January 18

1949 — CIA’s Research in Covert Mind-Control Techniques i.e., Psychological Torture

In 1949, the Rand Corporation issued a report, “Are Communist Countries Using Hypnosis Techniques to Elicit Confession in Public Trials?” The report relied on old Soviet hypnosis experiments conducted in 1923 (which were translated into English in 1932). The Soviets had reported success in implanting memories of crimes hypnotically. The Rand report helped set the stage for the U.S. government intelligence agencies to invoke national security as the rationale for the use of nefarious destructive mind control methods, such as hypnosis, to manipulate individuals into committing criminal acts on command. (Bowart. Operation Mind Control, 1978; Researcher’s edition, 1994)

Beginning in 1949, the CIA initiated a series of Top Secret mind control projects; their names changed as some morphed one into the other. These dubious, often fiendish experiments in “psychological warfare” techniques spanned more than 25 years. Among these: BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, MK-NAOMI, MK-SEARCH, PANDORA, MIDNIGHT CLIMAX, and MK-ULTRA, the best known of CIA’s mind control projects. The unconscionable experiments tested the malleability of human consciousness; they were designed to erase memory and cause total amnesia using electroshock. The experiments sought to discover effective methods for manipulating human will and to probe the limits of human a being’s capacity to withstand extreme stress. They were essentially experimental explorations in mental torture.

These were brain damaging experiments; they were conducted on thousands of (mostly) involuntary soldiers, mental patients, prisoners and civilians, including young children who were treated as expendable means to CIA’s dubious ends. The victims of CIA’s diabolical experiments were subjected to a witches’ brew of powerful psychoactive and hallucinatory drugs (e.g., mescaline, sodium pentothal, LSD, ketamine and psilocybin) in the hunt for a “truth serum” (“ego-depressant” drugs). Other techniques used in these grotesque experiments included, rapid induction of hypnosis, multiple high voltage electroshock, electronic brain stimulation (ESB), psychosurgical implanted electrodes in the brain, often combined with psychoactive drugs. The third line of CIA’s experimentation involved extremely stressful psychological “brainwashing” employing sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation in extended isolated confinement, coupled with sensory overstimulation, which induced psychotic hallucinations and mental breakdown. The purpose of these monstrous exercises in torture was to incapacitate human free will and break the human spirit by disorienting, inducing “learned helplessness” and dependency, to enable an interrogator to assume control and take command of a subject’s mind.

“Many Americans have heard about the most outlandish and least successful aspect of this research — the testing of LSD on unsuspecting subjects. While these CIA drug experiments led nowhere and the testing of electric shock as a technique led only to lawsuits, research into sensory deprivation proved fruitful indeed. In fact, this research produced a new psychological rather than physical method of torture, perhaps best described as “no-touch” torture.” (McCoy)

For decades the nature of these experiments involving CIA’s vast network of contracted academic scientists — mainly psychiatrists, psychologists and neurologists who provided the “scientific” framework for psychological demolition — remained deeply hidden. The CIA deliberately kept Congress and the American people in the dark about its darkest illegal projects; it is a matter of conjecture how much the President of the U.S. during the 1950s through the mid-1970s knew about the nature of these infamous illegal activities. Most of the documents pertaining to CIA’s nefarious mind control projects were destroyed per instructions by Richard Helms in 1973, prior to a Congressional investigation of CIA’s criminal national activities. Some records were deliberately coded to confuse and others remain classified.

It bears emphasizing that lurking within CIA’s abominable mind- manipulation projects was a strong element of racism. After all, these experiments were following the Nazi blueprint for experimentation on those deemed inferior undesirable outcasts. Nazi doctors and scientists who had been imported to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip carried over their belief in their own racial superiority, their unbridled hatred for Communism and their determination to prepare for a decisive victory in a war against the Soviet Union. They also transported their ruthless and immoral disregard for the rights and humanity of those they deemed inferior. They found sympathetic allies among high ranking intelligence officials within the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and its successor, the CIA who, like the Nazis held themselves and their mission above moral precepts.

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