Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Office of Security: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and High Weirdness Part VI

Welcome to the sixth installment in my ongoing examination of the CIA's mysterious Office of Security (OS). For those of you just joining me or trying to catch up, here is a brief rundown of what has come before:
  • part one noted the backgrounds and politics of the OS personnel as opposed to Office of Strategic Services (OSS) "Old Boys" who dominated the Agency's upper hierarchy for decades
  • the second installment began to consider the OS' involvement in the Watergate scandal by breaking down OS veteran James McCord's totally bungling of the second break-in and the possibility that he or one of his employees had tipped off the D.C. police off concerning the break-in
  • part three focused on the likely target of the Watergate break-in, namely a prostitution ring that was being run in the nearby Columbia Plaza and using the Watergate-based DNC to recruit clients; James McCord appears to have played a key role in setting up this operation
  • part four addressed the OS's extensive network of "safe houses" as well as the evidence that more than a few of these safe houses were used for blackmail operations; it also addressed the likely Watergate cabal, which was heavily represented by the OS, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) as well as the notorious American Security Council network (ASC, which this blog addressed at length before here)
  • the fifth and most recent installment gave a rundown of the OS's involvement in assassinations and clean up operations (especially in regards to their involvement in the death of Frank Olson) as well a brief assessment of their role in Operation CHAOS
Frank Olson
When last I left off I had just noted that several of the New Left and Black Liberation groups targeted by Operation CHAOS developed militant splinter factions shortly after CHAOS and similar programs were initiated. The OS section that worked most closely in CHAOS was the Security Research Staff (SRS), the same unit that oversaw the notorious BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE experiments (and the same unit James McCord spent much of his CIA career in).

As promised at the end of the last installment, I shall now be moving on to BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE in earnest. Despite the fact that these Projects cast quite a shadow over many of these events already considered in this series, this researcher felt it was best to first address the non-behavior modification controversies surrounding the OS. While typically depicted as a marginal component of the CIA, the OS nonetheless turns up in many of the blackest CIA projects initiated from the Agency's inception up until the Watergate scandal.

The Office of Security was not a marginal CIA department and in fact seems to have been entrusted with many of the Agency's most secretive operations, especially on the domestic front. Reporting directly to the DCI himself (few CIA departments had such a privilege) and charged with protecting the Agency from foreign penetration, the OS can be seen is something of a Praetorian Guard for the Agency during the early days. In this context, it s not especially surprising that the OS was the CIA department entrusted with the Agency's initial forays into behavior modification and enhanced interrogation methods.

Setting the Record Straight on ARTICHOKE and MKULTRA

And that brings us to BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE. Before delving into the history of these Projects, one particular point must be made with the greatest emphasis. And that is, in brief:

BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE were in no way, shape or form a component of MKULTRA or its successor programs.

BLUEBIRD was "rolled" into ARTICHOKE some time around 1951, as has long been known, but Project ARTICHOKE did not end with the initiation of MKULTRA in 1953, as is commonly claimed. In point of fact, when ARTICHOKE ended and what happened in the aftermath is shrouded in mystery as well. In A Secret Order H.P. Albarelli cryptically notes: "From 1951 to about 1963, when the Artichoke Project was revamped and renamed..." (pg. 171).

In other words, ARTICHOKE seems to have been active until 1963, the same year MKULTRA was officially ended. Nor was ARTICHOKE the only project of this nature the OS-Security Research Staff (SRS, the branch of the OS that oversaw the behavior modification experiments) operatives were engaged in up until 1963 --the mysterious and little addressed Project QKHILLTOP was also shuttered that year after being active for nearly a decade.

Of course, as researchers of this topic are well aware, MKULTRA did not actually end in 1963, but was "revamped" as MKSEARCH and other projects in 1964. It would appear that the same thing was done to ARTICHOKE around this time as well, but very little is known about the successor program(s?) to ARTICHOKE. It is quite possible that ARTICHOKE continued running in some form or another until 1973, when the fall out from Watergate spurred the CIA to shutter these programs and destroy the records relating to them (part four addressed why Watergate was a factor in these decisions).

Nor were the BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE projects ever under the control of the Technical Services Staff (TSS) or MKULTRA head Sidney Gottlieb, as is commonly claimed. TSS and Gottlieb did have some involvement with ARTICHOKE via the so-called "Artichoke Committee," but this was very minor. Gottlieb himself described the arrangement as thus:
"... It's important to know that I was not on the ARTICHOKE team, in the ARTICHOKE group that the Office of Security or Security Research ran. My knowledge of ARTICHOKE teams stem from my attendance at conferences or meetings at which I represented technical services. ARTICHOKE and technical services were, in nearly every since of the word, separate. They had separate purposes, separate supervision, not all the time in synch with one another... The Church Committee blurred the lines between all these programs, MKULTRA, ARTICHOKE, Bluebird, QKHILLTOP, Chemical Corps, NAOMI, SHADE, all of them became one and I was... I didn't have any problem with answering for them all, but I didn't... I didn't oversee all these projects. Let's leave it at that."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 233)
Sidney Gottlieb
In point of fact, MKULTRA seems to have been started in stealth and led to something of a power struggle between ARTICHOKE head Morse Allen and Gottlieb.
"... ARTICHOKE director, Morse Allen, was engaged in a power struggle with Sidney Gottlieb for control of the project. Allen had earlier told Gaynor he had reliable reports that Gottlieb's OTS, with strong support from Wisner and Helms, was devising its own mind control program to be conducted apart from OS and OSI. Allen was upset about the extent of bureaucratic infighting within plain sight of DCI Dulles and DDCI Cabell, but Gaynor dissuaded Allen from complaining too loudly or going to the top with his unhappiness. Gaynor's advice was good, and it turned out well for Morse Allen to have heeded it. Despite the fact that OTS would soon launch its own 'mind control' program, MKULTRA, Allen would retain leadership of Project ARTICHOKE for at least a decade longer. (Contrary to many publications and written accounts, ARTICHOKE was not replaced by MKULTRA and the two projects continued to run concurrently, at least until 1958, if not longer.)"
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 248) 
Brigadier General Paul F. Gaynor
Gaynor is Brigadier General Paul F. Gaynor, the long time head of the Security Research Staff. Gaynor was something of an expert in the CIA in terms of sexual blackmail, maintaining the so-called "fag files" (noted in part one). Gaynor was also very close to James McCord and was in contact with him throughout the Watergate scandal (as noted before here and here). He also had extensive ties to the far right, especially the American Security Council clique (as noted before here and here).

OSI is the Office of Scientific Intelligence while OTS is the Office of Technical Services, the successor to the Technical Services Staff (TSS). The OSI, unlike the TSS, was a partner with the OS in Projects BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE and for a brief period in 1952 was even the department directing ARTICHOKE. The Office of Security and the Office of Scientific Intelligence were also beset by differences, however, and a power struggle played out here as well with the OS regaining control of ARTICHOKE and holding on to it until the Project's end. This dispute will be dealt with in greater depth in a future installment.

That future DCI Richard Helms and Frank Wisner, one of the most powerful figures in the early days of the CIA who then held the powerful post of Director of Plans, would encourage Gottlieb to set up MKULTRA as a rival to the OS-controlled Project ARTICHOKE is most interesting. Both men had been very liberal politically during their college days and allegations of Communist sympathies had dogged them ever since. What's more, Wisner had been very close to James Kronthal, the Soviet double agent the OS had uncovered and potentially had "assisted" in his "suicide (noted in part five) in 1953. Apparently Wisner had even been investigated by the Office of Security at one point during this time frame.

Frank Wisner, who ultimately committed suicide after receiving electroshock therapy and other techniques from CIA psychiatrists
This researcher wonders if the far right wing tendencies of the Office of Security personnel may have partly played into the angling of Helms and Wisner to set up Gottlieb and MKULTRA as a rival to ARTICHOKE. Certainly the possibility for abuse with such operations was quite high, and Helms and Wisner may have feared leaving the most reactionary elements of the CIA in complete control of such operations.

Another reason cited for the creation of MKULTRA and the ascension of Gottlieb and TSS in this field was the need for more "scientific control" over such research. The OS, largely comprised of former FBI and military men, had few members with any kind of scientific backgrounds. This reasoning could help explain why MKULTRA experiments seem almost totally void of originality, largely rehashing prior ARTICHOKE experiments.

This was already noted briefly in part four when considering the safe houses. The OS controlled a vast network of them across both the nation and the world and employed several of them for ARTICHOKE experiments that involved both prostitutes and unwittingly dosing subjects with experimental drugs. This of course bares more than a passing resemblance to the notorious Operation Midnight Climax that Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent George Hunter White ran for the TSS, which was initiated nearly two years after the ARTICHOKE experiments had begun. What's more, Morse Allen had known White prior to WWII and may even have recruited him for early ARTICHOKE experiments. Thus, White's purpose with Operation Midnight Climax may have been to merely recreate prior ARTICHOKE experiments.

George Hunter White
Another example of this already addressed was the work of Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, noted in part five. Pfeiffer's research eventually contributed to three separate MKULTRA Subprojects, but his early work at Bordentown Reformatory and later the Atlanta Penitentiary was begun under the auspices of Project ARTICHOKE before seemingly being transferred, or passed on, to MKULTRA, where Pfeiffer continued in a similar vein.

There is a possibility that will be explored over the remaining installments in this series that at least part of MKULTRA's purpose was merely to confirm or deny the conclusions reached by ARTICHOKE experiments. Certainly it seems that many of MKULTRA's experiments had their origins in research already conducted by ARTICHOKE. But moving along.

The MKULTRA Red Herring

The more one studies ARTICHOKE and MKULTRA, the more one is left with the impression that the MKULTRA revelations were largely designed by the CIA to draw attention away from Project ARTICHOKE. Certainly there has been a nearly five-decade long campaign of disinformation on the part of the Agency to depict ARTICHOKE as a mere predecessor to MKULTRA that was eventually rolled wholly into it. Over the past decade, evidence of such a plot has begun to emerge in the form of what was informally called "Operation Dormouse." Concerning "Dormouse," Jeffrey Kaye and H.P. Albarelli provided the following details on Truthout in 2010:
"Contemporary torture's earliest, deepest and most influential roots are found in the CIA's Artichoke Project. Indeed, it is Project Artichoke that encapsulates the CIA's real traveling road show of horrors and atrocities, not MK/ULTRA which, although responsible for its own acts of mindless cruelty, pales in comparison. 
"That MK/ULTRA received, and continues to receive, the lion's share of the media's attention and public outrage over CIA mind control programs was a deliberately planned outcome on the part of the Agency. This outcome was the central objective of a never before revealed covert operation launched in 1975 and informally code-named Dormouse.
"Dormouse, operated out of the CIA's Security Research branch, had its genesis in the 1975 Rockefeller Commission report and in the subsequent Congressional hearings into CIA illegal activities chaired by Senators Frank Church and Teddy Kennedy. Following the initial revelation of Frank Olson's alleged "suicide" by the Rockefeller Commission, a number of high-level meetings occurred between President Gerald Ford's White House and CIA General Counsel Lawrence Houston.
"Houston, who had served the Agency as its doyen general counsel for over 25 years, secretly huddled on at least two occasions in June 1975 with Ford's chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld, and his chief assistant, Richard Cheney. Houston impressed upon both men that any prolonged and intense media scrutiny of Project Artichoke would lead to opening a Pandora's box of legal, institutional, international and public relations problems that could destroy the CIA.
"Houston explained that the Agency's MK/ULTRA program was far less problematic for the CIA because it had been a research-based program that initiated 153 contracts to colleges, universities and research institutions nationwide. These contractors, all stalwart and prestigious institutions like Harvard, Columbia, and Tulane Universities, could serve as viable buffers to any harsh outside attacks.
"Houston stressed that deliberate exposure of the MK/ULTRA program by essentially offering it to the press would serve to placate the brewing feeding frenzy over so-called mind control projects, and would divert any investigative attempts into the multi-faceted Artichoke Project.  
"Houston additionally explained to Rumsfeld and Cheney that, along with the release of MK/ULTRA details to the media, the names of a few former CIA employees, such as Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, would also be released to the press. Incredibly, when the subject of possible federal prosecutions of CIA officials for capital crimes and felonies, such as murder and drug trafficking, came up in their discussion, Houston informed Rumsfeld and Cheney that there was little cause for concern...
"Without doubt, as the extant record clearly reveals, the CIA's Dormouse Operation, as expressed by Houston, was remarkably effective. Information released on the Agency's MK/ULTRA program more than sated the media's curiosity for mind control details, and even a few random Artichoke Program citations in a couple released documents failed to draw any concerted examination by anyone in the press..."
Richard Cheney, then a rising star in the American deep state
Thus, it would seem that the Security Research Staff's rivalry with MKLULTRA and Gottlieb even extended into the cover-up, with the SRS effectively laying responsibility for virtually everything relating to behavioral modification experiments at the feet of Gottlieb and MKLULTRA. While Gottlieb and MKLUTRA were certainly responsible for their fair share of barbarism, there are ample indications that Gottlieb and company were choir boys compared to their counterparts in ARTICHOKE. There may have been a hint of anti-Semitism behind the Jewish Gottlieb being offered up as a sacrificial lamb for the CIA's behavioral modification experiments as well. As was noted in part one, longtime SRS head General Paul Gaynor had many racist associates and even resorted to anti-Semitism during the CIA's investigation of journalist Jack Anderson, whom he accused of being a part of the "liberal-Zionist-Mafia" cabal (noted in part four).

BLUEBIRD and Pelican

With those disclaimers out of the way, let us now begin our examination of BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE in earnest. The origins of BLUEBIRD, the predecessor to ARTICHOKE, are some what murky, but seem to date to around 1949. This was of course not the first time the United States security services had officially investigated behavior modification and enhanced interrogation methods, however. The OSS had famously experimented with "truth serums," including cannabis, with the assistance of the above-mentioned George Hunter White during the WWII years. Elsewhere, the Army employed a special interrogation unit known as the "Rough Boys," part of its Counterintelligence Corps, in the post-WWII years up until at least the early 1950s. The Rough Boys employed both drugs and electroshock, two latter staples of the so-called "Artichoke Treatment."

The Navy had begun to investigate potential truth serums in 1947 as part of Project CHATTER.
"... Described as an 'offensive' program, CHATTER was supposed to devise means of obtaining information from people independent of their volition but without physical duress. Toward this end Dr. Charles Savage conducted experiments with mescaline (a semi-synthetic extract of the peyote cactus that produces hallucinations similar to those caused by LSD) at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. But these studies, which involved animals as well as human subjects, did not yield an effective truth serum, and CHATTER was terminated in 1953.
"The navy became interested in mescaline as an interrogation agent when American investigators learned of mind control experiments carried out by Nazi doctors at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II. After administering the hallucinogen to thirty prisoners, the Nazis concluded that it was 'impossible to impose one's will on another person as in hypnosis even when the strongest dose of mescaline had been given.' But the drug still afforded certain advantages to SS interrogators, who were consistently able to draw 'even the most intimate secrets from the [subjects] when questions were cleverly put.'.."
(Acid Dreams, Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shalin, pgs. 5-6) 
possibly Dr. Charles Savage, one of the key early researchers in CHATTER
As we shall see, CHATTER was not the only behavior modification project to comb Nazi archives for techniques in such fields. As such CHATTER in some ways laid the foundation for was to become BLUEBIRD.
"... Project Bluebird, which operated for about two years, 1949 through the summer of 1951, and primarily concentrated its efforts on former American POWs returned from the Korean War. These servicemen were placed as patients in several Army hospitals, including Valley Forge Hospital in Pennsylvania and the Walter Reed facility in Washington D.C. There, former POWs were subjected to various 'behavioral modification' programs involving the use of experimental drugs, hypnosis, and special interrogation methods, all for what the CIA deemed 'offensive objectives.' Joining the CIA in Project Bluebird as formal partners were the Army, Navy and Air Force. The FBI declined to participate in Bluebird. 
"Reads one April 1951 Bluebird Project report:
" 'The Navy's research efforts in regards to Bluebird objectives had actually begun at Bethesda Naval Hospital. There, according to the Navy's Bluebird designees, J.H. Alberti and Lt. Cmdr. Hardenburg, extensive experiments had been conducted using both drugs and medical aids (polygraph machines, surgical means, hypnotism). Besides Bethesda hospital, the Office of Naval Research conducted a project in partnership with the University of Indiana, which in essence [was] a search for valid indications of deception other than the mechanical indicators now being used.' "
(A Secret Order, H.p. Albarelli, Jr., pgs. 168-169)
As noted above, CHATTER was begun in 1947 but there may have been an even more mysterious Naval operation closely connected to BLUEBIRD that was begun in the late 1940s as well.
"... an intense, covert program operated by the CIA in tandem with Naval Intelligence, aimed at 'identifying and testing the effectiveness of suspected Soviet Russians, or satellite countries, activity in the areas of physical, psychological, mechanical and medical interrogation techniques.' Initially code-named Pelican, and then Operation Boomer, and finally Project Bluebird..."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 202)
The reference above to Project Pelican is most curious. This researcher has only been able to find one other reference to it and that has to do with the incredible comments made by Lieutenant Commander Thomas Narut, a Navy psychologist, in the wake of a NATO conference in Oslo during 1975. Afterwards Narut got into a conversation with a journalist from the Sunday Times and made some shocking revelations about an assassination program being run by the Navy.
"When pressed by Watson to explain the details of this kind of conditioning, Narut said that he had worked with 'combat readiness units' which included men being programmed for commando-type operations and for undercover placement at U.S. embassies. These, Narut said, were 'hit men and assassins' (Narut's words) made ready to kill in selected countries should the need arise...
"The conditioning of Narut's assassins was accomplished by audio-visual desensitization, a standard behavior modification process. These men were 'desensitized' to mayhem by being shown films of people being killed or injured in a number of different ways. At first the films would show only mild forms of bloodshed. As the men became acclimated to the scenes of carnage, they would see progressively more violent scenes. The assassin candidates, Narut explained, would eventually be able to dissociate any feelings they might have from even the goriest scenes they viewed."
(Operation Mind Control, Walter Bowart, pg. 163)
a later account of Narut's remarks
Apparently the treatments these would be assassins were given was very Clockwork Orange-like. They were even strapped into chairs, their heads clamped so that they could not look away from the screen and a device preventing them from closing their eyes was even employed. Narut alleged that the techniques he had described were conducted at the Naval Neuropsychiatric Laboratory Center in San Diego, California.

After the Sunday Times article was published, several American journalist attempted to interview Narut. This proved easier said than done as the Navy rapidly closed ranks. The Navy of course denied everything Narut had said, but some interesting comments were made off the record by an alleged military source.
"... Eventually, one persistent journalist was informed off the record that the Navy 'kept elite units of trained assassins at secret locations across the world,' and that the overall designation for some of the units was Project Pelican. 'The project is a matter of national security,' said one Navy official in the Pentagon...."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pgs. 346-347) 
Was Project Pelican the designation for the Navy's contributions to BLUEBIRD and later ARTICHOKE? Certainly there are indications that developing assassins was an objective of BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE, as we shall see. But moving along for now.

BLUEBIRD, ONI and the Nazis

One of the most curious aspects of BLUEBIRD that is much remarked upon by researchers is the both date in which the program was officially launched and the individual who green lighted it. Consider:.
"Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoeter was the first Director of the CIA; he was also later to become a member of NICAP, that organization of professional scientists, military men, engineers and civilians created to uncover the truth about UFOs. Hillenkoeter remained convinced about the reality of the phenomenon all his life. But on April 20, 1950 --ironically enough, Hitler's birthday --he approved the creation of a special project to discover a means to combat the Russian mind weapons, whatever they were. This project was called BLUEBIRD."
(Sinister Forces Book One, Peter Levenda, pg. 187) 
the mysterious Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoeter
Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoeter, himself a long time member of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), is one of the most curious and overlooked CIA directors. As I'll already indicated in the previous section and in part four of this series, there appears to have been rather close collaboration between the Office of Security and ONI. The Navy was already active in behavior modification research at the time the CIA was founded, so Hillenkoeter likely would have brought a passing familiarity with such projects within him to the CIA. What's more, the eventual head of BLUEBIRD and the long time head of ARTICHOKE, Morse Allen, had served in the ONI during WWII. Allen had spent much of WWII in the Pacific Theater while Hillenkoeter was the chief of intelligence for the staff of Admiral Chester Nimitz's Pacific fleet. Thus, there is certainly a possibility that Hillenkoeter was aware of Allen even before both men had joined the CIA.

Hillenkoeter's activities with NICAP are also interesting for our purposes here as there is compelling evidence that ARTICHOKE had an interest in UFOs, as shall be addressed in a future installment. For now, it is interesting to note that there was quite a bit of overlap between the membership of NICAP and the American Security Council (ASC), a vast private intelligence network as well the leading lobby group for the military industrial complex throughout the Cold War era. As was noted in part one, long time Security Research Staff (SRS, the section of the OS that oversaw BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE) head Brigadier General Paul Gaynor had close ties to the ASC while in part four it was revealed that the ASC likely played a key role in the Watergate scandal along with the OS and ONI. Certainly then the presence of so many ASC men, including Council founder John Fischer, in NICAP along with Hillenkoeter is rather curious, especially in light of ties both Hillenkoeter and the ASC had to BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE. But moving along.

The timing of BLUEBIRD's official launch is most curious as well. Certainly the date of Hitler's birthday (April 20, 1950 would have been Der Fuhrer's sixty-first) is most ominous, especially in light of the fact that Nazi records had become studied prior to the official launch of BLUEBIRD for techniques that could be put to use in the fledgling project.
"... In 1949, Frank Wisner, Office of Policy Coordination assistant director, created a scientific steering committee to conduct a complete inventory of all chemical and biological weapons then in existence, including those employed by the Nazis and Japanese during World War II. Based on that inventory, Wisner instructed the committee to come up with 'ideas in the areas of chemical, biological and radiological warfare' and 'if concept is deemed workable the Committee will recommend competent scientists and engineers to supply detailed information to round out any such plans. Wisner said the committee would work closely with selected personnel from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Camp Detrick, military intelligence, and the CIA's Division A."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 209)
Presumably the Committee mentioned above is what eventually became the "Artichoke Committee." Some of the military personnel involved in the Committee had ties to the Nazis as well.
"A combined CIA-military intelligence project code-named 'Bluebird' and later renamed 'Artichoke' was set up... Significantly, the key military intelligence agency involved with this project --the Joint Intelligence Committee --had been involved in Paperclip from the beginning. The JIC members included U.S. Army Director of Intelligence Alexander Bolling and Brigadier General John Alexander Samford, the chief of Air Force intelligence who later headed the National Security Agency."
(Secret Agenda, Linda Hunt, pg. 164)
General Alexander Bolling, a participant in both Paperclip and BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE
Reportedly some of the Paperclip scientists such Freidrick Wilhelm Hoffmann were used as part of the initial BLUEBIRD experiments and may even have contributed to ARTICHOKE for years afterwards.

And this point this researcher would like to take a moment and stress the joint nature of BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE. While the CIA is largely perceived as being wholly responsible for these projects, this is HARDLY accurate, as I hope some of the previous sections have indicated. The fact of the matter is that the US Military, especially the Army and Navy, were not only willing participants but had even embarked upon research of this nature that pre-dated the CIA's involvement. BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE were very much collaborations between the CIA and the Pentagon, with the latter developing its own particular uses for the research conducted as part of BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE.

BLUEBIRD and Twilight Language

Another curious aspect of BLUEBIRD is the project's name. Conventional accounts hold that there was nothing especially significant about BLUEBIRD's name. H.P. Albarelli, for instance, notes: "The code named BLUEBIRD had resulted from a comment made at a 1950 planning committee meeting of the Office of Special Operations (OSO) --that the objective of improved interrogation techniques was to get the subject 'to sing like a bluebird.'.. " (A Terrible Mistake, pg. 208).

The great Peter Levenda, examining BLUEBIRD through the prism of "twilight language," suggested a far more disturbing inspiration for BLUEBIRD's name.
"There is a phrase which is perhaps not used so much these days as it was in the tender years of the twentieth century: 'the blue bird of happiness.' What many people do not realize --and did not realize even then --was that this term had its origins in a play and a novel written by the Belgian Nobel Prize-winning author and dramatist, Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949). Maeterlinck was surrounded by the Symbolist movement (forerunners of the Surrealists) in fin-de-siecle France, and was a friend of Sar Peladan, a noted Rosicrucian of the day. Indeed, Maeterlinck was something of a mystic himself and a firm believer in occult phenomena, as his other writings such as The Other World (1942) amply demonstrate. He was also a keen observer of nature and natural phenomena, in The Life of the Bee (1901), in which the concept of the 'meme' is introduced, to a wider audience (after its creation by a relatively-unknown German psychologist --Richard Sauder --years before, the same psychologist who created the 'engram,' made famous by L. Ron Hubbard). His writings were very popular in Europe, being a mixture of the profound with the child-like, such as his most famous work The Blue Bird 1909). In this play, first performed in the Russian language in Moscow on September 30, 1908 and later in English in London and New York, two children set off on a search for the Blue Bird of Happiness. This search leads them on many adventures --a kind of initiatic quest for the Grail --and the author was startled to realize that many of the motifs of Maeterlinck's play are repeated in the CIA's search for a Manchurian Candidate, a search that began with Project BLUEBIRD. It is this strange set of correspondence that leads the author to the opinion that Sheffield Edwards's agenda itself was far more profound than simply a search for a truth serum or a psychological defense against it, or that at least Edwards understood the implications of what he had set out to do in BLUEBIRD...
"The story, which begins on Christmas Eve, involves two children --Tyltyl and his younger sister Mytyl --who set out on a quest to find the Blue Bird of Happiness. Impoverished children of a woodcutter, who lives across from a great house with very rich children, they understand that they are too poor to receive Christmas presents that year. They go to sleep with the lamp out. Then, in the middle of the night, a light shines through their house from outside, the lamp lights itself, and the children awake. (It is like a scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, similar in detail to descriptions of UFO landings.) There is a knock at the door, and an old woman --who later introduces herself as the Fairy Berylune --asks them if they have 'the grass that sings, or the bird that is blue.' It appears that Berylune has a sick daughter who will not get well unless the Blue Bird of Happiness is found. The children, eager to help, then set off on a quest for the mysterious Bird... and to visit their dead grandparents, with the Fairy's help. In order to visit the dead, however, they have to pass through the Land of Memory which is on the way to the Blue Bird."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pgs. 187-188) 
Maurice Maeterlinck
While BLUEBIRD would certainly prove to be quite a journey into the "Land of Memory," Levenda's premise is very dubious. Still, there is compelling evidence that the conservative men of the Office of Security would develop quite an interest in mysticism during their work on BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE, as shall be addressed in a future installment.

And of course, there are also the persistent allegations that certain articles of pop culture have been used as kinds of "triggers" in the Pentagon/CIA behavior modification experiments. Common examples of this are The Wizard of Oz, Catcher in the Rye (the author of which, J.D. Salinger, had served in the Army Counterintelligence Corps (CIC) during WWII; CIC was also deeply involved in Operation Paperclip and had their own "enhanced interrogation" unit in addition to being participants in BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE), and The Turner Diaries. But again, there is no real credible evidence behind these allegations.

Agendas and Early Experiments

Before wrapping up, a few more points shall be made about the early days of BLUEBIRD. Let us begin with the Project's founding agendas.
"... Simply put, the initial objectives of BLUEBIRD were to devise the most effective means possible for obtaining specific information from unwilling subjects. The project focused almost exclusively on situations deemed 'Special Interrogations' or 'SI' in which the quick and complete 'inducing of full disclosure' was paramount.
"At BLUEBIRD's inception, CIA officials made it clear that no method of obtaining information was taboo from consideration. Documents from the project's earliest meetings reveal a laundry list of methods, including the use of 'ego-depressant' drugs like heroin and morphine; polygraph; electro-shock therapy; the use of 'mechanical aids'; lobotomies; hypnotism; fatigue; isolation; sensory deprivation; and torture."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pg. 208)

A few paragraphs down Albarelli quotes at length a proposal from the BLUEBIRD committee that indicates an even more sinister agenda:
"After the research programs have been developed, it is recommended that BLUEBIRD conduct experiments and develop techniques to determine the possibilities and practicability of positive use of SI on willing and unwilling subjects for operational purposes. Positive use of SI would be for the purpose of operational control of individuals to perform specific tasks under post hypnotic suggestion and, in addition, would cover research in training fields and defensive conditioning against the application of SI by unfriendly elements. This field, if it is found that the application of SI is possible and practicable, offers unlimited opportunities to operating offices."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, Jr., pgs. 208-209)
After roughly a year of research, official BLUEBIRD teams became active just a few months after Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoeter had green lighted the project. Many of these headed overseas to test suspected double agents.
"Three months after the Director approved BLUEBIRD, the first team traveled to Japan to try out behavioral techniques on human subjects --probably suspected double agents. The three men arrived in Tokyo in July 1950, about a month after the start of the Korean War. No one needed to impress upon them the importance of their mission. The Security Office ordered them to conceal their true purpose from even the U.S. military authorities with whom they worked in Japan, using the cover that they would be performing 'intensive polygraph' work. In stifling, debilitating heat and humidity, they tried out combinations of the depressant sodium amytal with the stimulant benzedrine on each of four subjects, the last two of whom also received a second stimulant, picrotoxin. They also tried to induce amnesia. The team considered the tests successful, but the CIA documents available on the trip give only the sketchiest outline of what happened. Then around October 1950, the BLUEBIRD team used 'advanced' techniques on 25 subjects, apparently North Korean prisoners of war."
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pg. 25)

Many of these tests were likely conducted at the Naval base in Atsugi. ARTICHOKE personnel visited the Atsugi location throughout the 1950s to conduct experiments there, though not anywhere to the extent some sources claim.

There were also tests conducted in Europe, especially Germany, but apparently the most common test subjects in the early days were U.S. military personnel. This was already noted briefly a few sections up, but here are a few more details concerning early BLUEBIRD experiments on GIs:
"Bluebird... experiments conducted at Edgewood or the Army intelligence base at Fort Holabird, Maryland. The participation of the CIA and the JIC in the project was kept hidden using a University of Maryland contract with Edgewood as a cover. At least a thousand soldiers... were given up to twenty doses of LSD to test the drug as a possible interrogation weapon --even though Edgewood scientists already knew it could cause serious physical reactions in humans...
"Nonetheless, test subjects at Edgewood or Fort Holabird were given LSD and other drugs, then subjected to hostile questioning by intelligence officers to deliberately create an extreme state of fear and anxiety. One soldier fought his way out of a locked box in stark terror during a Fort Holabird experiment. Several soldiers were seriously harmed by the tests. One man suffered a grand mal seisure; another went into an acute state of paranoia and had to be hospitalized for a week. Three others developed a history of epileptic seizures after the experiments..."
(Secret Agenda, Linda Hunt, pgs. 166-167)
And this was the kind of "vision" that gripped BLUEBIRD in its inception. And things were only going to become more brutal and bizarre as time went on. While Sidney Gottlieb is typically held up as the dark alchemist who oversaw these workings, in the next installment we shall meet the true black magician that inspired much of the mysticism in the early behavioral modification experiments. Stay tuned.

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