1954: “Can an individual be made to perform assassination involuntarily under the influence of ARTICHOKE?”

“Can an individual be made to perform assassination involuntarily under the influence of ARTICHOKE?” The question was contained in a CIA memo dated Jan 22, 1954. The question was not entirely hypothetical; the memo specified that “the assassination would be against a prominent ** official or if necessary, against an American official. . .” It stipulated that the test would target a foreign national who was once a CIA “asset” but no longer cooperated.

. . . it was proposed that the individual could be surreptitiously drugged through the medium of an alcoholic cocktail at a social party. ARTICHOKE [presumably, hypnosis] would be applied and the SUBJECT induced to perform the act of attempted assassination at some later date. All the above was to be accomplished at one involuntary uncontrolled social meeting. After the attempted assassination was performed, it was assumed that the SUBJECT would be taken into custody by the [redacted] Government and thereby ‘disposed of.’ . . . Whether the proposed act of attempted assassination was carried out or not by the SUBJECT was of no great significance in relation to the overall project.

The memo concludes that despite the elaborate setup, a hypnotized assassination “probably” could not be undertaken because the subject would be involuntary and unwitting; access to the subject was strictly limited to social engagements; and hypnotism actually provided “[no] or, at the very most, very limited physical control or custody of the subject.” However, despite the limitations it suggests that a “crash course” could be undertaken.

“If headquarters provided greater access to operational plans and gave the order, “the ARTICHOKE Team would undertake the problem in spite of the operational limitations.” A final, handwritten notation at the end of the document reiterated, “This would be made available when and if required.” ARTICHOKE files