Family sues US over mysterious death of scientist who was drugged during Cold War
WASHINGTON — The sons of a Cold War scientist who plunged to his death in 1953 several days after unwittingly taking LSD in a CIA mind-control experiment sued the government Wednesday. They claimed the CIA murdered their father, Frank Olson, by pushing him from a 13th-story window of a hotel — not, as the CIA says, that he jumped to his death.
Sons Eric and Nils Olson of Frederick, Md., sought unspecified compensatory damages in the lawsuit filed in federal court, but their lawyer, Scott D. Gilbert, said they also want to see a broad range of documents related to Olson’s death and other matters that they say the CIA has withheld from them since the death.
Olson was a bioweapons expert at Fort Detrick, the Army’s biological weapons research center in Maryland. Their lawsuit claims the CIA killed Olson when he developed misgivings after witnessing extreme interrogations in which they allege the CIA committed murder using biological agents Olson had developed.
The CIA had a program in the 1950s and ‘60s called MK-ULTRA, which involved brainwashing and administering experimental drugs like LSD to unsuspecting individuals. The project was investigated by Congress in the 1970s.
Olson consumed a drink laced with LSD by CIA agents on Nov. 19, 1953, the suit says. Later that month, after being taken to New York City purportedly for a “psychiatric” consultation, Olson plunged to his death.
At the time — when Eric and Nils Olson were 9 and 5 years old, respectively — the CIA said he died in an accident and did not divulge to his family that Olsen had been given LSD.
But in 1975, a commission headed by Vice President Nelson Rockefeller released a report on CIA abuses that included a reference to an Army scientist who had jumped from a New York hotel days after being slipped LSD in 1953. Family members threatened to sue, but President Gerald Ford invited the family to the White House, assuring them they would be given all the government’s information. CIA Director William Colby handed over documents and the family accepted a $750,000 settlement to avert a lawsuit.
In an email, CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said that while the agency doesn’t comment on matters before U.S. courts, “CIA activities related to MK-ULTRA have been thoroughly investigated over the years, and the agency cooperated with each of those investigations.” She noted that tens of thousands of pages related to the program have been released to the public.
In a statement, Eric Olson said that the CIA has not given a complete picture of what happened to his father.
“The evidence shows that our father was killed in their custody,” he said. “They have lied to us ever since, withholding documents and information, and changing their story when convenient.”
On November 28, 1953, one of America’s greatest mysteries occurred when a Army biochemist working with the CIA fell to his death from a hotel window in New York City. Twenty-two years later it was revealed that the scientist, Frank Olson, had been drugged with LSD days before his death. In 1996, the New York District Attorney’s Office opened a murder investigation into Olson’s strange death.
Code Name Artichoke - (Full Length)
Mind Control and the New World Order
On 28 November 1953, at 2 am, a man crashed through a closed window and fell to his death from the 10th floor of the Statler Hotel in New York City. He was identified as Frank Olson, a bacteriologist with the US Army Research Center at Fort Detrick, Maryland. He had fallen from a room he shared with another scientist, Robert Lashbrook. It was ruled a suicide.
Twenty-two years later, in 1975, William Colby, then CIA director, declassified documents that changed the complexion of the case. It was revealed that Olson had actually been an undercover CIA operative at Fort Detrick, and that one week prior to his death, he had been drinking Cointreau at a high-level meeting with scientists at Deep Creek Lodge in rural Maryland. The Cointreau was laced with a large dose of LSD administered by his CIA boss, Sidney Gottlieb. He was then sent to New York with Lashbrook, also with the CIA, to see a psychiatrist because the LSD had induced a psychosis.
It was also revealed that Olson had been part of the top secret CIA program that was known as Project MK-ULTRA, exploring the use of chemicals and drugs for purposes of mind control, and bacteriological agents for covert assassination. Olson had been working on ways to deliver anthrax in aerosol form, for use as a weapon. New evidence that came to light, through the persistent efforts of Olson’s son Eric, made the suicide ruling highly suspect.
It turned out that Olson had been labelled a security risk by British intelligence after getting upset witnessing human experimentation on a trip to Frankfurt, Germany the previous summer. Eric Olson now believes that his father was drugged and then murdered to make sure that he didn’t reveal the secrets of the MK-ULTRA project. Following the 1975 revelations, the government must have felt more than a little guilt about the affair because Olson’s family was given a 17 minute audience with US President Ford, who apologised to them, and they were awarded damages in the amount of $750,000.
Controlling Human Behaviour
The MK-ULTRA program was instituted on 13 April 1953 by CIA Director Allen Dulles, ostensibly to counter the brainwashing techniques of American prisoners being held by the North Koreans during the Korean War, and to duplicate those techniques on enemy prisoners, i.e. the creation of “Manchurian Candidates.” This was the claim used to obtain funding for the project. However, the Prisoner of War brainwashing program was just the tip of the iceberg, and the CIA-sponsored experiments ventured far and wide into areas of Mind Control under the aegis of MK-ULTRA that had little or nothing to do with methods of interrogation.
The Colby revelations were part of a sweeping investigation of the CIA in January 1975 by the “Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States,” chaired by Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller. The subsequent June 1975 Report to the President said: “The drug program was part of a much larger CIA program to study possible means for controlling human behaviour. Other studies explored the effects of radiation, electric-shock, psychology, psychiatry, sociology and harassment substances.”
Even though the program got off to a rocky start with the Olson affair, it recovered quickly and became an umbrella project with 149 sub-projects. The overall guiding principal was succinctly stated in an internal CIA memo dated January 1952: “Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature such as self-preservation?”