Even before I started investigating this topic, I already knew about the CIA’s involvement in the psychedelic drugs explosion of the 1960s by reading John Marks’s excellent book on MKULTRA.
That book is about mind control experiments in which illicit drugs are only a part.
I thought that in the context of this thread that book doesn’t really fit in; it’s still an excellent book that includes information on the CIA’s connection to drugs; John Marks – The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control
(1979): http://www.wanttoknow.info/mk/search-ma ... didate.pdf
I’ve found another book that focuses on LSD, but its writers Lee and Shlain are too much of a fan of the psychedelic scene for my taste. They push the common “conspiracy theory” that it was LSD that started the protests against the war in Vietnam.
I think that these flower power “protesters” were more concerned with “tripping out” (ego trips) on psychedelic drugs, music and free sex (make love not war) than the dying Vietnamese and US soldiers. I don’t believe at all that the psychedelic drugs caused the protests against the war in Vietnam to erupt…
Martin A. Lee, Bruce Shlain “Acid Dreams; The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties, and Beyond” (1985): https://www.erowid.org/library/books_on ... dreams.pdf
In 1938, Dr. Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) for Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland.
In 1942, General William "Wild Bill" Donovan, chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the ClA's predecessor, assembled half a dozen American scientists to perform “top-secret” research to develop a speech-inducing “Truth Drug” for use in interrogations.
Various ways of administering “Truth Drugs” were tried on witting and unwitting subjects. The OSS injected it “into any type of food, such as mashed potatoes, butter, salad dressing, or in such things as candy
" and determined that the best approach was to inject the “Truth Drug” into a cigarette or cigar. “Truth Drugs” would either stimulate "a rush of talk" or made subjects so paranoid they hardly said a word.
From 1947 to 1953, the navy tried similar experiments in Project CHATTER. The navy experimented with mescaline as an interrogation agent when they learned of the mind control experiments by the Nazis at the Dachau concentration camp. Eventually some 1600 Nazi “scientists” were recruited in Project Paperclip, under supervision of the CIA.
In the late 1940S, the CIA experimented with narcohypnosis, in which a psychiatrist induced a trance after administering a mild sedative. Another technique involved 2 different drugs with contradictory effects: a heavy dose of barbiturates to knock the subject out; followed by a stimulant, usually a type of amphetamine. The CIA also experimented with ice pick lobotomies and other brain surgery via UHF sound waves. In the early 1950s, the CIA tried to make a microwave "amnesia beam" to destroy memory neurons. CIA operatives also experimented with magnetic fields, ultrasonic vibrations, and other forms of radiation on the brain.
During the early 1950S, US secret agents tried cocaine as a potential truth serum. They found that heroin could be used as an effective interrogation technique, because after they stopped giving it to addicts, they became willing to talk (to get drugs).
Deadly chemicals were developed to induce a heart attack or cancer without leaving a clue as to the actual source of the disease.
These experiments were first conducted under the project name BLUEBIRD that evolved into Operation ARTICHOKE in August 1951.
In 1951, the CIA first investigated LSD (acid). Suddenly lots of grants for LSD research were granted and funnelled through ClA-linked conduits. The CIA also studied the effects of: morphine, ether, Benzedrine, ethyl alcohol, and mescaline.
Favourable reports kept coming in, LSD supposedly unearthed secrets buried deep in the unconscious mind, but also caused amnesia during the effective period. Accurate information could not always be obtained because LSD distorted the memory to some degree.
From the mid-1950s through the early 1960s, the CIA used LSD as an aid in interrogation. LSD is colourless, odourless, and tasteless, and could therefore easily be secretly administered through food and beverage.
The intelligence agencies envisioned drugs for every conceivable circumstance: smart shots, memory erasers, anti-vitamins, knock-out drops, aphrodisiacs, drugs that caused headaches or uncontrollable twitching, drugs to induce cancer, a stroke or a heart attack without leaving a trace.
Almost all of the illicit drugs that appeared on the black market during the 1960s — including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, PCP, amyinitrate, mushrooms, DMT, barbiturates, laughing gas, and speed — had previously been tested, and in some cases refined, by CIA and army scientists.
The CIA asked the Eli Lilly Company to synthesise acid. By mid-1954, Lilly had succeeded in breaking the secret formula held by Sandoz.
As LSD could break down behaviour patterns, this raised the possibility of brainwashing. The “respected” psychiatrist Dr. Ewen Cameron heavily sedated his victims, confined them to "sleep rooms", and had messages played over and over from speakers under their pillows. These experiments violated the Nuremberg Code for medical ethics by experimenting on unwitting subjects. Ironically, Cameron had been a member of the Nuremberg tribunal that sentenced many Nazis for similar “war crimes”.
The CIA enlisted the aid of the navy and the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), which served as conduits for channelling money to Dr. Harris Isbell, who experimented with over 800 compounds, including LSD and other hallucinogens. Isbell was a long-time member of the Food and Drug Administration's Advisory Committee on the Abuse of Depressant and Stimulant Drugs. Isbell poisoned some of his victims — nearly all black inmates — with LSD for more than 75 consecutive days.
Dr. Paul Hoch gave LSD to psychiatric patients and then lobotomised them in order to compare the effects of acid before and after psychosurgery.
Robert Heath and his colleagues of Tulane University administered LSD to people and then subjected them to electronic brain stimulation via electrode implant.
The CIA also monitored the latest developments in LSD research worldwide. Drug specialists funded by the CIA made periodic trips to Europe for discussion.
In 1953, Dulles authorised Operation MKULTRA, the ClA's major mind control program during the “Cold War”. MKULTRA was the brainchild of Richard Helms, a high-ranking member of the Technical Services Staff (TSS). For a time both the TSS and the Office of Security (which directed ARTICHOKE) were engaged in parallel LSD tests.
Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, who ran the MKULTRA program, explained that they were “investigating” how to “modify an individual's behavior by covert means
". Gottlieb approved a plan to give acid to unwitting US citizens.
LSD could cause a person to act foolishly in public. The CIA could administer LSD to sabotage key meetings, speeches, etc.
One of the unwilling subjects, Dr. Frank Olson, died after he plunged headlong through a window from the tenth floor after he had been poisoned with LSD.
In 1953, tennis professional Harold Blauer was the victim of a drug study by a group of doctors working for the army at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He died a few hours after receiving an injection of MDA.
In Operation MKULTRA, the CIA used terminal cancer patients as guinea pigs for testing knockout drugs and psychochemical weapons.
Two hundred officers assigned to the Chemical Corps school at Fort McClellan, Alabama, were given acid during their regular training program. In 1961, soldiers at Edgewood Arsenal were given LSD and confined to sensory deprivation chambers and then subjected to hostile questioning by intelligence officers.
By the mid-1960s, nearly 1500 military personnel had served as guinea pigs for LSD experiments. Vietcong POWs were also used to test LSD.
Psilocybin was given to 32 prisoners at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute in Concord. At least one member of Timothy Leary's research team took psilocybin with the prisoners while another observer took notes.
In the safe house experiments of George Hunter White that started in 1955, prostitutes spiked the drinks of their “customers” while CIA operatives observed, photographed, and recorded the results. They also explored the possibilities of using sex for espionage purposes.
The safe house experiments continued until 1963, when CIA inspector general John Earman accidentally stumbled across the clandestine testing program during a routine inspection of TSS operations. Earman recommended a freeze on unwitting drug tests, but deputy director for covert operations Helms defended the program.
From Hoffmann-La Roche the army obtained its first batch of a drug called quinuclidinyl benzilate (BZ).
Clinical studies with BZ were initiated at Edgewood Arsenal in 1959 and continued until 1975. During this period some 2800 soldiers were exposed to the super hallucinogen BZ. BZ resulted in test subjects lapsing into a state of "semi-quiet delirium" and had no memory of their BZ experience.
BZ was better suited than LSD as a chemical warfare agent. BZ was cheaper, more reliable, and packed a stronger punch than LSD. Most important, BZ could be dispersed as an aerosol mist that would float with the wind across city or battlefield (unlike LSD).
According to CIA documents there are probably contingency plans to use BZ in the case of a major civilian insurrection either by releasing clouds of "madness gas" or spike the city's water supply.
After LSD was first introduced to the US in 1949, in less than a decade the drug had risen to a position of high standing among psychiatrists. LSD therapy was by no means a “fad”. More than a 1000 clinical papers were written on the subject, which included experiments on some 40,000 patients. The rate of recovery or improvement was higher with LSD therapy than with “traditional” psychiatric “treatment” like electroshock, lobotomy, and anti-psychotic drugs.
In May 1953, within a month after the CIA initiated Operation MKULTRA, Aldous Huxley tried mescaline for the first time at his home in Hollywood Hills, California, under the supervision of Dr. Humphry Osmond. Huxley became a propagandist for hallucinogenic drugs. In 1955, Huxley had his second mescaline experience, this time in the company of Captain "Cappy" Alfred M. Hubbard and Huxley’s close friend philosopher Gerald Heard. Later that year, Huxley took his first dose of LSD with "Cappy". Hubbard even received special permission from Rome to administer LSD within the context of the Catholic faith.
Timothy Leary tested prospective employees for the CIA and other organisations. When Dr. Humphry Osmond passed through Boston, Huxley took him to meet Leary.
The word “psychedelic” was coined as a marketing gimmick. LSD became the talk of the town in Hollywood and Beverly Hills in the late 1950s as various movie stars were dosed by their psychiatrists. Cary Grant was guided by Dr. Mortimer Hartmann and Dr. Oscar Janiger to take LSD.
Los Angeles psychiatrist Dr. Oscar Janiger gave psychedelics to various writers, actors, musicians, and filmmakers, including: Anais Nin, Andre Previn, Jack Nicholson, James Coburn, Ivan Tors, and Lord Buckley. Allan Ginsberg supplied mushroom pills to legendary jazz musicians Theolonius Monk and Dizzy Gillespie. Bob Dylan also entered a period of heave drug use.
Starting in 1965, John Lennon, George Harrison, Donovan Leitch, Keith Richards, and the Yardbirds were introduced to LSD. Lennon was inspired to write "She Said She Said" by a conversation in California with Peter Fonda during his second LSD trip.
Frank Zappa also promoted "freaking out". LSD was promoted by “adverse publicity” in the mainstream media.
The Mafia stepped in by setting up its own production and distribution networks for LSD.
It is impossible to understand the psychedelic culture without considering marijuana, as this was also widely used.
Throughout Europe cities became scenes for psychedelics. Amsterdam was the magic city where every drug was readily available. In 1965, the Provos took Amsterdam by storm, whose “happenings” anticipated the style of the San Francisco Diggers. Acid was also plentiful in London, Munich, Berlin (where hippies were called Gammler), Rome (with its capellones), Paris, Zurich, Madrid, the Greek Isles, and even in Prague...
By mid 1967 speed rivalled pot and acid as the most widely used substance in the area. Speed ravaged people mentally and physically and resulted in widespread malnutrition.
A drug subculture also thrived among US troops in Vietnam. 80% of American servicemen smoked pot. They also used plenty of heroin (15% of those who returned from Vietnam had become heroin addicts).
LSD was the most used drug. One type of acid was particularly popular - "orange sunshine". In the late 1960s and early 1970s orange sunshine turned up in all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, including Goa Beach in India, the mountains of Nepal, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, South Vietnam, Costa Rica, Israel, and even the ancient Muslim shrine of Mecca.
Some suspected that heroin was used by the government to pacify the young masses. This was allegedly set in motion in 1969, when Nixon initiated Operation Intercept to cut off the supply of marijuana from Mexico. During this shortage came the influx of heroin.
Billy Hitchcock made his family's 4000 acre estate in New York, available to Leary’s psychedelic clan for a nominal 500 dollar a month rent. One day NASA “scientist” Steve Groff joined the fun at Millbrook. Groff got some acid, and he provided samples of a secret drug developed by the military “JB-118”.
Hitchcock’s specialty was setting up tax shelters and knew exactly what to do with the proceeds from the Brotherhood's missionary work. The cash was laundered through Bahamian slush funds in the same way professional criminals did it. Castle Bank had been set up by the CIA as to funnel money to a wide range of covert operations in the Caribbean.
Billy Hitchcock wasn't the only figure in the Mellon clan who rubbed shoulders with the intelligence community. A number of Mellons served in the OSS, notably David Bruce, the OSS station chief in London. Mellon family foundations have been used repeatedly as conduits for CIA funds. CIA director Richard Helms was even a frequent weekend guest of the Mellon patriarchs in Pittsburgh.
In 1969, Hitchcock's bagman Charles Rumsey was caught by Customs with $100,000 in cash. Rumsey fingered his boss, revealing that the money came from various Paravacini accounts in Switzerland. Customs officials alerted the IRS, which already had a thick file on Billy Hitchcock.
Thirteen agencies — including the FBI, CIA, BNDD, IRS, Customs, and the State Department — eventually cracked down on the Brotherhood. In August 1972, Operation BEL scored its first major victory when narcotics agents arrested 40 people in 3 states.
After the feds broke up the Brotherhood network in the early 1970s, Ronald Hadley Stark ended up with most of the money and property in his name. Stark knew a high-placed Tibetan close to the Dalai Lama. Stark was also in regular contact with officials at the US embassy in London. He even got their help in setting up his Belgian drug lab.
After he was granted immunity, Hitchcock testified in San Francisco before a grand jury on the Brotherhood LSD conspiracy. He named many key figures in the drug trade. He also identified the Swiss and Bahamian banks that were used to launder drug profits.
Scully got 20 years, Sand got 15, while Hitchcock received only a five-year suspended sentence and a $20,000 fine.
While the CIA had actually starting the youth of the world “tripping out” on acid, the “antidrug campaign” in turn was used to get rid of the leaders of “radical politics”.
The FBI shadowed John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and other rock stars, many of whom were prosecuted on drug charges. Rock stars were falling like dominos including Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison.
In 1969, leader of the White Panther party in Michigan John Sinclair, was sentenced to 9 ½ years in prison for giving 2 joints to an undercover officer.
Black militant and antiwar organizer at Texas Southern University Lee Otis John-son was given a 30-year sentence after sharing a joint with a narc.
SDS militant Mark Rudd, who played a prominent role in the uprising at Columbia University, was fingered for drugs by an informant.
Police in Buffalo, New York, planted dope in a bookstore run by black anarchist Martin Sostre, who served 6 years in prison.
Even Timothy Leary got in trouble with the law. At one time, at forty-nine years of age, he faced a virtual life sentence. Then Leary escaped prison. He escaped to Afghanistan where he and his small group were taken into custody. On 17 January 1973, Timothy Leary stepped off a plane in Los Angeles.
Leary got off easy after he promised to collaborate with the feds. Leary was granted an early parole for good behaviour in 1976.