1. Project CHATTER
2. Project BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE
5. The Testing of LSD by the Army
1. The Rationale for the Testing Programs
2. The Death of Dr. Frank Olsona. Background
b. The Experiment
c. The Treatment
d. The Death
e. The Aftermath
Under its mandate, the Select Committee has studied the testing and use of chemical and biological agents by intelligence agencies. Detailed descriptions of the programs conducted by intelligence agencies involving chemical and biological agents will be included in a separately published appendix to the Senate Select Committee's report. This section of the report will discuss the rationale for the programs, their monitoring and control, and what the Committee's investigation has revealed out the relationships among the intelligence agencies and about their relations with other government agencies and private institutions and individuals.
Fears that countries hostile to the United States would use chemical and biological agents against Americans or America's allies led to the development of a defensive program designed to discover techniques for American intelligence agencies to detect and counteract chemical and biological agents. The defensive orientation soon became secondary as the possible use of these agents to obtain information from, or gain control over, enemy agents became apparent.
Research and development programs to find materials which could be used to alter human behavior were initiated in the late 1940s and early 1950s. These experimental programs originally included testing of drugs involving witting human subjects, and culminated in tests using unwitting, nonvolunteer human subjects. These tests were designed to determine the potential effects of chemical or biological agents when used operationally against individuals unaware that they had received a drug.
The testing programs were considered highly sensitive by the intelligence agencies administering them. Few people, even within the agencies, knew of the programs and there is no evidence that either the executive branch or Congress were ever informed of them. The highly compartmented nature of these programs may be explained in part by an observation made by the CIA Inspector General that, "the knowledge that the Agency is engaging in unethical and illicit activi-
ties would have serious repercussions in political and diplomatic circles and would be detrimental to the accomplishment of its missions."
The research and development program, and particularly the covert testing programs, resulted in massive abridgments of the rights of American citizens, sometimes with tragic consequences. The deaths of two Americans3a can be attributed to these programs; other participants in the testing programs may still suffer from the residual effects. While some controlled testing of these substances might be defended, the nature of the tests, their scale, and the fact that they were continued for years after the danger of surreptitious administration of LSD to unwitting individuals was known, demonstrate a fundamental disregard for the value of human life.
The Select Committee's investigation of the testing and use of chemical and biological agents also raise serious questions about the adequacy of command and control procedures within the Central Intelligence Agency and military intelligence, and about the relationships among the intelligence agencies, other governmental agencies, and private institutions and individuals. The CIA's normal administrative controls were waived for programs involving chemical and biological agents to protect their security: According to the head of the Audit Branch of the CIA, these waivers produced "gross administrative failures." They prevented the CIA's internal review mechanisms (the Office of General Counsel, the Inspector General, and the Audit Staff) from adequately supervising the programs. In general, the waivers had the paradoxical effect of providing less restrictive administrative controls and less effective internal review for controversial and highly sensitive projects than those governing normal Agency activities.
The security of the programs was protected not only by waivers of normal administrative controls, but also by a high degree of compartmentation within the CIA. This compartmentation excluded the CIA's Medical Staff from the principal research and testing program employing chemical and biological agents.
It also may have led to agency policymakers receiving differing and inconsistent responses when they posed questions to the CIA component involved.
Jurisdictional uncertainty within the CIA was matched by jurisdictional conflict among the various intelligence agencies. A spirit of cooperation and reciprocal exchanges of information which initially characterized the programs disappeared. Military testers withheld information from the CIA, ignoring suggestions for coordination from their superiors. The CIA similarly failed to provide information to the military on the CIA's testing program. This failure to cooperate was conspicuously manifested in an attempt by the Army to conceal
their overseas testing program, which included surreptitious administration of LSD, from the CIA. Learning of the Army's program, the Agency surreptitiously attempted to obtain details of it.
The decision to institute one of the Army's LSD field testing projects had been based, at least in part, on the 'finding that no long-term residual effects had ever resulted from the drug's administration. The CIA's failure to inform the Army of a death which resulted from the surreptitious administration of LSD to unwitting Americans, may well have resulted in the institution of an unnecessary and potentially lethal program.
The development, testing, and use of chemical and biological agents by intelligence agencies raises serious questions about the relationship between the intelligence community and foreign governments, other agencies of the Federal Government, and other institutions and individuals. The questions raised range from the legitimacy of American complicity in actions abroad which violate American and foreign laws to the possible compromise of the integrity of public and private institutions used as cover by intelligence agencies.
Project CHATTER was a Navy program that began in the fall of 1947. Responding to reports of "amazing results" achieved by the Soviets in using "truth drugs," the program focused on the identification and testing of such drugs for use in interrogations and in the recruitment of agents. The research included laboratory experiments on animals and human subjects involving Anabasis aphylla, scopolamine, and mescaline in order to determine their speech-inducing qualities. Overseas experiments were conducted as part of the project.
The project expanded substantially during the Korean War, and ended shortly after the war, in 1953.
(a) discovering means of conditioning personnel to prevent unauthorized extraction of information from them by known means,
(b) investigating the possibility of control of an individual by application of special interrogation techniques,
(c)memory enhancement, and
(d) establishing defensive means for preventing hostile control of Agency personnel.
As a result of interrogations conducted overseas during the project, another goal was added-the evaluation of offensive uses of unconventional interrogation techniques, including hypnosis and drug's. In August 1951, the project was renamed ARTICHOKE. Project ARTICHOKE included in-house experiments on interrogation techniques, conducted "under medical and security controls which would ensure
that no damage was done to individuals who volunteer for the experiments." Overseas interrogations utilizing a combination of sodium pentothal and hypnosis after physical and psychiatric examinations of the subjects were also part of ARTICHOKE.
The Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI), which studied scientific advances by hostile powers, initially led BLUEBIRD/ARTICHOKE efforts. In 1952, overall responsibility for ARTICHOKE was transferred from OSI to the Inspection and Security Office (I&SO), predecessor to the present Office of Security. The CIA's Technical Services and Medical Staff's were to be called upon as needed; OSI would retain liaison function with other government agencies. The change in leadership from an intelligence unit to an operating unit apparently reflected a change in emphasis; from the study of actions by hostile powers to the use, both for offensive and defensive purposes, of special interrogation techniques-primarily hypnosis and truth serums.
Representatives from each Agency unit involved in ARTICHOKE met almost monthly to discuss their progress. These discussions included the planning of overseas interrogations s as well as further experimentation in the U.S.
Information about project ARTICHOKE after the fall of 1953 is scarce. The CIA maintains that the project ended in 1956, but evidence suggests that Office of Security and Office of Medical Services use of special interrogation" techniques continued for several years thereafter.
MKNAOMI was another major CIA program in this area. In 1967, the CIA summarized the purposes of MKNAOMI:
(a) To provide for a covert support base to meat clandestine operational requirements.
(b) To stockpile severely incapacitating and lethal materials for the specific use of TSD [Technical Services Division].
(c) To maintain in operational readiness special and unique items for the dissemination of biological and chemical materials.
(d) To provide for 'the required surveillance, testing, upgrading, and evaluation of materials and items in order to assure absence of defects and complete predictability of results to be expected under operational conditions.
Under an agreement reached with the Army in 1952, the Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick was to assist CIA in developing, testing, and maintaining biological agents and delivery
systems. By this agreement, CIA acquired the knowledge, skill, and facilities of the Army to develop biological weapons suited for CIA use.
SOD developed darts coated with biological agents and pills containing several different biological agents which could remain potent for weeks or months. SOD also developed a special gun for firing darts coated with a chemical which could allow CIA agents to incapacitate a guard dog, enter an installation secretly, and return the dog to consciousness when leaving. SOD scientists were unable to develop a similar incapacitant for humans. SOD also physically transferred to CIA personnel biological agents in "bulk" form, and delivery devices, including some containing biological agents.
In addition to the CIA's interest in biological weapons for use against
humans, it also asked SOD to study use of biological agents against crops
and animals. In its 1967 memorandum, the CIA stated:
Three methods and systems for carrying out a covert attack against crops and causing severe crop loss have been developed and evaluated under field conditions. This was accomplished in anticipation of a requirement which was later developed but was subsequently scrubbed just prior to putting into action.
MKNAOMI was terminated in 1970. On November 25, 1969, President Nixon renounced the use of any form of biological weapons that kill or incapacitate and ordered the disposal of existing stocks of bacteriological weapons. On February 14, 1970, the President clarified the extent of his earlier order and indicated that toxins-chemicals that are not living organisms but are produced by living organisms-were considered biological weapons subject to his previous directive and were to be destroyed. Although instructed to relinquish control of material held for the CIA by SOD, a CIA scientist acquired approximately 11 grams of shellfish toxin from SOD personnel at Fort Detrick which were stored in a little-used CIA laboratory where it went undetected for five years.
MKULTRA was the principal CIA program involving the research and development of chemical and biological agents. It was "concerned with the research and development of chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behavior."
In January 1973, MKULTRA records were destroyed by Technical Services Division personnel acting on the verbal orders of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, Chief of TSD. Dr. Gottlieb has testified, and former Director Helms has confirmed, that in ordering the records destroyed, Dr. Gottlieb was carrying out the verbal order of then DCI Helms.
MKULTRA began with a proposal from the Assistant Deputy Director for
Plans, Richard Helms, to the DCI, outlining a special
funding mechanism for highly sensitive CIA research and development
projects that studied the use of biological and chemical materials in
altering human behavior. The projects involved:
Research to develop a capability in the covert use of biological and chemical materials. This area involves production of various physiological conditions which could support present or future clandestine operations. Aside from the offensive potential, the development of a comprehensive ability in this field of covert chemical and biological warfare gives us a thorough knowledge of the enemy's theoretical potential, thus s enabling us to defend ourselves against a foe who might not be as restrained in the use of these techniques as we are.
MKULTRA was approved by the DCI on April 13, 1953 along the lines proposed by ADDP Helms.
Part of the rationale for the establishment of this special funding
mechanism was its extreme sensitivity. The Inspector General's survey of
MKULTRA in 1963 noted the following reasons for this sensitivity:
a. Research in the manipulation of human behavior is considered by many authorities in medicine and related fields to be professionally unethical, therefore the reputation of professional participants in the MKULTRA program are on occasion in jeopardy.
b. Some MKULTRA activities raise questions of legality implicit in the original charter.
c. A final phase of the testing of MKULTRA products places the rights and interests of U.S. citizens in jeopardy.
d. Public disclosure of some aspects of MKULTRA activity could induce serious adverse reaction in U.S. public opinion, as well as stimulate offensive and defensive action in this field on the part of foreign intelligence services.
Over the ten-year life of the program, many "additional avenues to the control of human behavior" were designated as appropriate for investigation under the MKULTRA charter. These include radiation electroshock, various fields of psychology, psychiatry, sociology, and anthropology, graphology, harassment substances, and paramilitary devices and materials."
The research and development of materials to be used for altering human behavior consisted of three phases: first, the search for materials suitable for study; second, laboratory testing on voluntary human subjects in various types of institutions; third, the application of MKULTRA materials in normal life settings.
The search for suitable materials was conducted though standing
arrangements with specialists in universities, pharmaceutical houses,
hospitals, state and federal institutions, and private research organi-
zations. The annual grants of funds to these specialists were made under ostensible research foundation auspices, thereby concealing the CIA's interest from the specialist's institution.
The next phase of the MKULTRA program involved physicians, toxicologists, and other specialists in mental, narcotics, and general hospitals, and in prisons. Utilizing the products and findings of the basic research phase, they conducted intensive tests on human subjects.
One of the first studies was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. This study was intended to test various drugs, including hallucinogenics, at the NIMH Addiction Research Center in Lexington, Kentucky. The "Lexington Rehabilitation Center " as it was then called, was a prison for drug addicts serving sentences for drug violations.
i The test subjects were volunteer prisoners who, after taking a brief physical examination and signing a general consent form, were administered hallucinogenic drugs. As a reward far participation in the program, the addicts were provided with the drugs of their addiction.
LSD was one of the materials tested in the MKULTRA program. The final phase of LSD testing involved surreptitious administration to unwitting nonvolunteer subjects in normal life settings by undercover officers of the Bureau of Narcotics acting for the CIA.
The rationale for such testing was "that testing of materials under accepted scientific procedures fails to disclose the full pattern of reactions and attributions that may occur in operational situations."
According to the CIA, the advantage of the relationship with the Bureau
test subjects could be sought and cultivated within the setting of narcotics control. Some subjects have been informers or members of suspect criminal elements from whom the [Bureau of Narcotics] has obtained results of operational value through the tests. On the other hand, the effectiveness of the substances on individuals at all social levels, high and low, native American and foreign, is of great significance and testing has been performed on a variety of individuals within these categories. [Emphasis added.]
A special procedure, designated MKDELTA, was established to govern the use of MKULTRA materials abroad. Such materials were used on a number of occasions. Because MKULTRA records were destroyed, it is impossible to reconstruct the operational use of MKULTRA materials by the CIA overseas; it has been determined that the use of these materials abroad began in 1953, and possibly as early as 1950.
Drugs were used primarily as an aid to interrogations, but
MKULTRA/MKDELTA materials were also used for harassment, discrediting or
disabling purposes. According to an Inspector General Survey of the
Technical Services Division of the CIA in 1957 -- an inspection which
did not discover the MKULTRA projects involving the surreptitious
administration of LSD to unwitting, nonvolunteer
subjects -- the CIA had developed six drugs for operational use and they had been used in six different operations on a total of thirty-three subjects. By 1963 the number of operations and subjects had increased substantially.
In the spring of 1963, during a wide-ranging Inspector General survey of the Technical Services Division, a member of the Inspector General's staff, John Vance, learned about MKULTRA and about the project involving the surreptitious administration of LSD to unwitting, nonvoluntary human subjects. As a result of the discovery and the Inspector General's subsequent report, this testing was halted and much tighter administrative controls were imposed on the program. According to the CIA, the project was decreased significantly each budget year until its complete termination in the late 1960s.
The late 1940s and early 1950s were marked by concern over the threat posed by the activities of the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and other Communist bloc countries. United States concern over the use of chemical and biological agents by these powers was acute. The belief that hostile powers had used chemical and biological agents in interrogations, brainwashing, and in attacks designed to harass, disable, or kill Allied personnel created considerable pressure for a "defensive" program to investigate chemical and biological agents so that the intelligence community could understand the mechanisms by which these substances worked and how their effects could be defeated."18
Of particular concern was the drug LSD. The CIA had received reports
that the Soviet Union was engaged in intensive efforts to produce LSD, and
that the Soviet Union had attempted to purchase the world's supply of the
chemical. As one CIA officer who was deeply involved in work with this
drug described the climate of the times: [It] is awfully hard in this day
and age to reproduce how frightening all of this was to us at the time,
particularly after the drug scene has become as widespread and as
knowledgeable in this country as it did. But we were literally terrified,
because this was the one material that we
But the defensive orientation soon became secondary. Chemical and biological agents were to be studied in order "to perfect techniques. . . for the abstraction of information from individuals whether willing or not" and in order to "develop means for the control of the activities and mental capacities of individuals whether willing or not." One Agency official noted that drugs would be useful in order to "gain control of bodies whether they were willing or not" in the process of removing personnel from Europe in the event of a Soviet attack. In other programs, the CIA began to develop, produce, stockpile, and maintain in operational readiness materials which could be used to harass, disable, or kill specific targets.22
Reports of research and development in the Soviet Union, the People's
Republic of China, and the Communist Bloc countries provided the basis for
the transmutation of American programs from a defensive to an offensive
orientation. As the Chief of the Medical Staff of the Central Intelligence
Agency wrote in 1952:
There is ample evidence in the reports of innumerable interrogations that the Communists were utilizing drugs, physical duress, electric shock, and possibly hypnosis against their enemies. With such evidence it is difficult not to keep from becoming rabid about our apparent laxity. We are forced by this mounting evidence to assume a more aggressive role in the development of these techniques, but must be cautious to maintain strict inviolable control because of the havoc that could be wrought by such techniques in unscrupulous hands.
In order to meet the perceived threat to the national security,
substantial programs for the testing and use of chemical and biological
agents --including projects involving the surreptitious administration of
LSD to unwitting nonvolunteer subjects "at all social levels, high and low,
native American and foreign" -- were conceived, and implemented. These
programs resulted in substantial violations of the rights of individuals
within the United States.
Although the CIA recognized these effects of LSD to unwitting
individuals within the United States, the project continued.24
As the Deputy Director for Plans, Richard Helms, wrote the Deputy Director
of Central Intelligence during discussions which led to the cessation of
While I share your uneasiness and distaste for any program which tends to intrude upon an individual's private and legal prerogatives, I believe it is necessary that the Agency maintain a central role in this activity, keep current on enemy capabilities the manipulation of human behavior, and maintain an offensive capability.
There were no attempts to secure approval for the most controversial
aspects of these programs from the executive branch or Congress. The
nature and extent of the programs were closely held secrets; even DCI
McCone was not briefed on all the details of the program involving the
surreptitious administration of LSD until 1963. It was deemed imperative
that these programs be concealed from the American people. As the CIA's
Inspector General wrote in 1957:
Precautions must be taken not only to protect operations from exposure to enemy forces but also to conceal these activities from the American public in general. The knowledge that the Agency is engaging in unethical and illicit activities would have serious repercussions in political and diplomatic circles and would be detrimental to the accomplishment of its mission.
The most tragic result of the testing of LSD by the CIA was the death of Dr. Frank Olson, a civilian employee of the Army, who died on November 27, 1953. His death followed his participation in a CIA experiment with LSD. As part of this experiment, Olson unwittingly received approximately 70 micrograms of LSD in a glass of Cointreau he drank on November 19,1953. The drug had been placed in the bottle by a CIA officer, Dr. Robert Lashbrook, as part of an experiment he and Dr. Sidney Gottlieb performed at a meeting of Army and CIA scientists.
Shortly after this experiment, Olson exhibited symptoms of paranoia and
schizophrenia. Accompanied by Dr. Lashbrook, Olson sought psychiatric
assistance in New York City from a physician, Dr. Harold Abramson, whose
research on LSD had been funded indirectly by the CIA. While in New York
for treatment, Olson fell to his death from a tenth story window in the
a. Background.-- Olson, an expert in aerobiology, was assigned to the
Special Operations Division (SOD) of the U.S. Army Biological Center at
Camp Detrick, Maryland. This Division had three primary functions:
(1) assessing the vulnerability of American installations to biological attack;
(2) developing techniques for offensive use of biological weapons; and
(3) biological research for the CIA.
Professionally, Olson was well respected by his colleagues in both the Army and the CIA. Colonel Vincent Ruwet, Olson's immediate superior at the time of his death, was in almost daily contact with Olson. According to Colonel Ruwet: "As a professional man . . . his ability . . . was outstanding." Colonel Ruwet stated that "during the period prior to the experiment . . . I noticed nothing which would lead me to believe that he was of unsound mind." Dr. Lashbrook, who had monthly contacts with Olson from early 1952 until the time of his death, stated publicly that before Olson received LSD, "as far as I know, he was perfectly normal." This assessment is in direct contradiction to certain statements evaluating Olson's emotional stability made in CIA internal memoranda written after Olson's death.
b. The Experiment.-- On November 18, 1953, a group of ten scientists from the CIA and Camp Detrick attended a semi-annual review and analysis conference at a cabin located at Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Three of the participants were from the CIA's Technical Services Staff. The Detrick representatives were all from the Special Operations Division.
According to one CIA official, the Special Operations Division participants "agreed that an unwitting experiment would be desirable." This account directly contradicts Vincent Ruwet's recollection. Ruwet recalls no such discussion, and has asserted that he would remember any such discussion because the SOD participants would have strenuously objected to testing on unwitting subjects.
In May,1953, Richard Helms, Assistant DDP, held a status meeting which
the Chief of Technical Services Staff attended. At this meeting Helms
"indicated that the drug [LSD] was dynamite and that he should be advised
at all times when it was intended to use it." In addition, the then DDP,
Frank Wisner, sent a memorandum to TSS stating the requirement that the
DDP personally approve the use of LSD. Gottlieb went ahead with the
experiment, securing the ap-
According to Gottlieb. a very small dose of LSD was placed in a bottle of Cointreau which was served after dinner on Thursday, November 19. The drug was placed in the liqueur by Robert Lashbrook. All but two of the SOD participants received LSD. One did not drink; the other had a heart condition. About twenty minutes after they finished their Cointreau, Gottlieb informed the other participants that they had received LSD.
Dr. Gottlieb stated that "up to the time of the experiment," he observed nothing unusual in Olson's behavior. Once the experiment was underway Gottlieb recalled that "the drug had a definite effect on the group to the point that they were boisterous and laughing and they could not continue the meeting or engage in sensible conversation." The meeting continued until about 1:00 a.m., when the participants retired for the evening. Gottlieb recalled that Olson, among others, complained of "wakefulness" during the night. According to Gottlieb on Friday morning "aside from some signs of fatigue, I observed nothing unusual in [Olson's] behavior." Ruwet recalls that Olson appeared to be agitated at breakfast, but that he "did not consider this to be abnormal under the circumstances."
c. The Treatment.-- The following Monday, November 23, Olson was waiting for Ruwet when he came in to work at 7:30 a.m. For the next two days Olson's friends and family attempted to reassure him and help him "snap out" of what appeared to be a serious depression.
On Tuesday, Olson again came to Ruwet and after an hour long con-
Ruwet then called Lashbrook and informed him that "Dr. Olson was in serious trouble and needed immediate professional attention." Lashbrook agreed to make appropriate arrangements and told Ruwet to bring Olson to Washington, D.C. Ruwet and Olson proceeded to Washington to meet with Lashbrook, and the three left for New York at about 2:30 p.m. to meet with Dr. Harold Abramson.
At that time Dr. Abramson was an allergist and immunologist practicing medicine in New York City. He held no degree in psychiatry, but was associated with research projects supported indirectly by the CIA. Gottlieb and Dr. [sic] Lashbrook both followed his work closely in the early 1950s. Since Olson needed medical help, they turned to Dr. Abramson as the doctor closest to Washington who was experienced with LSD and cleared by the CIA.
Ruwet, Lashbrook, and Olson remained in New York for two days of consultations with Abramson. On Thursday, November 26,1953, the three flew back to Washington so that Olson could spend Thanksgiving with his family. En route from the airport Olson told Ruwet that he was afraid to face his family. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that Olson and Lashbrook would return to New York, and that Ruwet would go to Frederick to explain these events to Mrs. Olson.
Lashbrook and Olson flew back to New York the same day, again for consultations with Abramson. They spent Thursday night in a Long Island hotel and the next morning returned to the city with Abramson. In further discussions with Abramson, it was agreed that Olson should be placed under regular psychiatric care at an institution closer to his home.
d. The Death.-- Because they could not obtain air transportation for a return trip on Friday night, Lashbrook and Olson made reservations for Saturday morning and checked into the Statler Hotel. Between the time they checked in and 10:00 p.m.; they watched television, visited the cocktail lounge, where each had two martinis, and dinner. According to Lashbrook, Olson "was cheerful and appeared to enjoy the entertainment." He "appeared no longer particularly depressed, and almost the Dr. Olson I knew prior to the experiment."
After dinner Lashbrook and Olson watched television for about an hour,
and at 11:00, Olson suggested that they go to bed, saying that "he felt
more relaxed and contented than he had since [they] came to New York."
Olson then left a call with the hotel operator to wake them in the
morning. At approximately 2:30 a.m. Saturday, November 28, Lashbrook was
awakened by a loud "crash of glass." In his report on the incident, he
stated only that 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."
Immediately after finding that Olson had leapt to his death, Lashbrook telephoned Gottlieb at his home and informed him of the incident. Gottlieb called Ruwet and informed him of Olson's death at approximately 2:45 a.m. Lashbrook then called the hotel desk and reported the incident to the operator there. Lashbrook called Abramson and informed him of the occurrence. Abramson told Lashbrook he "wanted to be kept out of the thing completely," but later changed his mind and agreed to assist Lashbrook.
Shortly thereafter, uniformed police officers and some hotel employees came to Lashbrook's room. Lashbrook told the police he didn't know why Olson had committed suicide, but he did know that Olson "suffered from ulcers."
e. The Aftermath.-- Following Dr. Olson's death, the CIA made a substantial effort to ensure that his family received death benefits but did not notify the Olsons of the circumstances surrounding his demise. The Agency also made considerable efforts to prevent the death being connected with the CIA, and supplied complete cover for Lashbrook so that his association with the CIA would remain a secret.
After Dr. Olson's death the CIA conducted an internal investigation of
the incident. As part of his responsibilities in this investigation, the
General Counsel wrote the Inspector General stating:
I'm not happy with what seems to be a very casual attitude on the part of TSS representatives to the way this experiment was conducted and the remarks that this is just one of the risks running with scientific experimentation. I do not eliminate the need for taking risks, but I do believe especially when human health or life is at stake, that at least the prudent, reasonable measures which can be taken to minimize the risk must be taken and failure to do so was culpable negligence. The actions of the various individuals concerned after effects of the experiment on Dr. Olson became manifest also revealed the failure to observe normal and reasonable precautions.
As a result of the investigation DCI Allen Dulles sent a personal
letter to the Chief of Technical Operations of the Technical Services
Staff criticizing him for "poor judgment . . . in authorizing the use of
this drug on such an unwitting basis and without proximate medical
safeguards." Dulles also sent a letter to Dr. Gottlieb, Chief of the
Chemical Division of the Technical Services Staff criticizing him for
recommending the "unwitting application of the drug" in that the the
proposal did not give sufficient emphasis for medical collaboration and
for the proper consideration of the rights of the individual to whom it
was being administered.
The letters were hand carried to the individuals to be read and returned. Although the letters were critical, a note from the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence to Mr. Helms instructed him to inform the individuals that: "These are not reprimands and no personnel file notation are being made."
Thus, although the Rockefeller Commission has characterized them as
such, these notes were explicitly not reprimands. Nor did participation in
the events which led to Dr. Olson's death have any apparent effect on the
advancement within the CIA of the individuals involved.
A memorandum for the Chief, TSD, Biological Branch to the Chief, TSD,
10/18/57 described two of the objectives of the CIA's Project MKNAOMI as:
"to stockpile severely incapacitating and lethal materials for the
specific use of TSD" and "to maintain in operational readiness special and
unique items for the dissemination of biological and chemical materials."
24 Even during the discussions which led to the termination of the unwitting testing, the DDP turned down the option of halting such tests within the U.S. and continuing them abroad despite the fact that the Technical Services Division had conducted numerous operations abroad making use of LSD. The DDP made this decision on the basis of security noting that the past efforts overseas had resulted in "making an inordinate number of foreign nationals witting of our role in the very sensitive activity." (Memorandum for the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from the Deputy Director for Plans, 12/17/63, p. 2.)
35 Gottlieb testified that "given the information we knew up to this time and based on a lot of our own self-administration we thought it was a fairly benign substance in terms of potential harm." This is in conflict not only with Mr. Helms' statement but also with material which had been supplied to the Technical Services Staff. In one long memorandum on current research with LSD which was supplied to TSD, Henry Beecher described the dangers involved with such research in a prophetic manner. "The second reason to doubt Professor Rothland came when I raised the question as to any accidents which had arisen from the use of LSD-25. He said in a very positive way, 'none.' As it turned out this answer could called overly positive, for later on in the evening when I was discussing the matter with Dr. W. A. Stohl Jr., a psychiatrist in Bleulera's Clinic in Zurich where I had gone at Rothland's insistence, Stohl when asked the same question, replied, 'yes' and added spontaneously `there is a case Professor Rothland knows about. In Geneva a woman physician who had been subject to depression to some extent took LSD-25 in an experiment and became severely and suddenly depressed and committed suicide three weeks later. While the connection is not definite, common knowledge of this could hardly have allowed the positive statement Rothland permitted himself. This case is a warning to us to avoid engaging subjects who are depressed, or who have been subject to depression.'" Dr. Gottlieb testified that he had no recollection of either the report or that particular section of it. (Sidney Gottlieb testimony, 10/19/75 p. 78.)