Welcome two part three of my examination of the life and times of Federal Bureau of Narcotics officers and CIA asset George Hunter White. In part one of this series I outlined White's longstanding ties to the United States intelligence community, which stretch back to said community's infancy during World War II. White was an officer and trainer for the OSS, the predecessor to the CIA, who churned out such pupils as future CIA directors Richard Helms and William Colby as well as uber powerful department heads such as Frank Wisner and James Jesus Angleton. White was also involved in forging alliances with various organized crime syndicates as well as conducting assassinations and field experiments with 'truth drugs,' chiefly marijuana.
In part two I began to examine White's post-WWII intelligence working, including his continued ties to various underworld figures such as Pierre Lafitte, a man with close ties to every key member of the notorious French Connection, as well as his work on MK-Ultra, one of the CIA's most notorious ventures into truth drugs and mind control. More on MK-Ultra and other such programs can be found here and here.
As far as MK-Ultra is concerned, White is most well known for a series of safehouses that he established first in New York City and later San Francisco. At these safehouses White conducted experiments with a whole host of drugs given to him by the CIA, most notably LSD. White also apparently conducted various sexual experiments (that also involved drugs in many cases) with the aid of local prostitutes that lured johns back to the San Francisco safehouses from time to time. White did not restrict his experiments to the safehouses, however. White also took a sick pleasure in dosing friends and associates with LSD in his private life. These incidents were apparently outside of his work on MK-Ultra (officially) and frequently disastrous.
"White's 1953 and 1954 date book entries reveal that he drugged at least seven unwitting people for no apparent reason other than to see the effects of LSD on unsuspecting people. One woman drugged by White during a dinner party at his home had required brief hospitalization. Another woman, a friend of his wife, suffered long-term effects from the drug and subsequently required psychiatric treatment for over thirty-five years. A young aspiring actress who lived in the same apartment building as the Whites was drugged in 1954 and hours later had found herself on the roof of the building, contemplating jumping to escape the monsters trying to drive her mad."White seems to have had a perverse fascination with dosing people unwittingly with LSD. Liz Evans, a former aspiring actress and sometime prostitute who worked for White during his time in San Francisco, recounted this peculiar fetish.
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli Jr., pg. 279)
"Evans remembers that White 'three or four times at his house' dosed people with LSD 'just for fun.' She recalls, 'He gave it to me once and I hated every minute of it. I told him if he ever did it again that would be the last time he did it to anyone.'
"Evans also recalls that White, or 'someone who worked with him... sometime around 1959 or 1960,' dosed 'a really pretty, blond-haired waitress at [San Francisco's] Black Sheep bar.' Says Evans, 'her name was Ruth [Kelly] and George wanted her to take part in things, but she had no interest, so he, or someone he told to, dosed her with LSD.' Kelly, who also performed as a singer at the bar, was dosed during one of her singing performances in 1960, according to CIA documents. Evans says, as CIA document confirm, 'She nearly flipped out during her set, but somehow managed to hold on. After she finished, she ran outside and got a cab to take her to the hospital. A few days later she was okay.'"
(ibid, pg. 290)
Considering how many of George White's former associates recall him dosing unwitting peoples with acid, it seems pretty safe to assume the above-mentioned instances were not isolated. Virtually all such instances were outside his role in MK-Ultra, at least officially. By all accounts, however, his actual test subjects for MK-Ultra at the safehouses did not fair much better. Besides LSD, a whole host of other exotic drugs were also toyed with, typically with disturbing results.
"In addition to LSD, which they knew could cause serious, if not fatal problems, TSS officials gave White even more exotic experimental drugs to test, drugs that other Agency contractors may or may not have already used on human subjects. 'If we were scared enough of a drug not to try it out on ourselves, we sent it to San Francisco,' recalls a TSS source. According to a 1963 report by CIA Inspector General John Earman, 'In a number of instances, however, the test subject has become ill for hours, including hospitalization in at least one case, and [White] could only follow up by guarded inquiry after the test subject's return to normal life. Possible sickness and attendant economic lose are inherent contingent effects of testing.'"While it's impossible to tell just how many victims White tallied during the 1950s and early 1960s, the number is seemingly significant. Another mystery is just how long White's safehouse operation lasted.
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pgs. 105-106)
"The MKULTRA crew continued unwitting testing until the summer of 1963 when the Agency's Inspector General stumbled across the safehouses during a regular inspection of TSS activities. This happened not long after Director John McCone had appointed John Earman to the Inspector General position. Much to the displeasure of Sid Gottlieb and Richard Helms, Earman questioned the propriety of the safehouses, and insisted that Director McCone be given a full briefing. Although President Kennedy had put McCone in charge of the Agency the year before, Helms --the professional's professional --had not bothered to tell his outsider boss about some of the CIA's most sensitive activities, including the safehouses and the CIA-Mafia assassination plots. Faced with Earman's demands, Helms --surely one of history's most clever bureaucrats --volunteered to tell McCone himself about the safehouses (rather than have Earman present a negative view of the program). Sure enough, Helms told Earman afterward, McCone raised no objections to unwitting testing (as Helms described it). A determined man and a rather brave one, Earman countered with a full written report to McCone recommending that the safehouses be closed. The Inspector General cited the risks of exposure and pointed out that many people both inside and outside the Agency found 'the concepts involved in manipulating human behavior... to be distasteful and unethical.' McCone reacted by putting off a final decision by suspending unwitting testing in the meantime. Over the next years, Helms, who then headed the Clandestine Services, wrote at least three memos urging resumption. He cited 'indications... of an apparent Soviet aggressiveness in the field of covertly administered chemicals which are, to say the least, inexplicable and disturbing,' and he claimed the CIA's 'psotive operational capacity to use drugs is diminishing owing to a lack of realistic testing.' To Richard Helms, the importance of the program exceeded the risks and the ethical question, although he did admit, 'We have no answer to them oral issue.' McCone simply did nothing for two years. The director's indecision had the effect of killing the program, nevertheless. TSS officials closed the San Francisco safehouse in 1965 and the New York one in 1966."
(ibid, pgs. 108-109)
|Richard Helms (top) and John McCone (bottom)|
There were actually at least five known safehouses, two in New York City, two in San Francisco, and one in Mill Valley, located about 14 miles north of San Fran (the Agency apparently liked the isolation of this safehouse). What's more, its interesting to note that White's safehouse operations were winding down right around the time San Francisco's grassroots acid scene was emerging. By the time 1965 rolled around, the streets were full of acidheads the CIA could (and did) study, making White's operation superfluous. Coincidence?
Before wrapping up with White, there are potential episodes in his life I would like to address. One is White's possible ties to Candy Jones, the former model and pin-up girl who later claimed to be the victim of a CIA mind control plot that created an alternative personality in her mind. Jones claimed that this process was accomplished through hypnosis and that her first session occurred in San Francisco during the year 1960.
"San Francisco was a hotbed of MK-ULTRA activity in the 1960s, incorporating everything from drugs to hypnosis and, later, to paranormal and occult research. In 1955, MK-ULTRA operator George White... had moved to San Francisco from New York City, where he had run a 'safehouse' that was used to test the effects of various drugs on prostitutes and their clients via two-way mirrors and the like. He set up an identical operation on Telegraph Hill, and wired it for sound, bringing in hookers, their johns, and eventually a whole assortment of local characters, both underworld and 'civilian.' George White's operation in San Francisco went on until the summer of 1963, covering the time of Candy Jones' first visit to the hypnotist in the autumn of 1960. Thus, there was a proven CIA presence in San Francisco under the auspices of the MK-ULTRA mind control program at the time of her recruitment..."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pgs. 317-318)
I've found nothing to indicate that White had any actual contact with Jones, but as one of the CIA's main MK-Ultra operators it seems likely their paths would have crossed during his time in San Francisco if her story is true. Given White's love of pretty women and celebrities, it seems unlikely George could have been kept away. What's more, there is some indication that associates of White hypnotized at least one of the prostitutes, Liz Evans (who was mentioned previously), who worked for White during his San Francisco days.
"Asked if White or anyone associated with him had ever hypnotized her, Evans says, 'We used to play these crazy games at that, hypnosis and like that, yes, I think I was hypnotized once by a friend of George's.' She does not remember who it was or where."Candy Jones has been linked by many conspiracy researchers to Project Monarch (the existence of which is highly controversial even within conspiracy circles), an alleged mind control program that employs drugs, hypnosis and sexual abuse, among others things, to create alternative personalities in 'recruits.' Certainly White was involved in his fair share of drug and sexual experimentations (both for the CIA and in his private life) and associated with many psychiatrists over the years skilled in hypnosis, all of which is consistent with Monarch theories. It's interesting to note that several of White's former OSS pupils, most notably future CIA director William Colby, have also been linked with Monarch.
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli Jr., pg. 290)
Finally, I would also like to address allegations of George White's role in the death of Frank Olson, for years the only human being the CIA admitted to testing LSD on. I've already written extensively on the Olson affair here and here, so I will be brief here. Olson was a U.S. Army biological warfare specialist employed at Fort Detrick in the early 1950s. There Olson came into contact with CIA officials and was eventually dosed with LSD by Sidney Gottlieb himself at a West Virginia retreat attended by Army scientists and CIA personnel. Shortly thereafter Olson had a nervous breakdown ending in his suicide on November 28, 1953. Or at least that's the official story anyway. A growing body of evidence has emerged that Olson, who plunged to his death from a thirteenth story window, was murdered, though much debate remains as to who was the killer.
In 2007 acclaimed author and researcher Gordon Thomas published a book called Secrets and Lies that fingered White as Olson's killer. H.P. Albarelli Jr., whose A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments is easily the definitive account of the Olson saga (as well as the CIA's role in the spread of LSD), strongly disputed Thomas' allegations.
"... One of Thomas' most sensational assertions is that George Hunter White killed Frank Olson, a claim that he skillfully formats as having come out of the mouth of Eric Olson: 'According to Eric Olson's reconstruction, what happened was this: White entered Frank Olson's room in the early hours of that November morning... White delivered his famous blow and then hurled Olson from the window.
"According to Thomas, White's 'famous blow' was the same that he used in Calcutta 'to kill a Chinese spy... with one fist blow of such sufficient force that it made a hole in the man's skull.' [... White actually shot the spy. Eric Olson, having read White's 1953 date book, was well aware that White was not in New York on the night in question.]
"In support of his claim that White murdered Olson, Thomas offers no evidence other than statements he attributes to deceased CIA official William Buckley. Buckley, Thomas claims, was assigned by DCI Dulles in 1953 to look into the death of Frank Olson. However, in 1953 Buckley was still attending college and had not yet been recruited by the CIA. Even after he was employed by the Agency, he was never involved in MKULTRA work and never assigned to Dr. Gottlieb's TSS branch as Thomas claimed.
"Thomas's account of White killing Olson is indeed fascinating and provocative stuff, but one problem with it is that White, at the time of Olson's death, was over 3,000 miles away, having departed New York on November 10, 1953 for California to help his father arrange for the burial of his mother who passed away on November 26, 1953...
"Other claims by Thomas appear to be a bit over the line even to the harshest of CIA and Army critics. But the primary reason for discounting Thomas' assertions about the death of Frank Olson is simply that they do not square with the evidence and, instead, dovetail with official versions that were clearly intended as cover up."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli Jr., pgs. 673-674)
While Albarelli strongly disputes George White as Olson's actual killer, he compellingly argues that White was involved. Sources revealed to Albarelli that White was supposed to be assisting CIA agent Robert Lashbrook, the man who chaperoned Olson threw New York during his final days. White, however, was forced to drop out due to the sudden illness of his mother that required his attention in California. Before leaving he sent Pierre Lafitte (of whom much more is written on in part two of this series), the long time Corsican mafia associate, to assist Lashbrook. Lafitte in turn brought in Francois Spirito, a high ranking Corsican mobster, to aid him with Olson on the night of the chemist's death.
"Why or how Lafitte enlisted the assistance of Spirito is unknown. What we do know is that Spirito had been unexpectedly released from federal prison in Atlanta and had journeyed to New York the week before Olson arrived there with Ruwet and Lashbrook. Spirito's long acquittance with Lafitte is a matter of historical record.
"Details of what happened the night that Olson died are still somewhat vague because neither Albert nor Neal would go into specific details.
"At some point during Olson's last night in New York, Neal explained, Lashbrook had become concerned that 'Olson was once again becoming unhinged.' Before Olson and Lashbrook retired for the night, the decision was made that 'it would be best' if Olson were transported back to Maryland for confinement at Chestnut Grove... but by means other than the commercial flight Lashbrook had booked for the next day.
"The alternative plan involved Lafitte and Spirito, apparently as personal escorts for Olson. Said one source, 'White would have been the ideal alternative, perhaps along with Lafitte, but e was in California.' That Spirito had just been released form prison in Atlanta where he had been a subject of Dr. Carl Pfeiffer's 'psychic experiments' was either overlooked or unknown. 'I don't think anyone knew where he had come from or where he had been; he was recruited by Lafitte,' said Albert.
"According to Albert and Neal, when a late night 'attempt was made to remove a subdued Olson from the room to transport him by automobile to Maryland,' things went drastically wrong. The short and entire explanation is that '[Olson] resisted and in the ensuing struggle he was pitched through the closed window.'"
(ibid, pgs. 692-693)
|I believe Spirito is the one on the left|
The above mentioned Dr. Carl Pfeiffer conducted experiments at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in the 1950s and early 1960s that involved inducing psychotic states with LSD. Pfeiffer's experiments bare many similarities to the work Dr. Ewen Cameron did for the CIA as part of his ventures into 'psychic driving.' Cameron's work has in turn been closely associated with Project Monarch, the alleged mind control project designed to create alternative personalities that are capable of assassinations, among other things.
|Dr. Carl Pfeiffer|
And it is here that I shall wrap things up. George White played an enormous role both in the early Cold War activities of the CIA as well spurring the acid scene that emerged in the United States in the early 1960s. During World War II White trained several of the most influential and powerful figures in the early CIA. He also became deeply involved in early US intelligence ventures into assassinations and truth drugs. Once WWII was over and the Cold War was heating up White was brought back into the intelligence fold so that his 'expertise' and first hand experience in such things could be put to work in the field.
White was a major player in the early days of LSD. He advised Sidney Gottlieb, the MK-Ultra head, and was involved in the legendary death of Frank Olson. But more importantly, he was instrumental in the spread of LSD in both New York City and San Francisco. Both cities, but especially the city by the Bay, were major players in the emerging acid subculture that would become big business in the 1960s. Not only did White dose countless individuals in his safehouses, but also friends and acquaintances, some knowingly, some not. While Albert 'Captain Trips' Hubbard, a man who White trained during his OSS days, is generally described as the 'Johnny Appleseed of LSD,' his former boss certainly did more than his fair share.
While this alone would be a enough to ensure White's notoriety, there are even stranger aspects of his life that researchers have only skimmed the surface of. The implications of his ties to Pierre Lafitte, a man involved in the international heroin trade, the Corsican and American mafias, and possibly even the JFK assassination and cover up, a startling. White himself is not without vague links to the Kennedy assassination as well, i.e. his interview with Jack Ruby. Indeed, there are few unsavory aspects of the CIA's early Cold War policy that White does not appear in. This combined with his access to high ranking CIA officials implies that White may even have devised some of these policies.
As with many things of this nature, we shall likely never know whether White was simply a loyal soldier or an actual agenda setter. All we can be certain of is that he was ever present in the underbelly of the US intelligence community in its early years and that his reach was wide, well beyond that acid tests he is mainly known for. Thus, his place in modern US history should be far more widely known that it is. Hopefully this series will help change this state of affairs.