One of the Most Shocking CIA Programs of All Time: Project MKUltra

CIAWhen the extent of the U.S. government’s domestic spying program was revealed this past summer, many were surprised and outraged: how could a government which so prizes liberty of its citizens covertly collect data on its own people?

Yet, sadly, this is not the first time Uncle Sam, without permission or notice, secretly gathered information on its people and wasn’t even close to the greatest atrocity.  For that, there are numerous other examples such as when the government intentionally poisoned certain alcohol supplies they knew people would drink, killing over 10,000 American citizens and sickening many thousands others. (Despite this, the program continued for some time, though it was hotly debated in Congress when the death tolls started rolling in.)

One other such “interesting” program, was from 1953 to 1964, when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) conducted dozens of experiments on the effects of biological and chemical agents on American citizens without their knowledge in Project MKUltra. These covert tests included subjecting the unwitting subjects to hallucinogenic drugs and other chemicals, among other things.

It is difficult to find official documents about this program; however, in 1976 and 1977, the U.S. Senate conducted investigations and even held a joint committee hearing on Project MKUltra, then published much of what was discovered; you will not believe what they found out.

MKULtra’s Purpose

According to the hearing report, the project was intended to “develop a capability in the covert use of biological and chemical materials.”[1] The motivation was also defensive, in that many were afraid during the Cold War that the Russians and Chinese had already developed weapons in this area. As the project’s proponents noted:

The development of a comprehensive capability in this field of covert chemical and biological warfare gives us a thorough knowledge of the enemy’s theoretical potential, thus enabling us to defend ourselves against a foe who might not be as restrained in the use of these techniques as we are.[2]

Officially authorized in 1953, by 1955, project creep had expanded the CIA’s authority under MKUltra to include the following:

Discovery of the following materials and methods [including those]:

  • which will promote the intoxicating affect of alcohol;
  • which will render the induction of hypnosis easier or otherwise enhance its usefulness;
  • which will enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion during interrogation and so called “brain-washing;”
  • which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use;
  • [which will produce] shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use; and
  • which will produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc.[3]

LSD experiments

Senator Edward Kennedy dominated the hearing. In his opening remarks, he noted there was:

an “extensive testing and experimentation” program which included covert drug tests on unwitting citizens “at all social levels, high and low, native Americans and foreign.” Several of these tests involved the administration of LSD to “unwitting subjects in social situations.”[4]

For many of these drug tests, especially early on, there were “no medical personnel on hand either to administer the drugs or observe their effects.” Often, the randomly selected subjects had “become ill for hours or days, including hospitalization in at least one case.”[5]

Even more troubling, some of the tests proved lethal, but that did not stop the CIA from continuing their experimentation:

The deaths of two Americans can be attributed to these programs; other participants in the testing programs may still suffer from the residual effects. . . . The fact that they were continued for years after the danger of surreptitious administration of LSD to unwitting individuals was known, demonstrate fundamental disregard for the value of human life.[6]

One of these lives belonged to Dr. Frank Olson, himself a researcher with the U.S. Army who studied “developing techniques for offensive use of biological weapons . . . [and] biological research for the CIA.”[7]

Along with a group of 9 other such scientists, he attended a conference in a cabin at Deep Creek Lake, Maryland in November 1953. Once there, ironically, CIA operatives spiked the researchers’ Cointreau with LSD. Only after the scientists had finished their drinks were they informed that they had been drugged.[8]

Most of the researchers handled the experience well and had no aftereffects, but not Dr. Olson. He never recovered from the ordeal and shortly after the experiment, began to show “symptoms of paranoia and schizophrenia.”[9]

Dr. Olson’s superior and the CIA who ran the experiment arranged for him to get treatment in New York City. While spending the night in a hotel room with the CIA officer, and after requesting a wake-up call for the next morning, Dr. Olson somehow managed to fall to his death. As the CIA officer (Lashbrook) reported:

At approximately 2:30 a.m. Saturday, November 28, Lashbrook was awakened by a loud “crash of glass.” . . . . Olson “had crashed through the closed window blind and the closed window and he fell to his death from the window of our room on the 10th floor.”[10]

There is no indication that any investigation of foul play, particularly by the CIA officer (who was both responsible for the experiment and alone in the hotel room with Olson) was ever conducted.

Universities, Prisons and Hospitals Conducted Experiments

In the hearing, Senator Kennedy noted that many otherwise respectable institutions were fraudulently incorporated into MKUltra projects:

What we are basically talking about is . . . the perversion and corruption of many of our outstanding research centers in this country, with CIA funds, where some of our top researchers were unwittingly involved in research sponsored by the Agency in which they had no knowledge of the background or the support for[11]

According to the hearing report, “eighty-six universities or institutions were involved,”[12] and “185 non-government researchers and assistants” worked on these projects.[13] “Physicians, toxicologists, and other specialists in mental [and] narcotics” were lured into MKUltra through the provision of grants that were “made under ostensible research foundation auspices, thereby concealing the CIA’s interest from the specialist’s institution.”[14]

For some of the 12 hospitals that participated in Project MKUltra, tests were conducted on terminal cancer patients – presumably because the experiments were anticipated to have long-lasting detrimental, if not lethal, effects.[15]

Sadly, to get the hospitals (and perhaps the patients) to agree to these experiments, the CIA often paid the institution. For example, Subproject 23, authorized in August 1955, worked as follows:

The project engineer . . . authorized the contractor to pay the hospital’s expenses of certain persons suffering from incurable cancer for the privilege of studying the effects of these chemicals during their terminal illnesses.[16]

Likewise, many of the experiments conducted at the three prisons were done secretly: “We also know now that some unwitting testing took place on criminal sexual psychopaths.” [17]

Not all testing was done unwittingly, although that did not make it any more ethical. For example, in a prison experiment conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health Addiction Research Center at the Lexington Rehabilitation Center (a prison for convicted drug addicts), prisoners who volunteered to participate in a hallucinogenic drug experiment were promised (and received) doses of “the drug of their addiction.”[18]

Miscellaneous Other Experiments 

An unknown number of other experiments in “such areas as effects of electro-shock, harassment techniques for offensive use . . [and] gas propelled sprays and aerosols” to be used as “assassination delivery systems” were also being conducted.[19]

In addition, MKUltra scientists were authorized to research “additional avenues to the control of human behavior” including “radiation . . .[and] paramilitary devices and materials.”[20]

Heinous Covert Experiments: By the Numbers 

Project MKUltra consisted of 149 subprojects “many of which appear to have some connection with research into behavioral modification, drug acquisition and testing or administering drugs surreptitiously,”[21] including as follows:

  • “6 subprojects involving tests on unwitting subjects were conducted.”
  • 8 subprojects involving hypnosis, including 2 that also used drugs were performed.
  • 7 subprojects included the use of drugs or chemicals.
  • 4 subprojects used “magician’s art . . . e.g., surreptitious delivery of drug-related materials.”
  • 9 subprojects studied sleep research (read: deprivation) and psychotherapy’s influence on behavior.
  • 6 subprojects studied the effects on human tissue of “exotic pathogens and the capability to incorporate them in effective delivery systems.”[22]

The CIA Lost or Destroyed All Records of Project MKUltra

Sadly, but not surprisingly, almost no records remain of the 10 years of covert activity. As Senator Kennedy noted:

Perhaps most disturbing of all was the fact that the extent of experimentation on human subjects was unknown. The records of all these activities were destroyed in 1973, at the instruction of then CIA Director Richard Helms.[23]

Notably, however, some records were overlooked during the CIA’s destruction because new records were found in 1977, as noted by Senator Kennedy:

We believed that the record, incomplete as it was, was as complete as it was going to be. Then one individual, through a Freedom of Information request, accomplished what two U.S. Senate committees could not. He spurred the agency into finding additional records . . . . The records reveal a far more extensive series of experiments than had previously been thought.[24] 

Nonetheless, these records still leave an incomplete record of the program.

No Accountability

Two lawsuits arising out of MKUltra activities made it to the Supreme Court, but both protected the government over citizen’s rights:

In 1985, the Court held in CIA vs. Simms that the names of the institutions and researchers who participated in Project MKUltra were exempt from revelation under the Freedom of Information Act due to the CIA’s need to protect its “intelligence sources.”

In 1987, in United States v. Stanley, the Court held that a serviceman who had volunteered for a chemical weapons experiment, but who was actually tested with LSD, was barred from bringing a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Expand for Further References

[1] Id. at 390

[2] Id. at 390

[3] Hearing Transcript App. C, p. 123

[4] Hearing Transcript, p. 2

[5] Id. at 400

[6] Final Report, p. 386

[7] Hearing Transcript, p. 395

[8] Id. at 395-396

[9] Id. at 394

[10] Id. at 397

[11] Id. at 16

[12] Id. at 3

[13] Id. at 7

[14] Id. at 391

[15] Id. at 7

[16] Hearing Transcript App. C, p. 119

[17] Id. at 7

[18] Id. at 391

[19] Id. at 6-7

[20] Id. at 390

[21]Id. at 5

[22] Id. at 6.

[23] Id. at 3

[24] Id.

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  • Dear Melissa,

    I was shocked to learn from your article, just how much Senator Kennedy really knew of the effects of biotoxins. I could add extensively to this article of how it pertains to what is happening via stealth biological poisonings in the US today.

    I have the direct evidence that the U.S. gov’t has concealed that people are being slowly poisoned with biological toxins. They are doing it by the use of scientifically fraudulent toxicology risk assessment models in policy and courts, used to feign scientific proof of lack of causation of illness.

    And if that weren’t bad enough, what they are doing has been concealed as such by falsification of court documents in a California Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) lawsuit in CA. They have been trying to shut me up for over eight years, even jailing me last year for my refusal of silence.

    Needless to say, its been a real bitch not to back down, but their collusive efforts to scare me into shutting me up is not working. I can’t shut up if I want to live with myself. Too many people are dying because of the mass collusion to defraud that I can prove.

    In Jan of 2006, I moderated a US Senate Staff briefing on the health effects of molds and mycotoxins where I was permitted to choose my own panel. It was sponsored by Senator Kennedy. I brought in a microbiologist, and immunologist, an ENT and a biotoxin treating physician. The EPA would not allow EPA neurotoxicologist Ken Hudnell to attend. At the last minute, they pulled presenters altogether.

    Shortly thereafter, Senator Kennedy developed adult onset asthma. I know because my liaison at Senate HELP was told to ask me what naturopathic doctor I might suggest. It wasn’t too long after that, that he developed the brain tumor which killed him in 2009.

    In Oct of 2006, he ordered a federal GAO audit of the mold issue at my urging. 2006 Senator Kennedy’s GAO audit request

    Three weeks later, in Nov 2006, the CA courts framed me for libel in an anti-SLAPP Appellate Opinion over the words “altered his under oath statements” for my writing exposing who was mass marketing garbage science over the issue – and then they rolled on down hill from there. Among other misdeeds, court docs have been falsified to conceal that a retired US Asst Surgeon General was an undisclosed party. His company are expert defense witnesses in toxic torts for the US DOJ. See: Environmental Advocate Sharon Kramer ~US DOJ Lying Experts~Cal Courts & Mold~ Not a pretty story!! | Katy’s Exposure

    Less than two months after the courts framed me for libel in the anti-SLAPP opinion of Nov 2006; in January 2007, the Wall Street Journal came out with an article exposing how it became a scientific fraud in policy that it was proven mold toxins do not harm. The writer was sent a paper I wrote on the subject, which is what got his attention. He flew to my home in CA in May of 2006 and downloaded files as we talked all day. I spent six months feeding him people to interview and documentation. David Armstrong, the reporter, did a fantastic job for the WSJ.

    In 2007 (2008?), his WSJ investigative branch in Boston was shut down and David was out of a job.

    In Feb 2007 one month after the WSJ article ran, Senate HELP deleted from the scope of the GAO audit that Senator Kennedy had ordered, “What medical and scientific standards are used in determining the admissibility of evidence of both acute and persistent health consequences resulting from exposure to mold? Which individuals and organizations have promulgated these standards and what, if any, conflicts of interest exist regarding these standards?”

    They knew the answer when they deleted it and the shear Hell it was/is causing. 2007 Deletion of investigating conflicts of interest from GAO audit, 2009 GAO email (see page 2 of reference above for what was deleted from audit)

    Lots of court docs have been falsified in the CA lawsuits trying to shut me up. Its cost me all I own not to be silenced. In March of last year, they jailed me for two days for refusing to sign a false confession of libel, let me out, tried to coerce me to sign it again, and then let me go when I said “No”. See court transcript, March 14, 2012

    Its become blatantly obvious that the federal government is behind what the CA courts have done to me by criminal means to keep scientific fraud in policy and courts over the mold issue, particularly about the slow poisonings that are occurring from the microbial toxins. Just one of many examples of feds concealing how corruption in my case is aiding the science fraud:

    OSHA Issues Federal Advisory Regarding Poor Indoor Air Quality, Mold & Importance Of Building Maintenance

    “When we updated the link [from the OSHA publication to Katy’s Exposure] on October 21, 2011 to show how the cases of Kelman & GlobalTox v. Kramer and Kelman v. Kramer in which the California courts framed environmental advocate, Sharon Kramer, for libel over a writing of how it became a scientific fraud in policy that it was proven mold toxins do not harm, and the cases are aiding to defraud the public over the mold issue, OSHA quietly changed the link for reference #15 to a WHO publication. See page 26 in link below for the quiet change OSHA made.”

    I have always wondered if Senator Kennedy had a hand in the deletion from GAO audit giving a pass to scientific fraudsters, including the US Chamber, a Congressman from CA and a retired Asst Surgeon General/expert defense witness for the US DOJ. I have always wondered if he was aware of the CA courts framing me to keep fed, etal, involvement in the scientific fraud hidden — or if by the end of 2006/beginning of 2007, Senator Kennedy was too sick to really keep an eye on the ship.

    It tells me MUCH that he knew so much of biological and chemical poisonings by US gov’t at the time he was helping me in 2006. It doesn’t make one iota of sense that he would flip in early 2007 knowing that thousands of US citizens are still being harmed when he himself had developed idiopathic breathing difficulties.

    And THAT is just the tip of the iceberg of what I know and can corroborate w/direct evidence. Its utterly amazing how many people in gov’t and the private sector from CA to DC know this is occurring, yet no one does anything to stop it.

  • Just curious as to whether a comment I wrote earlier,got through .A comment about my oldest brother who ,in retrospect,in 1970, might have been a cia mckultra project subject whether this got through and my reflections that its still happenning to day just as manchurian candhad been an integral part of the recent 911 event.My reflections that ‘religion’ is the ‘wolf’ here as inthe fabled tale of ‘littleredridinghood’ and religious rightwing superstitious belief and adescribeable ..bioelectricity rem process parapsychology mind conditioning capability(used for instance on many so called islamicterrorists to accept ‘guilt’incourt ,and in conjunction with known tactics like hypnosis and ‘truthdrugs’.That this represents.. a world empire plan in consideration of the development of covert actions all lastcentury ..And who can be bothered too live and die for ..’their way ‘ both overt and covert systems ..A cynical comment therefore and so called biological and chemical exploits in syria seems to be a lie folowing exactly in the steps of recent iraq and if the us militarizes or bombs then likely an engagment with iran will ensue and that this all just has represented the one inten ways inwhich highersecular authorities ‘reignin’the socalled ‘liberties’ of the so called people (agreeance by a panglobal group at a classified high level in that which it may well all represent )

  • MK Ultra is still ongoing. I knew that I was a marked person when I was five years old, but then suppressed the knowledge. This program of atrocity torture is far more horrific than anything carried out by Hitler. Psychological torture is the modern form, since it is hard to detect.

    I am one of the earliest experimental slaves, sold in early childhood. Isolation is a requirement and is carried out in many many ways. For example, my family moved every year or two, so that we had no ties whatever with neighbors. We were kept away from our large and powerful extended family. No family friends visited the house. I was dressed and groomed to look unattractive. My mother, who had trafficked me into the program was emotionally volatile and abusive, so that I was always in a state of terror and trauma.

    Some of my mother’s plans backfired and we moved to an excellent neighbourhood and went to the best public schools. I was then recognized as being highly gifted. However, the program used an infiltrator to wipe out my excellent memory when I was 18 years old, to prevent me from having a high level profession.

    Over decades my close family and friends have been covertly put to death. This is the most effective method that keeps me isolated today. Also, victims are infiltrated by false “friends” who work for the program. They keep away true friends and cause difficulties. They spread extreme defamation, but are highly skilled in doing so.

    I do not know how to emphasize the horrors of these atrocity crimes. I have hardly mentioned any of the daily horrors that I live with. The technologies are a grave danger. It is essential that people read of these. Mark Rich “The New World War” describes some of these. I think that most coherent website are government pseudo activism. Only top government and the military really know what is going on. If people dismiss comments of individuals, the dangers will run rampant.

    I have discovered recently that I will go into a trance at the mention of a code word. Afterward, I discover that my floors have been covered in chemicals that cause burning of the lungs. There is unforced entry of my home.

    Also, I am being subjected to nighty facial surgery. My eyelids have been altered, my nose has been lengthened, then shortened. I have had obvious incision marks made above and below my mouth and my mouth has been surgically altered, making me less refined looking.

    The fact that is most horrific is that it is pretty much impossible to expose these crimes despite plentiful circumstantial and physical evidence, as mentioned. If a subject attempts it, he will be automatically declared delusional, just as in the Soviet Union , institutionalized and tortured to death. If people do not do the utmost now, they will likely find that in twenty years most human beings have become a sort of remote control toy.

    It is costly for me to post. I doubt anything much will come of it, yet I will be tortured for doing so. The torture can be physical and bloody –of extreme duration. It is carried out with concealed electronic weapons. There are many forms of extreme torture besides this.

    • Hi Mark: Sounds so familiar. Hey, there are more of us… I estimate 10 million in the Americas alone. They killed my brother, turned my sister and father into killing machines and left my mother as a near vegetable. People think it ended, they think it is only effecting a small portion of life, but it is effecting everything. The entire culture is based on the twisted programme and the early test case subjects’ reaction to torture and trauma. Sorry to tell the masses but you have no leg to stand on in the logic department. Without integrating this massive crime against humanity into conscious awareness we humans will play this merry go round engineered game that the soft programmed think is their reality. This is the crime of the epoch and the house of cards is now folding, as much as the powers that were think that a reshuffle of the deck will keep the game going. It won’t I called it over 3 weeks ago. Now we are in collection mode. Stay tuned to my radio show Truth to Power Hour on Wolf Spirit Radio every Saturday at 5pm. PST. and keep updated on my blog Raw Traveling. Ellen Atkin Ultra: aka: MK Ultra girl (the poster child for government sponsored trauma based mind control on children)

    • You are absolutely right they put my family at war against me to keep me distraction every day & all day nothing but pain this is crazy.

  • When I heard about this on TV earlier, my main question was what the 3 presidents during this time knew – or if they chose not to know.

  • The paranoids were only half as concerned as they should have been. You have to question a society that blindly trusts the people they elect, although the real dangerous are of course above democracy, the president wouldn’t even have t clearance. (Maybe Nixon). you have to hand it to them though, they let the kids have there rock n roll and drugs, which were an excellentt smoke screen for more evil things than Crack,Vietnam. We will never know how messed up these folks got but it would seem we are through the looking glass there and the sleepers are stirring. These agencies should be brought to account for harm done and. The people who killed off the leaders of the best chance to have a president who wasn’t at least as bad as Nixon. Hunter Thompson had it right when he called his funeral illegal and they should have just pushed his coffin down one of those storm water drains behind L.A.- probably still too much trouble for the swine he was, George Snr. and his idiot offspring have crushed all hope and any civil unrest seems highly diluted – compared to say, the wall St protests to say the 68 the democratic conventstion where the violence was live and little Bobby and Sue were wondering why the police officer, presumed protecter, was crushing the sculls of everyone in site. Anyone not completely drained by the relentless injustice inflicted on a society too punch drunk after so many losses should take solice in the fact that some people (although through cynically veiled eyes), are keeping one eye on the bastards. Don;t worry, everything will be done for you. No decisions beyond which mood enhancing drug has been assinged by your dis-ease officer. Stay in y’r homes, the safety and security you have dreamed of since the 50’s is here, civil liberties have been almost imperceptably eroded to the point that we take the most basic freedom to be a luxury. You asked for it-it’s just nothing like the model that kept you going through the tear gas, squinting and staggering toward a future that was in fact already lost-the deck is always stacked, the fix always in. the result a foregone conclusion. If things get any more right wing we’ll have to erect a monument to those people who really thought for a moment that it could be otherwise. Try and remember, they are five steps ahead. Apathy is a cancer, innocent nievetey, charming but ineffective. I declare a ceasefire on the power structure until they think we’re asleep and then you may be able to keep enough strength and foresight to stand half a chance. The army must decide why they exist, is it a modern traveling death carnival or protecters of it’s people. P,S. thanx for saving our ass in WW2

  • While there are interesting comments, the commenters are obsessed with the “right wing.” Money is the enemy of freedom. You have the labels all wrong.

  • I was in the military on 1989 and 90. I had a top secret security. I was discharged for not being suitable for military service. I came home may 1 of 90. I started college classes in the fall. In December I became ill. My memory had been erased. I started over like I was a newborn baby. I had to relearn everything. I was released from a rehab hospital in march. Someone from my old duty station called after I was back home. She was checking to see if I was ok. It was odd then that I had been home all that time and when I came home from the hospital she called. I have only known about mk ultra for less than a month. I feel like I was a victim of mk ultra.


  • Trump is surely foreshadowed by the analyses here. He is the classic end of the beginning & can none too soon be removed from the public square. Impeachment is
    not likely, resignation against his character type. Deep
    State dissatisfaction could arrange a send off if nobody
    assassinates 45 first.