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The CIA’s human experiments with mind control (2017) (history.com)
84 points by 1cvmask on April 25, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 48 comments

Visiting the Stasi museum in Berlin is a nice eye opener for how subtle some intelligence work can be. You can see files describing acts like surrounding a specific person with potential dates that ghost him or "friends" that will treat him badly just to make the the person depressed and reduce their will to be politically active.

Lots of what you see there would be considered delusions of a paranoid person if someone claimed to be the target of it nowadays.

I'm convinced the only reason it stands out is that it's relatively weird to see a fallen government's intelligent files, since one that's still standing would never let you see them.

> Lots of what you see there would be considered delusions of a paranoid person if someone claimed to be the target of it nowadays.

This is not a coincidence, making the target feel and/or look crazy is part of the technique.

Oh definitely East German history makes it much easier to consume such information. But if conservative-run governments of the U.S. commit inhumane activities on their own people to neuter left movements seeking a more equitable society it's not such a bad result right?

Are these files describing tactics of the Stasi also available online?

I found some interesting information available for free in a link from the museum's website. Check the "english publications" section at the bottom, the second link in particular is quite interesting:


Something that should be, but isn't, essential high school curriculum:


I remember seeing the faces of incredulity on fellow (college) students during a presentation of this, that is, until they were challenged with compelling citation. Then things changed a bit.

To relegate such activity to a permanent place in the past assumes a very hokey fundamental change in human nature, or, commits a very naive faith to regulation and transparency.

We really know only what they have chosen to let us know; and much of what we think we know is false. Getting people to believe falsehoods about the programs was a big part of them, and it worked way better that they had hoped.

Jon Ronson's book Men Who Stare at Goats is a terrifying exploration of what these programs were really about.

Make no mistake, these programs were prototypes for still-ongoing attacks on the American public.

We know a little bit that they didn't want us to know. The CIA wasn't as complete as possible with covering its tracks, and quite some independent research has been done on the remaining evidence. The trouble is the CIA and other nefarious intelligence agencies have worked very hard to discredit this, clearly because they committed crimes against humanity in their work.

However there is still a healthy segment of society that are critical of these criminal agencies. There is still a lot more to be revealed.

"these programs were prototypes for still-ongoing attacks on the American public."

Needs evidence.

One of many examples [1]. These tactics would be familiar to the Romans. They are as old as the hills.

They are apparently common enough that HBGary proposed a collaboration with Palantir to use them against Glenn Greenwald [2].

[1] https://theintercept.com/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/

[2] https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110209/22340513034/leake...

These aren't mind control at all!

Saying "the intelligence community is horrible" isn't the same as "these programs were prototypes for still-ongoing [mind control] attacks on the American public."

We don't really know what took place in the "mind control" program, as the records were systematically destroyed [1].

One plausible interpretation is that these were mainly efforts in coercive control, rather than Hollywood style "mind control". We have extensive records of comparable efforts in East Germany [2], and it is reasonable to suspect that the American programs followed a similar thread of "research". Why wouldn't they? The tactics were apparently very successful.

If you buy that argument, then the cited examples are logical successors. It is very easy to dismiss "mind control" programs as a weird vestige of a bygone era, but I think it is unlikely that institutions drew no durable lessons from them.

[1] https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intellig...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWjzT2l5C34

The article was specifically about MK-Ultra style mind control.

Saying there are other ways to try to get people to do what they want - especially at a population level as the OP claimed - is a completely different proposition.

I've linked elsewhere to IARPA SHARP which is the closest thing to actual mind control.

Do I think intelligence agencies try to manipulate public opinion by methods similar to advertising agencies? Yes absolutely! Do I think this this is mind control or anything resembling that? No, and I think it's important to note that despite all the leaks (Snowden, Wikileaks, etc etc) there is no hints that I'm wrong about this.

The whole point of the comment is that we don't know what "MK-Ultra style mind control" means because the records were destroyed. We can only make educated guesses about what is likely to have survived the program.

If you think the guess is bad, that's fair. It's another thing to get hung up on the semantics of "mind control".

These have absolutely nothing to do with said 'mind control' programs.

what makes you think they would have stopped?

Surely you recall the US invading Iraq on the basis of fabricated evidence and an absolutely massive propaganda campaign? They harvested five trillion dollars off of that one stunt. Do you imagine they decided to quit while they were ahead?

Did you read the article?

Propaganda is not the same as the mind control they are talking about or the OP claimed is being used at the population level.

Propaganda was and is a big part of it. Lying about what was done is a big part of it.

The Big Lie is that the program ended. Most people believe it, although not for any defensible reason.

Operation bluebird. MK ultra. Palantir. Keyscore.

Have you not been paying attention?

Only MK Ultra (which this article is about!) is anything resembling mind control.

Apparently I'm paying more attention to what this is specifically about than you are!

Keyscore: social control. Palantir: social control. Bluebird: mind control at scale.

I think you're being intentionally disingenuous. No sane person can look at those social control programs and think "well this is innocuous" or "compatible with the free and open society"...

I'm not being disingenuous at all. I'm arguing specifically that the statement "these [mind-control] programs were prototypes for still-ongoing [mind-control] attacks on the American public."

Project Bluebird was in the 1950s which the article is about.

You seem to be just pulling in all kinds of bad intelligence products. I'm not arguing that at all.

These programs are related inasmuch as they revolve around controlling the American public mindset with regards to the military industrial complexes' illegal wars. CIA currently runs 1000+ black ops 'interrogation' sites around the world for the purpose of fulfilling the goals of these kinds of programs.

The purpose is the justification of endless war and as we have seen, are quite effective at swaying American public opinion. cf., ISIS, et al,.

> Men Who Stare at Goats is a terrifying exploration of what these programs were really about

So an enormous waste of money that achieved nothing?

> Make no mistake, these programs were prototypes for still-ongoing attacks on the American public.

Take your conspiracy theories elsewhere.

The Snowdon leaks made it clear that US and UK security services are still happy to use psychological manipulation on their own public.

Never mind that we already knew this since COINTELPRO.

What is worse: a nuclear weapon or a psychological weapon? Nuclear weapons sound more dangerous, but they cannot be used invisibly without triggering a catastrophic response, meaning their power is largely from the leverage they give to the owner. Psychological weapons can be hidden and used without detection, can be approved of by secret courts, and directly benefit governments in far more scenarios with far lower risk. They are also cheaper. So what is more dangerous to the public?

Links, please.

Specifically to the mind control, since that is what this is about.

Psychological manipulation includes things like advertising and PR, so that isn't the same thing at all.

The use of the phrase "conspiracy theory" belies your ignorance. This term is too often effectively used against an inquisitive public, to shut down criticism of these agencies..

Au contraire! I've studied conspiracy theories a lot!

This is a great example: take something that did happen (experiments 40+ years ago), combine it with something more recent people know about in passing ("Men who state at goats" - which I'd note was exactly about how it didn't work at all), and then use it to project into the idea that it must be more advanced today and mysterious forces are using it.

Indeed, the idea of taking something that did happen, and then weaving it into lots of other random things to hide it in the noise (like this comment does) is a tactic often used by intelligence operatives. There's a conspiracy theory for you to think about!

I'd note that there is no evidence given at all.

The OP could have spoken about the recent IARPA SHARP brain stimulation program[1] which is probably the most advanced research in this area. But clearly they didn't know about that or they'd also know how hard it is to make work and how far away from mind control it is!

[1] https://www.iarpa.gov/index.php/research-programs/sharp

If you thought "Men Who Stare at Goats" was about something that didn't work, you completely missed the point. There is no reliable evidence that anyone tried to kill goats with their mind. What we do have reliable evidence of is that they want people to think they were trying. They succeeded at that. (Fooled you, anyway.)

The fact that you think what they were doing didn't work demonstrates, itself, that in fact what they really were doing did work: they misled you about what they were doing, with complete success.

Indeed that was a mission in duplicity more than anything else.

Just because government-involved conspiracy research isn't your field of interest doesn't mean you should talk down to others.

Quite the opposite.

> Though the MK-Ultra directors tried to convince the CIA’s independent audit board that the research should continue, the Inspector General insisted the agency follow new research ethics guidelines and bring all the programs on non-consenting volunteers to an end.

I would like to believe that CIA collectively found their moral compass, learned their lesson, and that was just a dark page in its history. But given its history afterwards, say what they did in South America, the torture programs, etc., I just can't come to that conclusion.

So assuming their morality stayed at about the same level as before. How could have they continued the programs if they wanted to?

1) Rename everything and not use MK-ULTRA label anymore. Find a way to transfer all the useful stuff to a new program and file it under a different label. Anyone looking for MK-ULTRA should not find anything if they went searching later.

2) Next, just like with torture programs, maybe migrate overseas?. Pay some brutal dictator somewhere, maybe blackmail him if there is any dirt on them, borrow some facilities, buy all the local police chiefs and so on.

3) Another avenue is contractors. There is a whole world of "contractors" which do all the dirty and illegal stuff the official intelligence agencies don't want to do. Give the programs some generic sounding names, outsource everything, and then through the back-channels tell the "researchers" what really to work on. Once results come in, file them as something else, compartmentalized so only a few people have access to them.

Link redirects to a local front-page for me.

Watch the documentary "State of mind" https://youtube.com/watch?v=g2sJPSzG4fw

Allen Dulles was a rare nutjob, it was only thanks to the chaos of interwar period he got such prominence

Well, that and Operation Paperclip...

Did anyone catch the JRE podcast with Tom O'Neill [1], he was there detailing his findings and research on his book on Charles Manson and the Family and subsequently finding many of the associated links between Intelligence and Military agencies and personnel that were involved with MK ULTRA and other programs.

Its quite the rabbit hole; I personally couldn't care less about the Manson family cult, as a kid I heard all about the scary hippy acid BS only to see them buying houses with their NIMBY tactics and driving gas guzzling SUVS in the 21st Century. Neither extremes turned out to be be true about those boomers, and instead all we got was a bland and trite form of entrenched entitlement in this country.

However, being a proponent of psychedelic use for medicinal and therapeutic purposes for many current epidemics, I wanted to hear what he had to say.

I ended up getting the audiobook, but haven't started it yet as I'm finishing a final project for one of my classes.

But what was said so far on the podcast has been intriguing. Especially as the CIA released the redacted files in common limited hangout fashion, but what Tom did was go even deeper over the course of 20 YEARS and managed to get files that revealed how Graduate students, police and military men were used in a wide-spread network in clandestine operations to either conduct, observe, monitor the experiments of test subjects in their targeted studies/experiments or be experimented on in order to refine a technique to achieve a desired result.

Its not clear to me if Manson and his crazy murders were intended to be used to solely discredit the psychedelic, anti-war or black movements of that period, but given what we saw with the Occupy Movement it is most definitely an effective tool in their arsenal to quell dissent that can be used if/when needed.

Either way, the tarnished reputation of psychedelics and its legitimate psychologists/researchers has been a bane for Humanity but a successful boon for Big Pharma. So inexorably tying LSD to Manson makes sense if you want to outlaw a currently researched substance with positive clinical trials, especially when Tom's research reveals he may have been a subject himself as he had a series of unwarranted releases from arrest or jail and state appointed relationships with MK Ultra program operatives.

I'm just MAPS has been able to reignite the legitimacy and utility of these class of drugs again after all these years.

1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J36xPWBLcG8

I enjoy Joe Rogan.

I liked the episode with Annie Jacobsen, which made me initially think of Art Bell stuff, but it got better.

One interesting bit is the DARPA moth project, where they implanted wiring in a moth and were able to "steer" it like an electronic bridle.

Literal direct mind control.

>> but given what we saw with the Occupy Movement

Care to elaborate?

A couple examples below. The key thing is that they won: The occupy movement was effectively neutered.


> A couple examples below. The key thing is that they won: The occupy movement was effectively neutered.

That's just what was documented, I did a project with one of the more active and vocal members of Occupy LA, he pulled a few of the major occupations that got him in quite a bit of trouble. And on TV in one of the spectacles, but ultimately left him disillusioned in the end.

Anyhow, he had stories about how they had a few 'squats' throughout where they would stay to plan things out, both for LA as well as NY, and they had to stop letting people in because so many were turning out to be CI for the police. The survailence economy was also starting to become widespread as Wifi enabled phones were also starting to become common, but here is another article detailing the FBI's tactics [1] in dragnet surveillance as well as brazen overt tactics. Hell, the damn Federal Reserve even had a hand in the surveillance program against Occupy at one point!

When confronted what some accepted in return for it many said the police would give them drugs or alcohol, or cash which if you're a severally depressed millennial with 10-100ks of student debt and no job prospects, and recently evicted out of your home, living on the street/car (with now deep psychological trauma) the why/hows become pretty obvious. On a Human level, that's just incredibly sad and exploitative behaviour of people in vulnerable positions.

Personally, I never liked the Occupy movement; initially it seemed to show promise (coordinated bank runs) but then it severally stagnated in the demonstration phase and squandered its resources until it became irrelevant--while many of its supporters mistook it for an extended Spring Break and livecasting was in its infancy and becoming quite popular around that period too--JustinTV was starting to get the attention of Google to become Twitch around that time, too. In retrospect I wonder how much of that contributed to the 'influencer' model we see now.

The Occupy movement could have done so much good if they took those motivated people into places like Detroit and bought up sky scrapers or entire neighborhood blocks to renovate and house them, and then participated in the Urban gardening revolution and local economic resurgence and commerce that took place with all the funds they had. I know this because I suggested it to them as I hung out in their chat rooms back then and saw what was happening as food deserts were becoming even more ubiquitous and saw the writing on the wall. My personal transition into Environmentalism and Activism was occurring at that time, too, so I recall it quite vividly.

My conclusions was that they simply had no plan and wanted to vent their anger, which was well intended, but then it became a reason to just have fun at night partying and not really mobilize for actual change.

Also, they were totally against my staunch (especially back then) An-Cap/Crypto-Anarchist position, and I was probably seen as just another 'capitalist shill' so I'm not an apologist for them at all.

I was just highlighting the State's MO and how Tom's work details how some of it was done in relation in his 20 years researching the Manson case and how it related to a 'political' movement in recent History.

1: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fbi-occupy-wall-street_n_2410...

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I have conflicted take on the movement as well, however their overarching "story" was one that should be told:

The current economic system is designed to reward the elite and keep a majority of the population in serfdom, and that we can collectively change things if we come together in purpose.

That last bit is the key, and why I believe that the whole Red vs. Blue division is fostered: divided we fall.

p.s., I'd like to hear the details of your "An-Cap/Crypto-Anarchist position".

Incredibly late reply, but thank you for an in-depth response.

If Mr. Robot was about Occupy, what do you think the serie Home Coming was about?

After reading Anna Jacobson books I wonder if it actually reflect reality.

> Mr. Robot was about Occupy

I'm a Mr. Robot fan, and a real fan of Kor's influence (an ex security guy at Toyota!) on the show but I likely took a very different perspective from it than most as I'm a crypto nerd.

To me the series was like a dramatization of Naomi Campbell's Shock Doctrine [1] with very well portrayed hacks and exploits (I'm not a pen tester but some OPESEC stuff was quite accurate). And their crypto stuff was actually well developed and researched. And some hero vs villeins characters to keep things going.


The occupy overtones felt like a distraction, and a tired trope to me; the masks were an obvious nod to the Guy Faux maskes representing Anonymous, but beyond that I think it was rather lacking any real substance--Season 3's riot at E-corp showed how quickly things escalate to violent mob-rule even against the supposed protagonists. The redistribution of wealth via a hack against the 1%'s seemed forced and cobbled together because Sam wanted the ending to fit that narrative and quite frankly it felt forcefully coaxed; whereas the mental health, loneliness and substance abuse plot was very well paced and fleshed out throughout the series.

I wasn't really satisfied with how that last hack drove the series end and how the last 'hack' saved the World was rather ridiculous to me as result--and this is from perhaps one of the most anti-nuclear voices on HN! And he survived to see his plan triumph, because reasons we cannot and will not explain beyond some far fetched off scene make-believe you will just have to accept.

I've never seen Homeland; to be honest I don't really watch TV much as popular shows feel boring to things that happen in the many sub-cultures and communities I'm involved in. That guy from Occupy I mentioned before got me into Mr. Robot at the end of season 1 but I didn't get into it much until the E-Coin vs Bitcoin plot development in S2 and binged most of it until that part.

Even during this lockdown I've been mainly re-watching/listening to old races, concerts and DJ sets while I study and do stuff. I have like 5 audio books I'm waiting to sink my teeth into so I'm afraid I won't get to see Home Coming anytime, either. I'll check out the trailer, but that's rather glib representation I imagine.

1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGmB63TIHLY

Edit: Saw trailer: eh, Black Mirror's Men Against Fire did that plot brilliantly, and this seems like an elongated version of it. And what is Sam's obsession with fish tanks?

PS: I don't think I've clarified my position with the Shock Doctrine; I agree with Campbell's premise, but not her conclusion(s), as Free Market Capitalism is not what is inserted in the 'window of operation' from the disaster/shock to the system, but rather a very parasitic corporate plutocracy emerges in the way Mussolini defined Fascism (the merging of State and Corporate power) is what inserts itself in practice. Even Pricenton has defined the US as an Oligarchy.

I also thought the ending was subpar compared to the genius narrative twists in the first two seasons of Mr Robot. I agree with your take on the system, Eric Weinstein's latest podcast has some pretty interesting remarks about it. The youtube video is not up yet so link to the specific portal episode


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