Welcome to the seventh installment in my ongoing examination of the CIA's mysterious and controversial Office of Security (OS). An active participant in the Watergate scandal, Operation CHAOS and Projects BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE and QKHILLTOP, the OS found itself knee deep in many of the CIA's blackest black ops from the Agency's inception up until at least 1973 when the fall out from the Watergate scandal shook things up. For those of you just joining me or trying to catch up, here is a brief run down of what was covered in the prior installments:
- part one addressed the composition and politics of the OS while also contrasting them with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) "Old Boys" who dominated the CIA's upper hierarchy for decades
- the second installment began to consider the Watergate scandal, noting the role long time OS man James McCord had in the totally bungling of the second break-in while also considering the possibility that McCord or one of his employees tipped off the police concerning the break-in
- with part three I considered the Columbia Plaza-based call girl ring servicing the Watergate-based DNC that provided the motive for the second break-in as well as the likelihood that James McCord was the one running said operation
- the fourth installment wrapped up with Watergate, noting the OS's long time use of "safe houses" for sexual blackmail as well as the likely plotters behind Watergate, which included the OS, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the shadowy private intelligence network and defense lobby group known as the American Security Council (ASC, the history of which was addressed on this blog before here)
- part five considered the role the OS played in CIA assassination operations, potential deaths linked to OS "clean up" operations (including the "suicide" of Frank Olson) and the role and implications of the OS's participation in Operation CHAOS
- with the sixth and most recent installment I finally began to consider Projects BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE, noting that these projects had little or nothing to do with MKULTRA and Sidney Gottleib as well as giving a brief run down of the origins of BLUEBIRD
With an overview of BLUEBIRD out of the way, it is now time to turn our attention to the man who provided much of the "vision" for BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE throughout the nearly fourteen year period (1949-1963, noted in the last installment) that these projects were active. Frequently Sidney Gottlieb, the longtime MKULTRA head, is described as a kind of black magician or dark alchemist in the literature concerning CIA behavior modification experiments but if anyone deserves such a title it is ARTICHOKE chief Morris "Morse" Allen.
Superficially, Allen seems like a most unlikely candidate to push the extremes of consciousness as BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE did. Consider:
"... Allen had spent most of his earlier career rooting out the domestic communist threat, starting in the late 1930s when he had joined the Civil Service Commission and set up its first security files on communists. ('He knows their methods,' wrote a CIA colleague.) During World War II, Allen had served with Naval intelligence, first pursuing leftists in New York and then landing with the Marines on Okinawa. After the war, he went to the State Department, only to leave in the late 1940s because he felt the Department was whitewashing certain communists cases. He soon joined the CIA's Office of Security.A suspicious man by inclination and training, Allen took nothing at face value. Like all counterintelligence or security operators, his job was to show why things are not what they seem to be. He was always thinking ahead and behind, punching holes in surface reality. Allen had no academic training for behavior research (although he did take a short course in hypnotism, a subject that fascinated him). He saw the BLUEBIRD job as one that called for studying every last method the communists might use against the United States and figuring out ways to counter them."
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pg. 26)
Hypnotism was hardly the only arcane topic Morse Allen had an interest in. Indeed, the grizzled security man seemingly devised a host of bizarre methods (with some connection to the occult) that he envisioned the Communists using against the United States. There is little in his background to indicate where his rather peculiar interests derived from. But then again, very little is known about his pre-BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE background in general (the same could be said for his activities after the late 1960s as well).
Allegedly he attended the US Naval Academy some time around 1930 and, a few years after dropping out of there, ended up at George Washington University (a popular university for future members of the US intelligence community, whose alumni at the time included Allen Dulles and J. Edgar Hoover), though this researcher has been unable to reliably confirm any of this. From there, as noted above, he ended up the Civil Service Commission, operating out of its Investigative Unit. Later on he would end up at the State Department's Office of Security, working alongside future Deputy Director of the CIA's Office of Security, Robert L. Bannerman.
|Robert L. Bannerman, Morse Allen's long time associate in both the State Department and CIA's Office of Security|
Both Allen and Hubbard would go on to see time in the Pacific Theater, but it is unknown if there was any overlap at this point. They also allegedly attended George Washington University at the same time, but again, this researcher has been unable to confirm Allen's time there. There does, however, seem to be a decent possibility that the two men may have encountered one another in New York City shortly after WWII had started while they were both working for ONI.
Hubbard of course had a host of interests in the arcane and may have provided some inspiration to Allen, but this is all highly, highly speculative. The fact is, there is no conclusive proof either man ever met, though they did seem to travel in some of the same circles during WWII.
|L. Ron Hubbard|
"... a two-month overseas mission in late summer, 1949, by a CIA team under polygraph expert Morse Allen from the Security Office. Allen's mission 'was to discover whether the Russians or Russian controlled countries are or have in the past been utilizing interrogation and espionage techniques which involve the use of drugs and hypnotism.' Allen met with high-ranking American occupation officials in Germany, Poland and Hungary, as well as numerous informants and 'returning Prisoners of War at border points... Several hundred of these returning POW's were interrogated in hopes of discovering the use of drugs or hypnosis techniques on them.' Allen reported after his return, 'During the trip, the Polygraph (lie detector) was used in sixteen cases... In four different cases, suspected Communist agents were processed by drugs and the establishment of the state of hypnosis for interrogation purposes.'...
"The day after Allen submitted his trip report, he sent CIA security chief Sheffield Edwards a detailed proposal for what he termed 'security validation teams.' According to Allen, these would be multi-function groups of 2-4 agents highly-trained in general interrogation techniques --use of polygraph, drug administration, hypnosis --as well as basic medical skills. The teams would be limited to carrying out 'the ultimate polygraph screening of all CIA personnel; the processing of any loyalty cases which might arise from time to time; [and] more detailed screening of special security categories,' such as government department and agencies, including the Atomic Energy Commission, the Pentagon, and the State Department. Teams would be located in Washington, D.C., Detroit, and California; overseas they would operate in Germany, France, and England. The CIA's Security Office would direct all teams, but close cooperation from the Agency's Office of Scientific Intelligence, Special Operations, and Technical Services was expected."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Alberreli, Jr., pgs. 209-210)
|Allen was regarded as a master of the polygraph|
By the late summer of 1950 Allen had become the formal head of BLUEBIRD. Pleased with the initial results of his interrogation teams, he decided to take BLUEBIRD into bold new territories by 1951.
|likely the CIA's Morse Allen, but not certain|
The name change was brought about by H. Marshall Chadwell, then head of the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI). The OSI was the Office of Security's primary partner in BLUEBIRD and later ARTICHOKE and there was briefly a power struggle in which the OSI gained control of the project briefly in 1952 before the OS wrestled it back again. But more about that in a future installment.
As for Chadwell''s reason for changing the name, it is thus:
"On August 8, 1951, H. Marshall Chadwell, following a conference with a group of military representatives, requested that for security reasons the Office of Security designate a new code name as soon as possible for Project BLUEBIRD. As Chadwell put it, 'BLUEBIRD was chosen to cover a particular field operation. The word has been in use for quite some time and is known to several persons no longer connected with the project.' Eight days later, Sheffield Edwards notified Chadwell that the new name was 'ARTICHOKE.' "
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli Jr., pg. 224)
|H. Marshall Chadwell|
"Project Artichoke was an ultra-secret program initiated in August 1951 upon the approval of CIA director Walter Bedell Smith and the Agency's Scientific Intelligence Director, Dr. H. Marshall Chadwell. The code name 'Artichoke' was selected with sardonic humor from the street appendage given to New York gangster Ciro Terranova, who was referred to as the 'Artichoke King.'... "
(A Secret Order, H.P. Alberelli, Jr., pg. 168)
|Ciro Terranova, the "Artichoke King"; the use of "artichoke" in this context may have been a reference to ARTICHOKE experiments performed on organized crime figures, as shall be noted in a moment|
"The CIA's interest in hypnotism developed primarily from Morse Allen's fascination with the subject and his review of surviving and classified OSS materials...According to Dr. Sidney Gottlieb:
The origins of CIA interest in hypnotism began before I arrived at the Agency with [Morse] Allen and others in SRS who recognized the practice as a possible means for eliciting information. Apparently there was earlier interest in the subject with the OSS, but I'm unaware of the details or extent of that. [Morse] Allen, as I understand it, became deeply involved in conducting hypnosis experiments and elsewhere... "
(A Secret Order, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pgs. 282-283)
|the insignia of the OSS|
"The CIA's first behavioral research czar, Morse Allen of ARTICHOKE, was intrigued by hypnosis. He read everything he could get his hands on, and in 1951 he went to New York for a four-day course from a well-known stage hypnotist. This hypnotist had taken the Svengail legend to heart, and he bombarded Allen with tales of how he used hypnosis to seduce young women. He told the ARTICHOKE chief that he had convinced one mesmerized lady that he was her husband and that she desperately wanted him. That kind of deception has a place in covert operations, and Morse Allen was sufficiently impressed to report back to his bosses the hypnotist's claim that 'he spent approximately five nights a week away from home engaged in sexual intercourse.' "
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pgs. 194-195)It is likely that the "well-known stage hypnotist" mentioned above was none other William Joseph Bryan, a figure long linked to the RFK assassination. Here are a few more details about Bryan:
"... William Joseph Bryan was a much more successful hypnotist (it was his career), and, as a notorious womanizer, often used hypnosis... his resume was if anything even more suggestive. A large, bearded man who taxed the scales at nearly 400 pounds, he was even stranger in his appearance... a fat man who expected his secretaries to sleep with him, and who used hypnosis to sexually exploit still others. He demonstrated his hypnotic powers to sexually exploit still others. He demonstrated his hypnotic powers in public on many occasions, even putting noted defense attorney F. Lee Bailey under, along with two other lawyers, in a seminar organized by Melvin Belli... He also consulted on many famous criminal cases, and had hypnotized accused serial killer Albert DiSalvo (the 'Boston Strangler') in his cell.
"Bryan worked in the Los Angeles area, out of an office on Sunset Strip in Hollywood, after a checkered career in which he was once a drummer for Tommy Dorsey's band and then, during the Korean War, worked for the US Air Force in what he termed 'the brainwashing section.' If this was, in fact, true and not some of Bryan's notorious hyperbole, then he certainly came to the attention of the CIA, which had just geared up Operation BLUEBIRD at this time and had sent agents to Korea to investigate the brainwashing phenomenon and to come up with ways to protect American servicemen against it..."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pgs. 312-313)
|William Joseph Bryan|
"... Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Bryan was associated with several ultra-conservative right wing groups and through these associations came to the attention of the CIA's Morse Allen, a staunch proponent of the use of hypnotism in intelligence activities. One CIA Security Office document, from the early 1950s, details a lengthy meeting in New York City between Allen and Bryan, during which Allen sought assurances that Bryan could employ hypnosis in order to control selected, unwitting subjects. Reads the memorandum in part:
We explored the issue of moral inhibitions blocking or preventing the effects of hypnosis and [Bryan] said as far as he was concerned there were no problems in this area at all.... With the task of inducing through trance a mental state whereby a subject would do harm to or kill another person, he said the task, although never attempted by him or anyone he knows, would not be any more difficult than inducing a subject to drink a glass of water. "
(A Secret Order, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., 152)It is likely that this meeting stemmed from 1952, if my reading of the footnotes in A Secret Order is accurate. But the possibility remains that Bryan was the stage hypnotist who conducted the four day course Allen and other OS men attended in 1951. Certainly the description of the hypnotist presented by John Marks above fits Bryan to a T.
Bryan then could have conceivably been working as part of Project BLUEBIRD while he was in the Air Force during the Korean War, though his service is far from certain and may have been another of his legendary exaggerations (despite ample references to his time in the Air Force online, this researcher has yet to find any credible evidence definitively proving Bryan was in the Air Force at all). Or perhaps his alleged work in brainwashing for the Air Force, which participated in BLUEBIRD and later ARTICHOKE, was a cover for his actual employer, the CIA. Unfortunately, this whole part of Bryan's life is shrouded in mystery and all one can really do is guess.
What is known, however, is that there were at least two other highly regarded hypnotists approached in the early years by Morse Allen. One was the legendary psychiatrist and hypnotist Milton H. Erickson. Erickson is believed to have been one of the premier hypnotists of the twentieth century along with Bryan and a major influence on neuro-linguistic programming. Erickson was involved with ARTICHOKE for years while publicly dismissing the possibility of creating a "Manchurian Candidate." He would apparently become a key source of Walter Bowart for his classic Operation Mind Control, though Bowart did not seem to have been aware of the extent of Erickson's involvement in ARTICHOKE.
|Milton H. Erickson|
"George Hoban Estabrooks was a professor of psychology and chairman of the Department of Psychology at Colgate University in New York. He had been a Rhodes scholar and completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1926. Most people who came close into him contact with Estabrooks considered him to be brilliant, but overly egotistical when it came to his bold claims about hypnotism: 'I can hypnotize a man, without his knowledge or consent, into committing treason against the United States.'
"Besides hypnotism, Estabrooks was very interested in telepathy, and early in his career he worked with Walter Franklin Prince and Gardner Murphy, who established the Boston Society of Psychical Research. In 1942, when Estabrooks was bragging the loudest --that he could turn any man into a traitor through hypnosis --the War Department, precursor to the Department of Defense, quickly took notice and summoned the proud professor to a meeting at the Pentagon...
"Apparently, the Pentagon was not willing to chance it, as evidenced in an article by Estabrooks that appeared in 1971 in Science Digest. In it, Estabrook provides a glimpse into his work for the military on hypnosis:
One of the most fascinating but fangerous applications of hypnosis is its use in military intelligence. This is a field with which I am familiar through formulating guidelines for the techniques used by the United States in two world wars.... The "hypnotic courier"... provides a unique solution [to communication in war]. I was involved in preparing many subjects for this work during World War II. "
(A Secret Order, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 280-281)
It does appear that Allen and Security Research Staff (the component of the OS that oversaw ARTICHOKE) head Paul Gaynor embraced Estabrooks' "hypnotic couriers" very early in the game and even went a few steps further. Consider:
"With the advent of ARTICHOKE, Morse Allen was easily able to incorporate hypnotism into many aspects of the program, including hiring hypnosis consultants Estabrooks and Erickson, among others. He also recruited a cadre of volunteer Agency support staff, all of whom --given the tenor of the times --were women. They were used in an intensive series of hypnosis experiments, most of them conducted in CIA-owned buildings and Washington D.C. hotel rooms. The experiments grew increasingly complex, as well as dangerous. Some 'secretaries' were hypnotized to engage in sexual acts with complete strangers whom they would be induced to approach in Washington D.C. bars and restaurants...
"In July 1954, SRS Chief Paul Gaynor and Morse Allen met to discuss a proposal from Estabrooks involving the 'idea of [the Agency utilizing] couriers that had been hypnotized.' According to several CIA documents about the meeting, Allen informed Gaynor that the idea 'is not new and I am absolutely certain that Estabrooks did not invent the idea.' When Gaynor questioned the viability of the concept, Allen explained, 'We [CIA] ourselves have carried out much more complex problems than this and in a general sense I agree that it is feasible.' However, continued Allen, 'There is no proof whatsoever that the hypnosis cannot be broken by another competent hypnotist.' "
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 270)
As was already noted in parts three and four, there is ample evidence to indicate that the OS used safe houses to run prostitutes out of for sexual blackmail purposes. The Columbia Plaza operation that was crucial to the Watergate scandal is the most compelling example of this. Thus, the indication above that "secretaries" were hypnotized and then instructed to seduce random strangers in Washington bars is most compelling.
There have of course long been allegations that "mind control" is routinely employed on sex workers servicing politicians and other VIPs. This researcher is not especially convinced of such notions for, assuming that "mind control" is even possible in the first place, it is seemingly a very expensive and time consuming process, something that would not be especially practical to induce in typical sex workers. However, the possibility that hypnotic blocks or suggestions have been employed is far more feasible.
Certainly, there are ample indications that individuals were hypnotized and used as couriers so as to keep the information they were carrying secret, even to the courier his or herself. For instance, in the classic The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dick Russell notes the following claim from Richard Case Nagell, a CIA and military intelligence officer, made concerning the use of hypnotism on couriers:
"Nagell confirmed that hypnosis was used in intelligence for 'compartmentalization of information.' He added that sometimes an intelligence 'courier' --which was one of his own admitted roles in 1962-63 --might undergo such treatment. 'You only undergo hypnosis for certain projects,' Nagell continued. 'It is used by he CIA for any number of reasons. To a degree in the recruiting program, in the Psychiatric Division. It's actually a section of the Security Division, to find out if you're homosexual or have done this or that. In instances, they use hypnosis for real bona fide reasons.' "
(The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dick Russell, pg. 380)
|Richard Case Nagell|
As for the couriers, Walter Bowart's Operation Mind Control contains numerous accounts of US military personnel who later reported being hypnotized and used as couriers. And of course there is the most famous alleged hypno-courier of them, former model Candy Jones. An examination of Candy Jones and her claims is well beyond the scale of this blog, but in brief: a popular model and pin-up girl in the 1940s and 1950s, Jones would develop a serious illness while on a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in the Philippines and would briefly be laid up there in 1945. There should would encounter a psychologist whom she later alleged hypno-programmed her.
Fifteen years later, in 1960, she would encounter a retired US Army general whom she had known during her USO days. He asked to use her modeling school as mail drop and from there she was ultimately recruited into being a courier. Not long after she encountered the same psychologist who had treated her years earlier in the Philippines and through the use of hypnosis he began to create an alternate personality in Miss Jones known as "Arlene." Arlene was then used as courier into especially dangerous areas of the world such as Taiwan and North Vietnam. Frequently Arlene/Candy traveled as part of a USO tour while conducting missions.
"... Eager to be unleashed, Morse Allen kept requesting prolonged access to operational subjects, such as the double agents and defectors on whom he was allowed to work a day or two. Not every double agent would do. The candidate had to be among the one person in five who made a good hypnotic subject, and he needed to have a dissociative tendency to separate part of his personality from the main body of his consciousness. The hope was to take an existing ego state --such as an imaginary childhood playmate --and build it into a separate personality, unknown to the first. The hypnotist would communicate directly with the schizophrenic offshoot and command it to carry out specific deeds about which the main personality would know nothing. There would be inevitable leakage between the two personalities, particularly in dreams; but if the hypnotist were clever enough, he could build in cover stories and safety valves which would prevent the subject from acting inconsistently."
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate, John Marks, pgs. 196-197)Evidence indicates, however, that it was far complicated to maintain an alternate than simply subjecting a subject to a session or two. In Candy Jones's case, she regularly had to check in with her alleged programmer. Beyond this, as implied above, only a very small percentage of the population (i.e. those who make a good hypnotic subject and already with a tendency to disassociate) would even fit the prerequisites for such conditioning. Thus, it is most likely the bulk of hypno-couriers were simply given memory blocks and such like rather than full on alternates. And that is assuming claims of such are even credible in the first place.
It should be emphasized that Candy Jones' claims are highly, highly controversial and many believe they were fabricated. Still, if Richard Case Nagell's claims are accurate, the Pentagon and the CIA certainly did use hypno-couriers at times, thus Jones's claims cannot be totally dismissed.
On the whole, Jones's claims are far less outrageous than many of those made by so-called "mind control victims" and there is a certain similarity to her background and that of Heidi Rikan, the head of the OS-sponsored Columbia Plaza prostitution ring. Both women experienced traumatic abuse as children, including sexual (Rikan was molested by her Nazi father, as noted before here), which would have made them likely to disassociate, and both had ties to the military early in their lives. Rikan actually enlisted in the Army upon graduating high school and served for a brief period while Jones was deeply involved with the USO for decades.
|Heidi Rikan is on the right|
Further, during Heidi's time in Dallas working for the mob she befriended Gordon McLendon, a former Naval intelligence officer. As noted above, Morse Allen was also ONI and in part six of this series the close working relationship between the CIA and the Navy on BLUEBIRD and later ARTICHOKE was outlined. In point of fact, BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE may have had their origins in Navy projects such as CHATTER, Boomer and Pelican.
For those of you wandering, yes, there are indications that Morse Allen tried to go even further than hypnotizing couriers and prostitutes. Experiments to create a programmed assassin were also attempted:
"On February 19, 1954, Morse Allen simulated the ultimate experiment in hypnosis: the creation of a 'Manchurian Candidate,' or programmed assassin. Allen's 'victim' was a secretary whom he put into a deep trance and told to keep sleeping until he ordered otherwise. He then hypnotized a second secretary and told her that id she could not wake her friend, 'her rage would be so great that she would not hesitate to "kill." ' Allen left a pistol nearby, which the secretary had no way of knowing was unloaded. Even though she had earlier expressed a fear of firearms of any kind, she picked up the gun and 'shot' her sleeping friend. After Allen brought the 'killer' out of her trance, she had apparent amnesia for the event, denying she would ever shoot anyone."
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pg. 195)
If the CIA is to be believed (always a dubious prospect), then this is as far as Allen's experiments with programmed assassins got. The CIA was unable to face the legal liability, in theory, of taking such an experiment to its logical conclusion while there was much debate over how effective a hypno-programmed assassin would even be. The latter point is quite valid as the evidence suggests that individuals who have been hypno-programmed are only capable of carrying rather simple tasks. Assassination plots frequently do not go as planned and a hypno-programmed killer would not be able to think on their feet.
The former is far more dubious. Project ARTICHOKE subjected countless individuals, including US military personnel, to horrific abuses. Beyond that, ARTICHOKE documents frequently make vague references to "disposal problems" among test subjects. Given the temperament of Allen and his boss, Brigadier General Paul Gaynor, it does not seem especially likely that they would let legal considerations prevent them from taking one of their pet projects to its logical conclusion. But the fact remains, there is no definitive proof that such experiments were ever performed.
Hypnosis was of course far from Allen and Gaynor's only concern. Beginning in 1951 they also began to embark upon extensive medical research in a host of institutions. There were two specific tools in their quest to perfect behavior modification methods that had a special appeal: electroshock and drugs, especially hallucinogens. As for the former, ARTICHOKE's interest in electroshock emerged very early in the game.
"At the end of 1951, Allen talked to a famed psychiatrist (whose name, like most of the others, the CIA has deleted from the documents released) about a gruesome but more practical technique. This psychiatrist, a cleared Agency consultant, reported that electroshock treatments could produce amnesia for varying lengths of time and that he had been able to obtain information from patients as they came out of the stupor that followed shock treatments. He also reported that a lower setting of the Reiter electroshock machine produced an 'excruciating pain' that, while nontherapeutic, could be effective as a 'third degree method' to make someone talk. Morse Allen asked if the psychiatrist had ever taken advantage of the 'groggy' period that followed normal electroshock to gain hypnotic control of his patients. No, replied the psychiatrist, but he would try it in the near future and report back to the Agency. The psychiatrist also mentioned that continued electroshock treatments could gradually reduce a subject to the 'vegetable level,' and that these treatments could not be detected unless the subject was given EEG tests within two weeks. At the end of a memo laying out this information, Allen noted portable, battery-driven electroshock machines had come on the market.
"Shortly after this Morse Allen report, the Office of Scientific Intelligence recommended that this same psychiatrist be given $100,000 in research funds 'to develop electric shock and hypnotic techniques.' While Allen thought this subject worth pursuing, he had some qualms about the ultimate application of the shock treatments: 'The question would, of course, apply to the use of electroshock if the end result was creation of a "vegetable." [I] believe that these techniques should not be considered except in gravest emergencies, and neutralization by confinement and/or removal from the area would be far more appropriate and certainly safer.' "
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pgs. 27-28)
On the other hand, reducing a subject to a "vegetable state" would be useful in regards to the "disposal problems" that perpetually plagued Project ARTICHOKE. The possibility that such actions were taken is highly probable. But moving along.
The psychiatrist noted above that the CIA eventually gave a $100,000 to for researcher purposes was almost surely Dr. Max Fink, one of the "pioneers" of electroshock therapy. Truthout notes:
"Dr. Fink... is considered the godfather of electroshock therapy in the United States. In the early 1950s and beyond, Fink was a fully cleared CIA Project Artichoke consultant. In 1951, CIA officials under the direction of Paul Gaynor and Morse Allen of the agency's Security Research Service (SRS) that oversaw Artichoke, worked closely with Fink in New York City in efforts to thoroughly explore the merits of electroshock techniques for interrogations. The CIA was especially interested in the use of standard electroshock machines in producing amnesia, inducing subjects to talk and making subjects more prone to hypnotic control. According to one CIA document, Fink told officials 'an individual could gradually be reduced through the use to electroshock treatment to the vegetable level.' "
|Dr. Max Fink|
"In 1951, just weeks before Bluebird was renamed Artichoke, officials within the CIA's Security Office --working in tandem with cleared scientists from Camp Detrick's Special Operations Division, who in turn worked closely with a select group of scientists from Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland --began a series of ultra-secret experiments with LSD, mescaline, peyote, and a synthesized substance (sometimes nicknamed 'Smasher') which combined an 'LSD-like drug with pharmaceutical amphetamines and other enhancers.' Former Detrick scientist, Dr. Gerald Yonetz, described the substance: 'It was like a rocket ship to Mars.' "
(A Secret Order, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 169)One of these experiments was likely the dosing of the French village of Pont-Saint-Esprit with LSD. Chaos ensued and several deaths were involved. It is possible this incident is what drove Fort Detrick scientist Frank Olson over the edge, as noted in part five of this series.
|Frank Olson was involved in a lot of the early CIA/Pentagon LSD experiments|
"... the conduct of experiments at three federal prisons, as well as extended work at a reformatory in Bordentown, New Jersey, was submitted to Gaynor and the Artichoke Committee. Experiments were also conducted at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., a Veterans Administration hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and at the Federal Narcotics Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Experiments at the Narcotics Farm, somewhat romanticized in some current publications, were specifically targeted at African-American inmates, who were considered by the program's director to be inferior to white inmates at the facility."
(A Secret Order, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 171)The ARTICHOKE program certainly did not limit its scope to prisons and asylums, however. As was noted in part four, some of these experiments were conducted at safe houses such as the one in Foggy Bottom near the heart of downtown Washington. D.C. Safe houses were also used overseas as well. And in some cases, field tests were conducted directly on the streets, so to speak. For the latter, the ARTICHOKE team had initially recruited the notorious Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent George Hunter White who would eventually gain infamy for his work on MKULTRA's Operation Midnight Climax. White was first approached for ARTICHOKE, however.
"... George White had already been vetted for Project BLUEBIRD by James Angleton. Angleton had met with White at least twice already in Washington, and once in New York. Gottlieb would say decades later that he was unaware of Angleton's recruitment of White..."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 223)
|George Hunter White|
|James Jesus Angleton|
"Five months later somebody murdered Giannini. On September 20, his body was found in East Harlem face down in the gutter with two bullet holes in his head. Within days, two of Giannini's closet associates in New York were also killed. No one has ever been arrested for any of the murders. All three slain men had provided George White and Pierre Lafitte considerable information about illicit drug dealing and mob connections. All three had been subjects in White's early LSD experiments, the results of which presumably benefited the CIA's Project ARTICHOKE. The files on all three murders have long since been lost or misplaced by New York crime officials. Were these early subjects disposed of gangland style because they were a threat or liability to someone? As far-fetched as it may seem, the 'disposal problem' would soon become a primary concern of Project ARTICHOKE officials."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr. pgs. 242-243)
One of the least addressed of the CIA behavior modification experiments is the mysterious Project QKHILLTOP. Very, very little is known about this project, but what little information is available to us is highly disturbing. But before getting to the techniques, here's a bit about the background:
"Very little is known about Project QKHILLTOP other than that it was initiated sometime in 1954 and, about a year later, the project recruited Dr. Harold Wolff, the physician who treated the war injuries of Allen Dulles's son. Wolff had also been physician to the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, and also to his popular rival, Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq (overthrown by the CIA's Operation Ajax in 1953, to reinstate the Shah). Wolff, according to former intelligence officials, was essentially rewarded for his treatment of Sonny Dulles by receiving a multi-year CIA contract to study the brainwashing techniques of the Soviet and Communist China, as well as the interrogation methods techniques of both, including interrogation drugs...
"QKHILLTOP continued until 1963, and, contrary to other reports, was always operated independently from TSS's MKULTRA. Almost all of QKHILLTOP files were destroyed in 1973 at the direction of then DCI Richard Helms."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pgs. 296-297)QKHILLTOP was also operated out of the OS's Security Research Staff and overseen by Morse Allen. Curiously, this was the project that initiated the notorious Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology (SIHE), of which Dr. Harold Wolff was a co-founder of. Originally SIHE was under the control of ARTICHOKE, but was transferred to Gottlieb and MKULTRA some time around 1955. It would go on to provide the funding for the "psychic driving" experiments of Ewen Cameron at Allan Memorial Hospital in Canada. Harold Wolff, who would continue to report to Morse Allen until 1963, appears to have remained at the head of SIHE until the late 1950s, and would have been well placed to inform Allen of MKULTRA experiments.
|Dr. Ewen Cameron|
"Wolff's specialized neurological practice led him to believe that brain maladies, like migraine headaches, occurred because of disharmony between man and his environment. In this case, he wrote to the Agency, 'The problems faced by the physician is quite similar to that faced by the Communist interrogator.' Both would be trying to put their subject back in harmony with his environment whether the problem was headaches or ideological dissent. Wolff believed that the beneficial effects of any new interrogation technique would naturally spill over into the treatment of his patients, and vice versa. Following the Soviet model, he felt he could help his patients by putting them into an isolated, disoriented state --from which it would be easier to create new behavior patterns. Although Russian-style isolation cells were impractical at Cornell, Wolff hoped to get the same effect more quickly through sensory deprivation. He told the Agency that sensory-deprivation chambers had 'valid medical reason' as part of a treatment that relieved migraine symptoms and made the patient 'more receptive to the suggestion of the psychotherapist.' He proposed keeping his patients in sensory deprivation until they 'show an increased desire to talk and to escape from the procedure.' Then, he said, doctors could 'utilize material from their own pat experience in order to create psychological reactions within them.' This procedure drew heavily on the Stalinist method. It cannot be said what success, if any, Wolff had with it to the benefit of his patients at Cornell.
"Wolff offered to devise ways to use the broadest cultural and social processes in human ecology for covert operations. He understood that every country had unique customs for child rearing, military training, and nearly every other form of human intercourse. From the CIA's point of view, he noted, this kind of sociological information could be applied mainly to indoctrinating and motivating people. He distinguished these motivating techniques from the 'special methods' that he felt were 'more relevant to subversion, seduction, and interrogation.' He offered to study these methods, too, and asked the Agency to give him access to everything in is files on 'threats, coercion, imprisonment, isolation, deprivation, humiliation, torture, "brainwashing," "black psychiatry," hypnosis and combinations of these with or without chemical agents.' Beyond mere study, Wolff volunteered the unwitting use of Cornell patients for brainwashing experiments, so long as no one got hurt. He added, however, that he would advise the CIA on experiments that harmed their subjects if they were performed elsewhere. He obviously felt that only the grandest sweep of knowledge, flowing freely between the scholar and spy, could bring the best techniques to bear on their respective subjects."
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pgs. 158-159)
|Dr. Harold Wolff|
At this point I would like to again stress the similarities between ARTICHOKE and MKULTRA experiments. While much controversy has arisen over the barbaric Allan Memorial Hospital experiments conducted by Ewen Cameron, the reality is that ARTICHOKE had already conducted a host of experiments barring more than passing resemblance to Cameron's "psychic driving" at facilities like Cornell, the Atlanta Penitentiary, Bordentown, St. Elazabeth's Hospital and so on years before Cameron's experiments were green lighted by MKULTRA. Indeed, MKULTRA would either take over or run their own concurrent operations at many of those facilities with the same doctors by the mid-1950s.
In point of fact, the real purpose of Cameron's experiments, like George Hunter White's Operation Midnight Climax, seems to have been primarily to recreate prior ARTICHOKE experiments. This was likely done in part because of the composition of TSS, who ran MKULTRA, as opposed to the OS crew. The TSS men were largely scientists and in theory would be better suited to validate or the merits, or lack therefore of, of ARTICHOKE experiments. But clearly, as far as shock treatment, sensory deprivation, hallucinogens and hypnosis were concerned, ARTICHOKE had already extensively tested these methods and applied them to the field by the time MKULTRA was being initiated.
|MKULTRA head Sidney Gottlieb|
"In 1952 the Office of Scientific Intelligence proposed giving another private doctor $100,000 to develop BLUEBIRD-related 'neurosurgical techniques' --presumably lobotomy-connected. Similarly, the Security office planned to use outside consultants to find out about such techniques as ultrasonics, vibrations, concussions, high and low pressure, the use of various gases in airtight cambers, diet variations, caffeine, fatigue, radiation, heat and cold, and changing light. Agency officials looked into all these areas and many others. Some they studied intensively; others they merely discussed with consultants."
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pg. 28)Here are some more details about ARTICHOKE's interest in lobotomies, ultrasonics, and radiation:
"... the Agency's ARTICHOKE program, operated by the Security Office, considered radioisotopes or tracers as a means to determine whether a certain drug or chemical would effect parts of the brain the CIA wanted to zap. As one ARTICHOKE researcher wrote with stunning precision in 1954:
'The use of certain type liquids which can be traced in their passage through the human body is well known. We have been advised that either at the Massachusetts General Hospital or in one of the Harvard units that there was a very advanced unit being developed for the tracing of radioactive material throughout the human body and particularly in the brain.... We have received information from competent people that almost any element can be made 'active' in some way or other and its passage throughout the body and to the brain can be observed.... Along these lines, several of our most important consultants have constantly urged exploration of the tracer technique as a method of advanced ARTICHOKE studies.'
"The same researcher recommended the use of tracers to find a drug, which would produce a 'chemical lobotomy,' that could be triggered by direct radiation of the brain, as follows:
A non-toxic drug may be found by radioactive-tracer techniques that will be attracted to such an area (of the brain), and so produce a taming that can last for some time.... Ultrasonics or some other radiating energy may be developed to give a physical stimulus to such an area without injury.'
"Lastly, the ARTICHOKE researcher recommended that the amygdaloid nucleus area of the brain be studied. He wrote:
At present, this brain center can be specifically stimulated by a current passed through wires inserted through the brain by operation. Such a procedure is obviously useless to this project; but ultrasonics or other means of radiant energy may yet be improved or modified so that a 'cross-fire' (as with X-rays) arrangement could be focused on a selected small region in the brain without affecting the surrounding areas. The Amygdaloid nucleus is interesting because it has been stimulated in humans producing fear or anger. Monkeys' amygdaloids have been removed; producing tameness. Temporary inhibition of this region (possibly of others) should tame humans. "
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pgs. 294-295)
|the prototype of a modern sonic weapon|
As with many things surrounding ARTICHOKE, there is little evidence available to indicate how far research was taken in this regard. It is interesting to note, however, that one particular ARTICHOKE scientist we have yet to meet would spend years researching the closely related infrasonics after his time on ARTICHOKE. But more on that in a future installment.
And with that I shall wrap things up for now. In the next installment we shall consider the so-called "Artichoke treatment" and potential operational uses of ARTICHOKE. Stay tuned.