projec...


  > In spring 1953, he visited the top-secret 
  Microbiological Research Establishment at Porton Down in 
  Wiltshire, where government scientists were studying 
  the effects of sarin and other nerve gases. On 6 May, 
  a volunteer subject, a 20-year-old soldier, was dosed 
  with sarin there, began foaming at the mouth, 
  collapsed into convulsions, and died an hour later.
Wow.


LSD may have unearthed Olson's conscience, which doesn't mesh well will having been involved in human torture. I think LSD may be the opposite of mind control. ( I don't think it's safe though )


Yes another great read, for the land of the free and brave.


In one hand, of course all those story fragments are alarming and revolting.

On the other hand, each time such a thing surfaces the most surprising is always that it seems to have surfaced due to this automatic declassification mechanism that I've never heard of an equivalent anywhere else in the world. In most places, including many modern and wealthy democracies, I believe you would just expose yourself to troubles if you asked for some clarifications about any ancient classified material.

I wonder if there is any recommended source to learn more about how this law/practice came to be?


could you point me to how this story was exposed through declassification?


True, in that case the press started it, and then the family sued.


If your country doesn't have an intel agency doing this or similar congratulations you are too small to matter.


Not all societies are built around a culture of paranoia, and not all societies manifest this with an autonomous intelligence agency

this dark current should be excised from society as the declassifications show they more often undermine our security from domestic and foreign sources


Right some countries are Iceland, a rich place floating in the middle of nowhere with no military intel needs.

And some countries have interests to protect.

That's the difference. It's not morality, it's whether or not you have anything to lose.


That doesn't make it right.


No but that doesn't make irrelevant countries any more moral, it just means they don't have any skin in the game.




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