Academic entanglement with torture
Over two decades starting in 1953 a CIA
project named MK-ULTRA
controlled a U.S. academic chemical interrogation research program. For Part I see here
The seeds for many of the current problems of medicine lie in the story of MK-ULTRA. The research involved murder and the torture of tens of thousands of unwitting human participants. MK-ULTRA set the standard for later industrial-university collaboration. It set the most important precedent for the collusion of academic leadership and civilized government with scientific misconduct. It was the most flagrant violation of the just-signed Nuremberg code of ethics. These events of 50 years ago provide a key to understanding the problems we face in 2008. The main focus of this section is to discuss how academics and Universities participated in MK-ULTRA funded research, and how the contracting worked.
MK-ULTRA started on Apr 13 1953
and was headed by Dr Sidney Gottlieb
acting under the command of CIA director Allen Dulles. Many of the initial experiments involved LSD
. Several smaller programs preceded MK-ULTRA. These were CHATTER, Bluebird, Artichoke, and MKNAOMI
. Project MKDELTA, was devoted to testing MK-ULTRA drugs on "unwitting" subjects abroad
. Other "unwitting" research was carried out on thousands of troops in the Army (projects THIRD CHANGE and DERBY HAT)
Sidney Gottlieb was provided with $25 million in CIA funds to distribute to universities and others for MK-Ultra projects
between 1953 and 1963 (equivalent to $250 million in 2008). From 1953-1966 the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) spent $7.5 million on 84 research projects involving LSD
with the CIA. Gottlieb was not simply a dispassionate accountant. According to surviving CIA documents Sidney Gottlieb personally fed LSD
to several individuals without their knowledge. These included army officer Frank Olson (who died) and Stanley Milton Glickman, who became psychotic and permanently ill
Destruction of MK-ULTRA documents and contracts
All MK-ULTRA documents were destroyed on Jan 31 1973[7,8]
on instructions from CIA Director Richard Helms
. Helms subsequently admitted having ordered the destruction
. This hampered complete understanding of the many projects funded. However, the attempt at destruction was only partly successful because a cache of MK-ULTRA documents was later discovered.
In June 1977 a bundle of MK-ULTRA documents were found. These had escaped destruction, apparently by mistake. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence held a hearing on Aug 03 1977 to question CIA officials on the discovered records, many of which have since been made public
. They tell a compelling story of criminal medical acts that occurred with the acquiescence of Universities, medical leadership and individual academics. From these documents and other government investigations, the names of many of the involved academics and Universities are now known. Furthermore, much is known of the way in which this contracting with universities occurred.
It is clear that one important motive for the destruction was to protect implicated academics and universities. Helms testified in 1975 that he ordered the records destroyed because[7,11]
"there had been relationships with outsiders in government agencies and other organizations and that these would be sensitive in this kind of a thing but that since the program was over and finished and done with, we thought we would just get rid of the files as well, so that anybody who assisted us in the past would not be subject to follow-up questions, embarrassment, if you will."
The CIA has also refused FOIA requests to supply the names of some academics and universities redacted from surviving documents
. Apart from embarrassment for "other organizations", the CIA Inspector General was also fully aware that the activities of MK-ULTRA would "have serious repercussions in political and diplomatic circles" if revealed. Further in 1957 he wrote in a memorandum that[3,13]
"precautions must be taken" to "conceal these activities from the American Public in general"
How did the system of academic collaboration work?
I have used some of the surviving MK-ULTRA documents to give an impression of the procedure. Rather than relate what the documents say, I have shown illustrative segments of the documents below. They tell their own story. Many of these declassified documents are available in electronic form
a) The use of funding fronts
For anyone interested in the current functioning of pharmaceutical funding the implications of this will be clear. MK-Ultra used CIA money to fund university academics through front bodies designed to look like legitimate funding institutions
. We now know much about the identity of these conduits for MK-ULTRA funds. The Geschickter Fund for Medical Research
the Macy Foundation
and The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology
served as funding fronts for MK-ULTRA
financing of academics[7,15]
.Dr. Charles Geschickter
, a Georgetown doctor served both as researcher and funding conduit. CIA documents indicate that Geschickter tested drugs on mentally disturbed patients at Georgetown University Hospital
in Washington. For his own research he received $655,000 in CIA funds
(about $7 million at 2008 value). The CIA and MK-ULTRA provided secret funding for the construction of a wing of Georgetown University Hospital
in the 1950s
to carry out clinical testing of LSD
and other agents. Dr. Charles Geschickter
acted as cover for CIA financing
Professors Harold Wolff
and Lawrence Hinkle
of Cornell University
fronted the "The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology
, a C.I.A organization used to channel money for MK-ULTRA research. Harold Wolff
was President of the New York Neurological Association and would become, in 1960, President of the American Neurological Association. He served for several years as editor-in-chief of the American Medical Association's Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry.. In 1961 The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology was reorganized as the Human Ecology Fund
and operations of this front organization shifted to Cornell University’s Medical School
. James L. Monroe
and later David Rhodes
directed the fund. Also on the Human Ecology board were Leonard Carmichael
, head of the Smithsonian Institution, Barnaby Keeney
president of Brown University
, and George A. Kelly
, at Ohio State University
. Despite signing documents which clearly indicated the funding source, Hinkle claimed that it was never his or Cornell's intention that the Society would be used as a CIA funding conduit.
Many prominent names were funded through The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, including: B. F. Skinner
, Carl Rogers
, Carolyn and Musafer Sherif
, Margaret Mead
, Charles Osgood
, Hans Eysenck
and Martin Orne
The CIA even conducted a study which found that the use of legitimate foundations was the most effective way of concealing the CIA’s hand. This study study suggested that this was ‘particularly effective for democratically-run membership organizations, which need to assure their own unwitting members and collaborators, as well as their hostile critics, that they have genuine, respectable, private sources of income.’ (US Senate 1976: 182-183)
In some cases funding was passed through ostensible research foundation auspices to conceal the source of funding from the researcher's institution[3,17]
even if the researchers themselves were aware.
It is undoubtedly the case that a few of these academics did not know the true source of funds. As pointed out in the Church Report these researchers were disabled from exercising choice to withdraw based on the nature of the sponsor
. Price discusses the way in which anthropologists such as Margaret Mead
and Gregory Bateson
had "uncritical reliance on legitimate-seeming organizations that were secretly CIA funding fronts"
. Most researchers conducting the worst types of MK-ULTRA research could hardly have been unaware.
b) Buying physicians and academics
Here is some text from MK-ULTRA documents
c) Using the protection of the mechanisms of state when things go wrong
Because drugs were often administered to unwitting human beings, there were mechanisms in place to deal with the risk that medical practitioner outside of the research network might make a "correct diagnosis" of covert poisoning or drugging. It notes that: "The Bureau Officials also maintain a close working relationship with local police authorities which could be used to protect the activity in critical situations".
d) Double book-keeping
Scientific reports by researchers appear to have had public and secret versions. The public versions were sometimes published in academic journals and the secret versions went to the CIA
. One strange public version of MK-ULTRA research was even published as a book, titled "The Manipulation of Human Behavior"[18,19]
The book discusses techniques of torture and interrogation of an unwilling subject, and includes chapters such as "The Physiological State of the Interrogation Subject as it Affects Brain Function", "The Effects of Reduced Environmental Stimulation on Human Behavior" and "The Use of Drugs in Interrogation", and so on. Articles were written by academics paid to do this research via MK-ULTRA.
The editors were Albert D. Biderman
of the Bureau of Social Science Research
and Herbert Zimmer
of University of Georgia
. The Bureau of Social Science Research was a conduit for funds from the U.S. Air Force. The authors included Robert Rogers Blake
of the University of Texas
, R. C. Davis
of Indiana University
, Louis Gottschalk
of Cincinnati General Hospital
, Lawrence Hinkle
of Cornell Medical Center
, Philip Kubzansky
of Boston City Hospital
, Malcolm Meltzer
of the District of Columbia General Hospital
, Jane Mouton
of the University of Texas
, and Martin Orne
of Harvard University
. Several of the papers in the book acknowledge the support of The Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, a front organization for MK-ULTRA and the CIA.
The nature of the work
Here are some clippings of MK-ULTRA documents - make up your own mind.Here is an example of an MK-ULTRA LSD study report
: Appendix A of the Select Committee on Intelligence report on "Project MKULTRA, The CIA's Program of Research in Behavioral Modification" described in some detail the LSD
. It noted for example that in one study "LSD
was administered surreptitiously at a simulated social reception to volunteer subjects who were unaware of the purpose or nature of the tests in which they were participating". (See online reference for the full report)
Similar original reports from the US Army and Navy involving LSDExample of LSD study report
: Here is another report from the Department of the Army dated Jul 1971 and entitled "Lysergic Acid Diethyl Amide (LSD
-25): A Clinical-Psychological Study"
. The study reported on the effect on personality of LSD
given to 52 Army "volunteers" between 1962 and 1966. The work was carried out under Task IB662706AD2503 "Prophylaxis and Therapy for Incapacitating Agents". (See online reference for the full report)Example of LSD study report
: Here is the report of a Naval Medical Research Institute Project Protocol dated Sep 09 1951 and entitled "Studies of the Effect of Personality on Reactivity to LSD
. The study investigated "the effects of lysergic acid diethyl amide (LSD
-25 Sandoz) on the affect, cognition, and expression of five normal subjects and 15 depressed patients." presumably without consent. (See online reference for the full report)Supreme Court Ruling on the case of Stanley
: A highly criticized Jun 25 1987 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling declared that a soldier damaged by non-consensual research cannot sue the government
. The case was that of B. Stanley, a master sergeant stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In February 1958 Stanley participated in a program ostensibly designed to test protective clothing. Four times that month, he was secretly administered LSD
. He suffered hallucinations, incoherence, memory loss, and marked personality change. His marriage dissolved and he was discharged from the Army in 1969. (See online reference for court judgement).
Dr Aubrey Blumsohn
- Church Committee Report page 390. U.S. Congress: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, report no. 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington, D.C.) (1976).
- Church Committee Report page 387-389. U.S. Congress: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, report no. 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington, D.C.) (1976).
- Church Committee Report page 391-399. U.S. Congress: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, report no. 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington, D.C.) (1976).
- Church Committee Report page 411-419. U.S. Congress: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, report no. 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington, D.C.) (1976).
- Price, David (June, 2007). "Buying a Piece of Anthropology: Human Ecology and unwitting anthropological research for the CIA". Anthropology Today 23 (3): 3-13.
- CIA, Memorandum for the Record, Project ARTICHOKE, January 31, 1975. CIA (1975-01-31).
- SUMMARY OF AGENCY RECORDS RETRIEVAL, Interim Report of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, October 21, 1994 (1994).
- September 1975 Memorandum regarding destruction of MK-ULTRA documents in 1973 - page 1, page 2
- Helms, Richard (1978-05-22). Interview with Richard Helms, CIA, by David Frost. CIA.
- MK-ULTRA Documents http://www.michael-robinett.com/declass/c000.htm
- Church Committee Report page 403-4. U.S. Congress: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, report no. 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington, D.C.) (1976).
- Alan L. Fitzgibbon v. Central Intelligence Agency Nos. 89-5213, 89-5214, U.A. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (1990).
- Church Committee Report page 385-6. U.S. Congress: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, report no. 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington, D.C.) (1976).
- Some declassified MK-ULTRA documents http://www.michael-robinett.com/declass/c000.htm
- Umpleby, Stuart A (2008-05-05). A history of the cybernetics movement in the United States Vol 91(2) 54-66. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences.
- Marks, John (1979). The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: CIA and Mind Control. W W Norton & Co Ltd, 264. ISBN 0393307948.
- Church Committee Report page 422. U.S. Congress: Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, report no. 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (Washington, D.C.) (1976).
- Herbert, Biderman Albert D. & Zimmer (1961). The Manipulation of Human Behavior. John Wiley & Sons.
- Valtin (2006-12-16). Modern Torture's Scientific Bible. The Daily Kos. Retrieved on 2008-05-04.
- Appendix A of the Select Committee on Intelligence report on "Project MKULTRA, The CIA's Program of Research in Behavioral Modification"
- Lysergic Acid Diethyl Amide (LSD-25): A Clinical-Psychological Study
- Studies of the Effect of Personality on Reactivity to LSD
- Soldier cannot sue government for LSD experiments - U.S. v. Stanley, 479 U.S. 1005 (1986). Supreme Court of the United States (1987-07-25).
See also:LSD and the corruption of medicine (Part I): Invention and the beginnings of MK-ULTRA Earlier