On This Day — CIA Launches Project MK-ULTRA (April 13, 1953) [UPDATE — Reaping Tragic Legacy From CIA Drugs]

“The CIA’s Office of Scientific Intelligence organized the project, code-named Project MK-ULTRA, in coordination with the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories. In some cases, academic researchers were funded through grants funneled to them from CIA front organizations while remaining unaware that the CIA sought to use their work for its own purposes. In other instances, however, top officials at these institutions knew about the CIA’s role.”

Andrew Glass — Politico (April 13, 2019)

April 13 2022 — On April 13 1953, CIA Director Allen Dulles ordered the agency to develop mind-controlling drugs to be deployed against members of the Soviet bloc. The ultra-secret program was purportedly launched in response to Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean use of mind control techniques on U.S. prisoners of war during the Korean War. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: Two Years Ago — DARPA to Resurrect Top-Secret “PANDORA Project”

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RELATED POST: MK-ULTRA in Popular Culture

RELATED POST: Remembering “DARK ALLIANCE” : Gary Webb (August 31, 1955 – December 10, 2004) [2018]

RELATED POST: Juan Pablo Escobar: “My Father Worked for the CIA.”

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“We don’t know what effect this experiment may have had on Kaczynski. (…) Kaczynski must certainly have been among the most vulnerable of Murray’s experimental subjects. He was among the youngest and the poorest… As Kaczynski’s college life continued, outwardly he seemed to be adjusting to Harvard. But inwardly he increasingly seethed. (…) He began having terrible nightmares. He started having fantasies about taking revenge against a society that he increasingly viewed as an evil force obsessed with imposing conformism through psychological controls.”

A lesson in hate — Alston Chase

The Guardian (June 22 2000)

UPDATE (APRIL 13 2022) — Theodore Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber, was a volunteer in mind-control experiments sponsored by the CIA at Harvard in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Michael Mello, author of the recently published book, “The United States of America vs. Theodore John Kaczynski,” notes that at some point in his Harvard years–1958 to 1962–Kaczynski agreed to be the subject of “a psychological experiment.” Mello identifies the chief researcher for these only as a lieutenant colonel in World War II, working for the CIA’s predecessor organization, the Office of Strategic Services. In fact, the man experimenting on the young Kaczynski was Dr. Henry Murray, who died in 1988.

Murray became preoccupied by psychoanalysis in the 1920s, drawn to it through a fascination with Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” which he gave to Sigmund Freud, who duly made the excited diagnosis that the whale was a father figure. After spending the 1930s developing personality theory, Murray was recruited to the OSS at the start of the war, applying his theories to the selection of agents and also presumably to interrogation.

As chairman of the Department of Social Relations at Harvard, Murray zealously prosecuted the CIA’s efforts to carry forward experiments in mind control conducted by Nazi doctors in the concentration camps. The overall program was under the control of the late Sidney Gottlieb, head of the CIA’s technical services division. Just as Harvard students were fed doses of LSD, psilocybin and other potions, so too were prisoners and many unwitting guinea pigs.

Sometimes the results were disastrous. A dram of LSD fed by Gottlieb himself to an unwitting U.S. army officer, Frank Olson, plunged Olson into escalating psychotic episodes, which culminated in Olson’s fatal descent from an upper window in the Statler-Hilton in New York. Gottlieb was the object of a lawsuit not only by Olson’s children but also by the sister of another man, Stanley Milton Glickman, whose life had disintegrated into psychosis after being unwittingly given a dose of LSD by Gottlieb.[We’re Reaping Tragic Legacy From Drugs by ALEXANDER COCKBURN]

What did Murray give Kaczynski? Did the experiment’s long-term effects help tilt him into the Unabomber’s homicidal rampages?

Through research at the Murray Center and in the Harvard archives Alston Chase found that, among its other purposes, Henry Murray’s experiment was intended to measure how people react under stress. Murray subjected his unwitting students, including Kaczynski, to intensive interrogation – what Murray himself called “vehement, sweeping, and personally abusive” attacks, assaulting his subjects’ egos and most – cherished ideals and beliefs. [A lesson in hate — The Guardian (June 22 2000)]

Kaczynski felt that justice demanded that he take revenge on society. But he lacked the personal resources at that time to do so. He was – had always been – a good boy. Instead he would seek escape.

He began to dream about breaking away from society and living a primitive life. According to Johnson, he “began to study information about wild edible plants” and to spend time learning about the wilderness. And like many American intellectuals before him he began to form a plan to seek personal renewal in nature.

Today, society would not tolerate the deceptions inherent in the Murray experiments. But different standards prevailed then, and its ethics were definitely acceptable in their day. But the ethics of the day were wrong. And they framed Kaczynski’s first encounter with a reckless scientific value system that elevated the pursuit of scientific truth above human rights.

When, soon after, Kaczynski began to worry about the possibility of mind control, he was not giving vent to paranoid delusions. In view of Murray’s experiment, he was not only rational but right. The university and the psychiatric establishment had been willing accomplices in an experiment that had treated human beings as guinea pigs, and had treated them brutally. Here is a powerful logical foundation for Kaczynski’s latterly expressed conviction that academics, in particular scientists, were thoroughly compromised servants of “the system”, employed in the development of techniques for the behavioral control of populations.

It was the confluence of two streams of development that transformed Kaczynski into the Unabomber. One stream was personal, fed by his anger toward his family and those who he felt had slighted or hurt him, in high school and college. The other derived from his philosophical critique of society and its institutions, and reflected the culture of despair he encountered at Harvard and later. The Murray experiment, containing both psychological and philosophical components, may well have fed both streams.

Were the students given the hallucinogenic drug LSD without their knowledge, possibly at the request of the CIA?

By the late 50s, Murray had become quite interested in hallucinogenics, including LSD and psilocybin. And soon after Murray’s experiments on Kaczynski and his classmates were under way, Timothy Leary returned to Harvard and, with Murray’s blessing, began his experiments with psilocybin.


“In a desperate search for a mind control drug in the late 1950s, the agency [CIA] dosed Bulger with the powerful hallucinogen more than 50 times when he was serving his first stretch in prison — something his lawyers never brought up in his federal trial.”

UPDATE (APRIL 13 2021) — I have mentioned the infamous Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger a couple of times before on this blog.

First, I wanted to remind you that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is the guy who kept four innocent people in prison for many years in order to protect the cover of Whitey Bulger as an FBI informer.

RELATED POST: The Dark Past of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller — The Bulger Gang, Lockerbie, Anthrax… An Exceptional Failure All Round. (UPDATE II)

Next, I also pointed out that there is a possibility that Whitey Bulger offered the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to the IRA as ‘compensation’ for a shipment of weapons intercepted by the Irish navy a few years earlier.

RELATED POST: 30 Years Ago — The Great Gardner Museum Heist (March 18 1990)

In February 2020, Janet Uhlar — one of the 12 jurors who convicted James “Whitey” Bulger in 2013 — expressed regrets about her decision after learning that he was an unwitting participant in one of the MK-ULTRA CIA experiments.

In a desperate search for a mind control drug in the late 1950s, the agency dosed Bulger with the powerful hallucinogen more than 50 times when he was serving his first stretch in prison — something his lawyers never brought up in his federal trial.

“Had I known, I would have absolutely held off on the murder charges,” Uhlar told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

“He didn’t murder prior to the LSD. His brain may have been altered, so how could you say he was really guilty?” [PBS — After learning of Whitey Bulger LSD tests, juror has regrets]

Nevertheless, Uhlar said she would have voted to convict Bulger on the long list of other criminal counts.

Her belief that the gangster was wrongly convicted on the murder charges was reinforced after reading a new book by Brown University professor Stephen Kinzer: “Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control.”

RELATED POST: Two Years Ago — Wormwood : Searching the Truth to the Bitter End

“The CIA mind control program known as MK-ULTRA involved the most extreme experiments on human beings ever conducted by any agency of the U.S. government,” Kinzer said.

“During its peak in the 1950s, that program and it’s director, Sidney Gottlieb, left behind a trail of broken bodies and shattered minds across three continents.”

On October 30 2018, at age 89, Bulger was beaten to death by fellow inmates shortly after arriving in his wheelchair at the Hazelton federal prison in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.

No criminal charges have been filed.

RELATED POST: On This Day — Whitey Bulger Sentenced to Two Terms of Life Imprisonment (November 14, 2013) [So, why the death sentence?]

Bulger always insisted he had received criminal immunity from a deceased federal prosecutor who once headed the New England Organized Crime Strike Force.

Why on earth did he believe that? LSD-induced long term delusion re-enforced by corrupt FBI officers?

Even corrupt former FBI agent John Morris had assumed Bulger would use the LSD experiments to mount an insanity defense.

But, for some reasons, Bulger’s lawyers did not opt for an insanity defense. Too bad. It could have been quite a trial…

PS — In the new NETFLIX series — “This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist” — an investigator suggests that DNA evidence could have solved the case. They forgot to tell you this part of the story. The handcuffs and duct tape that were used to immobilize the museum’s two security guards could very well have contained traces of DNA material from the thieves. In June 2017, The Boston Globe reported that some of the crime scene evidence collected by the FBI was missing and that, even after an exhaustive search, they were unable to locate the handcuffs and duct tape. That is almost funny…


“The CIA mind control program known as MK-ULTRA involved the most extreme experiments on human beings ever conducted by any agency of the U.S. government.”

The CIA sought to use similar methods on its own captives.

At the height of the Cold War, the project also attempted to produce an effective truth drug for interrogating suspected Soviet spies and to explore other possibilities of mind control.

Moreover, the agency wanted to be able to manipulate foreign leaders using such techniques. It launched, for example, several failed schemes to drug Fidel Castro. (…)

The agency often sponsored experiments without the subjects’ knowledge or consent.

The experiments sought to identify and develop drugs and procedures to weaken interrogation subjects and force confessions through mind control.

They involved surreptitious administration of drugs — especially LSD — and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, and verbal and sexual abuse.

Some 80 institutions, including colleges and universities, hospitals, prisons, and pharmaceutical companies participated in the research program. In all, about 150 separate experimental investigations were carried out.

The operation was reduced in scope in 1964, further curtailed in 1967 and halted in 1973.

A 1973 order by CIA Director Richard Helms to destroy all the project’s files hampered subsequent oversight work, conducted both on Capitol Hill and within the executive branch.

The public first learned about the project in 1975 through disclosures by the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho).

The Senate panel reported that “drugs were used primarily as an aid to interrogations, but … materials were also used for harassment, discrediting, or disabling purposes.”

America’s War on Drugs: The CIA’s Project MK-ULTRA | History

Learn more about how a secret government mind control program inadvertently fuelled the use of psychoactive drugs in 1960s counterculture circles.


CIA launches mind control program, April 13, 1953 — Politico


On This Day –CIA Launches Project MK-ULTRA (April 13, 1953)

On This Day — CIA Launches Project MK-ULTRA (April 13, 1953) [2020]

On This Day — CIA Launches Project MK-ULTRA (April 13, 1953) [2021]

On This Day — CIA Launches Project MK-ULTRA (April 13, 1953) [UPDATE — Reaping Tragic Legacy From CIA Drugs]

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1 Response to On This Day — CIA Launches Project MK-ULTRA (April 13, 1953) [UPDATE — Reaping Tragic Legacy From CIA Drugs]

  1. Joe says:

    The attached History Channel documentary comes to the wrong conclusion. The chaos that drug use caused worked just fine for the US governments purposes. It was not “blowback” (anytime a CIA officer says the word blowback, suspect them of lying). There was a solid and principled opposition to the escalating Viet Nam war, an opposition that was now weakened by not wanting to be associated with the new dirty hippie movement. People who would have opposed the war found themselves pushed into the pro-war side, and the war escalated instead of being stopped sooner.


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