January 18

Church Committee confirmed Frank Olson given LSD; White House concealed information

Following the disclosure that Frank Olson had been surreptitiously given LSD, the family met with President Ford who told them that he was “distressed that the family had not previously been told the truth.” They later met with then-CIA Director William Colby, who apologized for any role the agency played in the suicide. The Olson family was given a file of documents purportedly containing all the relevant facts and they were paid $750,000 in compensation. But the family was deceived once more as the true facts about the murder were covered up.

Unbeknown to the Olson family, the White House staff concealed vital information about Frank Olson’s death. Kathryn Olmstead, a California history professor uncovered documents at the Gerald Ford Library (2002) revealing that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Ford’s chief of staff at the time, and Dick Cheney, a senior White House Assistant during the Ford Presidency, expressed concern that a lawsuit about Olson’s death would bring to light classified information.

One memo states: “Dr. Olson’s job was so sensitive that it is highly unlikely that we would submit relevant evidence.” In another memo, Cheney acknowledges that “the Olson lawyers will seek to explore all the circumstances of Dr. Olson’s employment, as well as those concerning his death. In any trial, it may become apparent that we are concealing evidence for national security reasons and any settlement or judgment reached thereafter could be perceived as money paid to cover up the activities of the CIA”. (Gordon Thomas. Globe Intel, 2002) Not until 1994, forty years after his death, was a post-mortem forensic examination conducted by a pathologist at George Washington University who concluded that the evidence was “rankly and starkly suggestive of homicide.” He noted evidence of blunt force trauma to the head prior to Olson’s fall. The autopsy finding led the NYC district attorney to reopen the case. (James Ketchum. Chemical Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten, 2006; Albarelli. A Terrible Mistake, 2009; Moreno. Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans, 2000)

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