“The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface.”
CIA assassination manual (1953)
“In other words, the Memorandum of Understanding, in your judgment, gave authority to the CIA to make decisions to give immunity to individuals who happened to work for the CIA for all kinds of crimes, including murder.”
Question from Senator Bella Abzug to CIA general counsel Lawrence Houston (1975)
“He was letting them know that he was marching to a different drummer and you couldn’t do it back then. He was a man who was profoundly, profoundly distressed about what he was learning… And he was dangerous. Back then, if you thought somebody was detrimental to the cold war, you had no problem dealing with them.”
American journalist Seymour Hersh
February 23 2020 — In his new book, acclaimed espionage author Paul Vidich tells the story of a CIA officer tasked to investigate a cold case from the 50s: the mysterious death of Dr. Charles Wilson, an Army bio-weapons scientist. Does the plot ring a bell? Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
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The Coldest Warrior is certainly an entertaining thriller as you could expect from the author of An Honorable Man and The Good Assassin.
Yet, it would not have been mentioned on this blog if it was not for the fact that Paul Vidich is actually Frank Olson’s nephew and he believes that Olson was killed by the CIA.
I observed this tragedy over the years from within the tenuous intimacy of our family connection. I witnessed how my cousin Eric’s search was frustrated by an agency clinging to it secrets. None of the volumes of books on the CIA and biochemical warfare dug deeply into the minds of the men who inhabited Franks’ world – and even today questions about his death remain unanswered.
I was curious about the men who were responsible, but they remained hidden, opaque, masked, and the secrets were hidden inside an obfuscating mist. I believe that is why, some years ago, I decided to put the story inside a novel.
My account of the case is told from within the CIA – an inside-out approach – not the outside-in view of Errol Morris’s documentary on the subject, Wormwood, which recalls the frustrating effort of my cousin Eric to penetrate the opaque barrier that hides everything inside the Agency.
The Coldest Warrior is not an effort to recreate the past, but rather, characters and a plot are grafted onto the original incident, and it imagines an outcome. Albert Camus said it well: “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
Although the book is a fiction, its publication this month brings back a few facts in the news.
Three months before his death Olson spent two weeks with his brother-in-law (Vidich’s father) reroofing a family cabin in the Adirondacks. My father saw a man who was in a deep moral crisis. He wasn’t suicidal. He was a man who had begun reading the Bible to find answers to disturbing questions.
On Feb. 23, 1954 (three months after Olson’s death), the CIA and the Department of Justice signed a Memorandum of Understanding that allowed the CIA to withhold information relating to criminal activity if disclosure compromised intelligence sources and methods. In 1975, Senator Bella Abzug questioned Lawrence Houston, CIA general counsel at the time of Olson’s death, and an author of the memo. She asked, with specific reference to Olson, “In other words, the Memorandum of Understanding, in your judgment, gave authority to the CIA to make decisions to give immunity to individuals who happened to work for the CIA for all kinds of crimes, including murder.” Houston answered, “Yes.”
Mossad, which started using “targeted killings” in 1962, for decades included the death of Frank Olson in its assassination training program as an example of the perfect murder — “perfect” due to the skill with which it had been made to look like a suicide.
Time for the truth?
Dr. Frank Olson died in November 1953. And yet, nearly 70 years later, we still do not know the details of his assassination.
I very much enjoyed Wormwood and I will certainly read Vidich’s new book.
But there is something wrong with the fact that so many years after his death, the best one can manage is a Netflix miniseries and a fiction novel.
When will the time come for a serious investigation and the truth?
Legendary US journalist Seymour Hersh has stated that he believes the CIA murdered Frank Olson.
And although, he has a source that backs up this story, Hersh refuses to speak out because the story would expose how his source acquired the necessary information. Seriously?
What do I think?
The death of Frank Olson was neither an accident — induced or not by LSD — nor a suicide.
But Frank Olson was not merely murdered. I suggest that Olson was executed to prevent him from revealing an ugly truth.
I believe that Frank Olson knew that the US Military had used biological weapons in the Korean war.
Moreover, I suspect that Frank Olson could prove it and he was about to reveal the truth.
Therefore, the US government had “no choice” but to silence him in order to avoid a major international crisis.
What do you think?
Intel Today would like to know what you think. Do you believe that Dr. Frank Olson committed suicide?
Wormwood | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix
The Coldest Warrior — Paul Vidich Home page
Book Review — The Coldest Warrior [Dr Frank Olson]